UK2016 Part 1: Wales

We got home yesterday from our epic trip to the UK, and buckle in because I have a lot of pics and stories to share. I’m going to break up my posts into the three places we went, so let’s get started!

The trip started off with an enormous amount of stress, when I got a text that our flight to Houston was delayed. The delay would mean we would miss our flight to Heathrow. Um, not an option. I got on the phone with United, and after 40 minutes of being on hold, we got put on an earlier flight to Houston, which would get us there in plenty of time to catch our flight to London.

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Waaaaaiting and waiting and waiting at the airport

But then that flight kept getting delayed, to the point where again, we were going to be in danger of missing our connection. Fortunately, the flight took off with some time to spare, and we landed in Houston. And sat and sat and sat on the tarmac. My blood pressure was rising a bit more every moment, until finally we got off with a few minutes to get to our next gate.

Where, of course, the flight was delayed. Whew. Sheesh.

After that, everything went smoothly. (Well, except for the part at the end where Miles barfed. Thank god I had put a change of clothes in their backpacks.) We landed in London a bit early, so no worries about catching our train to Wales (which was really the Heathrow Express into London, and then a train to Wales.)

Oliver didn’t sleep at all on the flight over but as soon as we got to Paddington (before catching the train to Wales) he conked out.

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Finally got on the train and after a couple of hours, we made it to the Newport station, where Derek and Amanda were waiting to pick us up.

I guess I should explain here that we stayed with friends for much of this trip, and the kindness and generosity shown to us by Derek and Amanda in Wales and Rachel and her family in Cambridge were incredible. Impossible to put into words, but I’ll try to show in my blog posts.

(Derek is our dear friend Gareth’s cousin, and Rachel is Gareth’s sister, to give you context.)

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When we got to Derek and Amanda’s, I think I went to lie down for a moment and ended up sleeping for an hour. Just what I needed. When I woke up, there was a scrumptious spread of food on the table. Basically all the fixings of a full English (errr Welsh) breakfast. Sausages! Eggs! Toast! Beans! Black pudding (erm, I skipped that one) and mushrooms and I’m sure a lot more I can’t remember. Between the food and the tea, we were revived enough for a walk.

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yum. and two dazed boys.

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Derek was teasing the boys that he got them sprouts as a treat.

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Luckily for them, they were just chocolates made to look like sprouts!

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We walked through their village to see some old Roman ruins – the first were baths, I think? And the second was an amphitheater. The boys loved running around in them, getting muddy.

After that, we visited the local museum which had some cool exhibits.

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Oh no, that’s actually the toilet. Ha!

We wandered into a pub after that (natch), and then made our way back to the house.

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That night, we had another delicious meal and were joined by Derek’s son and his family, including two adorable little girls. Gah. Little girls with Welsh accents? Kill me now.

The next morning, we had another yummy breakfast, and while Derek and George went into Cardiff to visit the Doctor Who exhibit, Amanda took the boys and me to St. Fagan’s National History Museum, which is all open-air with old buildings that they moved from all over Wales. It was fascinating and really beautiful. There were homes from different eras (in some, the doorways were so low that you could whack your head on them, which I learned the hard way) and outbuildings and a chapel and a schoolhouse and gardens and all sorts of places to poke around in. It was a chilly day, but fires were burning in many of the buildings, which was very cozy.

After we left, we headed to Barry Island (not really an island, as it turns out) to meet up with my coworker Siobhan, who lives nearby. It’s obviously not the high season for a seaside town, but it was adorable. And if you’ve ever seen the show Gavin & Stacey, you’ll have heard of it already.

 

We got there a little after 3 in the afternoon, and the sun was close to setting. Crazy!

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I wish I knew how to edit this photo better.

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Me and Siobhan!

That evening, after getting back to the house, we had yet another delicious meal, and sat around the table for hours drinking wine and talking and laughing. It was the end of a really lovely day! Derek and Amanda gave us this poster, which I am getting framed for the house. I love it so much!

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It even has Ziggy!!!

 

The next day, the boys and I were off to the next part of our adventure, which of course we were looking forward to, but we were very sad to be leaving Derek and Amanda. They were wonderful hosts, and so kind to open their lovely home to a bunch of rowdy Americans. 😀

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George was staying behind for another day so he could go on a pub crawl with Derek and Amanda to Gareth’s old haunts.

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Our fantastic hosts

Coming next…Cambridge!

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