Monday, 18 June 2012

Monday 18th June

Another lovely sunny morning to wake up to, and another place to visit - today it was the turn of Caernarfon. Now, I had been looking forward to visiting Caernarfon for two reasons. Firstly the castle, and secondly the camera shop.

The carpark we found was very expensive if you wanted to stay longer than 2 hours. The cost rose from £1.50 for up to two hours to £4.50 for the next category which seemed rather a jump.

Having paid for the two hours, I knew that the castle was going to be out of the question, but we were still looking forward to a good look around the shops, as well as finding the Camarthen Camera Centre.

We were surprised just how compact the town centre was, with the castle seemingly just across the square from the shops. There was a small market in this square (about four stalls) and the traffic was also being sent across the middle of the cobbled square where there were no road markings. All very strange.

The quantity and quality of the shops was a disappointment - even though there were a fair few shops, they didn't really sell anything if you know what I mean. We did buy something at one of the gift shops, and I used the opportunity to use some of the minuscule amount of Welsh that I have learnt. The two staff were chatting with someone who was presumably a friend of theirs in Welsh, and when the one lady had finished serving me, I said "Diolch, hwyl fawr" to her (translated, thank you, goodbye, and pronounced dee-olch, hoy-al vow-arr). This always seems to both surprise and delight them, and probably makes them wonder just how much of their conversation you had understood!

Even more frustrating was not being able to find the darn camera shop! I asked the girl in WH Smiths, and she didn't know, she asked the man behind me in the queue, who she presumably recognised as being a local, and he didn't know. Of course, I had neglected to make a note of the address of it, so that wasn't much of a help either.

By now I was getting really frustrated, even more so when the mobile signal was letting me down while trying to google the shop on my Blackberry. Finally, I found the website with the address, and was now feeling more confident of finding it, with or without the help of the locals.

We walked down pretty much every street, but still couldn't find it, so I was now thinking that it must be on the outskirts of the town or something, so I finally gave in and asked someone else for help.

I picked the middle-aged lady who was standing outside of an opticians. She obviously worked there and was just catching a breath of fresh air. Up I sidled, smiled, and asked her if she could tell me where "Parcmaen Street" was. She asked me to repeat the name of it, and knowing that I had probably pronounced it wrongly, I spelt it for her too.

She still seemed blank as to what I was talking about, so I pulled my Blackberry out and showed her the website with the address on. She looked, looked again, and then pointed out that the shop is in Camarthen and we were in Caernarfon! How stupid did I feel? I'd seen a couple of different ways of spelling Caernarfon while we have been here, so just assumed it was yet another one, but once it had been pointed out to me, it was obvious. No wonder we hadn't been able to find it!!

We decided to move on from wherever it was we were, and ended up taking the road to Beddgelert again. This time it was a different route to the village, and it was once again pretty spectacular. I have to confess that I have developed a real soft spot for Beddgelert, and was very happy to go back there again. We had lunch at a tea shop there, which they called posh fish finger butties. It was a long sub roll filled with lettuce with four small fish goujons with beer batter, a few chips and some tartar sauce. It was very nice indeed.

We followed this up with a walk along the river to see what Beddgelert is really all about - the grave of Gelert. Many centuries ago, a nobleman lived there and he had a faithful hound called Gelert. He trusted the hound with his life. One day he went out hunting, leaving the dog guarding his infant son. When he got back, Gelert came running out of the house to greet him, his muzzle dripping with blood. He rushed into the house, and found that his sons crib was empty. Thinking that Gelert had killed his son, he took his sword and drove it into Gelert.

As the dog cried out in pain, he heard a baby start crying. He followed the sound and found his son lying in the grass nearby, totally unhurt. A short distance from the child was the dead, bloodied body of a huge wolf.

He realised in anguish that Gelert had not killed his child but had saved him from the wolf, and killed the wolf. Totally distraught, the nobleman buried his faithful hound, and legend has it that he never smiled again. Beddgelert translated is Gelert's Grave.

A rock marks the dogs grave, and it now has a tree planted next to it, and a plaque explaining it. As you stand at this spot, whichever direction you look offers you a breathtaking view, with mountains virtually surrounding the village, and the river gently babbling along to one side. Sometimes you get to hear the "hoot" of the steam train as it approaches the station. Yes, I like it there.

Back in Porthmadog, we took advantage of the still nice weather to have a walk around the town. Again, it was a bit disappointing, but I'm sure that if you lived there, you could get most things that you would need.

Back at the apartment, a lovely cup of tea was called for, and as the sun went down on another lovely day, we find it hard to believe that we have been here for a week now. The time has flown by in one way, but it also seems that we have been here for ages, it feels like home, and that's nice.

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