Thursday, 31 December 2015

St Michael's and Getting Ready for 2016

Betws y Coed is a village in Snowdonia National Park with a population of around 600 people. At the village primary school children are taught Welsh until Year 2, then English is introduced. Consequently, most people speak Welsh and English or a mixture of both at once, which is fascinating to hear. 

In the centre of the village is St Mary's church. We didn't go inside, one church visit per holiday is more than enough for everybody else and I desperately wanted to see St Michael's so didn't want to push my luck. It's beautiful though isn't it. 
Behind this row of shops is the train station. There are gift shops, tea rooms and a fantastic fish and chip shop. I remember this definitely being here last time we visited but I don't remember it being as big or having as many shops.
They certainly like to do fancy things with their recycling in Betws y Coed. This is a Christmas tree made from empty drinks bottles.
The river Conwy runs through the village and it's hard to convey on a photo but the scenery is beautiful. 

The high Street is made up of gift shops, cafes, clothes shops, hotels, B&B's and outdoor clothing and sports shops. It's the main road in and out and because of that unfortunately, it's a very busy road. Which is a shame because occasionally in between the businesses there's the odd little cottage that is somebody's home.
This is the little church of St Michael's.  It's the oldest building in the village and dates from the 14th century, although is was enlarged in 1843. It's not big now, so it must have been really small to start with. Although it was declared redundant in 1996 the church has not been de-consecrated and there is a continuous programme of restoration and conservation that takes place through a Trust. 
Mark managed to make out some dates on these gravestones. A lot of them had 1700's on them but the information booklet says some date from the early 1600's. 
The church inside is very small and not at all ornate, but it's simplicity just adds to its beauty. The only services held now are on St Michael's Day and there is a carol service at Christmas. 
I'd never have figured this out but this is a coffin carrier. It used to be stored in the vestry but they've hoisted it up into an alcove for safe keeping. Not sure I'd be happy sat on one of the pews underneath it.
Thomas decided to hold a sermon. He tried to read the Bible but it was either in Latin or Welsh so he made it up as he went along. He did pretty well actually. Sunday School obviously made an impact.
Having dropped the key back at the railway museum I popped into a little cafe and bought myself a couple of Welsh Cakes. After all what would a trip to Wales be without trying these. They were delicious and I think I'll have a go at making them myself.

This morning I spent a lovely couple of hours having coffee with friends, then I did a bit of shopping in Middleton. I wanted silly string for tonight but couldn't find any much to my disappointment. I like a bit of silly string silliness on New Years Eve. 

Wendy had a bath this afternoon so she's going to start 2016 smelling a bit nicer than she did in 2015.
We're going to see Mum for an hour later on and Amy is going to a party but she wants to come home at 11.45 to see the New Year in with us. Thomas really wants to stay up. He likes the crazy Auld Lang Syne dance that we all do at midnight and I must admit I like seeing the New Year in myself these days. After having the HA it makes me feel blessed I've another year under my belt.

Anyway, party blowers, poppers, masks and monopoly, (Thomas' choice of board game|), are at the ready. I'll put a few nibbles on the table to make it feel more partyish for him as well, not that he'll eat any.
And then we'll sit and wait for it to happen. 

Whatever your plans are for tonight, I hope you all enjoy yourselves.


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A little bit of Betws y Coed

We're home. Thankfully, there were no major incidents on the roads and the weather was good to us, just a little shower on Monday. Last night was a bit hairy though with the storm. Plenty of branches flying about hitting the windows and roof and the hotel grounds were covered in them this morning. But otherwise it was fine and dry, although it rained for the whole drive home.

Rather than one long post about Betws y Coed I'll pop a few photos up over the next couple of days. But to start with here's our hotel, The Waterloo. It's lovely inside, modern but comfortable and the food is the best we've eaten in ages. There's also a lovely pool and health club but we didn't use this. 
We would have stayed in the hotel but it was fully booked, so we stayed in one of their bungalows, just behind the hotel, which is what we did when we last went.   
They're a bit grey looking and could do with a lick of paint on the outside but inside they are perfectly fine, with plenty of room for a family of four.
This was the view from the patio window. The bridge is the one that was flooded and although you probably can't make out the writing underneath it says, 'this arch was constructed in the same year the Battle of Waterloo was fought'. (1815). 
One of the main attractions in Betws y Coed is Swallow Falls. It's just a couple of miles from where we stayed and if we were route marchers we'd have walked it. However, we're definitely amblers, so drove there instead. 
Probably just as well because after the walk, there are then 111 steps down to the bottom which means 111 steps up again! We're about one third of the way down here. 
And this is as far as the steps take you. I was fine going down and coming back up I only needed 2 stops to catch my breath. 
One of the things Thomas wanted to do was go on the miniature railway. I went with him the first time but he's becoming more independent these days and had a second ride on his own. See, the sun even decided to come out for us. 
This was on the railway platform and there was a sign asking you to fill the sculpture with any bottle tops you had. 
The train station, which is in the centre of the village, was opened in 1868 and although my photo is pretty rubbish, it's lovely. Over the bridge is a small railway museum and model shop which is where I picked the key up for St Michael's Church. I'll post about that tomorrow. 
And now for other Number 38 news. Amy has been invited to a New Years Eve party and she decided the easiest thing to go as would be a cat, so on the way to pick up the dogs I stopped off at the fancy dress shop for cat accessories. Ears, neck ribbon and tail.

I've taken all the Christmas cards down, the first sign that the festive season is on its way out at Number 38. I'll hold out until 1st January for the rest but have to admit I'm looking forward to packing it all away.

And I'm sat here once again quite flabbergasted at how quickly the days have passed since Amy and Thomas broke up for the holidays. Only four more days and they'll be back at school.


Monday, 28 December 2015

We are here

As the title says we are here!  

The journey was fine and apart from lots of flooded fields and a big puddle near the all important Waterloo bridge, the road into Betws y Coed was clear.

The village is much busier than we expected, the hotel is lovely and we have walked, lunched and walked again. We are now having a bit of room time. 

No pictures I'm afraid, I haven't brought my connector thingy majig but I'm taking plenty to share with you when I get back.


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Weather, Emergency Knickers and Naughty Nibbles

Watching the news, I'll say this for us. When the chips are down us British certainly know how to pull together. And our emergency services are nothing short of fantastic.

We've had our eyes and ears glued to weather reports today. Even though we're surrounded by flooded areas I can't see any problems for us here at Number 38, but Betws y Coed is another matter.

The main road we were going to take was flooded last night so already we're choosing other routes just in case. The biggest problem though is the road in and out of the village which keeps flooding. Although it's open at the moment, the advice of the hotel is to keep monitoring the situation as it could change at any time.

So, our plan of action is to take stock tomorrow morning and make our decision then. If we go, my contingency plan for the possibility of getting stranded is to take extra medication and underwear and a good dose of stoicism that we British do so very well! 

Amy blended herself a smoothie this morning which tasted delicious.
And she bought these for me, so when Thomas went to play at his friends house this afternoon I indulged in a long hot shower. 
I've been very naughty and eaten nothing that could be remotely classed as healthy today. Croissants, crackers and cheese, trifle, After Eight mints and Christmas Cake have been my menu of choice. But that's one of the best bits about Christmas, picking at the left overs.
I've packed for our break, positive thinking and all that, and I'm going to do the jigsaw border now. Yes, I know I said I wouldn't, but today has been one of those days that is never ending and I find myself sat here at 6pm, all done and dusted, waiting for Agatha Christie at 9pm. 

So, I'm making the most of the time warp, (they don't happen very often at Number 38),and will spend the evening doing a bit of what I fancy. 

If I don't post tomorrow you'll know we've set off. If I don't post on Wednesday you'll know we're stranded in Betws y Coed and I'll be wearing my emergency knickers!


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day

The plan this morning was to take Thomas to the park so he could have a go of his new toy gun that shoots gel pellets.  The weather has been awful though so we didn't go out. Not that I'm complaining. It might be wet outside but at least we're sat here dry and comfy, unlike a lot of people not too far away from us today. 

Thomas bought  me this for Christmas. Mark chose it from the National Trust Shop when we visited Dunham Massey and I was sent to stand outside so I wouldn't see it. 
I'm not at all scientific so had no idea that when I lit the candle the wheel and stars/snowflakes would start to spin around. It's lovely and the candle holder is beautiful when it's lit up. 
I'm itching to start my new jigsaw but will leave it now until we come back from Betws y Coed, although I might sit and sort the border pieces tonight while I'm watching Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None'. 
I watched Greatest Moments of Morecambe and Wise this afternoon. 40 years on and I still find myself laughing at the antics they got up to. The scene where they are making breakfast to "The Stripper" is my all time favourite. Absolutely classic. 

Aunty Edith and Ken came for tea. Thinking about it, this wasn't the first year without Tom or Joan here at Christmas. I remembered Tom didn't come last year as he wasn't feeling well so Amy took a plate of food up for him. 

It's funny what suddenly hits you, but the most poignant moment today was to do with dining chairs. Quite simply, we had enough. In years gone by we've had to bring a couple down from Tom's or Ken would put a couple in his car so that everybody could sit down. It seemed strange not having to squash everybody around the dining table. Ah well. 

And that, for Number 38'ers is Christmas over and done with. We don't prolong the issue, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and that's it for us. 

It's back to normality for us all tomorrow. 


Friday, 25 December 2015

The 25th

Well, I didn't think I'd have time to come on here today, but having no visitors for tea means the afternoon has been pretty relaxed and we've all had time to do what we want.

The first try at getting up by Thomas was at 5.10am. Way too early as none of us went to bed til gone midnight. So he was sent back "just for 10 minutes". At 8am Amy was fed up of waiting for him to come down so went and woke him up.
There were presents galore and this is my little pile. There's a bottle of prosecco from Matthew chilling in the fridge as well.
Mark chose a snowflake for my charm bracelet which I'm very happy with.
And Mum bought me this book, which will definitely be coming to bed with me tonight. I've never heard of it but apparently it's a film as well.
I've not done a breakfast table for a few years, we generally just have a bacon butty on the go, so it was nice to sit down together this morning. And for the first time in a very long time I cooked a proper turkey. Thankfully Mum was around to remove the giblets and the neck as I don't mind admitting I'm a bit squeamish about things like that.

Mum and Matthew left about 2.30pm, Matthew was going to see his Mum and eat another Christmas lunch; not that he'd consider that a hardship!

After a quick tidy up, me and Thomas squished up on the couch together, pulled the blanket over us and watched Dorothy go down the yellow brick road on The Wizard of Oz.
I've just put some turkey and cranberry sandwiches on the table, along with the Christmas cake and mince pies for us to nibble at and I'm sat here waiting for Call The Midwife.

All in all it's been a good day. Hope you've all enjoyed yours.


Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Eve

We all went to see Joan this morning and took her presents and cards with us. She is in fine fettle and was thrilled to see Amy and Thomas. 
Back home, I put the radio on and listened to Christmas songs while I made mince pies, which would win no prizes for beauty, but actually taste really nice. 
And I iced the Christmas cake. I could use much more elegant decorations, but I've had these for years and the cake just wouldn't seem the same without the little plastic figures and gigantic robins stuck on top.
And here's my messy kitchen. I was fast running out of work space but it's all clear and tidy now, ready for the next onslaught of Christmas lunch.
Mum came about 4pm and that's when the fun and games started. These are the wishing wells everybody made. They got 2 minutes to do it in and panic set in pretty much straight away.

Mum and Thomas didn't get very far at all and just made a mess! No idea why Mum's hands are covered in vanilla frosting when she had a knife to use.
Amy took it nice and steady but didn't finish in time.
And although Mark broke his roof, several times, I think he has to be declared the winner.
Stockings are hung up ready and waiting, but the mince pie, milk and carrot for Father Christmas and Rudolph will be put out just before Thomas goes to bed. 
And then the rest of the stuff will get done depending on what time he goes to sleep. I can guarantee no matter how late that is , he'll be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow!

Hope you've all had a lovely day and are now sat down, like me, with a cup or glass of something you fancy. 

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from 
Everybody at Number 38.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A surprise parcel

A parcel came for me today. Parcels are always exciting even when you're expecting them, but when you're not expecting anything they're even better. And look what I got! Two of the cutest gingerbread men, sent from Rachel over at Eternally 28, that her school children made for the Christmas Fair. They are now hung on the tree and will be packed away after Christmas so they can make another appearance next year.
She also sent me a lovely card which opens into a Christmas tree. I'm definitely getting some of these to send next year. Thank you Rachel. You  made my day :)
We did our shopping at Lidl today. It was busy, busy, busy. There were at least 20 people in, instead of the usual half dozen haha. The shelves were full, the atmosphere was quiet and calm, (if you're desperate for a bit of peace Lidl is the place to go), there were no queues, the staff were happy and chatty as usual, and to top it all my favourite cashier had a £10 off voucher waiting for me! I love Lidl.

There was a bit of a wrapping frenzy this afternoon when Mark remembered he'd not wrapped any of my presents yet. Job done, he then wandered off and left them on the table knowing it would drive me mad not being able to open them. Just noticed the mini tube of toothpaste, hope he's just dumped that there and it's not one of my presents! 
And I went all Martha Stewart on my dining chairs. I've never done this before but I think they look pretty nice. It's the sort of 10 minute job that turned into an hour of faffing around. You know how it goes ..... bauble or star? bauble, no star, no bauble, no star.... anybody seen the curly ribbon...... who's got the scissors...... where's the stapler....... Anyway, now they're done I can just lift them off and pop them back on Christmas Day. 
And Amy has had a manicure today as part of her stocking filler. No point doing it after Christmas as we're away and she's not allowed to wear nail polish at school, so I said she could have them done for Christmas Day. She chose rose gold and glitter. 

It's Christmas Eve tomorrow. I'm getting all excited now.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Good News

I wrote a list at the weekend of what I needed to do each day this week. For some reason today was completely blank and to be honest there's not that much on the other days either. I'm beginning to worry. Either I'm very organised or I've forgotten some major stuff. Anyway, today has just been a pretty normal day. 

I bought the jam and covered the cake in marzipan.

Popped into Middleton and bought myself a notebook. It's one of my must have things for 1st January for all my 'plans' for the New Year.
And these arrived in the post today. At the grand old age of 48 I'm going to see my first ballet in the New Year. Mum, my sis-in-law and niece are coming as well. I asked my sister but I was booking the tickets the day Roman had been admitted to hospital and it was too much for her to think about, which was understandable. I couldn't put the booking off though, trying to book 6 seats all together wasn't that easy and if we'd have waited we probably wouldn't have got them. 

There is good news about Roman. His blood test results show the antibiotics he was put on as soon as he was admitted have worked and the infection has cleared up. So, he can come home, possibly tonight, if not tomorrow, but definitely in time for Christmas. It's amazing what a difference 24 hours can make. 

And to finish off, a random photo of a candle, simply because I like the way the wax has dripped down.