A sad good bye to Peter and Ruth in the rain this morning. I cannot wait to go back…and not just for the hand-trimmed bacon, Peter!

On the way, we went through a “cattle grid.” What’s that , you may ask. Yeah…so did we, until there were sheep everywhere! No fences, just sheep, Everywhere. In the field. On the shoulder. In the middle of the road. Still not quite sure what that was all about…free-range sheep??

We found this amazing little castle called Stokesay near the Welsh border. More of a Medieval manor house, really, built to look intimidating, but not really strong. Basically strong enough to keep out thieves from wealthy Lawrence of Ludlow’s manor. He made his fortunes in wool, naturally. Probably started the cattle/sheep grid thing…. It only took about an hour, but it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, from an architectural interest point of view.

And then… the sun came out. Glorious sunshine. Warmth. Reminded me of God’s favor in this whole journey.

Onward to Wales….passing several badger roadkills who stepped one to many steps out from the hedgerow!! Crazy, right? Badger roadkill. Honestly. Three of them. And pheasant, too. We both about had a heart attack when we heard an unbelievably loud, unearthly sound above and behind the car…we screamed, not really knowing what was happening. RAF fighter jet zoomed by, just above tree level, and entered the valley in front of us in a sideways spin at mach-whatever speed!!!! Very low. Very loud. Very startling. Very cool. Like Top Gun. Now I know why that guy spilled his coffee and cussed when Maverick and Goose did their fly-by on the tower….

We made our way to Northern Wales to the Llechwedd Slate Caverns. Incidentally, there was an earthquake yesterday in Northern Wales…30 miles from the caverns. Yes, we knew this. Yes, we still went down 500 feet under the earth. Yes, we came out. Yes, I was freaked. Yes, you should be proud of me. Sean, the manager of the caverns, who happens to look just like Daniel Craig, took us down and gave us the tour and history of the mines. We rode this sort of semi-vertical tram thing down…down…down. Sean was absolutely delightful, and very helpful. After the underground experience, we got to see Erin, a precious Welsh college student, split the pieces of slate. Unreal how thin they can split it. Afterward, she made a slate engraved sign for me. They use a sort of stencil, and cover all but the letters with a thick plastic adhesive. Then they literally sandblast it in a little chamber. The tiny pieces of sand going a million miles an hour wear away the slate in the exposed letters. Just fantastic!

As we chatted and wrapped the slate gift items, we learned that Erin is an aspiring singer, who only in the last 3 months has told anyone she can sing. So Sean put on a CD she has recently made. Made me cry. Here was this adorable girl, in big red coveralls, splitting slate, and running a sand-blaster, and this heavenly singing coming from her. We wished her all our best….and she gave us her CD. One day, we will see her make it…

We tried to eat at the Ty Gwyn in Betws-y-Coed on the way to our hotel in Conwy. We ate here last year, and it was wonderful food. Not such a nice hostess last year, but the food and ambiance made up for it. So we decided to stop back. She curtly hurried us on, telling us she had no availability (even though they were mostly empty). When we asked for her a recommendation for another place to eat, she said: “The Best Western.” WHAT!! Seriously? We asked if the food was actually good there. “I have no idea. I have never eaten there.” Not sure if she has an anti-American vibe going on or what, but we continued on to Conwy and the Castle Hotel, where we know the dining is awesome.

The view entering the city made us both scream and about come undone. A walled city flanked by a giant fortress, set against the backdrop of a bay and mountains beyond that….perfection. Our meal at the Castle Hotel was even better that the Ty Gwyn! The hotel itself is magnificent…we will take photos. But now we are ready to call it a night, starting out again tomorrow to see what the town of Conwy has in store for us. Can’t wait!

Enjoying the journey!

Heather and Courtney