Pumpkin Picking

It was very cold and wet so the pumpkin patch we were originally going to go to was closed. After a lovely day shopping in Hitchin, we stopped at The Patch in Weston which was equally cold and wet but was indeed open. We took some obligatory family portraits and found the biggest pumpkins we could. We were also looking for a golden pumpkin to win a prize, but alas, we could not find it. We got back in the car and started to leave but were not going anywhere. The car was stuck in the mud! Joe gave it some revs and we drove out of the field sideways. Another person was stuck but we couldn’t stop our momentum or we would end up like them!

North Wales Family Holiday

Day 1 – The drive

Ruthin, where we’re staying was a four hour drive from us. We left at around 10am and headed to McDonald’s Royston for some breakfast. The staff were rude, so we’re glad we got Rishi’s (as Dad likes to call it) Eat Out To Help Out Deal meaning breakfast was only £20 for the 5 of us. We then filled up with diesel and set off. The hours ticked by and motorway slowly turned into A roads which slowly turned into country lanes as we entered Wales.

We arrived in Ruthin and struggled with the one-way system for a little on the roads. We eventually pulled into Ruthin Castle Hotel & Spa and thought that it looked far too posh for us. Alas, it was. We headed back out and to The Castle Hotel, Wetherspoons. We checked in and went to our rooms, which were lovely and big. Chelsea was happy because our room came with a sort-of bay window. She’s yet to use it.

We all reconvened for dinner outside. Me and Chelsea shared 3 pizzas. I had 2 coronas as they’re 2 for £5 and Chelsea had a cider. Mum had 3 deli deals and a cider, Josh had some chicken nuggets, with a coke and shared Mum’s nachos. Dad had a deluxe burger and coke.

A wasp decided to join us but I trapped him in a glass. Chelsea was both happy and sad as she didn’t want the wasp to suffocate.

We then all went for a walk around the town. We dropped Dad off back at the hotel and continued with a man down. We found a park and stream and went on a zip wire.

We then parted ways and went to our own rooms. Chelsea was full of beans and wanted some pudding so I took her down to the restaurant to get a brownie ice cream. I was a bit hungry too but not in the mood for something sweet so I got a bowl of chicken strips. We got caught by Dad who was outside having a fag. We got the keys off him and got the waters and crisps from the car to take back to our room so that we had something to drink in the night and something for midnight snacks.

Day 2 – Caernarfon Castle

We woke up at 8 and met downstairs for breakfast at half past. Dad had told Mum and Josh about mine and Chelsea’s late night escapade and they were very jealous. Dad had read a book on the history of Ruthin and Mum and Josh went to sleep. I had a breakfast wrap but the bacon tasted a bit weird which put me off the whole thing. I also had an orange juice. Josh and Chelsea had an apple juice but for some reason it came with lime in it. Josh had a bacon sandwich and Chelsea had a Freedom Breakfast and Mum had a traditional breakfast.

It was an hours drive to Caernarfon Castle and we got to go along the A55, the main road in North Wales which goes along the coast for some of it and through some tunnels to get through mountains. It is a gorgeous road. We even got to see multiple rainbows and even drove directly through one. We came from the Conwy side and so had to go all the way passed Caernarfon and then back again in order to get to the castle.

We passed the Welsh Highland Railway as we parked up at the castle. The car park was a bit expensive at £5.50 but we got the tickets for the castle free on Tesco Clubcard so that made up for it.

We arrived dead on 11 and made our way to the entrance. The man thought we were a party of 7 because we had booked for one family and two adults, he kept asking if we were sure there were only 5 of us. We walked around the castle grounds and up and down about 10,000 steps to get to the top of the castle towers. There were some amazing views. I liked the slate rooftops. We could see the sea from the castle and we took lots of photos. There was some building work going on so we couldn’t see all of the castle, but we did do a lot of walking so I don’t think we could have even managed. The weather got progressively worse as we wandered around the castle, and made some of the steps quite treacherous. Chelsea and Dad both bought a dragon and Josh got a TY dragon as when in Wales.

By the time we got back to the car, the heavens had opened and it was raining extremely heavily. As an added bonus the car windscreen was steaming up. We carefully drove to Burger King for lunch. We were planning on skipping lunch as we had a big breakfast, but I got hungry. It was a really small service station and there was a massive queue. We also had to share chairs when we finally did get our food. So lucky it was cheap with Rishi’s deal.

After our quick pit stop, we drove to Conwy, as we’d booked that castle for 3:00 pm. I took us the scenic route and we drove along the A55 right on the edge of the cliff, and then on a bridge leading into the castle. We paid only £2 for parking this time and made our way to the castle, only to be informed by passers-by that it had shut due to the high winds. Gutted! We drove home soaked.

We played Exploding Kittens over dinner and saw some more rainbows.

Day 3 – Talyllyn Railway, Tywyn beach, Dolgoch Falls

As usual, we went down for breakfast, this time a bit later as me and Mum had booked the train at the Talyllyn Railway for 2:05 pm. For breakfast me and Chelsea had sausage sandwiches, Dad had a large breakfast, mum a traditional and Josh a bacon sandwich.

We left just before 11 and made our way south towards Tywyn where we would get on the train. We were lucky enough to drive through the Mach Loop, but unfortunately, nothing was flying. I’m glad we didn’t make a day of it waiting around in the cold on top of a mountain. We also drove past Bala lake which was very picturesque. The roads were very narrow and we learnt that Araf meant Slow, so we kept shouting it at Dad.

We arrived half an hour early and the car park was free which was great. We had a look in the shop first and I bought a magnet and Chelsea bought a keyring. We then got on our carriage and began our journey through the beautiful Welsh countryside. We had pre-ordered a hamper which contained cheese sandwiches, a sausage roll, a quiche, a bottle of water, a salad, and welsh crisps. We shared all the snacks on the way. We passed Dolgoch Falls and decided to go back there in the car. We stopped at a station with a cafe and had some cake.

When we arrived back at the beginning we watched the engines go into their engine shed.

We then drove to Tywyn beach and we climbed on some rocks and Chelsea collected some pebbles to create a fairy house. It was really flat so the waves were really big and long.

Dolgoch falls was on our way back to Ruthin which was nice. We stopped and thought we’d only be there for a few minutes, but we were actualyl there for 2 hours! Me and Chelsea both took loads of photos, and I brought my tripod so I could do some long-exposure ones. There were some skimpy models in the waterfall on a professional photoshoot. We had great fun walking up through the forest and then above the falls. Josh, Dad, and Chelsea both put their feet in and had an explore in the stream, they all got freezing feet.

By the time we got back to Ruthin it was 9 o’clock. We changed out of our wet clothes and met downstairs for dinner. I had a burger and corona. Chelsea, Josh, and Dad all had Chicken Tikka Misala and mum had a 3 plate deli deal consisting of loaded chips, nachos, and king prawns. For some reason, they’d sold out of pizza! We’d started playing a card game as dinner arrived, so that was a bit embarrassing. We were all shattered so ate our dinner quickly and then retired for the night.

Day 4 – Colwyn Bay, Great Orme Mines

We met downstairs for breakfast at 10. I decided to have a wrap again, Josh and Dad had bacon sandwiches, Chelsea had the traditional breakfast and mum had beans on toast. Mum had to send her beans on toast back because they were cold.

I directed Dad to a Morrisons’ petrol station and then we got underway to Colwyn Bay. We parked up and Chelsea collected some shells on the beach. We met back up and continued on to Rhos-on-sea where we found a few antique shops. Mum even found a Cornishware bowl which put her in a good mood for the rest of the day. We then drove to Old Colwyn in search of a model and record shop. The record shop didn’t exist and neither did a lot of the charity shops Google was showing us. The model shop did but was closed for lunch so we drove to the mine instead.

The Great Orme Mine is situated at the top of a mountain just passed Llandudno. We had to drive up a very steep road, which was single-track by the way, to get there. An exhilarating experience to say the least. First, we watched a video on the mine and learnt that it was used in the 19th and 20th century’s and was originally going to be turned into a car park in 1987, but surveyors found evidence of a bronze-age civilization. It turns out that all previous knowledge of the bronze-age in Britain was wrong, there were people that mined and had access to copper nearly 4,000 years ago, not when the Romans came in 43AD as originally thought. We went on a self-guided tour around the mine. We could only explore 2 levels, but that was enough. It was very tight and there were a lot of very deep holes. The tunnels were so small because children used to work in there, and the average height of people 4,000 years ago was a lot less than it is today.

Dad then drove us up to the top of the mountain so Josh could have a frolic. Me and Chelsea took some pictures of the nice view. We then drove back down the mountain but Dad went a different way which went right along the edge of the cliff, much to Mum’s delight. We drove back to the model shop, which was small and sweet.

When we returned back to Ruthin we got a Co-Op meal deal and ate it in our rooms before having an afternoon sleep. We met back downstairs and finally got our hands on a Wetherspoons Warm Cookie Dough and Icecream.

Day 5 – Driving Home

We all got a cuddle with the pub cat before we left, which was nice.

Being in the North of Wales we were relatively close to Liverpool (about 50 minutes) so I wanted to go to Hattons, one of the biggest train stores in the country. Google assured me they were open and we drove all the way there to find they were shut because of the damn virus. We then had another 5 hours in the car to get home. Google let us down a fair bit on this holiday.

Overall, we had a much needed break. The weather was nice, for the most part, and when it rained it was atmospheric. We got to do a lot of activities and can all tick Wales off our travel list now.

Amsterdam

Firstly, let me apologize for how late this post is going out. I wrote it whilst I was there (November 2019) but have only just got round to proof-reading it (April 2020).

Thursday

I left at 8:30 am and got to St Pancras for 9:30 am and met Benj. Adam is a Type 1 diabetic and had hypo when he came off his train at Euston, so we walked over to meet him in the First Class Lounge. We had Orange Juice, Tea, Coffee, and Cakes.

We then went to get on the Eurostar and had to rush a little as the lady said the gates had closed. It was much like an airport and we had to put our bags through an x-ray machine and go through a metal detector. We then went up a travellator to the platform and had to run to the front of the train where our seats were. We made it with 15 minutes to spare so we shouldn’t have even rushed.

We shoved our luggage in the overflowing racks and sat at a table. There was a man there but as soon as we started talking he left. There were chargers in the seats and a table that folded out.

We sat in First Class and got a free lunch which consisted of vegetarian quiche or some chicken, and a drink, I had wine, the others had a coke, a salad, and dessert, a chocolate mousse type thing. We were then allowed refills of tea and coffee along with another small bottle of wine or soft drink. We also got a snack box that had BBQ sweetcorn in it and some other treats. Suffice to say I enjoyed travelling in First Class.

We had a small delay in the Netherlands as someone jumped in front of our train. Luckily, they missed and survived. We arrived at Centraal station about an hour later. From there we purchased a single to Haarlem and a 3-day travel card. We got the train to Haarlem station and then a bus to Velserbroek, where our Airbnb was.

The house is in a lovely residential area. There’s a river right at the back of the house with a decking that you can sit on and admire the view. There’s a large living room with Bose speakers which are really good for when we want to chill out listening to music. There’s also a wood stove but we haven’t been brave enough to get that working yet. There are 3 floors, 3 bathrooms, and 5 bedrooms. I’ve got the bedroom on the top floor.

We all got to know each other and chatted until about 12 before heading to bed.

Friday

We set our alarms for 9:30 am but I slept in till 10:30 am because I didn’t think anyone would get up that early, I was wrong. We got the bus and train into central Amsterdam and found a McDonalds for lunch. I ordered loads but surprisingly ate it all. I had a white chocolate and strawberry milkshake, chicken burger meal, and crispy shrimp. You had to pay for the toilet which is just ridiculous, especially for a McDonalds, but we found this to be the norm throughout the city. Lots of places only accepted card too, not great for traditional tourists without access to a card with 0 fees abroad.

Being full from lunch, we walked it off by going to a nearby shopping centre. There wasn’t really anything interesting in there. We then walked to the Anne Frank house and found out that you had to book tickets at least a week in advance. It was also modernised. Schindler’s factory had the same set-up in Krakow.

After that disaster, we bought some tickets for a boat trip. We wanted to go in the evening, so we sat in a café and watched the sun go down. After that we walked to the boat and boarded, it was pretty full up, but we found the last remaining seats. I was feeling very tired, combined with the warmth and slow rocking of the boat, I drifted off a little. The people at the back of the boat were very drunk and tried flirting with the driver which was funny. We saw a few cool buildings, crashed into another boat, and made a full circle.

We then went home and ordered €100 worth of dominos. it made us appreciate the deals they always run back home. I ordered quite a bit so that it would last for a few days; food was hard to come by.

Saturday

It was raining really heavily when we woke up. So bad, that we dare not go out. We watched the Disney Channel instead and were astounded by the far-fetched storylines of many of the shows. At about 12 the rain started to disperse, and we got ready and walked to the bus stop. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a bus but luckily, we were under shelter.