Wales through young eyes

Planning a trip with my two eleven year old granddaughters was an entirely new experience. I asked them to research their ‘must see’ spots in Wales and they cycled over with a list which found a home on the fridge.

Girls Wales list on fridge

I found myself approaching the upcoming trip with the same precision I once applied to leadership delegations that I led to foreign lands. Agendas, document copies, contacts and technical information all found it’s way into my file folder…not what I normally do for personal travel these days. While I wondered about over preparing you’ll see in a future post, it paid off in the end!

Papers for Wales trip

I wrote in 2013 about a trip I took back to Wales(here)Β with my mother and about how much had changed and I wondered “When I take my granddaughter how can I ever make her understand what those times were like?”. Well here I was with two granddaughters in tow and as I would come to learn they are a lot more perceptive than I gave them credit for.

We made Cardiff, the capital of Wales, our base for the first part of our journey. A city that has made it’s way through many changes including the de-industrialisation of the country and is now seeing a new revival represented by the revitalization of it’s old docklands…Dr Who and Torchwood fans may recognize some of this area.

Cardiff Bay

We met up with Welsh family who generously showed us around, including making sure the girls were familiarized with the best shopping locations!

The girls in the family

An understanding of the recent history of the country was important to both the girls and me and our cousin Emily helped a great deal with that objective by taking us to The Big Pit, one of the last remaining coal mines in a country that used to help fuel the world.

Down the Big Pit

Down we went and we listened intently as a former miner described the working conditions and harkened back to a time when children as young as six worked down there, women pulled the carts in tight tunnels and horses lived and died in the dark pits. The girls understood that by their age they could have been underground working 12 hour days for half their life already.

Big pit mine

Only because they had added it to their list we also visited the memorial site of the Aberfan disaster of 1966 where 116 children and 28 adults were killed when a coal slag heap slid down on their school. I’d once told them about my maternal grandfather being one of the heartbroken miners who had dug desperately to rescue the school children and they’d not forgotten that story…no photos of that day, as the skies opened up in what seemed very fitting to our mood.

And being a Welsh summer there was some rain…but I think the girls coped quite well.

Welsh rain

Of course they also needed to experience some pony trekking to appreciate the Welsh experience as I knew it! Along sheep paths, on fern covered mountainsides in the Brecon Beacons.

Riding in ferns 2

With the beautiful countryside spread out below.

Welsh countryside

We spent a wonderful afternoon in the Brecon Beacons, on Welsh ponies and some of the darkness of history fell away.

3 amigas ride in Wales

 

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48 Responses to Wales through young eyes

  1. Nancy says:

    What a neat grandma you are. How wonderful for you to make sure that your grandchildren have such spectacular memories. And YOU of course have the pride and the fulfillment of making those memories with them! Lovely photos, my friend!

  2. joannesisco says:

    I enjoyed catching up on this instalment from your travels this summer. As others have mentioned, it is special that the agenda was chosen by the girls … but even more so when I realized how much your stories appeared to have influenced their interest. Sometimes we don’t realize children are paying attention until it pops out in an unexpected way.

    I love the last picture with the 3 of you on horses. The horse in the centre is pulling an Angelina Jolie pose πŸ˜‰

    • It’s true that it’s funny to hear your stories repeated back to you in some form or other by your grandkids…I have found myself over the past couple of years telling them stories as I realize the clock is counting down and I’d like them to have memories that include me. I also thought the horse photo was cute and like the idea of a feisty pose!

  3. restlessjo says:

    It makes you realise what a long way we’ve come since those days when the pit ruled everything, imperfect though our world is. I love that you had two such sensitive, intelligent girls to share it with. The Cardiff revival looks quite similar to Bristol and it’s another city that’s on my list for a visit. It’s many long years since I was in Wales. Thank you for taking me back. πŸ™‚

  4. Lavinia Ross says:

    Beautiful post! I love the fern-covered hillside and Welsh ponies. This is a country I hope I get to see someday.

  5. What a delightful memory for you and your grandchildren. As I was reading, I was recalling a visit to Wales maybe twenty years ago. Memories were zinging in. There was the “riotous proprietess” (as described by the guide book) of the B&B in Conwy, and exploring the castle there, followed by a ride on an historic train and a trip down a slate mine further south. Then stumbling into the local pub in Tregaron to discover the publican had been born in Wagga NSW. I also discovered Scrumpy Jack, and by the time I finished several pints even the ladies of the Women’s Institute had stayed on to enjoy the entertainment. I got up to learning the first five letters of the Welsh alphabet as I recall. And then when you got to the part about Aberfan, a long-forgotten memory popped up. Me and my eleven year-old schoolfriends, passing around the hat to raise donation money in support, sent all the way from a primary school in the western suburbs of Sydney. It must have touched us very deeply to know how brief their lives were.

    • Some great memories here – glad I helped spark them and thanks for sharing.

      • Also meant to say that I’m some impressed that you managed to finish off several pints – I was exhausted after even one of those monstrous glasses!

      • Trust me, it was an accident. I had been introduced to the refreshing qualities of cider earlier in our trip – except that it was at a non-alcoholic hotel in Norway. I didn’t realise how alcoholic Scrumpy Jack was, even though the barman did recommend to my husband that he only buy a half pint. Hubbie replied that I was extremely thirsty after our big day of travelling. After I finished the first pint and loved it, well, the rest is history, as they say. We were in the pub about five hours all told. The barman was supplying me free – so many people were dropping in to check out the hilarious Aussies who had come to town, that it was his best night’s trade in months. Suffice to say, I could not stomach Mrs Lewis’ fine English breakfast the next morning πŸ™‚

  6. quilt32 says:

    I see the girls have inherited something very special from their grandmother – a love and appreciation of traveling.

  7. mommermom says:

    What a beautiful experience and even more beautiful with your traveling companions. What a gift to share with your granddaughters. An experience I’m sure they will never forget with their grandmother! This story brought a tug to my heart. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • It has felt special all the way through. These two get up with a smile on their faces every day, ready for another adventure. Best travelling companions their grandmother could hope for!

  8. Ingrid says:

    Wow! sounds like a fantastic trip with wonder memories made. Beautiful countryside.

  9. My favourite post yet!!! I’m missing Wales already!

  10. A wonderful holiday to remember. Looks like not a single second was wasted. I love that your granddaughters made up the list themselves, and that Aberfan was included on it.

    • I was taken by surprise when I saw Aberfan on there but they really wanted to understand how such a thing could have happened. When you mention it – it was special that the list was theirs. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Ceri says:

    What a great trip; brought back memories for me as well.

  12. What a great experience for all! Wonderful memories!

  13. Oh what an adventure! Wonderful images .. Wales is a very special place πŸ˜ƒ

  14. agnesashe says:

    What a lovely and very special post to share with everybody. And it looks like all involved enjoyed the visit. Your granddaughters are at the perfect age to appreciate the travelling, the history and you before hanging out with anybody over 20 is uncool. I still remember a boat trip round the Harwich docks that my grandparents took my sister and I on when we were about their age. We had lunch at the Pier Hotel and I have a vivid memory of a ship’s Captain in his uniform on a neighbouring table tucking into a Dover sole! Childhood memories do stay the course, don’t they?

    • I agree with travelling at the right age – we actually had lots of fun together which is hard to imagine in the teen years. What a lovely childhood memory for you to have of a special time with your grandparents.

  15. Sue Slaght says:

    How fabulous to have this time with your grand daughters. I would, like you ,wan to be very prepared and organized.

  16. Gunta says:

    How wonderful and what fantastic memories were made with this trip. What a darling grandmother you are. It looks like your granddaughters appreciated this very special journey through time and space.

  17. Brenda Elliott says:

    Put me on your list for the next trip!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  18. Wonderful story and photographs. So detailed including the file folder for all of the trains, planes and automobile bookings as well as the girl’s “must see list”. Memories are made on these trips with children never to be repeated or forgotten. My mother use to say – make memories while you are young so that when you are old you can spend time savoring them. You have given them the great gift of travel and made fond memories for later years.

  19. Herman Rosenfeld says:

    Wonderful pictures and story!

    Herman

  20. margaret21 says:

    How wonderful to be in Wales, despite the weather. So much to see, experience and enjoy, and you seem to be working towards 100% achievements. I hope you’ll all enjoy the rest of your time there.

  21. Lynn says:

    What an incredible opportunity, for both you & your granddaughters! I love their list, it needs to go into the archival folder!

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