The last time we went to Wales, we got ourselves into a bit of a pickle tripping over tricky tongue twisting Welsh words. So in order not to make an utter fools of ourselves, we’ve indulged in some Welsh lessons for beginners for our short break in North Wales. Although we might have mastered how to say Betws-y-Coed (bet us e coid), Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch still remains a mouthful, and an alphabet full but at least we’ll get around.

For knocking about in north Wales, we’re based in Bala for our budget break (we’re just bought another house), three quarters of population of Bala speak Welsh so we need to be on our best behaviour. We’re based in Bala as the gateway to North Wales and Snowdonia, exploring from Bala to Barmouth and the castles of Caernarfon to Conwy.

The lone tree at Llyn Padarn in Llanberis
The lone tree at Llyn Padarn in Llanberis

We’ve had balmy weather in Barmouth, managing to achieve a sunburn that is usually reserved for thermo-nuclear bombs or exploding nuclear reactor cores. We kept company with the the lone tree at Llyn Padarn at Llanberis and marvelled the castles of Conwy and Caernarfon, even if they were built to keep the rebellious Welsh in-line. Again we’re looking at big old burial stones 5000 years old with flashbacks to megalithic monument tour and our more recent trip to Orkney. We spent time relaxing in a hot tub because it then doesn’t matter how hard it rains, and with it being Wales, it definitely rained.

Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle

While it’s definitely wet, we decided to get in the water. Bala is famed for its outdoor pursuits, in particular its watersports and we thought we would indulge ourselves. What could go wrong with a blow Kayak from Aldi that costs only £30? While the world wants to move away from plastic, we’re fully embracing it by blowing up our errr blow up plastic kayak and taking to the water.

There’s some tense nervous moments as we take to the water, will she sink, will she swim, will we still be sexist when giving boats a gender. I’ve not heard the hiss of escaping air, mainly because I haven’t been wearing my hearing aid as it doesn’t mix well with water, well it does if you want to ruin it, as I found out when I showered with it. But then the unmistakable sinking feeling hits, we’re blowing bubbles and forced to abandon ship, sunk in Snowdonia. A quick repair and we’re back on Bala lake, instead of being in it.

A break from the hustle and bustle has been bliss and we’ll be back for another break in north Wales and Snowdonia.


Nick Cook. Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it.


  1. I have also kayaked on Llyn Padar. In my case in a sea kayak (the sea was too rough that day so we came inland). Unlike you, I ended up in the water as I overturned – a little scary (this was one of my first attempts of paddling a sea kayak)

    • I’m surprised I didn’t get a soaking, its been 17 years since I last tried to kayak…. and it showed, slow is an under statement!

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