This was a weekend with a secret mission...to win over the hearts and minds of our 2 sons George and Harry to the delights of motorhoming. Some of you may have met them last year at the ill fated Ilracombe rally. We had a 2 berth autosleeper van then so they followed us down in a car and slept in 2 little pup tents. We caught the tail end of a hurricane so the weather was awful, I didn't sleep very well for worrying about them out in the tents as the van was swaying in the wind and the rain was lashing down. When I looked out at first light they hadn't been washed away but the wind was so fearce you could see the outline of their bodies as the wind pushed the tent down onto them. It took us two nights of this to think about moving the car to provide a windbrake! Needless to say they were less than amused and not loving the motorhome life.
In January this year we changed the van to a Hymer with 4 seat belts and 2 huge beds. Although twin singles at the back would of been a better layout, for the majority of the time it's just Mr Mousy and I so a transverse over the garage was ideal.
The boys are the youngest of our four kids and have always got on well, they will have to get on even better to share a bed this weekend! Harry the youngest stands at 6 foot 5 inches and George isn't far behind...big boys to have in a small space! With this in mind we had planned this weekend with military precision, lots of time out of the van, meals out, exciting activities and beer, lots of beer.
We set off from home near Llanelli on Friday afternoon for the horrid drive to Aberystwyth where George is at uni studying Geology. No matter which way you go the roads are awful, plenty of blind bends, twists and turns, sheer drops on one side, cliff walls on the other all made worse by the Hymer being LHD, Harry got to sit in the front (the suicide seat) for the white knuckle journey. It's only Mr Mousys fourth outing driving this bigger van, so I was happy to read my kindle in the back.
We arrived at the campus and woke George up (well it was 7pm and he is a student, what did we expect?) he had packed...the most enormous bag..he was working on the principle don't know what to bring so I'll take everything.
30 minutes later we were at our Britstop (330) a lovely village pub. We all enjoyed a lovely meal, some drinks and a good catch up on family news.
After a quick dog walk up the road we settled down for the night. Let's just say the overcab bed was an experience for us. Not bad to climb into but really difficult to climb down from...the next morning we found the hidden ladder under the bed, too late.
Muffled voices from the back...Harry saying "Bro, you are a nightmare to sleep with...you need to respect my space, what's with the cuddling up?!" We tried not to smirk when they emerged, rumbled and tousled from behind the curtain.
The drive to Blaenau Ffestiniog woke them up, wooden valleys, rushing rivers and waterfalls with the snow covered peaks in the background. The colours were dull greens, beige, browns and grey. Like an old water colour painting left to fade in the sun, the colours were muted and flat. The weather dry, cold and grey.
We stopped off at The Lakeside cafe for a full welsh breakfast. Mostly Welsh spoken but so different to the Welsh we are used to, this sounded almost Nordic and when the cafe girls spoke to us in English we were struck by how their speach varied to that of South wales.
The view from the car park..
A walk around the lake..
Onwards to the slate mines just outside Blaenau Ffestiniog where the boys were booked into zip world.
They spent the next 2 hours flying through the air at high speed, which they loved. Perfect timing meant they were back to the van for the start of the rugby Wales vs Ireland. A great game and Wales won so a happy van. Even Ruby was enthralled with the game...
We then went down into the old slate mine to warm up with a bit of jumping around..
This is such a good idea, a cavern full of trampoline nets.
It totally wore the boys out so after another dog walk, we spent the evening in the van, chilling out and eating ( I'd forgotten how much teenagers eat!).
We have self levelling jacks on the van but maybe through user error we had never managed to get them to work on "auto" mode. We needed to reset them on a completely level platform, after spending one Sunday afternoon driving around tescos car park with a spirt level, we had just about given up on finding somewhere level. So we were pleased to see a weigh bridge at the mine. A sneaky 10 mins later and we'd managed to recalibrate the jacks. Success.
The next day shone bright and clear but still very cold (we must be soft southerners). A nice walk with ruby and we were ready for the long trip home.
A successful weekend. George thought the van was "super cool" and Harry said the weekend was "awesome". We'd had a lot of fun with plenty of giggles. The boys had teased me all weekend about the happy bowl liners (Let goggle be your friend for that one!).
We'd seen amazing scenery and been lucky with the weather. A win for Wales and a win for us, mission accomplished.
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