Wales, March 2008
For Easter this year we were invited by Chris Mitchell in Bristol to do a tour round Wales. Chris knows Wales very well, and for the next four days we would be travelling 800 miles around the country.
Click the map to enlarge and follow our route
Llangollen, March 2008
We left Bristol on the morning of Good Friday and headed northwards
to Birmingham. From here we veered west by northwest until we
arrived Llangollen just across the border. Llangollen was our first
encounter with Welsh placenames. McBear found it looked weird with
all those l's and he asked Chris why they were not left out. Chris
explained that this was Wales, and in Welsh
the double l is pronounced with a hissing h-sound from the back of your mouth...
McBear and Roger found the sound funny and had a great time laughing and hissing at each other.
Conwy, March 2008
We went to visit the great Conwy Castle on the north coast. It turned out there was a huge amount of midieval castles to visit in Wales. Most of them dates back to Norman times around the 1300's.
Llainfairpwllgwyngyll, March 2008
Then we went to visit a famous Welsh town and train station that McBear
had read about in the Guinness Book of World Records:
"Holy Syllable!" Roger yelled discovering the sign on the wall. "How can one possibly pronounce that name?
Goldie, Erasmus and Wilfred the Hunter who were with us on this tour, were also stunned. The ground was very wet from a recent shower, so we demanded be put straight back in the bag after the photo had been taken.
Betws-y-coed, March 2008
After Llanfairpwll etc. we drove to our hotel in Betws-y-coed to stay
for the night. The room was lovely. The reason McBear has his bum right
in the air is that the bum was still wet after the encounter
with the wet train platform at Llanfairpwll.
We asked Chris how to pronounce Betws-y-coed.
Chris explained that w is u and y is i - or y - and that y means 'the'.
Betws-y-coed, March 2008
Here we are in front of the hotel, the Glan Aber Hotel in Betws-y-coed.
McBear said, that Betws-y-coed reminded him so much of Pitlochy in
Scotland: Same kind of buildings, same style, materials etc.
McBear said, he almost felt like home...
Snowdonia, March 2008
From Betws-y-coed we headed west, back towards Snowdon, this time to have a glimps of its summit. Snowdon at 1085 meters is the highest mountain in Wales. The reason McBear is on his own in the photo is that it was extremely windy with strong gales. Goldie, Erasmus and Wilfred were at severe risk of being blown somewhere down the valley. And Roger, although he fiercely objected, was not allowed to be put on the ground, again because of the fear he'd be blown away.
Mid-Wales, March 2008
Chris drove the car though mountainous areas and we stopped at a viewing point. It was incredible: As far as the eye could see there were mountains and mountains and no towns! At CAT we had invested in a solar panel and windmill and we had decided we were going to set up our own production at home. We felt committed to help the environment by becomming real Eco-bears!
Elan Valley, March 2008
We arrived Rhayader to have a look at the impressive lake
system in the Elan Valley. The Lakes have provided drinking water
for Birmingham 50 miles away for a 100 years or more. On the way
out of the valley we made a stop to have our photo taken in a
village with yet another impossible name: CWMYSTWYTH!
"I'll see if I can crack this one!" McBear said. "Okay: C-w-m is...Cum! Phew! Ehm... y-s-t is ist, and w-y-t-h is with! Cum-mist-with! Yopee!!! And the bears and dogs were cheering! But only 5 miles down the road we bumped into the next village called .... Ysbyty Ystwyth! ARRRGH! When the day ended, we were all suffering from severe headaches from cracking town names...
Strata Florida, March 2008
We stopped at Strata Florida to have a look at the old abbey and the little church.
Strata Florida, March 2008
Inside a small visitor centre we got a fright as we spotted
some monstrous red dragons! But it turned out that they were
toy animals like us.
"We are national, red dragons!" they claimed with pride, "- but we are also very bored!"
This made McBear ask about their rights and he was about to propose that they set up a Toy Animals Rights of ... but remembering the impossible Welsh place names, McBear immediately gave up on his idea!
Lampeter, March 2008
On the way we passed through Lampeter and we went to visit the University.
Here, one of our humans had started on her Ph.D. and when finished with his
own M.A., Chris would also start on Ph.D. at Lampeter.
"I think I'll propose the university that I give a lecture on... Welsh placenames!" Roger said with confidence.
Pentre Ifan, March 2008
We were going to be staying the night over in Newport. We had the
opportunity to visit Pentre Ifan just outside Newport. It's an impressive
burial chamber dating back thousands of years. The top stone is an
estimated 16 tons!
Erasmus is missing on the photo and that caused real concern and worry as he was not in the bag either. We were all extremely relieved getting back and finding Erasmus in the boot of the car. He must have slipped out of the bag without anyone noticing it! Phew. Imagine, he would have been our first TA to have gone lost! McBear and Roger had a serious discussion about human porters and their responsibilities...
Newport, March 2008
We stayed at the Bed & Breakfast "Y Brynn". It was really
old fashioned from around the turn of the century. After dinner
we went back to our room. Roger pointed out he was getting
good at Welsh.
"Cwddllain yggydd ystyllynn!" he said.
"Wha'???" McBear asked. "Is that real Welsh?"
"Well, near enough, but it sounds Welsh, doesn't it?" Roger grinned.
"Okay," McBear said. "Here's another one: 'McBear'n hoffi hufen ia!'"
"And what does that mean?" Erasmus and Wilfred wanted to know.
"McBear likes ice cream! Yummy!"
Roger looked at McBear with surprise. "Where did you learn that?"
"Well, I asked Chris..."
St. David's, March 2008
The next day we drove to St. David's, said to be the smallest city in Britain since it's small but still has a bishop!! At the entrance they told us that dogs weren't allowed. This caused a major fuzz! McBear talked about constitutional rights and Roger pointed out that Erasmus and Wilfred were not real dogs: They were Toy Animals like the rest of us. Having had to listen to us, the staff let us all in...
Pembroke, March 2008
From St. David's we went to see the huge fortress, Pembroke Castle. We were all impressed by the size. On this photo were just standing in the middle of the fortress. There were walls and towers in all directions.
Pembroke, March 2008
We went inside the castle to see the interior as well. Here were are in
a small dining hall. We were wondering what midieval bears would have been
eating back then.
"They couldn't have been eating porridge!", Goldie claimed.
"Howd'ya know?" McBear asked surprised. "I would have thought they actually did eat porridge..."
"There's no plug in the wall for the microwave!!!!" Goldie laughed...
Laugharne, March 2008
On the way towards Cardiff we passed yet another midieval castle:
This is Laugharne, a spooky place. On the M25 en route to Cardiff Roger
was studying the map. Then he made a great discovery:
"Did ye all know there's a Rogerstone near Cardif???", he yelled! We had a great laugh.
"I bet...", McBear said "...that it's twinned with McBere-sur-la-Mer in France! Ha ha!".
We had a great time making fun.
Cardiff, March 2008
The Wales Tour 2008 ended in Cardiff, snif! Here we are with Chris Mitchell in front of the brand new art and fashion centre. Chris told us, that the huge front of the centre is famous for its appearance in a Welsh television production.
Check out the map of Wales