Hey there, how’s it going?
Following London we went rural, retreating to the grassy knolls of the Cotswolds. It was dusk as we arrived in quaint Broadway, and a wild deer inquired of us from behind a tree in the woodlands as we crunched down the gravel drive. I would love to have spent longer in the countryside amongst thatched roofs, wild flowered meadows and near frozen streams in my Hunter gummies and quilted jacket on horseback with a dog alongside, but it was a pit stop visit as the valleys were calling, “it’s been toooooo long, huuuuuuuurry upppp and get heeeeere”.
South we went to Abertillery, Wales. I was ultra excited to arrive at my uncle and aunt’s place, the Corlett’s northern hemisphere home, where we were welcomed with Rita’s scones and sponge and stayed for a week. We were lucky to have three tour guides in Bruce, Kar and Jess, and had some great adventures together.
Cardiff is a fantastic city, with many excellent marbles in it’s bag. There’s historic buildings (including castle), a gorgeous setting by the bay, and cheerful ambience that makes you want to join in with the locals. We also visited Llangorse Lake (in the Brecon Beacons) to set eyes on the Welshie’s infamous summer haunt, and I only wish I could have been there for peak season’s themed parties and unmissable ‘Llangorse’s Got Talent’. We ventured to Abagavenny, out to Karen and Mike’s in Caerphilly, and to the very cool set up of Best Bets in Crosskeys. We walked at the park amongst the last of the autumn leaves, James Bonded at the movies, curried at a lovely Indian, and joked with proseccos in the comfort and warmth of the living room while admiring the tri-colour pined mountain beyond. We celebrated halloween and the All Blacks’ victory (Dan, you’ll always be the man) with friends, fireworks and sambuca, and recuperated the next day with legendary roast potatoes and Roly dog’s cuddles (well, they were mainly reserved for Maia).
We saw too little of Rita and Den, my third set of grandparents, but how good it was to be reunited. The treat box, overflowing at my last visit (15 years ago) with king size Cadbury delights (“take a few, go on”) has both relocated and expanded – it has taken over the the fridge’s fruit and veg bin and is full to the brim. Unsurprisingly, Rita and Den are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. They’re positive, generous, kind, and quick to laugh – everything you know and love about Welsh people, and then some.
Packed lunches from Kar, it reached the shitty occasion you dread the moment you arrive – time to hit the road. Being located in places so geographically separate is really hard, and we all hugely miss our Welsh family when we’re not with them. Though they’re always in our hearts and spiritually saved a place at gatherings, there’s nothing like seeing them in person.
Rushing through see you soons in rip the bandaid off fast fashion, we were sadly on our way. Well, just. Thank goodness Maia nearly pulled out into another car, switching my tearful emotions into check your bloody blind spot ones as we drove down Rose Heyworth one last time. Bruce, Kar, Jessie, Rols – thank you so much for having us you guys. Until the next hello (let’s not make it too long).
With a punctured heart missing NZ and Welsh family, we sped up to the top of Wales and caught a massive boat to Dublin. It was one heck of a day, and we were exhausted arriving when it was black out. Local music we were meant to see, but good intentions be damned because nothing could right us but a good kip. We thought. Next morning we both woke up fluey and have remained that way for the entire Irish trip. Diddle dee potatoes.
We got knocked down, but we got up again and pushed on with the itinerary – nearly tracing the outline of Ireland in a week. Remarkable spectacles included Wicklow National Park, top town fishing hub of Kinsale, and beaut Killarney (throughly recommended to us by the locals were also Kenmare and Dingle, but unfortunately we couldn’t get there). We got windswept at the Cliffs of Moher (neat, but they charge you!) and wished it stopped raining so we could explore the beaches and surrounds of Downings (right up the top, above Letterkenny). Ireland is an outdoor, pub lover’s adventure island – we were just missing a couple of weeks and good health. It would be amazing to see more of the national parks, tiny towns, and glorious Wild Atlantic Way. Maybe there’s a next time.
Tonight we’re in Belfast and tomorrow we ferry to Scotland – our last stop before we start to head back home.
Photos follow. Please excuse the lack of Irish ones – we didn’t get out and about much.
Love to you all and see you soon (Jinn, I’m hoping you still remember me because I hear you’ve been living the dream at your luxe abode!)