Day 114 (5.7.17): Hill Castles and Irish Sea Swims

After a cloudy Saturday, we woke on Sunday to glorious sunshine.  We continued to get extremely lucky on the weather.  After a quick breakfast, we were soon on our way.  Today, we planned to explore some of the countryside south of our little castle cottage.

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Our first stop was Harlech Castle, yet another Thirteenth Century castle built by Edward Longshanks during his campaign to subjugate Wales.  It’s perched on a spur of rock looking out over the Irish Sea, and on a clear day like Sunday, you could see for miles.  The Chickpeas and I had a great time exploring the castle, including the hiding holes that were not exactly on the official tour.

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Watch your head Lydie!  Whelp.  She had been warned…

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I was supposed to be watching the children — keeping them under control — but I was outgunned and outnumbered.

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A few days in the dungeon calmed them down…

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With Lydie and Cassie, I am often reminded of what Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “though she be but little, she is fierce.”  Fortunately for me, these girls are fiercely enthusiastic, not truly troublesome.

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Juda and Giga meanwhile were strolling the castle grounds looking fiercely fabulous.

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The Chicklets and I met met up with Julie on top of the walls and enjoyed some amazing views of the Irish Sea.  We could just make out across the water Criccieth Castle, where we would be going after lunch.

S206We wound our way up the towers to the highest point, where there was a Welsh flag flying over the remains of a military site made by the English to suppress the Welsh.  Weird.

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We headed down to the ground floor again.  It was time to look for some lunch.  We strolled out of the main gates to see what we could pillage from the Welsh countryside.

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We made it about 100 feet.   There was a wonderful cafe at the castle visitor’s center, and the lunchtime atmosphere was magnificent.

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After lunch, we hopped back into the car to drive to Criccieth Castle, which was only about 30 minutes away.  This is another hilltop castle with magnificent sea views.

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Criccieth castle was made and used by the Welsh, not the English, which means that Criccieth is a little smaller and a lot more ruined.  The inner courtyard was barely big enough to contain our dramatic posturing.  #albumcover

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We could see Harlech Castle across the water, and could imagine the Welsh 800 years ago looking across the water at the occupying English.

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I also wanted to add one point of clarification.  All these pictures of the kids and me cavorting through castles might give the impression that Julie was a model of restraint.  Fortunately, not so!

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On top of the hill it was extremely windy, but combined with the sunshine, the views, and the sound of children playfully falling off cliffs, the effect was soothing.

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Even the girls found the experience to be peaceful – tranquil even.  Not at all crazy.  Nope.  Not a chance.

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Lydie and Cassie can only look at salt water and sunshine for so long without needing to get in, and this trip was no exception.

S601The girls have swum in the North Sea and the North Atlantic.  Today, they added the Irish Sea to this list of frigid waters.  They maybe chickpeas, but somehow they do not end up as frozen chickpeas.

S602The rest of us stayed dry and fully dressed in clothes and jackets.  The tide was coming in, and it was time to go.  We had an earlier dinner in Caernarfon, and made it back to our castle in time for the sunset over the estuary again.

We are having such an amazing time in Europe that it is only by writing down what we have been doing that I can keep it all straight.  When we are not overwhelmed with exhaustion, we are overwhelmed with our good fortune.

-Will

 

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