"Per-gol" Toby said, reading the sign. "Hey, that's a much better word than Danger. Welsh is great!"
Actually, the word is Perygl and comes out more like pear-reyg-l, but it didn't really matter - the boys had already fallen in love with everything Welsh, and were happily agreeing that all the words were far more interesting than their English equivalents.
We seemed to encounter a lot of perygl on our two days in Wales. Signs warned us against flying golf balls, steep drops, deep water and narrow roads, but fortunately we survived unscathed apart from one scraped shin (that was Theo falling off a rock). In fact, it was a remarkably good short break, with perfect weather, beautiful scenery, and the main attraction: a big blue camper van to carry us around.
Graham's friend Ben had converted the van a couple of years ago, and kindly agreed to lend it to us for the weekend at the end of half term. After a rather last-minute search for places to park it overnight, we headed for Harlech, a little seaside town on the west coast of Wales. This turned out to be a good idea.
Harlech has a huge sweep of a beach, a castle perched up on a rocky hillside, a golf course (hence the flying golf balls) and a little train that comes chuntering through every couple of hours. It was lovely.
We spent the morning doing the obligatory digging on the beach, and discovering dead jellyfish.
In the afternoon we walked up the hill to the castle. It's small, for a castle - I think it would have got claustrophobic being besieged there for very long - but there's a lot of it still standing. We walked around the top of the walls (perygl - steep drops) and back down the hill to the Water Gate, built long ago when the sea covered the golf course, the sand dunes and the railway station, and the besieged inhabitants were kept alive by supplies on boats from Ireland.
|Can you spot the blue camper van?
After all that climbing, we needed an icecream!
Much as we liked Harlech, we had somewhere else to be for our second night. Llangollen was on our route home, and we'd decided that two short hops would be easier than another long drive. So we packed up the van again (got the stool? turned off the gas? removed the rattly cooker grill?) and drove back across Snowdonia. Fortunately our second stop had an equally beautiful view - and a good pub meal, too.
Next morning we drove to Horseshoe Falls, where the Llangollen Canal leaves the River Dee. We'd been here before, a few years ago - look how tiny Theo was then!
It's a pleasant walk along the path between the canal and the river into Llangollen town. We watched white water rafters braving the rapids, hopped around on the rocks beside the river, inspected some old cars outside of Llangollen Motor Museum (sadly closed until next year) and passed a horse towing a narrowboat.
Llangollen provided us with lunch, some delicious cakes, and a few souvenirs. It has a lot more bustle to it than Harlech, with a street full of eateries and the kind of shops which sell "A Present from Wales" teatowels and personalised fridge magnets.
We saw a couple of families of ducklings, and the boys practised their parkour skills on the rocks one last time (that was the scraped shin).
Sadly, then, it was time to head out of the land of perygl and back into the land of boring mono-lingual road signs. I think we'll be back, though.