Monday, 29 August 2016

Holiday 2016 ~ Caerphilly Castle and the Dragon

To be honest, we completed our quest quite soon.

Our first destination was Caerphilly Castle. I knew that's where we'd see the amazing sculpture of the dragon coming out of the earth. The dragon was put there in March 2016 to support their football team in Euro 2016. 

Being a bit 'nuts' about dragons from my childhood onward (way before I even heard about the #GOT), you can imagine that was something I just had to see.   

We came to Caerphilly a bit too early to be able to get inside the great castle walls, so we took a stroll around it. As probably you all know but it was new to us, Caerphilly castle is the second biggest castle in the UK and the largest castle in Wales. Its history literary jumped out at me.

Although we walked slowly, we realised we'd be back at the gates too soon, so we took a rest on the eastern bank under the massive willow tree. Patrik needed his morning snack and Loris took photographs.  
It would be perfect like the photo below (taken by my daughter), if... Unfortunately there is always if...  

I actually never understood parents that let their children disturb the animals. No matter where. I always teach my children this simple fact; ‘If an animal leaves you in peace, leave it in peace too, no matter which animal that is.’ Simple! And luckily my children understand that. I'm not the perfect parent - far from that - but I actually go crazy when I see other parents that just don't care what their children are doing. 

Seeing another family with two kids doing exactly that - chasing the ducks and geese and other feathery animals - I couldn't help myself. I commented. Loudly. 
Well, don't you think that bothered them even a little. No way. As the time was getting close to the opening hours - by the way if you'd like to visit this magnificent site - the opening hours is at 9:30 am - my OH dragged me away, hoping to get me away from them as far as possible. No such luck.  

Although we went ahead of them, they passed us by and...  

Entering the castle walls, I went to buy our tickets, although seeing the dragon on the left side at the entrance. 

As I did my 'homework' before going on the holiday I took for us the Cadw (pronounced: Cadu - I'll explain later where and when I learned that) Family Explorer Passes for the whole week - I saw they were quite surprised for us to know about it, but they were happy to sell it to us. 

At last I let both my kids near the dragon, firstly making sure that they didn't bother that family that went in (and to the dragon) before us. The gigantic sculpture of the dragon was/is amazing and so authenticable to what the dragon should look like. Of course we took some photos of all of us there. 

Just before I walked away from the dragon, to explore the castle itself, the dragon's nostrils were filled with steam and you should heard my Loris screaming with joy.  

Well, to be honest - even I was excited... 

Copyright Notice: 
All the photos in this blog post are taken by me or my family. Without the permission of me (my family) no use or reproduction of this photos can be made.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Holiday 2016 ~ The quest continues

If you forgot when we are going on a journey - I always named that travel. It's easier to remember when and where we were. The one in 2011 was called 'How to Avoid the Road to Hell' and the travel was combined with the therapy assessment for my son. But that was then and this is now.

Crossing the Channel was easy. The weather was nice and boarding on a ferry was nothing unusual. After so many years and quite a number of travels, we know the procedure. 

The weather in the UK greeted us with sun. It was nice to know that we got to the other side two hours ahead of the initial plan but that was just a bonus. 

In Bristol - our next stop - we arrived quite quickly in four hours; compared to the the time we spent in the car the previous day. 

Next morning our quest continued - to find a dragon. Well, I knew perfectly well where we were going to find it, but nevertheless it was fun for us and for both our children. 

Crossing the Severn bridge 
we were welcomed to Wales.

A beautiful day was ahead of us.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Holiday 2016 ~ Crossing Europe - Part 2

Next morning we were up early. That is no wonder if you know my son. He's an early riser and it doesn't matter to him if it's during the week, during the weekend, holiday or bank holiday. His inner clock is set between 5:30 am and 6:00am. If he oversleeps it feels like a miracle, that's why we almost never need a wake up calls. 

Knowing all the troubles we had in the past on the R0 around Brussels, we weren't even that concerned that perhaps this time history would finally not repeat itself. We were heading towards Calais as early as 6am on Sunday morning.

Like in the past, there is only around 17 miles long drive through the Netherlands. The first time we drove to the UK, OH and I argued if we had even crossed the Netherlands. Of course he didn't see the border sign as that time we were late for our ferry crossing and if I tell you that we were from Brussels to Calais in an hour and twenty minutes - you got the picture why. 

It didn't matter that our initial plan was to totally avoid Brussels and take another road, at the end we found ourselves right there on the R0. Only to our surprise (which perhaps wasn't even so much on its place as it was Sunday morning) this time it almost empty. We were around the city in less than half an hour, heading south of the country.

Entering France we knew very well we'd be in the Calais Ferry Port way too soon, but we thought that... well, later.
Half way from the border to Calais, there was a detour where every single car had to leave the motorway, drive through the police line-up and we were allowed to get back on the highway on the other side. We weren't surprised. Not after everything we heard, read and were told was happening in France. But we were able to continue our journey without delays.  

Soon after that we entered the Calais Ferry Port almost four hours too soon. I'd booked our ferry for two pm and we were there already at ten am. After we did all the border procedures, including opening our boot upon request of the UK police we followed the sign where we would be able to check in. 

Of course we were told that we were too early. We were asked if we would like to pay the difference if we wanted to board earlier, but when we learned that the difference was actually the price of a new ferry ticket we declined. After that we had to leave the ferry port to the parking lot right there on the other side of the fence and we waited. 

After trying to read a book and when Loris and OH came back from the Port facilities only to tell me that there is also a P&O office there. Of course they didn't ask if there is any chance to get us across the Channel sooner. 

So, I put down my book (read Kindle) and went back there, negotiating the possibility. I'm proud to say I managed to shorten our waiting for two and a half hours - we were able to board the next ferry for an additional amount - only a quarter of the price which we were quoted before.  

Coming back to the car there wasn't really anything else to do, but repeat all the procedure of border crossing - along with the boot check by the UK border police and there we were - searching for the right path to the waiting line. 

Gosh, the French could mark that a bit clearer...