Guest Blogger Alyson shares her experience of traveling to Wales and England with her husband (Craig), kids (Eric, five and Abigail, three), Alyson’s parents (Adele and Paul), her husband’s dad (Dave), and her grandmother (Debbie).
The kids loved having extended family along – Grandma and Grandpa brought lots of great snacks and activities, and there were plenty of people to interact with and play with during long drives and at interesting spots along our journey. This was particularly helpful on the first day in the U.K.; a full day of touring following the children’s first “red-eye” flight. Eric and Abby didn’t let it phase them, engaging themselves with the interactive exhibits at the Roald Dahl museum and exploring the gardens at Anne Hathaway’s House.
Eric and Abigail particularly loved areas where they could run and play – along a short walk, at an old Roman coliseum. Actually, they are able to turn any venue into an opportunity to run and play. That’s why this journey through Wales was great for our kids (and their mom and dad). It was short on traditional museums and long on interactive experiences. And they loved exploring old castles, climbing the historic towers where 800 years ago the soldiers of King Edward I guarded the fortress, and racing along the tops of the ancient stone walls surrounding the magical village of Conwy. We also got to explore part of the vast canal system of the U.K. that helped propel England’s industrial revolution, and the kids loved helping Grandpa drive the boat.
Eric and Abigail made other important contributions to the group, including helping us navigate through the maze pathways traversing the gorgeous Bodnant Gardens.
Our children love trains; who doesn’t? The narrow gauge train ride up and down Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, was a big hit, despite the rain and dense clouds at the top – typical for Snowdon’s summit.
The rolling hills of Brecon Beacons National Park dazzled our senses, and we loved seeing the numerous sheep roaming around and even crossing the road!
The dying art of slate cutting was introduced to us at the National Slate Museum as the master slate cutter demonstrated his skill splitting a ¼ inch thick 1 foot square into two 1/8 inch squares, with a mallet and chisel. Abigail was delighted with the perfect heart shape made in seconds by a few strikes with a broad knife.
Toward the end of our trip, we reconnected with some old friends now living in Surrey, England. We were invited to a nursery school to explain to approximately 20 three- and four-year-olds the significance of July 4th. Ultimately the children all understood that this was the birthday of our country. After playing for hours with his British contemporaries, Eric could effortlessly switch into, and out of, a great British accent!
This was only the second time we’d taken our kids out of the country, but the first time where we truly got to immerse them into another culture; what a gift.