A Travellerspoint blog

Wales Cont...

Part 2: Going South

... the adventure continues.

Next stop Tregoyd in the Brecon Beacons, about 2.5 hours drive South of Snowdonia. There we had three nights stay in a working farm and stables B&B. The Brecon Beacons are less rocky and mountainous than Snowdonia is, but are still hilly and grassy and full of even more sheep (who are less frightened of cars and horses than they are of people on foot??) Less time for sightseeing here as we had two full days pony trekking booked, so it was basically all day riding and resting in the evening.

The countryside is beautiful and I was surprised by the number of wild horses living free out there on the hills. We did pretty well in the riding I think, neither of us fell off and I wasn’t even that sore considering how long we were in the saddle for; those riding lessons I took in Kosice finally paid off I feel. (14 pics)


Following that it was right down to the South coast for Surfing lessons in Llangenith. This was great fun, everything else we’d done on the holiday I’d tried something similar – but surfing was totally new. We planned to take a full day of lessons on the first day and mornings only the next two days so we could sightsee a little too.
The first full day was exhausting. The waves were bigger than expected for a start; often well overhead and sometimes you just got knocked off your feel and be flipped around underwater for several seconds before coming up to the surface again – but I have to say that is incredibly cool  Regardless of how good we were at surfing just being out in the waves was wonderful – but you want to know how good we were, don’t you. Well, we did fall off the boards a lot – but we also both managed to get standing up and ride a wave all the way into the beach at least 3 or 4 times – so result I think.

However, unfortunately, we had to cancel the last morning’s lesson as near the end of the previous lesson I came off the board in shallow water and badly twisted my ankle (I felt it go crunch in three different places). It’s still a bit stiff as I write this, but getting better. Despite that surfing is still something I’d love to try again; I should be able to try windsurfing in Japan.

I’m sorry to say I don’t have any pictures of us surfing (my camera isn’t waterproof), but I do have some of the beach and other places in the area. You can see me all wet after taking the wet suit off, and looking like a surf dude if I say so myself. You can even see my twisted ankle if you like. (18 pics)


So that’s it the Welsh Odyssey ends. I’m back in Nottingham now, sorting out the last details of my travel to Japan. My flight is at 4.30pm on August 1st, and then the proper blog can begin. Bye for now.

Posted by DKJM74 07:31 Comments (1)


Part 1: North Wales

Wales – I haven’t been here for more than 20 years; and I wouldn’t have gone this time either if the Japanese embassy hadn’t taken my passport off me forcing me to stay in the UK! Still, I’m quite glad they did now, because we had a good time.

July 4th we (my friend Nik and I) set off at about 10AM for Snowdonia in the North of Wales. Snowdonia is the national park surrounding Mt. Snowdon. The idea was to start in the North and travel South staying in B&B accommodation. The first place we stayed was Tyddyn Du Farm, set up on the moors and hills about a few minutes from the nearest town by car. They owners were really friendly who run the B&B and the farm; a huge place with sheep and cows. I’d just got my new digital camera ready for Japan so the first afternoon we just went walking on the farm to try that out – I’m really pleased with the improved Macro photo function as I love taking close up pictures of small details; flowers and insects mostly. So I took a lot of those – here is a selection from the whole holiday. (38 pics)


We stayed at Tyddyn Du Farm for 6 nights and mixed classic sightseeing with action fun. So on one side we took trips on the Welsh small gauge steam trains, visited ruined castles and small coastal towns - and on the other side tried out the local hiking, kayaking and white water rafting.

Here you can see the Farm building and it’s grounds – lots of typical Welsh landscapes made up of hills, streams and rolling grassy fields covered in sheep. We hiked to the top of the hills behind the farm where there’s a memorial to plane that crashed there during exercises around WW2 – and we got quite lost in very muddy, swampy fields on the way back down – fun, fun, fun! (20 pics)


Here are a few pictures of the river Dee valley, which we travelled down by steam train to Llangollen, and the castle ruins that look down on the valley. (21 pics)


One of the most interesting places we visited in North Wales was Port Merion – famous for two reasons. Firstly, it was all designed and built by one architect so it has really unique feel to it and a very singular vision; odd angles, shapes and bright colours. Secondly, it was used as the main location for the filming of the fantastic 1960s TV series ‘The Prisoner’; a cult classic, quite surreal, 13 part series about authority, identity and freedom (highly recommended!). What I didn’t know was that it also has really nice grounds and gardens surrounding it. The gulf stream hits this part of the Welsh coast raising the temperature and making it possible for more tropical plants to grow – so there are huge ferns and moss covered ancient trees from the subtropics, so it’s all very Jurassic park and you kind of expect a little dinosaur to run across the path at any moment. There’s even a dog’s graveyard hidden away in the woods. (47 pics)


Another interesting place we visited was Conwy – home to the smallest house in the UK (which I remember visiting as a young boy, but it didn’t seem so small then). The town also has the remains of a big medieval castle and a very well preserved Elizabethan house. (31 pics)


But I know this is what you really want to see – pictures of me nearly drowning at the white water rafting centre – and the pictures where you can’t even see the boat for water that’s not trick photography, the boat was underwater  We did three runs down a length of river with class 2 and 3 rapids, crashing into rocks several times and getting soaked. Luckily that’s my idea of a good time. These pictures were taken by a very nice girl working at the centre; unfortunately I didn’t find anybody to take Kayaking photos  So there’s just the one next to the lake. (13 pics)


And that is about it for North Wales and the Snowdonia bit of our Welsh odyssey – next time Part 2: Going South ...

Posted by DKJM74 07:19 Comments (0)

London JET Training

2 days in London


Well, here I am back in the UK. I’ve been back for just over two weeks, but a lot has happened so I’m going to break it down into a few blog entries.

So, I left Kosice at about 3AM with friends who drove me and my dog (Dobby) to Vienna (via Hungary, meaning I went through 4 countries in 1 day!) Everything went pretty smoothly, apart from a surprise £150 fee I had to pay in England to release my dog from customs.

My sister met me at Heathrow and took Dobby off to his new home, and I took the tube to... well that was a problem. I accidently sent the bag, with all the details about the training I was attending in London, away with my sister. After a few phone calls I finally worked it all out and found the accommodation. It was student halls of residence at Queen’s University in London; quite a nice campus near Mile End built alongside a canal. The best thing about it though was the fridge which was covered in magnets printed with sexy words so you could make suggestive sentences.


Next two days were spent at the JET training – lectures, language lessons and Q&A sessions. I learned that I’m about the oldest person going, I don’t know half as much Japanese as I thought I did and even thinking about doing drugs in Japan is a really bad idea (that got repeated very often!)

Then when that was over I took the train to Nottingham, slept overnight and left for a holiday in Wales the next morning .... but that’s another blog entry 

Posted by DKJM74 03:46 Comments (0)

Out of Slovakia

The end is near, I leave tomorrow....

Tomorrow is my last full day here in Slovakia. It's been emotionally mixed; sad, when it finally hit me that this is really it, I might never be back here, but also full of happiness because of all the care and help that my good friends here have given me with a difficult move.

So, special thanks to Vlado and Paula for moving all my things, to Sasa, Miso and Kate for driving and my dog to the airport in Vienna and also to Nada for... well, so much help - I really appreciate all you've done for me and your friendship :-)

Anyway, before this begins to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech, I also have some photos to share! Vlado and Paula took me for a last trip to the Tatras a couple of weeks ago. For the non-Slovaks reading this - The Tatras are the mountain range that form a border between Slovakia and Poland, it's divided into several parts (High, Low and West Tatras) and is generally a very nice place where a lot of tourists go for hiking trips in Summer and Skiing in Winter.


To see the all the pictures you can look here


I also finally took the time to go and take a few photographs of the centre of Kosice. When I first moved here I didn't have a camera and later I'd been living here so long it didn't seem important to take photos - but now in my last weeks I went to the main street and took a few pictures to share with you all :-)


Again follow the link for the full gallery


OK, that's all for now. I'll try and take some photos during the London training too as I really want this to be a record of everything that a JET does during their time with the scheme. I've also decided to try and take one photo of myself everyday during my time in Japan so I can make one of those nice little time elapse videos at the end of it all - though I'll probably forget after 2 or 3 days!

Lastly - to save me always having to tell you all when I have added something new here, please subscribe to my Blog. There is a subscribe button on the top right of the page, use that and you'll be notified when I put up new photos or anything OK.

Bye for now,

Posted by DKJM74 23:40 Archived in Slovakia Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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