Two years ago, we started saving. We knew it would take a bit of time to save up enough. We were dreaming of getting away, of having an adventure. So we said....if we can save enough, we will go....for a few weeks....or better...a month. So we saved...and when we saved what we thought was enough to start making a plan, I took to planning with a passion. I had not been to Europe for many many years, and we thought it was long overdue. So where to go? We could go anywhere, but knowing how to narrow it down was the challenge. To fit as much in as possible without feeling too rushed is a balance. Adventure is not about rushing but having time to take it all in, after all.
Tim has family in Wales. We had been in touch over the years with Christmas cards and letters (yes, actual letters! It is very satisfying to see an airmail letter in the mailbox.) We decided that Wales was definitely on the list. The family lives in beautiful Beaumaris which is in North Wales on Anglesey Island. We wanted to stay close by to see them and also see the surrounding countryside. Some of the castles built by Edward I are very close by in the towns of Conwy and Caernarfon.
On this trip, I wanted to sleep in places that were just as memorable as everything else we came to see. I wanted something that perhaps fit the fairytale I had in my head. I was not sure it was possible with our budget, but I will let you in on how we did it in a little bit. To be clear.... I thought that maybe what I was looking for was just a fantasy.....I was thinking a little Downton Abbey, a little Secret Garden, a little Jane Austin and throw some green fields, sheep, rock walls, gardens overrun with boxwood and kitchen herbs....maybe a Gothic ruin or two. Could I find it? I did a little digging and and yes....it was amazingly easy to find.......thanks to Trip Advisor.
I am speaking of Bodysgallen Hall. One always takes things with a grain of salt when seeing a place for the first time on the internet. A second opinion is always a good thing. We really had nothing to worry about. Bodysgallen is breathtaking. It is a National Heritage Hotel with quite a history. It is believed that the original tower may have been a lookout for the castle in Conwy (built by Edward I in the 13th century) It grew over the next 600 years and was eventually refurbished in the mid-1900's. After that, it fell into disrepair until it came under the umbrella of the National Trust becoming the hotel and Spa it is today.
We spent as much time as we could possibly fit in roaming the grounds, and we still did not see everything we wanted to. We totally missed the Gothic tower on the hilltop above the manor house. But I hope our glimpse might be enough to tempt you to explore this part of the world yourselves.
The interior was as captivating to me as the exterior. When we arrived, our bags were taken to our room and we were offered tea in the front hall, tea sandwiches and all. It was a lovely way to start our first afternoon in Wales. It took me very little time to start taking pictures....
|The Bar was perfect for an evening cocktail|
I was half expecting Lady Mary Crawley or Mr. Carson around every corner. Just the feeling I was hoping to find.
As soon as we had our fill of tea and cucumber sandwiches, we headed back outside....more exploring.....
|Peonies the size of my head were in bloom|
|The formal garden|
|A wander in the woods|
|And here were just a few of the sheep we came across|
|Notice the headstones?|
If you look closely, you can see Conwy Castle dead center in this view from Bodysgallen Hall
If you are thinking of visiting Wales.... and I strongly recommend that you do....Bodysgallen is an amazing place to call home base. The hotel itself has a very good restaurant as well as a cafe, a very well equipped Spa/Gym building with sauna and indoor pool, garden tours, and amazing grounds. The staff were very attentive and kind and helpful with everything we needed, even when we returned very late one evening. They helped us order a wonderful in-room breakfast which came just when desired the next morning since we had to get up early to leave.
There are any number of tour companies that can pick you up in the morning, give you a private or group tour of the Northern Wales area and bring you back in the evening for a very reasonable price. We had arranged for a private tour and were able to see everything we were hoping to see at a very leisurely pace with the knowledge we had Bodysgallen Hall to come back to at the end of the day. It was amazing how much we were able to see in one day! (I will show you soon, don't worry!)
Originally, Wales was not going to be on our itinerary. It seemed a bit our of the way and hard to get to. We were basing that belief on dated information since high speed rail has cut travel time to Northern Wales to about three hours from London. I am so very glad we came. It turned out to be perhaps my favorite leg of our month long adventure. Whether it was my longtime interest in English History, or a girl's fascination with castles, kings and queens..... this place exceeded my great expectations. It was a bit of magic staying here that I will never forget, and hope to relive soon!
More about Wales very soon!
Hwyl fawr am nawr!