The Great British Holiday Day 6: Prestatyn-Portmeirion
We get out early when it's cool and make for Portmeirion, hoping the car is going to hold out. It seems fine once we're on our way. First stop Betws-y-Coed, a nice wee place but very touristy. There are lots of towns like this in Scotland - half settlement, half coach park. But at least there's something to do here - a motor museum and a tiny train and old railway carriage turned into a cafe. We don't spot this until we're well inside the Alpine Cafe, a sort of wholefood, or at least, good food kind of place. It's only 11 o'clock but I have a big plate of lentils. It's great to eat some decent food at last.
Next we drive through Snowdonia National Park, slightly confused about which one is Mt Snowdon. The fact that it has a railway going up suggests to me that it's a glorified hill, not a proper mountain like what we have in Scotland *sniff*. I wonder if we should be going to see it because it seems like a big deal, but most scenery bores me to tears unless it's something dramatic or unusual. I get my wish and soon we're driving through huge mountains of slate. It's great - really striking. And it's proper Welsh!
Next Blaenau Ffestiniog, home of Glyn from Big Brother and the Ffestiniog railway. I get Glyn now, and all that stuff about being from the middle of nowhere, although it doesn't explain why he can't make toast. I thought there would be bunting or something but no. Onwards to Portmeirion.
It's odd arriving somewhere that you really, really want to go to. (Alain de Botton covers this very well in The Art of Travel). I thought I could only be disappointed but it's great, even better than I could have imagined because the story of Clough Williams-Ellis and how he put it all together is so lovely. His motto was "Cherish the Past, Adorn the Present, Construct for the Future" and that's what he did, putting together this amazingly charming and idiosyncratic collection of buildings and found objects. It's a lovely place to wander through, noticing all the details (photos here). Tommy and Neil play on the beach (where Rover chases Patrick McGoohan) for ages.
We all come away happy and take the long way home through Caernarfon and Conwy. We try to get dinner in Conwy but it's 10 to 6 and everywhere is closing. I can't believe how hard it is to get fed in this country. We have a look for Britain's Smallest House, but couldn't find it. You can make your own joke there.
So it's back to Pontins and I feel excited and sad to be going to the show for the last time. It's such a great set-up having everying on your doorstep, all geared towards the kids but yet painless for adults. The Bluecoats have been great all along - you've got to admire their enthusiasm and their stamina. Everything is just at the right level - they didn't take the piss out of anyone or try to make in-jokes for adults, and it's sort of cheesy without being naff if that makes sense. After 3 nights of it I'm starting to hope someone will drag me up for the Cha Cha Slide but that's really Tommy's domain and joining in would only cramp his style. He says he wants to be a Junior Bluecoat. Truly, he has found his people and I wonder if anywhere else can live up to this.