Family Reunited!

We’ve had the loveliest family reunion in the past weeks, dear friends – my Mum came all the way from Greece to visit us! After all she’d been through last year, she certainly needed a change of scenery, and she’d never been to the British Isles before, so it was a big adventure for her, and it was a great joy for us, showing her around our home country and more.

She’d arranged for a very reliable friend to take care of our tomcat Jimmy, and so she went on the plane from Athens to Manchester where we were waiting – and waiting, and waiting… Eventually it arrived, at 3am instead of midnight; good thing we’d already booked a hotel room at the Premier Inn… After a good night’s rest, the next morning we went on the train to Holyhead and were at last able to show her our lovely flat – and she felt at home immediately!

With the occasion of staying at the other end of the ferry route to Ireland, Mummy had already expressed a keen desire to see Dublin, so we’d booked a room for two nights, and after a relaxed weekend we set out on our next journey; I couldn’t wait for it myself, because we hadn’t been to the most beautiful city in the world since our honeymoon, either! We hopped on the ferry, accompanied as always by our three Celtic friends (Lep would never have forgiven us if we’d gone to Dublin without him…), ready for a new adventure.

We stayed at a noisy but nice hotel close to the centre, and the first thing we explored on our first evening in dear old Dublin city were, of course, the pubs; and we found a good old-fashioned one quite close to the hotel which served not only Guinness and whiskey but also a great beef stew – the perfect introduction to Ireland for my Mum!

The next morning, we started out on our tour of that magically beautiful city centre of Dublin – from Stephen’s Green, where a pigeon was sitting demonstratively on the head of Robert Emmet’s statue…

… to enchanting and lively Grafton Street, where my Mum and me did some shopping, of course…

… to Kehoe’s in Anne Street, one of Dublin’s many iconic pubs…

… to the historical GPO, the General Post Office where the Easter Rising of 1916 took place.

That was just about enough our (well, mostly my) feet could take for one day, so we took a taxi back to the hotel and had another tasty dinner at the ‘Bleeding Horse’ before we fell into bed exhausted.

The next day, St Patrick’s Cathedral was on the list; we wandered around the impressive Gothic structure, and afterwards we did exactly what Dubliners do of an afternoon: we sat in the beautiful park next to it, and watched birds and dogs and tourists for hours!

And finally, we went up to Dublin Castle; I remembered it well because it had impressed me a lot when I saw it for the first time – not only the massive medieval structure, but also the cheerful colours part of it has been painted in!

Then we went on the late ferry back to Holyhead, and enjoyed a few quiet days at home – but Mummy just can’t sit around doing nothing, so she did a lot of sewing for us, all our clothes that needed mending which I must shamefully admit I’m absolutely useless at…

But there was more sightseeing on the schedule, places that my darling Ian and me had been planning to visit ever since we moved to Wales, but we didn’t get a chance due to all the lockdowns – and the most fascinating of them is Conwy Castle, one of the fortresses Edward ‘Longshanks’ I (well known to movie fans through Patrick McGoohan’s brilliantly evil portrayal in “Braveheart”) had built to subdue and oppress the Welsh in the 13th century. It used to be a symbol of tyranny, but it’s now legally ours, and the Welsh flag flies on top of it!

I’d seen it from the train numerous times before, but when we actually entered it I was just completely gobsmacked – it’s one of the biggest and best preserved medieval castles in the world, after all! We took loads and loads of photos as we strolled through the halls, chambers, towers and gardens and let ourselves be taken back into time…

Another thing we absolutely wanted to do was to show my Mum all around Anglesey; for that purpose, my darling gentleman Ian hired a car to drive us around our beautiful island that’s full of natural and historical landmarks.

Our first stop was culinary, though – I spotted a place called the ‘Oyster Catcher’ on the Google map as we were heading towards Rhosneigr; and where there’s an oyster catcher there must be oysters, I thought, and we hadn’t had any since our honeymoon in Ireland… So, we indulged in a luxury brunch with seafood bisque, oysters and white wine – you only live once!

Then, while driving through the scenic south of Anglesey, we had another culinary stop in Aberffraw, for tea and teacakes al fresco this time; an absolute must for every visitor to Britain…

Then we went on to one of Anglesey’s most important, and my favourite ancient monument: Bryn Celli Ddu, the 5,000-year-old Neolithic burial cairn, one of the best preserved of its kind. It’s quite a walk from the car park through the meadows past the cows, but it’s worth it every time – Mummy was very impressed, too, and she even ventured inside into the dark burial chamber!

We went around the coast and on to Benllech, where my darling Ian and me had stayed during our first holiday together, and which boasts of lovely beer gardens and a very popular sandy beach.

And while coming back into Holyhead, we also took the opportunity, while we had a car, to at last find our very own standing stones which to our shame we hadn’t discovered yet even though we’ve lived here for almost two years now: Trefignath, another burial site from before 3,000 BCE. A breathtaking site with three burial chambers, one of them topped with portal stones; this is just as good as Stonehenge – why hadn’t we got around to visiting it earlier?? When you’ve got a guest to show around the place, that’s when you really discover your hometown…

Also, this was of course a very good occasion for a few delicious restaurant meals: we went to a renowned seafood place in Trearddur Bay…

… and to our own local Indian next door – my Mum’s first Indian meal in her life!

And finally, on the last day before my Mum’s return to Greece, we enjoyed a perfect sunny day on the beach, followed by a few pints of ale in our local pub!

Long before Mummy went back on the plane to Athens, we’d already agreed on her next visit here next spring; there’s much more left for her to explore here in Britain, and we can’t wait to have her here with us again!

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