|Bodnant Gardens, overlooking Snowdonia national park, Wales|
Have you been to Wales? Before our weekend away, I hadn't realised how beautiful it is. I spent much of the time we were there breathing in the views and feeling grateful for the clear weather. We had rain when driving across on Saturday, but Sunday and Monday were beautiful days, cool but sunny (in contrast, it rained so much in London that a local road floaded!).
|Our baby hire car (a Toyota Aygo)|
There was a lot I enjoyed about the trip. We hired a car, which was itself exciting after 6 months without driving. On the drive up, we stopped in Solihull, where Mr Bite grew up and I enjoyed visiting for the first time in 2012. On this visit the town was crowded with early Christmas shoppers, but even so remained attractive.
|Take away lunch (cous cous with dried fruit and pecans, and a festive latte)|
Then, of course, there was Conwy itself. Sitting on the north coast of Wales, it is a waterside market town that retains its castle and town walls. We arrived too late to see much on Saturday, but even in the darkness the castle was imposing. By sunlight the next day, it was magnificent.
|Views from Conwy castle|
The one disadvantage to Conwy is a lack of evening eating options. I had focused on the local Italian, Alfredo's, which has good reviews and appropriate pre-running fare. Alas, all the other runners had the same idea and the restaurant was fully booked. They were able to make us take away pizza so we enjoyed that in our hotel room, but a few more restaurant choices would have been nice.
|Alfredo's vegetarian pizza - minus cheese for my tastes|
I signed up for the Conwy half marathon because of its scenic course, and the route was as beautiful as I'd hoped. There was an enormous hill in the middle, known appropriately as the Great Orme, but even that was offset by the views on the way up and (even nicer!) the way down. Starting and finishing by the castle was great, with the view on the final stretch being good enough to mask some of the late run exhaustion.
|Race finish area|
I went into the run with no time goals, and this was just as well as my watch died before the race started. It was really odd running without any sense of pace or time, but in the end I finished in roughly the time I'd expected - slower than my runs to date, but not too terrible given my relaxed approach and the Great Orme half way through.
After recovering from the run, we spent Saturday afternoon wandering Conwy castle and the town walls. There were slightly more steps in the castle than my post-run legs liked, but other than that, it was a great few hours with semi-ruined rooms and turrets to explore.
On Monday morning, we visited Bodnant Garden, 15 minutes out of Conwy. Run by the National Trust, the gardens incorporate formal flower beds, open expanses of grass, lots of trees, and plenty of water features. It was beautiful, and all the more so for pretty much having the gardens to ourself (a Monday out of season will do that). I took a ridiculous number of photos, so have summarised highlights in collage form rather than trying to share lots of separate images.
From the gardens, it was back to driving and back to London - but with a really great weekend behind us, and the benefit of a short working week ahead.
Have you been to Wales? Or taken a mini break recently?