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Chwefror 2004 February

Letter from America

The best places are always off the map… by Sean O’Neill

We wanted to travel, (my wife and I) and with our National Holiday of Thanksgiving approaching and with it some time off, we thought this could be the time to experience the joys of exploring another culture and place!

Being of Celtic stock, (last name’s O’Neill) loving great conversation, fond of a wee bit of drink to grease the conversational wheels and an appetite for sharp wit and great humor we, (my wife Mary Alice being a true champion in letting me think I actually posses some wit) decided that it would be great if we could find some wonderful scenery, old castles and history and perhaps some contact with the locals. In movie terms: CUT TO: A5 motorway - Northern Wales, East of Llangollen.

Happy to be out of England, (you know what I mean) we found our way west, crossing into Wales, my Celtic heart beating faster. I was getting tired, (don‘t sleep on planes) and driving on the wrong side of the road was taking its toll, had made a few turns where I instinctively turned to our side of the road… (oops sorry mate), time to stop, get a drink and settle in for the fast approaching night. My OS map of Great Britain listed the nearest town of Corwen, but we were some miles from that and I really wanted to get out of the car.

Mary Alice spotted a sign for Carrog, a narrow road, (and what I thought was just another amazing ‘photo-op’ for her in a country that was growing more beautiful and more interesting with each passing mile) and with that sharp right turn we saw a stunning sight fast approaching, a fantastic stone bridge spanning a running river and what appeared to be some buildings one with a sign indicating a possible pub in the waning light!! AHA...

Could this be the moment where my pub fantasies begin to take flight? But with my wife’s words of, “It‘s probably some sort of art and crafts shop” as she zoomed in with her camera lens, “I think there is some sort of bird on the sign…” that sinking feeling began to hit me as I stared out at this, still worth the view no matter if I would have to get back in the car and drive to Corwen. So that is how we began our first day in Wales and how we landed in Carrog, the highlight (of many) of our stay in Wales.

Suffice to say, ‘thanks be to God’, for that was no Art and Craft shop we spent the better part of the evening and some of the morning in. More on The Grouse and the locals we met, (a whole other story for they are that interesting, and made our trip and our impression of Wales all that much more special) and on Wales in general in perhaps another issue… to be continued as they say.

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