Sunday, December 30, 2012


I am exhausted. 
This morning we all awoke very tired and groggy…though I was by far the most intolerable because I slept very little due to the horrendous snoring of both of my parents. Regardless of our sleepiness however, we dressed and walked to Cafe in the Garden for our lovely breakfast…the breakfast both my Father and I have been dreaming about for many months…the breakfast that would shame all other breakfasts in the history of mankind...the breakfast that would change the world. You can imagine the excitement, the Nticipation in the air as we approached Russell Square. I could picture the glass walls, the cozy bustle and clangs of food being prepared, the steaming coffee, the smell of bacon and eggs approaching...this was the meal I had truly been looking forward to ever since the trip had been announced back in October. With all of this being said, I'm sure you can imagine my puzzlement when we entered the park and the cafe seemed a little dark. "It must be a trick of the eye" I thought, "this can't possibly happen!"....but happen it did. OH THE DESPAIR. IMAGINE YEARNING FOR A MEAL FOR TWO YEARS, ONLY TO FINALLY ARIVE AND DISCOVER THAT NOT ONLY WERE THEY CLOSED TODAY, BUT THAT THEY'LL  BE CLOSED FOR THE NEXT WEEK. I was and still am heartbroken. Disappointed and with our hearts crushed my Father made the decision to go to the hotel restaurant next to Bloomsbury Park Hotel, where we had a decent but meaningless breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, fruit, toast, berries, and mushrooms. After we finished eating we discussed our day, though we didn't particularly plan it out step by step. From there we ventured down to Holborn station but popped into Sainsburys along the way so that I could purchase and Innocent smoothie (they had renovated the place slightly which I liked, but my father hated). From there we went over to buy our day pass tickets. Actual human ticketers were not in to work today so we were stuck using an uncooperative machine, which we had to get help with. A man helped us with our tickets and we were about to pay when our credit and bank cards were both denied, which caused momentary panic. My father and I purchased the tickets with cash while my mother attempted, and failed, to call Bank of America. We stood in the midst of a large crowd for a while trying to talk on the phone before we finally decided to go on to Cecil court and into Goldsboro books, so that my father could shop and my mother could make the call in a calmer, quieter area. We got off the train at Leicester square and began walking to Cecil, but when we turned on to the little alley way we immediately knew that something was wrong, as it was completely lifeless. I ran a little ahead to look at Goldsboro's door, only to find that not only were they closed for the day, but that they would be closed for the week as well. No where else was open either so my father was understandably upset. We peered through several store windows longingly as he and I both cursed our trip and the failure of our phones, the Cafe, and book shopping. Eventually he flung his arms in the air and declared that we were going to the National Portrait Gallery, which was only a block away. We sat in the lobby of the portrait gallery while my mother made the call to Bank America (they said it must have been the machine because our card should be working) and we then walked around the upper levels of the museum to see the Elizabethan portraits. Our intent when going there was to see a photography exhibit, but I peeked inside it and quickly decided that nothing about it interested me. The Elizabethan portraits were quite lovely however and served as a nice break from the chaos of everything else that had been going wrong. From there we walked to Covent Garden, where we decided to stop in the Apple store along the way to see if they could fix my father's iPhone. The store was mammoth (four whole floors!) and actually quite pretty with stone walls and glass-like staircases, and the people inside were extremely knowledgable. We also found out the problem…six months ago when we traded his phone in for a new one (the other one had problems and didn't work) the Apple people never exchanged the sim card, and so his phone has no sim card at all. The Apple people recommended that we buy a pay buy the use card for only 15 pounds, which we did, and they even helped set it up before the set us on our way. The phone still didn't work but we didn't worry yet because they told us it could take up to an hour to kick in, so we walked around Covent Garden and went into a few goofy shops to purchase small gifts for friends and family. Still though the phone was not working so we went back to the Apple store. They couldn't understand either why the phone still wasn't working, so they gave us a full refund and sent us on our way…so in essence we wasted about an hour for absolutely nothing. My father then went back to Cecil Court to see if anything was open, and fortunately Peter Ellis was (my father loves his store) was. As he shopped my Mother and I walked to Trafalgar square and to St Martens church. It was raining but it was the pleasant sort that meekly fades away once it hits your skin, the kind that feels cheerful to the touch. We walked happily through this welcoming rain and amongst the towering statues and tourists until eventually there was nothing more to look at outside. We went into St Martens church and pondered through the crowded, doleful crypt, and  we bought an absolutely revolting lunch that we didn't eat as we waited for my father to arrive. When he did we picked up our numerous shopping bags and headed over to St Pauls cathedral (we had to make several underground stops and line changes along the way). 
I have seen St Pauls countless times ow, yet even still it never ceases to amaze me. Its sheer size and intricate architecture are absolutely stunning, and the inside is just as gorgeous with its glass and marbling and detailed ceiling. Photography wasn't allowed but I still snuck a few silly photos in before heading down to the crypt (I suppose we were attracted to crypts today?). They have added a corny movie and a decent looking timeline to the crypt, but other than that it is still its gloriously eerie and comforting self, with the fading gravestones and placards dotting the floors and walls. In the gift shop we bought our little animal ornaments (we buy some every time we come) and we also encountered a horrendously malodorous homeless man who was simply pacing back and forth from wall to wall. When we left St Pauls we walked a block to the wobbly bridge, where I took hundreds of pictures of the dome and a mammoth, handsome Christmas tree. We all had a pleasant enough time with the wind and the gorgeous sights of the Thymes river and the globe and the London bridge. I was feeling great after that particular walk and wanted to stay out and about, but by that point both of my parents were complaining of fatigue and various pains (alas the trials of traveling with old people) so we headed back to the hotel room. Once back in the room I became extremely snug and comfortable and so was reluctant to leave the warmth, but after a short 20 minute both of my parents were feeling refreshed again and wanted to head out again. So it was that we set out once more into the streets of London, ready for an adventure...ready to go to the Barbican Center of the Arts and experience the Rain room. .
        I read about the rain room a few weeks ago online, and I thought it sounded very intriguing and have been suggesting a trip there ever since. We had to transfer tube lines a few times in order to finally reach the Barbican station, and from there we had to look at several maps in order to figure out his to get there, and then how to get to the Curve side.  The walk was long and slightly foreboding, but once we were inside we were welcomed by warmth and bright lights, and unfortunately, a long line. I feared that the line would take us two hours but in fact it only took us one, and while in it we chatted with a knowledgeable, nerdy, hipster-esque young man and his girlfriend about the Barbican and all of its different shows and exhibits. 
         The rain room itself was absolutely spectacular. After waiting in the surpisingly quick line we were waved through a large, dark entrance along with our new hipster acquaintances. Wandering through the shadowed hallway we were led on by the familiar sound of rain pattering in the distance, which was an altogether disorienting feeling of natural impossibilities. We reached the end of the hallway and were immediately blinded by a rescplended, brilliant light at the far end if the room, and the ever flowing silhouettes of people waiting to enter the ersatz shower. The exhibit itself was surreal in definition- a dark room illuminated only by dim purple lights and the effulgent pseudo sun on the far wall, a steady downpour of rain falling from the ceiling, engulfing you as you stand with your arms outstretched. There in the center of the room I lived a dream of standing in the rain, all whilst remaining dry. Dry? Yes, dry. That is the intrigue of the exhibit, the impossibility of defying the laws of nature. The water falling around you is perfectly real, for you can feel a faint mist that softly grazes by the hairs of your skin if you venture too close to the sides of the room...yet I stood there with my camera without any fear of getting wet. I took hundreds of pictures as I watched the silhouettes dance and kiss and gawk at the oversll experience. I was disappointed when my mother called for me to leave. When we emerged into the bright lights of the lobby area I was briefly blinded, and we were all hit with a sudden pang of hunger. My mother and I began to urge Pizza Express to my father but he was either unaware of this or chose to ignore us, as he decided to ride the train to Russel square and go to Il Fornellos Italian restaurant instead. The experience there was not particularly good. We wanted mussels (Which were the night's special) but they were out…the caprese was mediocre…the bread was quite lamb was flavorless and drowned in a goopey and syrupy dressing, and my mother's dish was dry. My father on the other hand loved his dish. After dinner we separated and my father went in search of a USA magazine as my mother and I walked back to the hotel, and we then went downstairs to ask if there was wifi in the lounge/bar area. There was.
We went back to the room to grab our computers and wait for my father to arrive, and when he did we declared that we were heading downstairs and that he was to join us shortly. The lounge was quite nice and my mother ordered herself a glass of wine, and the bar tender gave us a bowl of bar nuts. We sat there for a long while as my Mother checked her email and I edited pictures, and then eventually my father came down to have a quick glass of wine. It was our first true day in London this trip and it was certainly productive, though now I am even more frightened for Monday when we have to leave.

 The decorations at Covent Garden

 The large pans of Paella
 That entire "Merry Christmas" board was created with legos
 Trafalgar Square
  Trafalgar Square
 The ceiling of St. Pauls
 Photography wasn't allowed at St. Pauls but I was a ninja photographer and snapped a quick picture when no one was looking
 Ever since I was very little I have loved this sculpture by Henry Moore
 "London bridge is falling down"
 Oh look, a pigeon
St. Pauls from the Wobbly bridge

 My parents on the tube

 Walking into the rain room
 A group of people preparing to enter the rain
 A couple in the rain


London is just as fantastic as I remember it. We awoke this morning at 7:30, and though I would have liked to have stalled and stare wistfully out of the window, I was forced to rush downstairs to the breakfast room. My parents ordered the full Welsh breakfast (they gave me their blood pudding) while I ordered the smoked haddock with poached egg. My mouth still waters at the mere thought of it. The waiters and waitresses were all extremely kind, offering smiles wishing safe travels in their lovely Welsh accent, which I believe could make even the cruelest of words sound delightful. My father and I decided to stretch our legs before the long car ride, so we went and explored some of the trails neighboring the ocean, and along the way we stumbled across a quaint little light house. The little lighthouse was rather short, but still offered some stunning views of the water and the very edge of Borth-Y Gest. Near the end of our little excursion I found a way to the small tower that I had seen the night before, but unfortunately I couldn't go inside (of course this was discovered only after climbing the treacherously rocky hill). When we returned to the hotel my father settled our room at the front desk (leaving a hefty tip), while my mother and I quickly finished our last minute packing up in the room. Yesterday a kind Welsh woman recommended that we find a way to go to Black Rock Sands beach, and so as I packed I was under the excited impression that we would be going there. The farewells were quite sad as we waved and shook hands with all of the amazing people we had met, yet there was also the bitter sweet thrill of heading to London. As we were opening the doors to the car my parents told me that we would not in fact be going to Black Rock Sands, which was a great disappointment. My parents chatted cheerfully as we left Portmeirion, but as we drove farther and farther away from our little new-found Utopia I sunk lower and lower in my seat, both in exhaustion, and in sadness. While I was certainly excited to be going to London, I was heartbroken to be leaving Wales, as suddenly the inevitable end of our trip seemed hauntingly near.
I slept for a good portion of our six hour car ride to Heathrow airport, though I do know we stopped three times: twice for gas and once for a loo break. We managed to not become completely lost as we made our way back to the car rental place, though indeed we all gave a collective sigh of relief when we pulled in under the green "rental returns" sign. All seemed to be going well until the severe inspector was examining our car and found a scratch on the back left wheel. My father had to pay a 30 pound fee, and then an absurd fee for having to pay a needless to say he was furious. My family and I then boarded a shuttle to take us to Heathrow airport so that we could take the Paddington express into London, only to find that the Paddington Express had been renamed the Heathrow Express. Then of course, because it is a vacation of the Kinley's and bad luck seems to follow us no matter where in the globe we attempt to hide in, we were told that the new Heathrow Express was not operating. After standing for a moment or two in the center of the airport station my Father cursed under his breath and made the executive decision to take the underground to Russel Square, so we ventured over to buy our tickets. the ticket machines weren't working quite right however and so we needed the help of a very quick ticketing lady. From that point everything seemed to be going swimmingly, that is until we reached the underground gates. It was there that we discovered from an Indian man that many of the train drivers were on strike, and that Russel Square was not operating. Why the ticketing lady didn't tell us this when were were actually buying the tickets, we don't know. My Father began to panic, but the Indian man remained calm and recommended we take the western line to Hyde park and then a taxi to our hotel. Faced with no other alternative (the tickets that cost 15 pounds expired today) we did.
On the train my father grew increasingly concerned as to the amount of people that would be inevitably getting off at Hyde Park, and so I suggested that we get of the train a station earlier at Knightsbridge. Surprisingly he agreed. We rode the train for about an hour (standing the entire time) until finally we reached Knightsbridge and hobbled up the stairs and escalators into the street. Once again my father panicked slightly and my mother had to try and calm him down. There in the hullaballoo of the street we walked blindly through the throngs of endless crowds in the faint hopes of hailing a taxi. It took us a few minutes but finally one came gallantly to our rescue. in the back of the taxi we drove through London, which is one of my favorite feelings on the planet. There is nothing better to me than to sit in the spacious black back and gaze out the window at all of the bustling people and shining lights and cozy restaurants. The emotion that swells within me is one of absolute joy and comfort, a fantastic pang of feeling like I'm home. The cabby was excellent and took several shortcuts to our hotel, taking us down new side streets and showing off a side of London different than what I had noticed in the past.
Our hotel is quite large, while our room is quite small. On top of that you have to pay 60 pounds for five days of wifi, or 15 pounds for one night, which is ridiculous and I refuse to do.
After relaxing for a brief while in the hotel room we decided to walk towards Bloomsbury Park Hotel and the small Indian restaurant next to it that we adore. We walked through the streets, surrounded by the lights and smells and wide sidewalks and raucous sounds, and everything that I love about London suddenly hit me like a car crash. I was happy. Dinner was absolutely fantastic and perhaps even better than I remember it being...we ordered samosas as an appetizer, Lamb curry as my meal, and finally trufuto (tartufo) for dessert.  Paying was a bit of an adventure and my father was embarrassing in how he handled his annoyance with the system of paying, but when we finally were able to leave we went to the Brunswick shopping center to make sure that Carluccio's (one of our favorite restaurants)  was still there. It was. My mother made herself comfortable in the hotel, but my father and I were restless and so we flung our coats back on and took an absolutely delightful stroll.
When we came back to our room we relax for a while until both of my parents went to bed and I took a long, hot, shower. I now lay in bed listening to the muted sounds of London outside my window, combined with the wheezy snoring of both of my parents. I can hear the bells of a nearby church, and the flashes of whirring sirens, mixed with the constant undertone of rain against the window panes.  I am in London, and I am blissfully happy. Everything that I obsess and worry about is an eternity away, completely incomprehensible to this moment.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Today the alarm clock went off at around 7:16 am, and my Mother and I quickly jumped from bed and changed. The sky outside was a solemn dark blue, yet quickly brightening to the clear morning blue that I adore in the golden hour. From our foggy hotel window we could just barely make out that the tide was very in, but we both saw a small sliver of beach that extended along the seawall. With the hope of the small patch of sand in our minds we woke my father and ventured down to the beach, but as we descended down the stairs (which were soaked with shining pools of water) we saw that the patch of sand was inaccessible, and that at the moment it was only a small island. I was disappointed to say the least,  and now in retrospect I'm horrified with how dreadfully I behaved towards my mother . My mood was saved slightly as we were walking back up the stairs and met my father, who was just coming outside, and he suggested that we take a short walk. We went all along the short yet muddy path that bordered the ocean's side, and we then dared to follow the increasingly precarious, increasingly narrow path that cut through the woods. My mother was not pleased. The trail was covered with leaves and sporadic stretches of treacherous mud; both of which my father and I handled with ease, but she found to be horrific. It began to rain even harder (before it had just been a slight drizzle) and once we found our way back to the safe, paved path we raced to return to the comfort of the hotel. We changed and rested very briefly, and then went down to breakfast. We had hot drinks (I had a hot chocolate) as we sat at our normal table next to the large window that reached its arms to the ceiling, and my mother and I ordered the smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, while my father ordered the full breakfast. The food was orgasmic, though perhaps my judgment is biased because of the presence of black pudding, which is a rare and special food for me.
After breakfast we went into the tea room  and read for a while, which was very nice, yet I'm sorry to say I was extremely irritated with my mother for no explicable reason that I can remember.  We then went back to our room to open presents- I gave my father two converted DVD's of the old family VHS tapes, and my mother gave me a black skirt and a peculiar pair of white socks that I think might be suitable for a giraffe. I became utterly absorbed in editing photos,  and so as a result was not particularly responsive to the outside world. Suddenly however, my father, who had been standing serenely at the window watching the tide twirl and dance against the sand, turned and announced that the pouring rain had ceased. My mother and I leapt into action, thrilled that our plans of going to Borth-Y-Gest might prevail against the weather, and in a matter of minutes we had all changed and piled like clowns into the car. We drove blindly, guessing the way, to Borth-y-Gest, and I'm proud to say that I was a partial contributor in getting us there. When we arrived in Borth-Y-Gest my heart began to sink at the sight of an ugly cove, which might at certain times of the day look quaint, but at the moment looked naked. Boats sat on the sand, forlornly awaiting the return of the tide, and gulls made temporary homes of their decks. I was horrified that this was the place that I had made such a big deal about, but we kept of driving and soon as we rounded the little loop of the desolate town, my worries fell away.
THE VIEW!  There were cliff rocks and islands and coves dotting the shore, boulders that sat like monuments of history, trees that twisted to the water, the faint drizzling sound of waterfalls in the distance. I had my father click the shutter of my camera (I had set it up on a tripod) as I stood and twirled about on the very first rocky cliff I saw, and as I did so a small little audience gathered around me. There was a husband and wife, hand and hand; there was a man with his congenial brute of a dog; there was a woman squinting at the face of a phone. I noticed these people only after I had finished my photos, for as I twirled I was immersed in the beauty of this Utopia I had discovered. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my entire life. When we finished taking pictures there we called out to a kind looking Welsh woman who told us how to get around, and pointed vaguely in the direction of a hole in a rock wall that I had seen online. We began walking and I couldn't stop gasping at the stretching sea and the land and the snaking strands of sandy beaches in the middle of the water. For once in Wales it wasn't raining, and there was a patch of very slight blue sky (which was surrounded by threatening looking grey clouds) right above our heads. After walking for several minutes we were about to descend onto the beach itself, when the same Welsh woman as caught up to us and offered to personally lead the way. We walked down a large flight of stairs and across a sturdy, beautiful beach that had a view of moss covered rocks and water that stretched for miles. We walked up a sandy hill and then through a sandy path to a suddenly rocky cliff-like edge, and it was there that she pointed to a small little hole cut into the cliff. Light was filtering through the hole, rocks sat jaggedly in our path, the water crashed violently below, a mossy flat peeked through on the other side. My father and I didn't know how we could get there with all of my camera equipment (we needed to go down a flat, steep drop), and so we stood puzzled for a while planning the best route. The Welsh woman was very kind but at that point she was in the way, which I think she realized as she soon left us with a lofty "Good Luck" and a warm smile. My mother had left us a little farther back as she was tired of climbing the sandy hills, so it was just my father and I together with all of the beauty.  Eventually we climbed down a rocky portion of the drop, which required a few limber maneuvers and trusting leaps, but once our feet touched the bottom we were free. Soon we realized that we were running out of time if we wanted to make it to Christmas lunch in time (it was at 2:00) and so we climbed back up the hill and walked along the beach back to our car. I'll say it again…Borth-y-gest is the most beautiful place that I have ever been.
We went back to the hotel room and quickly changed into our finest clothes, and then made our way down the restaurant to have our fantastical Christmas Lunch. To put it was grand, elegant, exquisite. For my appetizer I ordered the squash ravioli with sage and spinach, and for my meal I ordered the most wonderful goose and vegetables dish that I have ever had in my enter life. It came with a delectable Juniper jus and both my father and my mother made sounds of pure ecstasy when they tried it (they both ordered the steak). For desert I ordered the cheese platter once again and enjoyed my chutney, and after that we all three went back to the hotel room complaining gleefully of how horribly ill we felt. My father and I went outside and I took the picture that I had wanted to take earlier in the morning, and we stood on the beach and watched as the sun (which made a very brief appearance) set behind the lighthouse. We were quickly losing light and I struggled with the settings on my camera, but all in all it was a gorgeous experience to watch the sun setting beyond the lighthouse. After I was finished I then changed on the beach into a pair of blue skinny jeans (I was wearing a dress so all that I really had to do was slide them on) and my father and I then stupidly went for a walk through the woods. The light betrayed is when we were in the middle of the woods and disappeared completely, so we were suddenly walking in practical darkness, only barely able to make out the puddles and rocks and steps in our way. We were looking for a small tower structure that we had seen during the day, but eventually we had to admit defeat and navigate our way blindly back the paved path. The warmth of the hotel was a relief, and it felt extremely cozy with its Christmas tree and lights and crackling fire, and so I quickly ran upstairs to change into a warmer shirt and warmer socks, and then back downstairs to sit next to the fireplace. As the fire spat its embers I edited pictures and my father read his map, and at 7:15 my mother came down and we all chatted comfortably for a while with a kind man named Glywn who worked there and was extremely passionate about scenic views and salmon fishing. At 8:00 we wandered back into the restaurant to partake in a grand looking buffet style dinner, and I tried to take as little as possible (I was still ridiculously full from lunch) but ended up with a rather substantial plate. I didn't care for the Waldorf salad, but I adored the pilaf and bean sprout salad and the smoked salmon. I had a small handful of grapes for desert. After we finished eating I began to feel extremely ill and as though I would be sick at any moment, so for a little while I was very short tempered and admittedly rude to my parents, which they both did not deserve (though my Mother was being very nagging), but I soon felt much better and we had a delightful time. When we returned to the hotel room we packed our bags and chatted while I continued to edit pictures, and at around 10:00 we attempted our first Skype video chat with cousin Ally back in Maryland. The chat did not go particularly well due to the fact that many people were still eating, but nonetheless we decided to schedule yet another conference in approximately 50 minutes for figgy pudding. I showered and we then all chatted for a little while longer, and when the time came Ally dutifully instigated the conference (which I was actually rather surprised about). The conference went considerably better this time and we actually managed to have a few decent conversation, along with also being able to partake in the atrocious singing of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", which my Father was not particularly pleased to hear. When the call was over we chatted for a brief minute and my father then bid us both a merry Christmas and a good night, and gradually my mother and I both drifted to bed. I am extremely upset at the prospect of leaving Wales tomorrow, which during this trip has quickly risen to one of my favorite places. The sheer beauty of Wales is simple astounding, and I can't help but gasp and swoon at virtually every valley and cloud covered mountain that I see. The sea here is fantastic and the woods that surround the valley are just as stunning, and I can't help but love the feeling that the pure silence brings…as though you have fallen off of the face of the earth into a fantastical oblivion. Merry Christmas. 

I was so relieved when we turned the corner and I saw this at Borth-Y-Gest
Moss covered rocks at Borth-Y-Gest
It's so quiet there...the only sound you hear is that of the waves and the wind
The fantastic Welsh woman who helped us
Looking back as we walked

We all agreed that this should be our future house once we win the lottery
Family picture!
The mountain across the way
The wine my parents had for dinner
My parents apparently don't believe in smiling for pictures
The moon at Portmeirion
Watching the sun set behind the lighthouse 


We got stuck in a ditch today, at the very top of a mountain. The day began early this morning when we awoke at approximately 7:45. We dressed and packed a little, and then made our way to the small house next to our room for breakfast...which was an adventure to say the least.  There was some absolutely horrible Welsh country music playing, which sounded like a dying, screaming Texan singer combined with the mournful cry of a beached whale, all set to a hideous  polka rhythm. My father seemed to be in physical pain. The toast was cold, the banger was mediocre, and all around the breakfast was an experience best not repeated. 
From there we finished packing and then piled into the car to go to a petrol station (we never got any petrol, due to the fact that the people there were idiots) and from there we headed towards Lake Vrnwy. I had found the lake online a few months earlier, and when it had been decided that we would be staying in Portmeirion for Christmas, I'd made my case that we should make a detour from Duchan Uchaf and stop along our way. The map had seemed simple enough, but we soon found ourselves on a perilous one lane road that paralleled a steep cliff, and even though I was absolutely thrilled at the views the road offered, my Mother was frantic and clutching the seat in panic. Everything was going wonderfully, and we were gawking at saw of the most gorgeous sights, when suddenly the winding road began to uncoil and straighten out. My father began to relax at the welcome of simpler driving, and I suppose that he must have taken his eyes off of the road for just a second to gaze at our surroundings. We were laughing about ridiculous ideas and enjoying the utopian joys of a road trip, when suddenly the entire car jumped in the air and our bodies jarred violently in our seats. "Shit!" my Father shouted, and peering cautiously out of the window we found ourselves rooted in a horrendously muddy ditch.
There is a phenomenon that my father explained to me long ago about the male gender-it is the necessity of men to, when first faced with a problem or a catastrophe like an erupted pipe in the street, or a fallen tree, or a hole in a yard, to stand and stare. They tend to flock together in a semi-circle and stare at these pipes and trees and holes; occasionally muttering to each other "that's a mighty big hole!" or even going so far as to scratch their heads "hmm" collectively. To a muted degree, it was this such phenomenon that occurred after we found ourselves in that wretched ditch. We climbed out of the car (I had to leap over the mud to tottering edge of the sharp hillside), and proceeded to stare at what we at the time could only describe as "our ruin." After a time our shocked, lulled interlude gave way to desperate action, and we all began to push, pull, and rock the car. Our efforts proved futile however, for no matter what we did, the car was simply stuck, stubborn as an insolent child. Throwing his arms in the air in defeat, my father gave up and began to walk all the way to Lake Vrwny, which was ten miles away. My mother and I waited in the car, busying ourselves with rearranging suitcases, and removing bags from the back seat in an attempt to make the load of the car lighter. We just about o give up, when suddenly we saw in the rear-view window a small car floating over the hills in the distance, slowly but surely approaching. The car pulled beside us, and the young man in the drivers seat accompanied by a sweet little girl offered to help us. Immediately I began to run after my father, bellowing his name into the foggy oblivion, incognizant of the burn in my legs as I sprinted over steep hills. He was walking briskly away, about to round a corner that would render him invisible to us, when finally my calls reached him. I ran back to the car, where my mother was being her sociable self and laughing with the man, who here on this page I dub our hero. My father reached us a few minutes later, and the two men then walked studiously around the perimeter of the car, pointing seriously at different areas. The hero left then to drive back to his house and grab some rope, and it was then that we were able to actually appreciate our surroundings. We were left alone in the absolute middle of no where. It was utterly silent, and we were surrounded by wisps of clouds that would ever so often engulf us. My father paced back and forth, my mother sat huddled inside the warm car, I wandered up the hills and down the road, taking pictures of the desolate wonderland. We had stumbled upon nothingness, the silence was unlike anything I have ever heard, ever experienced. A noiseless breeze rustled the brush, fog and mist rolled through the hills, a waterfall flowed far in the distance, sheep dotted the hill below. When the man returned he, like a magician, popped off a secret square from the front of the car, and wouldn't you know it a metal loop appeared! He attached a hook and a rope, climbed into his own car, and within a matter of mere seconds we were free. After that everything happened very quickly, as my father gave our hero a brief but heartfelt thank you, and he drove hurriedly away, his silver car shrinking into the distance. After a few minutes of re-rearranging our bags, we followed suit and continued on or considerably slow way.
Lake Vrnwy was even more beautiful than in the pictures, with mountains galore that were blanketed with evergreen trees, and at their foot a great lake stretching beautifully and falling subtly into forest. We took the drive around the perimeter of the lake, and I made my father stop numerous times in order to take pictures. There was one time in which we all got out and walked amongst some picnic tables, when suddenly I slipped and fell and ruined my jeans and had to change. After that we talked to a nice woman who owned a dalmatian and she directed us to the nearest petrol station, which happened to be on the other side of the dam. We got our petrol at a cheap little shack and then continued our drive, and I couldn't help but think to myself that it was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. 
After that we drove on a few more mountain roads (which were marked as "B" roads) until we eventually reached one labeled welcomingly as "A". Not to brag or anything, but once on this road it was I who took control of the map and successfully directed us to Portmeirion.
 Portmeirion is really and truly a lovely place, if not a little cheesy and movie-set-esque. The buildings are all vibrantly colored and there are fountains galore, and there are little colorful terraces leading down to the beach. The beach is lovely and at low tide you can walk far out into the normal reaches of the war, and from the beach you can walk up a flight of cobblestone stairs and reach our hotel. The hotel is upscale, to say the least. When we first walked through the door I was was offered a glass of mulled wine, which I took and drank happily (I have since discovered that I really love mulled wine). We were then offered a room for free because they were afraid that we wouldn't be comfortable enough in the grand Peacock suite. We took the room gladly with the intent of me being able to have my own room. There are tiled floors and grand staircases; there are sophisticated  tearooms and waiters who pop up like wac-a-moles, always prepared to offer "assistance." The suite is unbelievably large, with a luxurious bed, a seaside view, a fireplace, fine tables, and a large bathroom. Sitting in our room on a coffee table was a bundle of complimentary presents in stockings, which consisted of a variety of things from the local shops. We walked around town from 3-4 because the shops closed at 4, and at one point I separated from my parents and ventured off on my own. I explored several of the town's little nooks and crannies, taking pictures and poking around the beach. When I got back to the room my parents had changed into nicer clothes and were about to head down to the cozy lobby for afternoon tea, so i quickly threw on a skirt and combed my bushy hair to join them. We sat by a crackling fire, eating sandwiches and drinking steaming hot chocolate, all whilst being serenaded by an extremely talented welsh high school choir. It was one of those magical moments in which I closed my eyes and pictured the room exactly as it was around me in order to soak in every detail, and sear the memory into my brain. I listened to the singing and the hushed chatter of the cloisters of families scattered about the the common rooms, and it was then that my situation began to truly sink in. It hit me that I am actually in Wales at Christmas time…that this is real and not some sort of dream or fairytale. After tea we went back up to the room and we relaxed for a while, and then at 6:45 we walked downstairs and into the lounge area for dinner. In the lounge my parents ordered their wine and we ordered the first two courses of our meal (for my starter I got the avocado guacamole…and for my main course I ordered the lemon sole with crab) and we were then escorted into the main dining room. We sat by a window with a little candle, while a surly Russian woman waited on us and brought us each one slice of bread, which was much to my father's dismay.  When our food came our eyes widened at the careful composition of our plates, and as we tasted our entrees we all closed our eyes, making sounds of pure ecstasy. We ordered our deserts then, and as we waited for them to come out we studied the inhabitants of the different tables, fabricating little stories of their lives. After a few minutes our deserts came to the table, and my personal cheese platter was placed in front of me with two slices of cheddar, one slice of goat, and once slice of brie. There was a glorious chutney sauce, which while I devoured it gleefully, I couldn't help but compare it to the perfection that my father and I had last night. I admit that I also stole several bites of my father's pear and pecan tart.
After desert we walked back into the lounge, where my Mother drank a small cup of tea while my father and I had fun trying the variety of petit fours, and a kind old man complimented me on my posture. 
After tea we went back up to the room and I worked on editing pictures, and then at ten we decided to go back down so that my parents could order a glass or two of amoretto. I continued to edit pictures while they drank, and as they sipped from their ridiculously small glass we laughed and told stories in our little green armchairs next to a line of candles and a window. When they finished we went back up to the room and I played "A Child's Christmas in Wales" through my computer (we were going to play it on my father's iPod but his speaker wasn't working).
My mother fell asleep during "A Child's Christmas in Wales" like she always does, and after that the night slowly died down. My father decided to go to the other room that was supposed to be for me because he felt far too hot in the suite, and soon after that my mother went to bed. It is very odd because it is technically Christmas day now, and I should be feeling that familiar rumble of excitement in my stomach, but it simple doesn't feel like Christmas to me. Nothing about this trip feels like my Christmas. It all feels very foreign and very disorienting…though certainly not in a bad way.

 A mountain cloaked in clouds as we left the B&B
 This sign didn't comfort my mother who was scared to death at the top of a desolate looking mountain
 Stuck in a ditch
 Lake Vrnwy
 Lake Vrnwy
 Waterfall at Lake Vrnwy
 The lovely watchtower at Lake Vrnwy
 It was just so gorgeous there
 The evergreen and mist shrouded mountains surrounding Lake Vrynwy
 He was standing in the road as we were driving by

 The town we're staying at for Christmas
 It's Portmeirion
 It's lovely
 And has direct access to the beach
 Which I took advantage of numerous times
This lovely choir group sung Christmas carols to us all in Welsh, and were absolutely fantastic