Have Bag, Will Travel
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Tag Archives: Bala Lake Railway
“The lake (Bala) has certainly not its name, which signifies ‘Lake of Beauty’, for nothing” – George Borrow, an English nineteenth century travel writer.
As it happened the weather had seemed to settle down into a sort of pattern; it rained at night and in the day it was dry and the sun came out and that was perfectly fine by us.
As with any holiday, this one started slowly and then gathered pace towards the end and almost before we knew it, it was approaching the end of the week and fortunately the weather had one good day left for us.
The children wanted to go back to Aberdovey and try their hand at crabbing and there was no way of negotiating any sort of different day or amusement so we loaded the car and made our way back to the coast.
I had forgotten just what good fun this was, I hadn’t been crabbing for probably fifty years, I didn’t even take my own children when they were young, but we bought nets and lines and bait and made our way to the harbour to find a pitch. The memories were flooding back so thick and so fast that it was like trying to mow the jungle.
We used bacon for bait and it was so successful. Like most people I like a slice of sizzling bacon, usually between two slices of bread, but these crabs like bacon more than anyone or anything I know, either that or they are just plain stupid. Within seconds we had our first catch and then over the next hour they just kept being pulled out of the sea with such regularity that it became monotonous. I have never been deep sea fishing but I imagine a marlin or a swordfish is going to put up much more resistance than these dumb decapod crustaceans.
Eventually the children tired of easy fishing and I was glad about that because to be honest I was scared stiff about one of them getting over excited and falling thirty feet or so into the water and then me having to go and try and rescue them so I was pleased when they poured the poor things back into the sea (presumably to be caught again ten seconds later) and we made our way to a nearby pub for lunch. I had a beer to calm my nerves.
Sally drove us back to Bala where the weekend excitement had started early (this being Friday) with a steam gala so she dropped us off at the station at Llanuwchllyn and swiftly left us to go into the town for some retail therapy. Kim, by the way was so stressed by day six that she had taken the opportunity to stay at the cottage for some quality ‘me’ time.
The steam gala was a predictably amateurish affair with a few old cars and lorries and some rail enthusiasts selling books and running their model railways but the children enjoyed a second ride on the Lake Bala steam engine and if I am entirely truthful so did I as the engine called Maid Marion pulled the coaches alongside the blue waters of Lake Bala, at four miles long the largest natural body of water in Wales.
At the Bala terminus there were more memories for me because here was an old Routemaster London bus , the type my granddad worked on as a conductor out of the Catford garage in south London. I am not sure what it was doing here in rural mid Wales but the children liked riding on the top deck and Patsy declared it to be exciting because it was ‘my first ever time on a double decker bus!”
I enjoyed Lake Bala and Wales, it was a simple holiday, the sort that I remember from my own childhood and from taking my own children away when they were young. I am convinced that youngsters don’t need water parks and amusement arcades when there is a wide open beach and the sea, the countryside, a stream to fish in a thrilling steam engine ride.
Kim enjoyed it so much that she has decided that we are going to live there!
What simple pleasures make a holiday for you?