The Hut was everything I had anticipated and more. I know that sounds cheesy. It really was chicken soup for the soul and it's just what I needed, right when I needed it. Here's to spontenaity! Google, book, go. OK, there was quite a bit of talking M into it first.
Our priority...my priority upon arriving was to light the fire. It was warm in no time at all. In fact we had windows and the top of the stable doors open most of the time despite bitterly cold winds. If we were to go again we'd take seasoned logs rather than use the supplied wood offcuts, they just burnt down too quickly. I woke both nights, in the small hours, perishing cold and had to light a fire just to get warm again. No great hardship really, it was quick and easy and I had the bonus of sipping a hot mug of tea whilst sitting in the glow of the wood burner whilst the world (and M) slept.
The view out over that vase of flowers was taken in the local community run pub. Rather than allow it to close the community took it over and trebled it's turnover in three months. It is quirky, meals are decided with a spin of the 'Meal of Fortune' and there's only one choice per night but you have to be quick, six to eight guests before you and you may miss out on it altogether! The bar staff are volunteers and not very knowledgeable about drinks (we asked for local cider and he suggested one that was made in Suffolk, but we didn't argue!). Sheep dogs were tucked in under every bar stool, including two adorable ones that had got soaked in the massive snow storm that we had on the first night. I made a fuss of them and there were both trying to nudge their wet faces into my lap in competition with each other. I'd have happily taken them home.
The local pub was also the only reliable source of a mobile phone signal for M, and free wifi. Both of my evenings spent there involved very little conversation with M, but quite a lot of convention between him and the children. He even facetimed J to take him through the very tricky operation of feeding the cat and the dogs!!
Ella, ever the delegator, managed to offload all the pet feeding and letting in and out duties to Jake, in exchange for taking over the running of the dishwasher. After failing to actually turn it on three times because she'd held the button down...apparently this puts it on dryer mode, she eventually got it to wash. Thankfully they coped with the meal times perfectly ok.
I'd forgotten just how baffling the Welsh language is despite all the multilingual road signs and place names. We pretty much made up our own pronunciations of places and were careful not to say them in front of anyone. Someone suggested we take the scenic route from our hut to Llangollen which turned out to be a highlight of the trip. 1300 feet up and I asked M why the hell we even went to Italy last year when we have one vehicle width mountain roads with sheer drops of hundreds of feet right here in the United Kingdom! In fact ours surpass the Italian ones any day because the barriers were either non existent or wouldn't have held a sheep back let alone a car! Needless to say I have very few photographs that actually capture that experience. I was too busy clinging on to the car door handle (for all the use that would have done if we'd careered off the road).
Another slightly hair raising experience was our attempt to walk over an Aquaduct that was 126 feet tall. It was spectacular. Canals go across with a path one side of them and a sheer drop the other side with only six inches of canal side between them and the drop. The sign that said small children would be able to fit through the old railings and fall to their death was probably what put me off the walk across. We got about a third of the way and neither of us were enjoying it so we turned back much to the amusement of local dog walkers. Harvey would have plunged into the canal for a swim and Riley would have dropped through the railings, guaranteed.
There were steam train rides at Llangollen and some other nearby places. All stations have lovely tea rooms but with only a short stay in the area we decided to save that for another time. There we canal trips we could have taken too, and we'd both have liked to have driven West to see Betws-y-Coed but that's also something we would do next time, and I do think there will be a next time. It was my idea of paradise and M said he thoroughly enjoyed it. E and J said that it was fun without us which isn't how I thought they'd describe it but I'm glad it was, so all's well that ends well.
Well almost. We stopped in Chester on the way home which was lovely. Before we left we had a delicious mug of hot coffee and then, about half an hour onto the motorway it closed, all three lanes our side and all three lanes on the other side at a total stand still for three hours! To say I was desparate for the loo would be an understatement, and M was cross I wouldn't get out of the car and pee on the verge in front of hundreds of cars and lorry drivers!!!