Hello Koala fans!
As some of you know, I struggle with anxiety and depression from time to time. Shortly after my last entry I had about two weeks where I just wanted to retreat from everything. I haven’t been working since the end of April and the days were starting to blur together for me. I needed something to shake me out of my mood and that’s probably why I agreed to go to Wales with the family. It’s been a long time since I last went away with them – some 14 or 15 years by my count. Every year the family visits a campsite on the shores of Lake Bala in North Wales. It’s pretty big – about 5 miles long and half a mile wide. It’s also very deep – 300ft of icy cold mountain water. I once used a glass-bottom box to look down at the lake bed as my dad rowed us out in his dinghy and it’s like looking into the maw of oblivion. Suffice to say, swimming wasn’t going to be part of the trip. It would be good to get away though. Some time to relax with peace, quiet….
The bandit-faced accomplice in the photo above is called Cooney. He’s one of many plush raccoons that belong to my sister and he’s been in the family for about 20 years. The journey up to Wales from my home in Hampshire would make for extremely miserable reading, so we’ll gloss over that. The first day of the visit involved a trip to a Borth Animalarium, a small zoo on the coast of North Wales. It’s a place the family visit every year because they have a pair of raccoons which, as you may have gathered by now, are a very popular animal for us. Disappointingly, there were no koalas at the animal sanctuary but we did manage to snap a photo of another Australian resident:
Hiding in the top of the photo are a pair of laughing kookaburras. Kookaburras are related to kingfishers, so I was quite surprised at how much larger they are compared to the tiny UK kingfisher. Much like the Koala, they were not particularly active; content instead to just glare disapprovingly at me. Clearly I’m not particularly funny. >.>
Later that evening, when we were back at the campsite, I engaged in another family tradition:
This was pretty much as close as I got to cooking on holiday – a tent isn’t really the best place to work culinary magic given the lack of an oven, fridge and plug sockets. However, it wasn’t my only cooking based encounter while I was away but I’ll come to that in a moment. The second day of the trip involved a train ride to Porthmadog on the Ffestiniog Steam Railway. It was very scenic; the train takes you past waterfalls, ruins and around the edge of the mountains. They even have an in-seat buffet service which was nice.
After arriving back in Porthmadog, we went browsing in the Portmerion pottery shop. Portmerion was the setting for a show called The Prisoner in the 1960s and it has some very impressive arctecture. It’s also well known for its high quality ceramics and glass. I don’t usually get too excited over this stuff until I found that this shop had a very large section for kitchen utensils. All manner of slicey things, whizzy things, blending things and things I couldn’t even begin to describe. Tempting as it was to walk out with half the shop, I instead settled on a rather odd book:
It’s called Chocolat by Michelle Brachet. It comes in a ribboned box and the book is wrapped in foil, just like a bar of chocolate. When you unwrap it, you see the cover of the book is shaped like a bar of chocolate too. The most unusual thing though is the book smells of chocolate too! It’s not quite a recipe book as such, instead the book looks at the history of chocolate, how’s it’s made (did you know chocolate has to be tempered, just like a piece of iron?) and a few tips and tricks for making home made chocolates too.
It wasn’t quite the end of my summer adventures – a little while after we got home, we took Lilly (my niece) for a day out at the park. On this particular day, the miniature railway was offering free admission for children that were accompanied by a bear (a sort of teddy bears picnic).
I held out little hope that the Koala would behave himself while he was there and sure enough, I caught him trying to steal one of the trains:
Before I could grab him, he ran off again, this time gatecrashing a teddy bear’s picnic:
No you’re not – you’re a marsupial.
Things are slowly getting better for me and I’m starting to feel whole again. I’m still trying my best to stick to the update-every-two-weeks thing but it really depends on how I’m feeling. I also might be starting a new job soon, which means I’ll have more disposable income to spend on ingredients and kitchen stuff. Whatever happens, I know I’ll have my loyal sidekick with me along the way.
I know. ❤