So at 10:30am I’ll be graduating with a Master’s degree in Screenwriting. To start with, let me explain how much I really, really dislike mornings. I’m contemplating staying up all night to make sure I get there in time.
I’ve spent several years getting to this point: I studied Welsh and English at A level, then a Creative Writing degree, then a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design because, according to my CV, I wanted to ‘gain a more thorough understanding of the production process’. And now, finally, we’re here.
I was so excited to start my two-year course. All was going well – I was getting 60+% grades, which at Master’s level qualifies as a Merit.
…that is, until March, when I ended up in the nuthouse. Since March, I’ve felt like a deflated balloon. I just stopped caring. It’s been a couple of months since I received my results, which I still haven’t opened because I don’t want to face the guilt of dad spending £4,500 on a degree that I barely managed to pass.
I had so many good ideas inside my head, but what came out on paper was half-arsed. I don’t feel like a master of anything.
I’m sad that I’ve let myself down. I’m nervous to see my lecturers because I let them down. I’m annoyed at myself because I was supposed to be more, but instead I’m only just making enough money to eat through my writing – forget rent, and the general cost of being alive. And I’ve had a bad week, which prompted me to scratch my arms and I don’t have a long sleeved dress to hide them.
I went to the pub with Dad, and tomorrow I know I’ll be okay, because I don’t have a choice. I’ll keep applying for jobs I might get rejected for, and keep writing about boilers and safe sex so I still have the right to call myself a freelance writer.
The one thing that comforts me is this blog. Right now I should be dying my hair, ironing my dress, finding unladdered tights, and maybe checking what grade I actually got for my degree. It reassures me that I’ll always be a writer, because all I’ve ever wanted to do is write. I’m guessing around 10 people will read this blog post, but that’s okay, because it will be out there in the universe, existing, regardless.
There are plenty of traditional Welsh gifts out there. Love spoons, slate coasters, salt… but to be honest, as a 24 year old female who isn’t a grandmother I wouldn’t be that impressed with a spoon, no matter HOW MUCH?!?!? it cost.
Instead, here’s my pick of Welsh-inspired Christmas gifts, which prove that Wales can be cool…right?
I once had a fictitious Facebook profile named Welsh Chick Issues. Then Welsh Girl Problems came along who was much funnier. I catch up with her posts on social media when I’m feeling homesick, and now she’s got some lush merch on offer. I actually bought the ‘Tywysoges’ jumper a couple of months back.
I met author Siôn back in 2012 at the Terry Hetherington Young Writers Awards in Swansea (shudder). After I read aloud my work he came over to tell me it was funny, so obviously I liked him immediately.
Siôn yn dysgu’r bychan sut i gyfarch Saeson
Siôn is himself a highly entertaining writer, unfortunately even more so than me, and I can’t wait to read this collection of essays, short stories, cartoons, poems, comics and a recipe for cawl. Nice one mun!
I visit Wales’s first chili shop in Beaumaris whenever I need a present for Dad. The owners are fab and customers are free to sample the huge range of products available, and conveniently there’s a legendary ice cream shop situated across the road.
I like the Cheeky Girl, whereas the boyfriend prefers the Bad Boy. Reckon we’re a bit wrong for each other if you ask me.
The chili marmalade is surprisingly moreish, and there’s even chili jewelry.
I would say you’re more than welcome to buy me this for Christmas but to tell you the truth I impulse bought it at the Electric Mountain gift shop in Llanberis several years ago. Tidy.
If you’re wondering what else I’m giving this Christmas, Mam’s getting this vaguely overpriced but had-to-have-it bunting by Elements Crafts (£15), whilst I bought soap containing world-renowned Anglesey Sea Salt for the boyfriend’s mum (£4.50 wrapped), in the hopes she’ll like me cos I’m exotic. And for Dad, an album by the true love of my life Meilyr Jones, partly so I can steal it.
Even if my suggestions are too ridiculous for your tastes, I hope I’ve inspired you to shop local.I’m a firm believer that unless you’re gonna put thought into presents, you may as well not bother. I love searching independent shops for Christmas gifts, especially around Beaumaris and Betws y Coed.
Now that I spend most of my time in Liverpool, it can be lonely without anyone to speak Welsh and discuss sheep with. I personally would love any of these gifts to remind me of home.
I feel for all these tourists, because there’s so much more to Llanberis than a big rock. So, to make life easier for those of you visiting Wales, I’ve compiled a selection of my favourite and vaguely alternative things to do in Llanberis.
My boyfriend had never been to Llanberis, so our recent visit began at legendary greasy spoon Pete’s Eats.
Pete’s is always packed full of travellers, all of whom look like they deserve a 2000 calorie breakfast. We, on the other hand, did not.
With our bellies full, it was time to do some exercise. Maybe.
Go on – show me an English high street with better views.
But first, we popped in to The Snowdon Honey Farm & Winery. It’s run by a lovely old Welsh couple who let us sample various alcoholic concoctions, fuelling us for our mission to the waterfall.
Having visited Llanberis countless times, I decided this was the day I would finally find the waterfall. I failed, again – even by following the ‘waterfall’ signs – and ended up walking along the train track instead (not advisable).
Down at the lake i.e. Llyn Padarn, you can hire a row boat for about 6 quid, or take the Llanberis Lake Railway around it. You can even get in the water for a kayaking lesson, among other water sports.
If you want to experience a mountain without having to actually climb one, you can take a bus deep inside the Electric Mountain, which my mum assures me is brilliant and cracking value at £8.50 per adult.
There are plenty of things to do for free in Llanberis, too, my favourite being feeding the ducks.
Walking to the other side of the lake you’ll pass my favourite spot, Dolbadarn Castle. I camped and got steaming drunk here last summer, and it’s the best place to watch the sunset from.
Once you’ve hit the other side of the lake, there’s a cluster of attractions to keep you occupied. The National Slate Museum is actually better than it sounds, whilst the Quarry Hospital Museum is also interesting, housing some of the original equipment from the 1800s (I like to play dead in the mortuary).
Another of my favourite spots is the Vivian Dive Centre, best visited at sunset when you have the entire hidden lake to yourself. The water is so blue it looks like a tropical lagoon. It’s worth noting that although anyone is free to enter, this lake is bloody deep so don’t be doing anything stupid like jumping in (although cliff diving is popular).
Right next to the dive centre is this spot:
Climb right to the top of the tracks and you’ll find spectacular views from the Dinorwic Quarray and buildings and machinery from bygone days.
Though not to everyone’s taste, I’ve saved my favourite ’til last. Located up in another quarry on the outskirts of Llanberis, near the Siemens factory, is an abandoned WW2 bomb store. It took us three attempts to find the place, which involves crawling through fences and various downright dangerous misdemeanours. It’s one of my most beloved spots.
There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, including the interior, made possible be whoever keeps forcing the door open with an angle grinder (cheers). It isn’t for the faint-hearted: take torches, because you won’t see a hand in front of your face otherwise.
Of course, this adventure technically involves trespassing. However, local kids and urban explorers have been visiting for years. If you’d rather let someone else do the dirty work, you’ll find plenty of reports and photos here.
I would recommend staying a couple of days in Llanberis, maybe at the hostel above Pete’s Eats or The Heights bunkhouse, which is a great spot to chill with a beer after a long day.
The main thing I would say is to explore. Ignore all the advice I’ve just given you and do your own thing. Follow your nose, and you’ll find the lush picnicking spots Trip Advisor won’t tell you about.
What are your favourite things to do in Llanberis? Have I missed anything out? And most importantly, have you found the secret lake? Let me know in the comment section!