There’s no doubt when it comes to Britain’s royal couple, Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as Americans we’re all a little fascinated and curious about what their daily lives are really like. To find out more, I traveled to Great Britain to North Wales to the the beautiful Isle of Anglesey, where the couple has been living for the past few years while William has served in the Royal Air Force that has a base on Anglesey.
What I found in my research for this Travel Therapy segment is that Will and Kate live a pretty laid back “normal” life on the island where the locals have truly embraced them and given them their privacy.
From the moment I arrived on Anglesey I was charmed by the island and could see why Will and Kate have enjoyed living here so much. I found this to be an ideal destination for a family trip because there are so many unique historic and cultural things to do and of course there’s the cool factor of being able to follow in Will and Kate’s footsteps.
For my trip, I made the small town of Beaumaris my home base because who could resist staying in the Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn, dating back to the 1400 where Charles Dickens once stayed. An added bonus, the Inn is right next to the stunning Beaumaris Castle that’s also hundreds of years old, talk about history!
I found one of the prettiest places on the Isle of Anglesey is Llanddwyn ( pronounced Cla-Dwin) Island. It’s about a mile and half walk on the beach to get to the island and the scenery is stunning so it’s no wonder this is where Will and Kate apparently like to walk their dog.
For more ways to follow in Will and Kate’s footsteps be sure to watch my latest Travel Therapy video above that gives you a ‘Royal’ Itinerary that the entire family will enjoy.
Another stop not to miss is the village in Anglesey with one of the longest names in the world with 58 characters…you have to see it to believe it so just check out the photo!
Village With One of the Longest Names in the World
After exploring Anglesey I ventured back to the mainland to discover more about North Wales where I found the people to be so warm and friendly. Besides speaking English they also have their own Welsh language and they’re eager to share what makes this picturesque part of Wales so special.
One highlight in North Wales is all the beautiful castles. A Travel Therapy favorite, Conwy Castle, pictured below, that’s more than 700 years old and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It looks like something out of a fairy tale. I stayed in the town of Conwy where I had a view of the castle from my hotel room at the lovely Quay Hotel & Spa (wwwquayhotel.co.uk) that’s right on the river.
Another castle not to miss in North Wales is Caernarfon Castle, where Prince Charles was officially named the Prince of Wales back in 1969.
Another beauty is Penrhyn Castle where inside you’ll find a slate bed made for Queen Victoria, along with priceless pieces of art, an impressive doll museum and an industrial railway museum.
Probably one of the things that surprised me most about North Wales is the thriving culinary scene with local specialties including Welsh lamb and beef and seafood like mussels and fish and chips. With farmers and food producers I talked to, like award-winning Cwt Caws goat cheese maker Nigel Jefferies, I found a real commitment to producing the freshest most natural food without using fertilizer on the land or chemicals on the animals.
A new innovative Welsh Food Center called Bodnant (www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk) has just opened up that has a lovely tea room and restaurant dishing up locally produced products and using traditional recipes. They offer some great cooking classes here as well. I tried my hand at making the delicious Welsh Cakes and have included the recipe below for you. Just a word of warning, they’re addicting!
There is so much to see and do in North Wales stretching from the Irish Sea to the Mountains, where gorgeous Snowdonia National Park is a favorite for walkers, hikers and climbers. So watch the Travel Therapy video and see what calls out to you and then get ready to fall in love with North Wales.
For More Travel Therapy Trips: www.traveltherapytrips.com
How to Get There:
It’s a lot easier than you think! I flew a new great non-stop flight on American Airlines (www.aa.com) from JFK International Airport direct to Manchester, UK (MAN). The flight only takes about seven hours and then it’s about an hour and a half beautiful drive to the Isle of Anglesey and North Wales.
How to Get Around:
Because there’s that whole drive on the ‘other’ side of the road thing, I found the best way to get around North Wales was to hire a private driver/guide with Special Group Tours (www.specialgrouptours.com) because SGT specializes in customizing trips just for you and their guides, like the fantastic one I had, Simon Baldon, have the knowledge and access to take you off the beaten path for a truly authentic experience.
Favorite Finds in North Wales:
Ye Olde Bulls Head www.bullsheadinn.co.uk
The Quay Hotel & Spa www.quayhotel.co.uk
Hawarden Estate Farm Shop www.hawardenestate.co.uk
Dylan Restaurant www.dylanrestaurant.co.uk
White Eagle Pub www.white-eagle.co.uk
Cwt Caws Cheese Farm www.ycwtcaws.co.uk
Pantdu Vineyard www.pantdu.co.uk
Bodnant Welsh Food www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk
Castle Hotel Conwy www.castlewales.co.uk
Pen-Y-Bryn Pub www.brunningandprice.co.uk/penybryn
St. Asaph Cathedral www.visitbritain.com
Penrhyn Castle www.visitbritain.com
Beaumaris Castle www.visitbritain.com
Caernarfon Castle www.visitbritain.com
Conwy Castle www.visitbritain.com
Wales Coast Path www.visitbritain.com
South Stake, Holyhead www.visitwales.com
National Slate Museum www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/slate
Snowdonia National Park www.visitwales.com
Llandudno Victorian Promenade www.visitwales.com
Trefriw Woolen Mills http://www.t-w-m.co.uk/
Tree Top Adventure www.ttadventure.co.uk
Welsh Male Choir- Colwyn http://www.cormeibioncolwyn.co.uk/
Get Your British On in NYC
While you’re waiting to visit Great Britain or once you’re back from your Travel Therapy trip and missing the British experience there are some fun places you can go in Manhattan to get your British fix. For the most authentic experience, I asked for help from a fellow journalist, Terence Baker, who is British but lived in New York for almost twenty years. Here are his favorite Manhattan picks in his own words.
For Food: The classic Brit fix for food has always been Myers of Keswick (that’s pronounced “My-ers of Kess-ick”; www.myersofkeswick.com) On Hudson St. between Horatio and Jane streets in the West Village, for Marmite (a yeast spread for toast), Walkers cheese n’ onion crisps (potatio chips), pork pies, real sausages with taste (an unknown concept Stateside), porridge oats, Jaffa cakes (sponge topped with marmalade and chocolare), PG Tips tea and other delights.
Restaurants – Two places, also in the West Village, stand out. Tea and Sympathy (http://teaandsympathynewyork.com) is on 108 Greenwich St. and even has a black London taxi available for hire. Inside all is Laura Ashley-style wallpaper, tea made the right way with a warm pot and a knitted hat, which the Brits call a cozy, and petite, overly sugared cakes. For that Brit staple fish n’ chips – and the fish really ought to be fluffy cod – go to A Salt & Battery (the name is a pun on the British criminal charge of assault and battery; www.asaltandbattery.com), which happily is directly opposite.
For Drink: – Brits like a drink, but many of the bars in New York City tend to veer towards the wonderful hospitality of the Irish, but when a Brit wants an ale the way it should be served, a degree or two below room temperature (certainly not near-frozen in a glass caked in ice), they head to favorite watering holes. The Churchill Tavern (www.thechurchillny.com) is a fine, relatively new drinking hole at 45 E. 28th St. that even has piped Winston Churchill speeches in the restrooms. British beers of choice run to Boddingtons, London Pride and deliciously creamy Belhaven. Another excellent choice way up cross the Upper East Side is Jones Wood Foundry (www.joneswoodfoundry.com) at 401 E. 76th St., which has as many British touches and serves good ‘ol honest English grub and UK tipples such as Fuller’s organic honey dew and Well’s banana bread ale.
A British Connection- Roughly in the South Street Seaport area of lower Manhattan, Hanover Square was named for King George I in 1714. Now almost three centuries later it contains the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Garden (http://queenelizabethgarden.org) that pays honor to the 67 British victims of 9/11 and continued UK-US friendship. Another place to reflect is the memorial mural of The Clash singer, guitarist and all-round visionary Londoner Joe Strummer (www.strummerville.com/strummerville-fundraiser-at-bowery-electric-nyc) on Tompkins Square Park by Ave. A and E. 7th St.
Traditional Welsh Cake Recipe
Courtesy: Cheryl, Chief Cake Baker at Bodnant Welsh Farms, North Wales
8oz plain flour
3oz white sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp mixed spice
A pinch of sale
A little milk to bind
Sift the dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder, mixed spice) together into a bowl. Cut up the butter and add to the flour. Stir in the sugar and fruit, pour in the egg and mix to form a dough, use a little mike if the mixture is a little dry. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about the ¼ inch thick. Use a pastry cutter to cut into rounds (about the size of a silver dollar). Cook the cakes on a greased bake stone or griddle until golden. The heat shouldn’t be too high, as the cakes will cook on the outside too quickly and not in the middle. ( Cook about a minute so the inside is a still a bit doughy). Once cooked sprinkle with sugar and serve with butter.
An alternative to try is to add 1 tsp of lavender flowers with some citrus zest. Add a little orange juice, zest and icing sugar to some soft butter to serve with the Welsh Cakes.