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We just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary in style – an overnight spa break in one of my favourite Welsh towns, Llangollen. With a father who made canoes and paddled them, much of my childhood was spent on the banks of wild water rivers in various locations in the UK and Europe. My brothers and I would explore the river banks from dawn to dusk, seemingly with no adult supervision (although most of the canoeing fraternity knew who we were and probably kept half an eye on us). Llangollen is a well known centre for white water canoeing and conjures up memories of sunbathing on the large flat rocks in the river, with the white water swirling and rushing past us. I must say the very thought of a child being allowed on them horrifies me now – but what wonderful freedom we had back then. We hid under the platforms of the railway station and played on the tracks – I can only think that it lay disused for a while in the 70’s. I’m sure as a child I didn’t appreciate the scenery around the town in the same way that I do now – the drama of Horseshoe Pass with its wild moorland and racing sheep (!). Then the wooded mountains rising steeply around the relatively narrow valley and steam trains pulling in and out of the mostly unchanged train station. Narrow boats make their lazy way along the calm waters of the canals cut into the side of the valley, in contrast to the river Dee, which rushes under the 13th century bridge, its roar ever present in the background.

Phew!! Now that I’ve got that out of my system, more about the more luxurious side of our stay in Llangollen. We splashed out on a room with our own hot tub on the balcony – it was a very interesting experience getting in and out of it in broad daylight – I was convinced that binoculars were trained on us from nearby houses. Once night had fallen, I relaxed a bit and we sat watching the stars appear (and icicles form on our noses). In the morning we did a sprint from the warmth of our very large bed into the hot tub, admired the frosty landscape and drank the remains of the previous night’s Cava (perfectly chilled on the balcony overnight). Sheer decadence. Monday morning was going to seem even worse than ever after this! The rest of our brief stay was spent being further pampered, then a drive up through Horseshoe Pass, then back down via an alternative route courtesy of the sat nav – it seems to love single track roads with grass growing down the middle! As a last act of rebellion before collecting kids and dog from various places, we spent the end of the afternoon in a cosy bar over looking the river, with a large glass of wine (locally brewed ale for Nic) and an early tea. Roll on our 10th anniversary when we’ll be able to escape from the chaos of family life once again!

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