It’s summer and when the mercury starts to creep up beyond tolerable numbers, it time to try to escape the Maltese summer heat and (try to) go to a cooler climate further up north. This year the family vacation was planned for Wales.
Whilst I have been to England, Scotland and also Northern Ireland, I had never ventured to Wales. I guess if ever there was a time it was now. Before the Brits leave the EU and the sun finally sets on Britannia.
Landing at Liverpool John Lennon airport meant one quick detour into Liverpool. Sorry not to Anfield, but to take the classic selfie next in Penny Lane. Then it was off to Wales.
Once you cross the border into Wales you can soon feel the difference. This isn’t because you can read the letters but not the words on the signposts. (Fortunately all signs are in English as well). You get the feeling that the pace of life has changed. It looks less industrialised. And obviously there are the sheep.
We were lucky to find ourselves a nice cottage in the village of Llanarmon-yn-Iâl. A quaint place in the middle of the Welsh countryside. Every morning I would walk for an hour, crossing footpaths and enjoying the company of sheep, buzzards, crows, rabbits, a few cows and the very rarely the odd individual. Plus there also was Angus (the owner’s sheep dog) which the kids loved to play with.
Having rented our own place also meant that we needed to stock up on all groceries and stuff. We drove to the closest supermarket. Whilst Malta has it’s fair share of large supermarkets, what we do not have is the sheer volume of vegan choices that we were greeted with. From fresh food to frozen foods, the sheer span of choice makes you drool.
It is clear that both consumers and retailers are moving the market forward. Tesco this year launched it’s own vegan range called “Wicked Kitchen” with 20 plant based products in the range.  In 2017, it was found that 29% of British evening meals were veggie and this has grown consistently over the past few years. The biggest spike has been over the past year, during which the British ate an additional 200m meat-free evening meals. 
The choice of plant based food isn’t limited to supermarkets. Finding somewhere to eat that offers a real choice of plant based food is easy. Or even a dedicated menu for vegans and vegetarians. I would like to mention two family spots that I enjoyed. One was Frankie & Benny’s, which to my delight even had vegan ice cream. And the other was Castle Hotel in Ruthin which has a Weatherspoon.
Obviously a train ride to the top of a mountain is a must. Yet what my kids were eager to point out was the fact that the coffee cup served at the scenic train station was vegan … or rather made from plants and compostable.
Whilst most of the days were pleasant, there was a spell of hot weather. The plan to go north and run away from the heat is no longer working. Fortunately the heat wave swept over Britain (and Europe) just after we left, yet all the locals showed their concern at the serious lack of rain. The fact is (Mr Trump) there is no escaping the effects of climate change.
Wales has a mix of landscapes. You have mountains, which my son referred to hills as until we tried to walk all the way up to the top of Snowdon. Long sandy beaches overlooking the Irish Sea, which are not full of deck chairs and umbrellas and abusive beach concessions. Endless hills with trees and sheep and the occasional stream. the slate hills and quarries that once roofed the world. Majestic castles like Comwy Castle and picturesque abbeys like Valle Crucis Abbey. Then various traditional villages and towns.
In this short period one could not see all the various gems that this country has to offer. certainly worth another visit. Maybe the southern part of Wales next time.