Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Travel Link-Up: The Perfect Place To Elope



Four years ago, John and I eloped to Llandudno, Wales - a pretty, picturesque seaside town in Conwy county, North Wales, with a beautiful 17th-century manor house nearby, Bodysgallen Hall.

It was pretty much the happiest day of my life.

Last weekend, we returned to celebrate our four-year anniversary, but to also retrace our steps and memories of that wonderful day.

Although many women - and, indeed, girls - dream of their wedding day, I did not. The thought of wearing a white dress and walking down the aisle in front of a large audience (some of whom I might not even know) and saying my vows to this audience - words that were so personal and important to me - made me recoil.

Thankfully, we had understanding parents, and aside from the casual, "So, I'm getting married this weekend" email before, we didn't make much fuss of it (though we did celebrate a few months later with receptions on both sides of the pond, in Seattle and Oxford).

But that day in Llandudno, and our subsequent stay at the beautiful Bodysgallen Hall (where we had stayed before), will remain imprinted in my memory forever. It was an unseasonably warm, October's day; I remember the sun breaking through the clouds as we emerged from the ceremony for the photos by Llandudno Pier.


And that's why I'm a little hesitant to tell you about this place. Because it's special. It's mine. I mean, it's not particularly glamorous: several of the once-grand hotels that line the pier now stand empty and derelict. But it's lively and full of character. The pier was bursting with families this weekend. Mothers shouting at children, children jumping on bouncy castles, bouncy castles constructed so that it looked like the giant slide would send you right into the sea ... it was busy.

But as I walked down the pier, hand in hand with John, the edges sort of blurred and I couldn't hear the noise as it happened around me. Instead, I remembered exact places where we had our pictures taken; the man who passed us while walking his dog and wished us the best of luck; the view of the Great Orme behind us as we climbed into spinning teacups in our formal dress for another photo opportunity.

I became obsessed with marking my memories: "This is where we ate fish and chips afterwards!" "This is where the antique fair was held, remember? When the registrar was late?" "This is where we took that photo!"

This time, we did something we didn't have time to do that day: we took the cable car (the longest cable car in Britain, apparently) to the Great Orme summit, and stared out at the misty landscape. For a few, blissful minutes, it was completely and utterly silent (until tourists gathered behind us began to chat excitedly).  



At Bodysgallen, we stayed in the sweet Garden Cottage - one of eight, secluded cottages scattered amongst the grounds.  Because we arrived late on Friday evening, we ordered room service as soon as we were shown in. Wolfing down the type of sandwiches that might be made if you snuck down to the kitchen of a grand house at 12:00 a.m., we scurried to the bar in the main house, where we had drinks by the roaring fire and laughed at the absurdity of London life when this existed.


During the walk back to the cottage, we craned our necks up to the sky and saw a blanket of stars - something we never see in London, thanks to light pollution. We spun in circles with gravel crunching under our feet, looking for Orion, while identifying the Big Dipper and, yes, even the Milky Way.

The next day, after a leisurely breakfast enjoyed with views over the grounds and a newspaper at the table, we walked to Conwy and came across a small food and crafts fair, where we left as new, unwitting members of the Woodland Trust, before returning to Bodysgallen to dress up and get ready for dinner (Bodysgallen is one of the few hotels I've stayed in that has a dress code for dinner, and I secretly love it).







I slept the best sleep I'd had in weeks last weekend; tucked up in layers of blankets in the Garden Cottage. A small porthole window above the bed gently roused us the next morning, as did the birds settling in the trees just outside our door. 

The day of our departure, we walked again and again through the impressive gardens, pointing out plants that were familiar to us after a summer full of our own garden redesign, and pausing to sit in one of the many secluded benches in total silence - holding hands, while admiring the main house. Not usually one for clichéd sentiments, I turned to John and said, "You know? I think we'll still be coming here when we're 80." There was a slight pause, before he responded wistfully with, "I wish that was my house. And that no one else lived in it. And that I had Sky Sports."

Who said romance was dead, eh?

This post was part of November's Travel Link-Up, hosted by Angie, Emma and Jamie. Head over to their blogs to read more posts about "A perfect ..."
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45 comments

  1. This post was so wonderful to read! Though the Sky Sports comment killed me! x

    www.rhymeandribbons.com

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    1. If I could insert the eye-roll emoji here, I WOULD. x

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  2. Love love love this. A place really is all about the memories that you've made there and not necessarily anything more than that. And Mr S would make the same comment about Sky Sports *eye roll*

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    1. Thank you, Angie <3 HAHA re: Sky Sports. I mean, seriously?!

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  3. Such a beautifully written post ... with a laugh out loud moment at the end!

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    1. Thank you, Ruth! Oh, I know ... leave it to John and his comedic timing.

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  4. sniff...such a lovely post that makes me want to cry!! it's funny even though our wedding event(s) were full of hustle and bustle and stress and nerves and tons of people, there were a few moments were also imprinted in our minds.. which drowned out the background noise and everyone else seemed to disappear and time stood still... so special! really glad you could re-trace and relive your magical day and can for years to come!! with sky sports... lol

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    1. One of my greatest regrets in life was not being able to make it to your India reception. I'm so glad that at least I get to see your special place in a few weeks time! I remember holding back the tears SO BAD when I looked over at you and Karim while reading Kahlil Gibran. SO BAD.

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  5. Such lovely memories, thank you for sharing them with us :) Your weekend away sounds absolutely perfect, so relaxing and full of shared happiness. Plus who wouldn't want to stay in a garden cottage when the gardens are as beautiful as that? Happy anniversary!

    P.S. If I were going to do the whole thing again I'd definitely elope :)

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    1. Aw, thank you, Rachel! And thanks for understanding just how special this place is to me.

      I don't regret eloping, but I know it's not for everyone. I did really appreciate not being in the spotlight too much that day and being able to enjoy it for what it was, as well as being able to say our vows in such a personal, private way.

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  6. Love this post!! Really beautiful memories. Dave would say the same about sky sports and probably add that he wishes he could have a dart board too... x

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    1. Haha! What is with Sky Sports? I guess I would have said the same about Netflix. x

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  7. Ah Jaime, your writing is beautiful as ever! It sounds like such a refreshing weekend, I'm so glad you had the opportunity to return, and share it with us :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! That means so much to me, coming from you! <3

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  8. wow I never heard of this place but now I would definitely love to go!

    The Fashion Matters- Travel & Fashion blog | Instagram: TheFashionMatters

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    1. It's not a very well-known place, and I kind of want to keep it that way, to be honest! But it's beautiful and so, so special. Thanks for reading!

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  9. Just love this post, Jaime. Thanks for sharing some memories of what sounds like such a special day. Bodysgallen Hall looks and sounds wonderful and it's rather magical that it's a moment in time that's just yours (the two of yours rather than something shared with hundreds of other people). So lovely that you went back to relive some of those memories - I'd like to read your posts over the years as you return. Cx

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    1. Thank so much, Clare! That is very sweet of you to say x

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  10. Beautifully written as always. Gorgeous photos, looks like a lovely weekend. It still makes me smile that I spent 6 years growing up just down the road from Llandudno - such a small world! That corner of North Wales will always hold a special place in my heart (for different reasons), I'm glad it does for you too :-)

    Belated Happy Anniversary!

    Sophie

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    1. Thank you, Sophie - I can't believe you grew up nearby! What a special place. You are so lucky to have been surrounded by that beautiful landscape. x

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  11. I have always wanted to visit Wales and this post just made me want to visit there more! Gorgeous photos and a beautifully written story to go along with them. Loved this :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Brittany! I'm ashamed I haven't been to more places in Wales - it's such a beautiful place with stunning views. I'd love to go hiking in Snowdonia, which friends have done before.

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  12. What a beautiful part of the world and congratulations on your wedding anniversary. It sounds like an idyllic time was had both then and at the weekend and well done for having the wedding you wanted to. I've been to so many where you get a bit lost amongst the numbers so definitely prefer small and intimate (ps, I love the stars too! It's not until we moved to where we live now that we could see them again) X

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    1. Thank you, Lins! So happy you get to see the stars from where you are x

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  13. So beautiful. I was the same about not wanting a big, show offy wedding in front of everyone. Being the centre of attention isn't really my thing and weddings scare me. Marriages are fine, weddings are terrifying ;)

    BTW, did he ever get Sky Sports? ;)

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    1. COMPLETELY AGREE. I actually hate weddings in general haha. I don't enjoy going to them, although I've bawled like a baby seeing friends of mine walk down the aisle recently!

      Ugh, Sky Sports ...

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  14. Happy Anniversary! Such a lovely story! I can imagine it was hard to elope but how much more precious it must make those memories when you have them all to yourselves.

    We used to visit a place near Barmouth as children and this has made me want to go back. x

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    1. Thank you, Laura! I'd love to visit other parts of Wales; the tiny bit I've seen is so beautiful.

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  15. Oh my gosh what a beautiful place! In love with it!

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    1. Oh, thanks for reading, Jen! You should definitely visit sometime x

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  16. I love Llandudno!! I've only stayed there for a couple of hours but I'd love to stay there for an entire weekend and take the cable car! It's such a lovely place!!

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    1. I'm so happy that you know, it Van! It is SO lovely. I've never been in the summer, but I imagine it's even prettier with the warm weather and blue sky!

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  17. What a lovely post. Love that you went ahead and eloped - I think so many of us dream of doing so but chicken out! And love the revisit, especially your husband's comments about the house (and Sky Sports) at the end!

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  18. What a beautiful story! You write in such a dreamy, elegant way, it's wonderful to read. Also, your pictures are stunning! I could look at those all day.

    I also understand all-to-well how you felt going back to your elopement place. My now-husband and I had a similar elopement story (didn't want a fuss, a few "we're getting married in a few days!" emails sent) -- although ours was in London. But whenever I see the place where we married, I just feel this fierce need to keep it 'ours.' It's lovely to read this story through your eyes, and you make Llandudno look magical. Happy anniversary

    Eire xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Eire!

      And thank you for sharing your own elopement story - I love it! I'm so glad you "get" exactly how I feel. xx

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  19. Saw all your pics on insta. Such a gorgeous place! I know where to go now if I need to elope... sorry to steal it from you.

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    1. Bahahaha, please find a different place :P :P :P

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  20. haha and having sky sport! Aw what makes a home 'home', doesn't it? I love that you said it best, that place is the perfect place to elope because it's yours. Must be amazing memories :)

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    1. Haha, I know!! I guess it would be the same for me and Netflix, though that didn't even enter my mind!

      Thanks, Camila x

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  21. such a charming spot and oh that cottage! I think it's great that you two did what felt right - and that you have a place you can visit that will always be "yours." and well, if nothing else, at least you can count on a husband for comic relief ;)

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    1. Thanks, Jamie! And yes, his comic timing is truly impeccable ... ;)

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  22. Gorgeous to go back on your anniversary, I love that bit of the world, one of my best friends lives up there and its just stunning! As is that hotel!

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  23. And that right thede is the difference between men & women! I adore the way you cherish so much Jaime!

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  24. I live just down the road from beautiful Llandudno and got engaged there myself xx

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