Last night it rained oh so hard pretty much all night. And then carried on * a lot* once we had got up. Clearly today was not going to be a beach day. I suggested we have a punt at going to the Electric Mountain in Llanberis again. Last time we went, we were refused entry on the grounds that Joel was too young. On that occasion, the ticket issuing person said “it’s a power station” in a voice that implied that allowing a 3 year old in would be tantamount to child abuse. Whereas, 4-year olds would clearly be fine. So, this time we drove an hour to get there, through several big puddles. Only to find that the next available tour was at 16:30.
Not being up for a 5 hour wait, we went to the toilet (a lot of running water will do that to you) and quickly developed a plan B.
We retired to the Inigo Jones Slate Works on the A487 just north of Penygroes. At the very least it advertised (in its leaflet) a cafe, so we could do lunch and then decide whether we wanted to learn more about slate.
If I’m honest, I was underwhelmed by the cafe. It didn’t feel like fabulous value for money, and when I asked what the soup of the day was, a rapid discussion in Welsh ensued (during which I’m pretty sure I heard something along the lines of “oh sod it, we’ve got a tin of tomato out the back”) along with a check in the freezer (!) after which I was told it was leek and potato. Sure enough, my soup took the longest to arrive.
The decor detracted from the food for me, as well. Custard yellow and lime green walls and trim were set off nicely with a series of plastic information panels about Welsh singers.We were opposite a panel about the Manic Street Preachers which led Steve to spend half the mealtime on the internet fact-checking what it said. And Joel was quite perturbed by the knickers shown on Tom Jones’ panel. It turns out, it was the “Welsh Rock Cafe”, which made the panels make an awful lot more sense.
The workshops themselves were surprisingly good. There was a 10 minute video, in which we leant that Abergavenny slate is harder than Penrhyn slate (mined vs quarried in this case, although I don’t know whether that’s a general rule), followed by a walkman-based audio tour. At times we found the audio tour quite stressful…
Steve: Joel, have you got to the bit where you’re supposed to be at building 2 yet?
Joel: I don’t know, where’s that bit?
Steve: The bit with the harp music.
Joel: What’s a harp?
Steve: The plinky plonky music.
Joel: uhhh. Plinky what?
Steve: The music. Have you heard any music yet?
Steve: Listen to a bit more, then.
Joel: presses play Oh, there’s music on this bit.
Steve: walks over to building 2
Having said that, if you aren’t trying to co-ordinate several generations of one family around the site, the audio tour made it a lot more interesting: without it, the tour would have felt a lot less like VFM. As it was, we saw the workshops, why the machines have the names they do, and we got to do some slate carving – that was Lily’s favourite bit – and some calligraphy. There was an awful lot of slate bits lying around, to the extent where you wonder how they can operate in that environment, but I guess, each to their own. There was also a quiz for the children to fill in on their way round which helped to keep them engaged, and they won a prize for fully correct answers at the end.
All in all, the Workshops at 15GBP for a family ticket wasn’t outrageous and it filled a couple of hours. I wouldn’t be going out of my way to visit the cafe, though. Especially since they mentioned Duffy, but not a thing about Mike Peters and the Alarm.