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Passport Fiasco Leads to Unexpected Bliss at Welsh Eco-Campsite

by CiCi
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Everyone has a memorable holiday disaster story, even seasoned travel journalists. Our latest adventure began with a classic passport mishap, transforming a planned two-week getaway to Italy’s Cinque Terre into an unexpected retreat at an eco-campsite in Wales.

The trouble started just 24 hours before our departure when our six-year-old daughter pointed out that her passport was out of date. What followed was a whirlwind of panic, blame, and rapid-fire grief. Once the dust settled, we scrambled to salvage our holiday, landing on Bert’s Kitchen Garden, an eco-campsite in Trefor on the Llŷn Peninsula, as our last-minute lifesaver.

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Discovering Bert’s Kitchen Garden:

Bert’s Kitchen Garden had been on our radar for a while, ever since we read about Ali and Ian Paice’s transformation of a former farm into an eco-retreat. This campsite features meadows, woodlands, a beach, and unique accommodations like shepherd huts and converted railway carriages. As we drove into Trefor, with the Yr Eifl hills looming to our left, we were briefly delayed by traffic caused by the filming of an episode of HBO’s “House of the Dragon.” Upon arrival, the sounds of traffic gave way to birdsong as our children eagerly explored the meadows and riverside swing.

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Our temporary home was a charming converted railway carriage, decorated in muted tones with soft linen bedding, a small double bed, bunks for the kids, and a private compost toilet. We unpacked and set off to explore Bert’s own pebbly beach, just a short walk away. A five-minute stroll further along the coast revealed a lively sandy beach, popular with local workers and adventurous teens.

Settling into the Eco-Campsite Life:

Though the Italian Riviera remained a wistful memory, the North Wales weather was kind to us. The eco-campsite’s ethos helped soothe our minds, while beachside picnics and kayaking adventures provided ample distraction. We rented kayaks from the campsite, paddling around the coast to sea stacks and catching glimpses of oystercatchers and cormorants. We also explored nearby Criccieth and the fishing village of Aberdaron but found ourselves mostly content within the tranquil confines of Bert’s.

A Bit of Background:

The Paice family’s journey to creating Bert’s Kitchen Garden is inspiring. In 2015, Ali and Ian left their hectic lives in Sunbury-on-Thames, South-West London, renting out their home and setting off on a three-year adventure across Europe, North America, and Asia. They eventually settled on Morfa Farm, a 17th-century property on the Llŷn Peninsula, an area they loved from previous holidays. Overcoming various challenges, they established an eco-campsite with a kitchen garden restaurant, which serves delicious dishes like ribeye with chimichurri. This summer, they’re adding a new beachside dining area in a converted shipping container.

Community and Sustainability:

The Paices have integrated deeply into the local community, employing locals and hosting regular feast nights. Despite some initial friction with locals and the parish council, they now feel a strong sense of belonging. The campsite features a barn restaurant, shower cabins, an orchard, and a garden full of herbs and produce. The meadows have been transformed into a wild playground for children, enhancing the site’s charm.

In the end, what began as a passport fiasco turned into a delightful and relaxing holiday. Bert’s Kitchen Garden offered a serene escape that might not have been as glamorous as the Italian Riviera but was undoubtedly more rejuvenating. This unexpected detour proved to be a blessing in disguise.

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