by Clare Jones

Cwellyn Arms campsite

Cwellyn Arms campsite, Rhyd Ddu

I have just come back from a fabulous two nights’ family camping trip to the “wild and wonderful” Cwellyn Arms campsite in Snowdonia. I can’t exactly say “nous avons dormi à la belle étoile” (we slept under the stars) because there was a very small canvas separating us from the sky but it was close enough! The sky turned pink and yellow as the sun set over the lake, and we chatted by the camp fire until it got dark well after 10pm then we wriggled into our sleeping bags which barely fitted in the tiny tent. We were in fits of giggles when we realized we had put our sleeping bags in the tent the wrong way round and we somehow had to reverse our positions before it was possible to lie down – not an easy task!

le soleil se couche – the sun is setting

le soleil couchant – the setting sun

un feu de camp – a campfire

un sac de couchage – a sleeping bag

à l’envers / sens dessus dessous – upside down

piquer un fou rire – to get a fit of the giggles

The following morning, we set off on the half-mile walk up to the pub for one of the best cooked breakfasts I have ever had the pleasure to eat. The uphill walk was excellent for stretching the limbs and easing out the aches and pains I could feel from passing the night on the hard ground, and as the French say, “Ça ouvre l’appétit” – it whets the appetite (literally it opens the appetite). The breakfast wasn’t cheap but it was obviously made with the finest of local ingredients and was cooked to perfection. Myam myam!

According to, the expression dormir à la belle étoile used to be used ironically as if La Belle Étoile were the name of an inn (The Beautiful Star) and the ceiling above you the stars in the night sky.

Rhyd Ddu

Rhyd Ddu, Snowdonia

We were lucky to have splendid weather for the whole of our stay in Snowdonia. It wasn’t until I got home that I heard of the appalling weather the French have had to suffer this week. I do hope my French friends and readers are safe and well. Please leave a comment in French or in English.

A bientôt!


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One comment

    • rroxy

    • June 5, 2016

    • 8:18 am

    • Reply

    When I read this very beautiful story, it gave me “des étoiles plein les yeux”! Miam, I wish I had shared that breakfast with you 🙂

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About the author

Clare Jones was born in the North of England in 1960. She fell in love with the French language at the age of 11 and went on to study it to degree level at Leicester University, where she also became a qualified teacher. In 2011 Clare collaborated with Tamsin Edwards to produce an iPhone application, “Figure out French, Rouler un patin: to give a French kiss and other French expressions for leisure and health”. Though she now lives in England, Clare always has her nose in a French book and she surrounds herself by all things French. She is currently very busy teaching French as a private tutor and when she has the time, she writes a blog on the subject of the French language (click on the blog tab to read it). Clare enjoys tai-chi, swimming, and cycling in the local country park. She is also an enthusiastic member of her local community choir.

About the illustrator

Tamsin Edwards studied art at both Nene Art College, Northampton, and Derby School of Art during the early 1980s. Though well known for her atmospheric watercolour landscapes, Tamsin also creates quirky pen & wash illustrations, often portraying comic images of people and places. Tamsin has already collaborated with Clare Jones to produce an iPhone application. Past commissioned projects also include the children’s storybook ‘Tales of Two Shires’ and a book of poetic verses. As well as regularly exhibiting work and selling to clients around the world, Tamsin has also had several paintings published in an international magazine. To view further examples of her work or to buy original artwork from this book, please visit Tamsin can be contacted at

Author Photo

Illustrator Tamsin Edwards (left) and author Clare Jones (right)

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