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Published: August 28th 2006
This is our hire car. Let me tell you, Mick hadnt driven for 4 mths, so this was a scary ride!!
Gweiddi!! Thats welsh for Hello.
Well, the long weekend has just finished and we ended up touring the beautiful countryside of wales. I know I'd mentioned spain, but word is, the airports are still crazy over here with flights delayed for hours and still no hand luggage, so we thought best not to fly over the long weekend. So, we ended up hiring a car and driving to Wales, and what a fantastic decision that was!
First of all, I thought I'd do a bit of research on friday and asked all the brits that I work with what I could expect from Wales. Their reply was 'huh, where? wales, um, dont know, never been there.' Bearing in mind they think that New Zealand is somewhere in Australia, I've now realised there's no point asking! hahaha.
So anyway, it only took a couple of hours to drive from london to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. There's no borders to cross or really any sign that you've just entered a different country (yes wales is a different country, the brits are not aware of this fact, but the welsh if they could, would pick their country up and move it as far
This was taken from inside the castle gardens, nice joint ey!
away from england as possible) except for the welsh signs. They do however (thankfully) all speak english as well.
On arrival we went straight to Cardiff Castle and had a squiz, not bad at all. Its a real live castle right in the middle of the city, surrounded by 'Bute Park' (its named after the family who once lived in the castle, not named that cos its 'beaut'...although it is rather beaut!) We then went and grabbed some lunch and decided to drive down the coast to check out the welsh beaches.
Well, Brits....here's some info for you, you all complain about your beaches in England, how about taking a quick drive north and go to wales, the beaches are fantastic!!
The photos dont do it justice really, but I suppose to give you a better idea, it was slightly 'victorian great ocean road-ish' with a bit of 'great dividing range' thrown in there too, honestly, the scenery was magnificent.
We walked up a hill to admire the scenery and got to watch a guy jump off the cliff...with a hanglider attached to him! We grabbed some fish n chips (damn the fish n chips are good over here) and
King of the Castle
Let him have his moment of glory.......
headed to the hotel for an early night as we had an early start next day.
Okay, Sunday, we got up early and headed north to the opposite end of the country. (amazing that you can drive right across the country in a matter of hours, yet it takes a week to get from top to bottom of Aus) We decided to ditch the motorway and take the scenic route instead, which in hindsight, took us a hell of a lot longer, but 6 hrs later we finally made it to Snowdonia National Park.
Now, the plan today was to arrive early enough so we could make the climb to the summit of Mt Snowden, the highest peak in all of England and Wales.....however, we didnt arrive til 2pm, but being the positive thinking (naive) tourists that we are, we decided the weather looked good enough to head off now, and if we hurried, we would be fine as it doesnt get dark til about 9pm at the moment. Thankfully we werent the only 'tourists' heading up at this hour, although we passed 10 times as many 'climbers' heading down now, after starting out at 9am. Anyway, the weather was
Looking down on the castle
Reckon I could handle living in that!
brilliant and apart from my apparent lack of fitness, we were having a great time! The views were unbelievable, and just kept getting better the higher we went. It wasnt until we were about 400 metres or so from the summit that the weather started to turn bad. Now, 400 metres on a flat surface, doesnt seem that far, but 400 metres straight up, with 1000 metre drops each side of you......I can now tell you from experience, thats a bloody long way!!! But, our competitive (once again naive) spirit, wouldnt allow us to turn back now, after being so close to the summit, well, that and the fact that we'd read there was a cafe at the top, and a hot chocolate had my name all over it!! :-) (no seriously, there was a cafe at the top, its actually part of the train station....the train which all the overweight tourists take to the top for a ridiculous fee) We trudged on, while the view turned from magnificent, to non existent. We could barely see 10 feet in front of us and our clothes had become soaked from the heavy fog and mist (it wasnt raining at this stage)
Yeah, Yeah, I get it...your the king of the castle, and I'm the dirty rascal...Tell me something I dont know! :-)
We made it to the top (and have the photos to prove it) sat down for a hot chocolate, begged the train to take us down...but to no avail, then made the even scarier decent in near darkness while the rain started to fall. Still we laughed in the face of the weather and the fact that we were likely to trip over all the way down, and to be honest, had the time of our lives. We felt a real sense of achievement, I'll remind you again, that we had made it all the way up (and back) of the highest peak in all of england and wales, its 3560 ft high, and we did it all in 5hrs from top to bottom.
The specially designed 'cog' steam train has been running up and down for the past 200 years. It obviously doesnt ascend as quickly as the walkers, but takes 2hrs to make the round trip, and comes within 70mtrs of the summit, stopping at the station, which (as absurd as it seems to have a cafe at the top, ruining the beauty of the natural landscape) makes a mean hot choccie!!
So there you go, an achievement
View from a hill in Swansea
Isnt it beautiful? the weather looks scarier than it was, it didnt end up raining and was quite warm!
to tell the grandkids!!
Anyway, after collapsing into a hot bath then crawling from there to the bed, I'd love to say I feel much better after the sleep, but that would be lying. I'm having trouble moving my legs at all today, and Mick has reluctantly admitted to having a really sore butt (see even the fittest get sore....hahahah) yet, I'm still proud that I did it, and without too much whinging! :-)
We drove back today (this time sticking to the motorway) and got back to london in record time of just over 4hrs.
Now....after such a relaxing weekend, we had a disapointing afternoon today, after heading to the Notting Hill Carnival. First of all, this annual carnival, is the second biggest carnival in the world, with only Rio's famous carnival topping it for crowd numbers. This one pulls over 1 million people and is run over the whole long weekend. It proudly boasts being the biggest multi-cultural event in all of Europe, with every race being able to express their culture through music, and floats in the parade. Anyway we thought we'd just go for a quick squiz then come back. We walked, as its only about
Me posing in front of the nice view. This was taken from the hill where the hang-glider was taking off from.
20 minutes from our place, and thought it'd be easier than getting a packed tube, this was a good move. However, once we got closer to the parade, the crowd closed in and we were trapped like sardines. To make matters worse, a gang of hoodies decided to push their way through, which crushed the rest of us up against barriers. I'm not exagerating, it was one of the scariest moments I've had. The fear of sliding down a moutain in the dark and not being able to see the cliffs beside you had nothing on the fear of being crushed and stampeded. The girls beside me were crying and screaming while one man decided to take on 20 hoodies on his own as he's baby was being crushed. After a tense 10 minutes (which seemed like 10 hours) we emerged from the crowd and rushed home through kensington gardens without looking back. They had 11,000 police at the carnival, but they too were being crushed, and there's nothing they could do. Other than that, it sounded good (cant tell you what it looked like, cos all I could see was armpits once again) and is supposed to be an
a rather skinny looking mick, also posing in front of a nice view. By the way, due to a dare from Mel, he has not cut his hair, and says he wont until he returns.....now I'm scared!
amazing spectacle. If you were on a balcony in the safety of your home, or in the parade itself, it would have been brilliant, but being one of a million spectators, is actually not fun!
So anyway, that was our exhausting weekend, now I have to get up off my seat and pretend to walk normally, while my legs cramp and my butt aches...hahah.
Til next weekend folks, hope you enjoy the pics!
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