an idiot in wales


Sunday, 28th May.
Ripped it

Llanberis is a town at the foot of Mt Snowdon. We drove from Betws-y-coed round the mountain to Llanberis, pulling to the side of the road when we could to marvel at the countryside.

(New North Wales just doesn't roll off the tongue, does it?)

We had breakfast at Dodgy Pete's (not its real name). A group of bikers entered the establishment right after us, and provided the bawdy breakfast entertainment.

Before breakfast I sent a message to my brother, expressing my urgent need for soccer and football scores. There was a lot riding on these results. Carlton Soccer Club were in a sudden-death final, and Carlton Football Club were playing those Boring Muppets From The West, the Weagles. And after breakfast...

Horvat header to win in extra time! 1 all at full time. Meet Wollongong next Sunday.
Blues over Eagles by 50.
Moving house today.

I was dancing around the street. Charmari, the Only West Coast Eagles Supporter I Know, knew exactly what that meant. It meant I was going to be unbearable.

The tourist bureau opened at 10am. The lady there was outrageously friendly and helpful. We decided to take the Ranger's Track to the summit of Mount Snowdon. She gave us directions through the back roads to the Ranger's Hut. From there we began our ascent.

The going was easy for a few kilometres, as we followed the contours to a point where we began a steeper ascent. The valley quickly dropped away below us as we trudged up the mountain track. It was the highest I had ever climbed (my previous effort being Sugarloaf back in Victoria) but Miss I've-Been-To-Nepal wasn't too impressed. Bah! Sheep grazed by the side of the track almost all the way to the top. I looked across and saw sheep grazing on another green mountain, like dandruff on the shoulder of a green jacket. A man's jacket, in fact, or a woman wearing shoulder pads. Although surely no-one wears shoulder pads these days? Anyway...

Gulls soared on the updrafts on our right, zooming up the cliffs, then floating over our heads, then circling around to catch another updraft. A small yellow ladybird of a tent sat next to the lake far below us. The wind became noticeably stronger (and colder) as we climbed.

At about halfway I decided that I needed my beanie. "Let's just stop for a moment," I said, "while I put on my Carlton-By-Fifty-Points beanie." Charmari groaned. Hey, I was only just getting started.

The climb was cloudy, with sunlight slashing through the cloud cover to light up the ridges. The peak was occasionally engulfed in clouds. We could hear the train blowing its whistle on its way up the incline. That's right, there is a train that runs to Britain's highest peak. Nothing like getting away from it all.

As we approached the summit we could see walkers on other trails. We had seen very few people on our route. The route that follows the train line was loaded with people. We had chosen well, being able to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the climb. "How's the serenity?"

We made it to the top in good time (under three hours, we impressed ourselves if no-one else) and took photos while the visibility was good. We retired to the centrally-heated cafe (really, you climb a mountain that has a railway running to the peak, and not only that but at the peak there is a cafe with toilets and there's even a post box where you can mail letters, and there is of course the obligatory souvenir shop..."I took a train to the peak and sat in a cafe and all I bought was this lousy t-shirt") and rested for a while before heading back down the mountain.

It was hailing as we left the cafe, but about quarter-of-an-hour later we were out of the hail, and enjoying conditions similar to our ascent. After a while Charmari said: "We should be singing something. What should we sing?"

"I know...We are the navy blues, We are the old, dark, navy blues, We're the team that never lets you down..." Charmari was yelling and had her hands clamped firmly over her ears. She tried a round of the Weagles club song, but it's not a patch on the ukelele-driven Lily Laguna.

It didn't seem like long before we were back in our little blue beastie, zipping towards our next port of call, Caernarfon. Charmari put on a CD that a friend of hers had compiled of Australian music. "R-I-N-G-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... R-I-N-G-OOOOOOOOOOOOOO..."

Look out Caernarfon!