an idiot in wales


Monday, 29th May.
And left

Last night, after we sorted ourselves out in Caernarfon, we hit the road and headed towards the Isle of Anglesea. Holyhead is the town at the far end of the island, and for some unknown reason that was where we were going. We decided to take the scenic route along the coast.

Well, we would have if we hadn't got completely lost. We turned off the A5 and fairly soon had no idea where we were going. Another case of Ian's inept navigation? No, not entirely. We were driving along winding roads that were only just big enough for the car, and these roads were not marked on the map. We doubled back and took a turnoff (no roadsigns anywhere!) and eventually found ourselves at a town which I guessed to be Llangaffo. We stopped, studied the only roadsigns we had seen for half-an-hour, and worked out where we were. I'm sure it was a source of great amusement for the local whose living room we were parked next to. TV or lost tourists outside? He chose the telly.

Having regained our bearings, we got back on the A5 and made it to Holyhead. We stopped near the port and looked out across the ripples towards Ireland. Although it was so dark we had no idea which direction we were pointed, so we could have been looking towards Scotland. Or the other side of the bay.

Today was a Designated Castle Day. First up we went to Caernarfon Castle, by the waterfront in Caernarfon. We took a guided tour of the castle. Our group grew as we trundled around. There were a couple of Australians (he had a ponytail), an American couple, a Dutch couple (she was afraid of heights) and a South African who asked too many questions for my liking.

We then walked up the hill to visit the Roman fort of Segontium. What was left of it, rather. And what was left was not a lot. So we sat on the grass, basking in the sunshine, and Charmari engaged in some girly behaviour by making a daisy chain.

There was a market going on in the centre of Caernarfon, where all the usual crap was being peddled. Obviously a global phenomenon. We had lunch by the water, and I can honestly say that I've never eaten yoghurt with a knife before.

Conwy was our next destination. The road hung off the side of the mountains along the coast. We were listening to an Irish radio station which would occastionally break up, usually when they were back-announcing a track.

The streets of Conwy were extremely narrow and winding. We managed to find a parking spot near the castle, sheltered from the sun. The roads go through the old town walls that extend from the castle, encircle the old town and return to the castle. And where the road goes through the wall there's only room for one car to get through. And no room for pedestrians. The builders of the town's fortifications just weren't thinking ahead when they built the wall 700 years ago.

Most of the entertainment took place in the courtyard. There were a few families congregated here, and the kids were having a great time. One boy was running around with his sword, re-enacting battles of days gone past. A role in "Australia's Most Wanted" surely awaits. A dad was having a kip on the grass, and his kids had plucked as much grass as they could and piled it up on his belly. Little angels, bless 'em.

The sad reality dawned soon enough that we'd have to leave and start our journey back to London.

The traffic was light as we drove south. We were driving through the town of Llanrwst when I spied a green park across the river. I pulled over, and retrieved the footy from the back of the car. We put on a dazzling display of football wizardry for the locals, who weren't in the slightest bit interested. They probably see Australians kicking a funny shaped ball all the time. After our kick-to-kick we wandered over to watch a cricket match at the ground next to the park. They were a mixed bunch, from youngsters to blokes about Mike Gatting's age. It had gone 6pm when we remembered that we were supposed to be going back to London.

On the way back we stopped at another services area, but there were no old people wandering around, en masse or otherwise. There were a couple of little kids in their pyjamas, and a lot of Indian families. Which was weird.

All too soon I was back at the Dawes Road Palace, unpacking the car. Tomorrow I have to return the car.

That means I'll be battling peak hour London traffic.