We are still alive and kicking just been in a state of “digital detox” for the last week as a result of not having access to WIFI. Apart from the deprivation of WIFI the week has also involved more “water torture”, this time it was Cumbrian rain that put a serious dampner on our Lake District walking plans. We have made it to Edinburgh on Saturday where the Scottish rain thankfully held off until the last act at the Edinburgh Tattoo but then came down in loch filling volumes. Fortunately we have good heating in the apartment we are staying in so we are all dry again.
The week started in very promising fashion, there was early morning sun (almost forgotten how to spell that) in Dublin, the Irish sea was glassy smooth for our crossing back and the town I had selected for a stopover on the North Wales coast (Llandudno) turned out to be one of those surprises of the trip. It was everything you would ever imagine the British seaside to be like; a pier, Punch and Judy show, donkey rides on the sand, striped deck chairs, a promenade and nobody in the water swimming.
The town had a sweeping bay, fronted by hotels and bed and breakfasts. At each end were signifcant land masses, on the town end, a cable car wound up through the steep streets which we decided to walk up post dinner and were rewarded by some great views across north Wales. Unfortunately, in their desire to not detract from the land based scenery, they have decided to install all the windfarms out in the ocean. In our travels to date, the land based wind generators actually don’t look too bad, but a mass of them out at sea looks kind of hideous.
Our trip north to Cumbria in Northwest England was to be achieved as an A to B road trip, as quick and easy as we could. That meant a venture up the M6 and even for hardend A-B roadies such as us, that was enough. No more long motorway trips.
The brilliant sunshine of the previous day was not the result of a slow moving high pressure system but a brief respite in between the relentless series of weather fronts that the Atlantic is throwing at Britian this summer. By the time we reached Windermere the rain was setting in, the traffic was thick and the town heaving with people looking for somewhere to escape the elements. It did not look like travellers heaven.
The airbnb we were staying in did not have WIFI but did have a TV. We tuned into the BBC to get the latest weather and news. Both turned out to be totally depressiing.
If I believe the media, our accommodation in Greece will be occupied by refugees or closed down due to economic collapse, or, we could be arrested as part of the impending politcal turmoil resulting from the resignation of the current Prime Minister. Istanbul is being targeted by every extremist in the Middle East and Bangkok is being blown up by unknown crazies. China and Vietnam are likely to go to war over the Spratly Islands and,I guess there is every chance that New Zealand will launch a surprise bombing attack on Canberra in our fleet of aerial topdressers. We will try not to get too stressed about all that, ignorance can be bliss. We will watch the briefs issued by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not take undue risks.
I digress, on the weather front, it promised rain, rain and more rain. We needed a plan B.
Well plan B was simple, go to our designated walking spot, if we could see the first gate, it was probably ok to walk. What we had not planned on was the “Robin Hood” nature of the local authorities, and of course the crowds. In the wilds at home, you go to a place, park the car (at your own risk) and wander off into the bush. Here, you try to find a car space, if you are very lucky to find one, then find the pay and display machine (oh yes even miles from nowhere) and purchase the number of hours required and still park “at your own risk”. They have not yet found a way to extend their “pay for a pee” regime to the “wilds” but I am sure that if I returned in another 10 years every tree would have a coin machine to charge for the pleasure.
Our first walk was a circular one, 4 hours was the estimated to complete the walk. We had got lucky and found a car park, paid the ransom and headed off into the wilderness. After 3 hours Ruth commented that we had passed this farm house before, I was sure we had not but was concerned to note that someone had shifted the Village where we left the car, from the bottom of the valley up onto one of the hillsides.
Hang about, this is not the valley we started in, we are in another valley. Lost again! and I know you are all thinking what is this plonker on, can he not read a map, use a compass or trust his wife? Hey, cut me a little slack here, it is confusing north of the equator, the moss grows on the wrong side of the trees, the sun is in the wrong place and the water goes down the plug hole the wrong way. Don’t expect me to walk the right way.
Well he rain saved my bacon for the rest of our stay, it was muddy the day we walked, and we did not have thigh waders to contemplate tackling the other tracks after further regular outbursts of rain. We limited our walking to tarmack surfaces when the weather permitted.
I asked Ruth shortly after passing the “Welcome to Scotland” sign if she felt that it was like coming home, given her solid scottish heritage. Zzzzzzzzzz…. was the response, the skirl of the pipes and whoosh of the kilts had failed to stir her scottish blood.
Our trusty maps.me navigator decided to have a little fun with us on the way. It had refused to play ball in Windermere and calculate a route for us to take. This meant I had to work out a route (I know what you are thinking). After a couple of hours of driving I decided to see if “the navigator” would determine a route as I wanted some help finding our car drop off point in Edinburgh. It did and we found out that Scotland also has very narrow country lanes. We had our suspcions and these were confirmed. It wil determine the shortest route but not necessarily the fastest. The road we ended up on was devoid of; cars, kilted scottish warriors and even sheep. We eventually came across four people walking four abreast down the road, they were shocked to see a car on it.
Edinburgh was not the dour grey city that I had visited in the 70s. It was pumping which was of course due to it being the month of the Edinburgh festival. I have read that as many as 21,000 participants perform during the month long festival. The fringe festival is now the major drawcard and for those wandering the streets, there is also a never ending array of street performers. The downside is that you can barely move let alone get access to food or drink.
We had booked a self catering airbnb a long time ago. It has turned out to be a gem situated just below the Castle in the Grassmarket area, opposite Greyfrairs church and cementary (as in Greyfrairs Bobby fame). It not only has heating (to dry our sodden clothes post Tattoo) but had a washing machine. These little things have become very important to us.
The rain held off until the finish of the Tattoo but gave us a good wash on the short but slow trip back from the Castle. But today a miracle happened, the sun shone and it was kind of warm, warm enough to walk around in shirt sleeves.
After a quick(ish) assault on the Salisbury Crags, a volcanic pile near the Queen’s Edinburgh digs in Hollyrood, while Ruth was browsing the shops, I rushed home to check the weather forecast for our intended highland walks. you guessed it, rain for the next week.
I think we are ready for Greece.