4x4s, Wales, and Roadworks

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

And we're back!

We had a great time in sub-zero Northern Wales. There were masses of mountains, scattered with sheep. There were rally tracks and 4x4 trails. There were many, many jackets and layers. And scarves. I even took my blanket with. Just in case.

Strangely enough, we spent a lot of our driving time in Wales held up by roadworks. It was all very regulated and controlled, but really slowed things down quite wonderfully. You couldn't just drive to point B, you first had to stop off three or four times along the way to let other cars pass as roadworks narrowed the tiny roads from two lanes into one.

People were polite, and exceptionally relaxed about the unexpected stops. It was a completely new experience.

We went specifically to watch the WRC Rally Wales GB. This is what happens when you're married to a motorsport fanatic. You traipse around mountains and camp out in places called "Sweet Lamb Farm." You have to climb up and down hillsides to get the best track-side photography spots. You can't bring your knitting for fear of mud (there was a lot of mud).

There was even time to explore the countryside and do a bit of 4x4ing ourselves.

The views were spectacular, even if the terrain was rocky and the roads were narrow. Very narrow. Hold on to the edge of your seat with white knuckles narrow. Are you sure we can drive up here narrow. Is this a road or a cliff-face narrow.

Despite all the nervous passenger comments, I must admit: how could you choose to be anywhere else? I would gladly wake up to this view every day (just as long as the milk man delivers in a Land Rover - these roads and remote locations mean that the nearest corner shop is very far away indeed).

We even found a beach that you can drive on.

The speed limit is 10 miles an hour. On a beach. I wish we had stuck around to take a photo of the 10mph sign when the tide was in, but it was so freezing cold. We braved a walk out on the beach, then beat a hasty retreat to the car where we had a picnic waiting (and heated seats). Brr.

We adventured into some beautiful places. It wasn't all doom and gloom with the grey skies and dark clouds. Beams of sunlight broke through the clouds in places, and often we had blue skies. It only rained once, which I hear is very unusual indeed for Wales.

Still, it got dark by 4.30pm, and the little town we were staying in (Aberdyfi) went to sleep shortly afterwards. It was a proper break from ever-open streets of London.

It's a bit surreal to be back. Instead of the ocean, we're listening to the waves of traffic flowing past the windows. It gets dark early here too, but that's just the end of your working day and the start of your evening. I didn't think I'd notice the difference, but I do. The cure, I think, is to invest in a fireplace and switch off the TV. Also, don't get too worked up when things stop unexpectedly. Roadworks may be a pain, but they give you a chance to admire the views. We could all do with a bit of country living in the city.

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