Travel Journal

Tea, biscuits and limestone

(Saturday 4 July 2015) by Mariken
Chocolate cake!
Chocolate cake!
Edit: Because we only occasionally have wifi these days, I prepared a blog entry a few days ago. In the meantime we have moved on to do some very nice climbing with our English friends, so part of the information in this blog is a bit outdated. More news will follow in a couple of days, though, as will pictures. For those who worry: the weather is currently also a lot better than described in the blog below.

For a few times in the past week I seriously asked myself why I so desperately wanted to go to the UK. Having to turn your cup to get the rain out before the tea can go in is only funny when you're sitting in front of a logfire, with a sturdy roof above your head. None of those things unfortunately. We picked high summer to go the UK as that is the only time of year there is at least a slight chance to good weather. Fortunately our tent has the strength to withstand endless amounts of rain, even though my mood has not. Top this off with a whopping exchange rate (a pound is worth something between 1,40 and 1,45 euros nowadays and I fear it is only getting worse since last Monday, thank you Greece!) and high prices in general (at one place, a regular countryside pub, I paid about 7,50 euros for a small beer and a tea and at one campsite they had the nerve to ask for 29 pounds (pounds, not euros!) for a pitch without electricity 8-O) and you understand why we were ready to run off to France again after a few days. However, upon driving alongside quintessential English country roads, lined with hedgerows and cottages, after drinking some nice English breakfast tea and having a Cornish pie, we realised this is what Britain is. The weather has always been unpredictable, prices have always been high, the upper lip has always been stiff and the food has never been delicate. Nothing has changed in ages and that is why we came; to experience for ourselves why and how the UK has remained such an individual entity within the EU, where standardization is the norm. So we search for free sites, only shop at ALDI and will resort to wild camping again. If you look beyond the rain and the pound, Britain has a lot to offer. Additionally, we were promised a heatwave and it has indeed arrived, even though it is a British one, with threatening clouds all around.

In a real American WWII army jeep!
In a real American WWII army jeep!
So far we have been making some miles (metric system, what's that?) on the road already. We entered the country in Dover after a short ferry ride from Calais and moved on to Brighton to meet up with a friend. Between the showers we strolled through the Brighton Lanes and visited the Pier, which is a sight in itself. The description given by the Rough Guide, 'wonderfully tacky', does not even begin to describe it. The Lanes are my thing though, quirky shops and lots of original eating places. Some combine these two things and we visited a chocolate shop which could have been designed by Roald Dahl. Brilliant stuff! After Brighton we went to the Dorset coast to do a bit of climbing, but unfortunately our beloved Niva decided it was time for a wake-up call again, so we were stuck for three days in Wool, waiting for a lower ball-joint to arrive. After we got up and running again, the weather had turned from sunny to shit, so we decided to head north.

On our way north we visited Salisbury, a nice medieval town with a stunning Cathedral, which houses one of the copies of the Magna Carta, the corner stone document for the concept of rule of law (and not democracy as is so often claimed, even though the document does have some clauses about the barons having to be consulted about certain things). After that we visited the Avebury stone circle even though it was already a few days past the summer solstice. Although the atmosphere was far from spiritual with large groups of tourists posing in the most ridiculous stands in front of the stones, it was still a nice site and a beautiful walk. Nature is still abundant in Britain.

And now we are in Wales, Snowdonia, awaiting the arrival of our British friends, to go climbing in one of the most beautiful climbing areas Britain has to offer; and apparently they have many! The surroundings are stunning here and somehow the threatening clouds fit the landscape; the Snowdonia mountains become a lot more impressive with an overcast sky. We paid a brief visit to Ewloe Castle, which defensive strength lies in its ability to be overlooked completely and we found a brilliant little second-hand bookstore, where I scored a Jamie Oliver book in very good condition for only 3 pounds. Happy! I should not go into bookstores too often in this country though; as I am able to properly read books in this country, it will probably be too much of a temptation. But still, happy with my new Jamie Oliver, happy with the nice weather, happy with what I have seen so far and happy with the future prospects. Life could be a lot worse. :-*

  • opgebeurd by Jac
  • Drive left by Aafke
  • Raining for 6 months? by Lisa
  • Jummie by Bibiche

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