Travel Journal

Any way the wind blows...

(Tuesday 21 July 2015) by Mariken
Cheers!
Cheers!
Those who kept an eye on our map must have noticed that we move rather erratically through the UK. That is partly because we have no plan, partly because we move with the weather (there is no keeping up with that!) and largely because we just go where we feel we should go. The downside is definitely the costs as petrol doesn't come cheap in this country (what does?!), but it is a recipe for total freedom and that is what we are after.

I do have some catching up to do after the previous entry and I am afraid I won't be able to do that in just one single post. The queen might be the head of a state where the sun never sets, but she clearly has no power over the distribution of wifi, borderless as it is, since on campsites it is extremely hard to come by. I started writing (as in with an actual pen, yes, I know, so 1989...) a post earlier, which I am typing now, but it is already 4 pages in my notebook and I am not even halfway through all our UK adventures. So I present you part of it now, with more to come later. The same goes for pictures; we literally have to sort through more than 600 pictures, but we simply lack time and facilities to do so now.

Belaying before the rain starts
Belaying before the rain starts
As stated in the previous post, we moved to North Wales to do some climbing with our English friends. We met Charlie and Emilio for the first time in El Chorro, more than two years ago, and after that we bumped into each other on Kalymnos and again in Geyikbeyiri. 'It's a small world after all.' This time we made proper arrangements and after Charlie had shown us around in Brighton (and treated us to delicious chocolate, ice cream and beer, the good life in the UK!) we agreed to meet in North Wales to do some climbing. We started in the slate quarries in Llanberis, where I - unbeknownst to me - climbed my first trad route, without any gear. We did not have a full guidebook of the quarries, but we picked a route that did not look too hard. I did notice it had only two bolts, but after Kalymnos everything is sparingly bolted, so I was not really surprised. Nor was I truly worried, it did look like a fairly easy route after all. When I was halfway through the route though, my feet about two metres above the first bolt and a good three metres removed from the second bolt, I started to worry a bit. Some other climbers, who did have a full guidebook, kindly informed me that the route was classified as a VS (very severe) 4c. Technically not that difficult, but clearly not a sports route as such; mobile belay devices were needed to supplement those two lonely bolts. However, as a sports climber at heart, we had left all our trad gear in the car. Truth be told, we only own one set of nuts and one cam. Since I was so far above the bolt, however, the only way was up. And it was only a 4c after all. So, up I went, with sweaty hands and trembling knees, but I made it, clipped the anchor and celebrated my first trad route, climbed as a daring sports route. :-p No further trad experiences for us after that though, the rest of the week I relied fully on solid bolts, plenty of them.

Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey
After the slate quarries we spent a few days climbing at various crags along the A55 near Conwy and then another day at a lovely crag near Llangollen, where Jacco and I experienced another 'cultural highlight' of the UK: totally pissed Brits in a pub (and on the streets) on Saturday night at maybe 8 pm. Picture the scenes you see on television in this show where they try to remodel lower class trash into well behaving ladies and then imagine it is real, happening at the table in front of you. Apparently this does not only occur in the dodgy neighbourhoods of working class towns, but everywhere, even in nice picturesque villages. Charlie laughed about my naiveté when I came back from the loo, asking whether it was common that girls (average size 16) went into the cubicle in pairs or even with three. Clearly it was. :-?

Heating up in the sun after a cold dip
Heating up in the sun after a cold dip
After being soaked to the skin (especially Charlie and Emilio, Jacco and I made it back to the car a bit earlier), we headed back to the south of England, to the sunny island of Portland, where we spent a few nice days climbing on sea cliffs. The weather was generally good and we even had a dip in the sea, which, despite the nice weather, was cold!! Right when you start to think that England isn't so much different from the Provence. :-^

And then, sadly, we had to say goodbye to Charlie and Emilio, who started a new adventure on the continent, whilst we continued with ours on the green isles. And that is something for a next entry, but just as a teaser: it involves one Medieval Festival (apparently the largest in Europe, although I have my doubts about that), lots of castles and even more rain (obviously).

Pro's so far: lots of tea, Welsh cakes, beautiful climbing and even more beautiful scenery, generally very nice people (with some notable exceptions), the ability to communicate (hooray!) and the fact that money literally grows on the streets (somehow Brits loose a lot of coins, altogether we have already found approximately 5 pounds).
Con's so far: the costs (and yes indeed, the current rate is dreadful and getting worse as we speak), the total lack of wifi on campsites, the extremely high inequality between people and don't even get me started on the weather...

 


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