Tag Archives: Wales

Snowdon- an adventure, Part 3

This week’s guest post is from my cousin’s TW and Sean Mendis.

The story will unfold in three parts- here is the third, and last, part.

On the summit we tucked into an eclectic meal of barbecued chicken, sandwiches, falafel, hot coffee and delicious vine leaves.

We returned down two different paths; Sean and I came down the Watkins to get the cars and meet the others who were making their way down the Penny Pass.

Eastward Ho

At the hotel, we met back up with Mira who had returned from Carnarvon and also visited Gelert’s grave.  I had told her of the story earlier.  How Prince Llewelyn had left his trusted hound Gelert in charge of his baby whilst he went on a hunting trip and that on his return he found the baby missing and Gelerts muzzle covered in blood.  In a fit of rage he had slain the dog only to find his baby safe in his cradle a little way off, next to a huge wolf with several mortal wounds – the result of a fight to the death with Gelert.  Llewelyn returned to his faithful hound who licked his hand and expired on cue.  Unfortunately I burst her bubble by telling her that it was really an apocryphal story, although dog lovers would know doubt be delighted to hear this. Someone described Beddgelert as “a few dozen hard grey houses … huddled together in some majestic mountain scenery” and possibly traders made up the story to lure visitors to the mountain village.

Laila had wisely bought a packet of Radox muscle relaxant which did the rounds like a well rolled reefer, as we desperately tried to get some relief form the aching limbs.  Somewhat refreshed by this elixir, we decided to meet up in the village at seven thirty.  We met at The Tanronnen Inn, as much for a change as to get away from the Fawlty Towers that was The Saracen.  It was Pirate’s Night in the pubs of Bedgelert and I fancied a beautiful bird on my shoulder.  Instead I had to settle for Laila, a well scrubbed brunette with all the sex appeal of a second-hand jeep, who was now walking like John Wayne.  We were tired and hungry but plans at this point became a little blurred and we were in danger of splintering.  Laila and Felicia considered a pizza but for starters whetted their appetite at one of the best ice cream parlours this side of London; at the Glaslyn Ices and Glandwr Cafe. Michaela and Karen wanted to wait it out at the Tanronnen, in case a table became ready.  In the end it was left to Sue to sort out the disparate elements and rein everyone back into a group.  We ended up back at Fawlty Towers.  I was relieved, as I had a long awaited date with a Frenchman by the name of Monsieur Stella Artois.

The meal was more relaxing this time, as we knew what to expect.  We settled into good humoured chit chat.  Sean told us that the waitress at breakfast kept brushing her ample bosoms against his cheek every time she served him.  “You mean you were knockered” asked Felicia in broad New York tones.  “Yes” stated Sean, “but I told her to do it with feeling the next time round”.

Karen by this time had set upon our young waiter with gusto and decided he needed mothering.  She wanted to guide him in waitering, finesse his social skills, make sure he passed  his GCSE’s  and practice tantric sex with him into the small hours of the morning.  Or so I imagined in my cynical mind.  Poor boy he had a lot to contend with.  However, as with the previous night, we tipped him well for the inconvenience.

After the meal we headed back to the hotel, stopping off for a well deserved night cap suggested by Sue. “Let me give you a fine brandy to take that nasty taste away from your mouth and warm the cockles of your heart” Felicia said enthusiastically.  The warm encouraging liquid flowed smoothly down, creating a warming fire in my belly.  Before too long I had drained the glass and wanted another.  A few brandies later and we were ever more relaxed.  Sean thought Kevin resembled the actor Robbie Coltrane – probably not the wisest thing to say to a six foot Geordie after a few pints of lager.  He took it in good humour thankfully.

We made our way back to the hotel by what was now a well worn path under a billion stars.  The whole Milky Way was now suddenly above us, or so it seemed twinkling and beckoning:  Ursa Major, The Plough, Orion’s Belt, and anything else we imagined.  We even saw the odd satellite, traversing the inky sky at break-neck speed. It was a helluva thing, a truly awe-ful sight.  We then discovered that Felicia had picked up a straggler and a Spurs supporter to boot!  She tried to shake him off, but he was sticking to her like the proverbial to a wet blanket.  When we got back I found that the events of the day had taken there toll on me and I immediately settled into a deep and unshakable sleep as my head hit the pillow at Bryn Eglewys.

We met again the next morning for our final breakfast, with a combination of relief and mixed feelings, I felt.  The long trip back to London was only a few slices of marmalade and toast away now, and the holiday was nearly over.  Felicia had a plane to make.  At least we weren’t getting up to a marathon, I thought, like some of the other poor suckers in London; subjecting your body to a grueling regime, only to risk shitting yourself at the end, as Felicia so aptly put it.

The journey back was measurably quicker.  We took the M1 home, stopping briefly for a coffee and a leg stretch at the services. “Of all the gin joints in all the bars in all the world you had to walk into mine”.  Coincidentally we met Kevin and Sue who had stopped for the same refreshment, having been scared witless by a nasty lorry experience.

I pulled into the driveway at Ennerdale at precisely two thirty pm……and so ended a memorable short break.

Related posts: Snowdon- an adventure, Part 1, Snowdon- an adventure, Part 2

Snowdon- an adventure, Part 2

This week’s guest post is from my cousin’s TW and Sean Mendis.

The story will unfold in three parts- here is the second part.

Upward Bound

Most of us got up early the next day, probably in eager anticipation of the climb, or possibly because we were relaxed and on holiday.  “Green figs, yoghurt, coffee – very black” was not on the menu.  This had been a Bond breakfast request in a Bosphorous hotel room in From Russia With Love that Sean wanted to come true. Instead we were faced with orange juice, cereals and of course a big cooked breakfast to your liking.  I had orange juice to start, followed by an excellent plate of scrambled eggs on toast with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms.  At the table there was much talk of “will it be a long climb, how tiring exactly is it, and I hope it’s sunny at the top”.  Some of us were veterans having made the climb a half dozen times before.  Having said that, this was no Matterhorn, no K2, not even the Eiger.  This was a benign mountain, a hill trek, a walk in the park….or so we thought.

After a full breakfast we massaged our stomachs and our egos and were ready for off around ten.  The host gave us some words of warning and some cautionary tales from his search and rescue days, flying helicopters around the Highlands of Scotland.  “If you’re in any doubt at all come off the mountain” he said cautiously.  “Oh, and if you get into any trouble make yourself visible” he added for good measure.

The Watkins path lay ahead and we started our slow trudge in high spirits.  Mira had perhaps wisely declined the climb, making her way to Carnarvon castle on one of the rare buses one occasionally finds in this neck of the woods.

It started off well enough: the path was pretty flat and the sunshine helped to alleviate any tired muscles. The mood was gay and bright.  The hills were alive with the Sound of Music.  All we needed was a Julie Andrews with the Von Trapp family in tow.  As it happened, we got neither.  Sean, I and Laila had climbed Snowdon before.  The others were lulled in to what they would discover later was a false sense of security.   For the Watkins path was opened by Gladstone in 1892 and is one of the hardest of the six routes up to Snowdon, as you climb 3300 feet of the 3600 feet of the mountain.

The Final Push

As we neared the Summit the temperature got noticeably cooler and we paused for hats and gloves and a big slug of water.  At this point, the path becomes hard to follow and is across loose scree with steep drops.  The host’s words as we left Bryn Eglswys were now ringing in our ears “It is the highest in England and Wales after all.  Respect it” he had said admonishingly.  I felt a little concerned as Kevin had bouts of cramp and Felicia was not used to climbing.  Laila gave Felicia plenty of encouragement every time she scrabbled for purchase on the loose scree, her knuckles deathly white as her petite talon like digits tried to bore their way through to terra firma.

The group soon split into two.  Mich didn’t like heights and so wisely wanted to press on and just get to the top.  She was hard on my tail and I was pressured to perform – not for the first time when an attractive girl was hard on my case.  Behind her was Sue.  She slightly worried Michaela and me with her early confessions regarding her urges to throw herself off when confronted with steep drops.  Behind Sue, Karen was gambolling along like a mountain goat.  She had recently climbed Adam’s Peak and had clearly got into the mountain spirit.  I envied her, her seemingly boundless energy as I kept in front trying to look like I knew the path.  It seemed to be much steeper than on previous occasions and gave me pause to think.  Sean served as a link between the two groups, looking very much the experienced mountaineer.  He hadn’t been this high for weeks – not since his last powerful meditative experience.  As we reached the pinnacle Laila gave out a last triumphant sigh, a not so delicate feminine gasp that could only be described as Brian Blessed being butt raped.  We were all relieved to have made it.

Stay tuned next week for Part 3.

Related posts: Snowdon- an adventure, Part 1

Snowdon- an adventure, Part 1

This week’s guest post is from my cousin’s TW and Sean Mendis.

The story will unfold in three parts.

Outward Bound

The day for the long awaited trip to Snowdonia finally arrived. The Three Twenty Eight was fueled and ready. The oil had been checked and the tyres pumped. The ECM had been stroked lovingly and the injectors had received their French kiss. All nipples were greased and the flaps were set to thirty degrees!

We left Ennerdale at around two pm into glorious spring sunshine, Sean and I settling in comfortably to ‘The Eagles’. Mira had met us earlier in the day and had eased into the less than generous rear seat. The car was fairly laden and the rear suspension groaned in acknowledgement! I was glad for the extra horses I had got as a result of tuning the engine, but still, the Beemer pulled well and we soon forgot the extra weight.

We met up with Laila, Felicia and Michaela en route on the A40. They were also in a BMW, also laden to the gunnels. It was a mixed group: young and old, slim and not so slim, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds – I think we covered the entire spectrum. For in those two BMW’s charging up the motorway was a microcosm of life itself. We pitted at Warwick services near junction twelve for a welcome break. A splash and dash – a skinny latte, samosa and some fuel.

Two or so hours later, and past Shrewsbury, the roads beckoned. Despite outward appearances of not really caring, there was a lot of not-so-hidden competitiveness between the two cars and their owners. The red mist slowly descended over Laila as she tried to assert her dominance over the driving, her car and impress Felicia. I could see her banging the gear lever into third, her eyes wild and fingers tingling on the wheel as she tried to keep up with my ageing but well maintained Three Two Eight. Her newer Three Two Five was quick, being supercharged by girl power.

Not being averse to childish pettiness, I too kept up the pressure, dropping the cogs and burying my right foot deep into the carpet. The motor obliged with only a slight pause before squatting purposefully onto its haunches and taking off like a wounded Cheetah. The Bavarian banshee was now emitting a deep guttural roar making the straight six sing and leaving the double Vanos chattering madly like a bunch of demented Welshman practicing close-harmony singing. I had no issues; I just wanted to win, plain and simple. I could imagine that Mira’s partly digested lunch was now in danger of re acquainting itself with her tonsils. The hard cornering, late braking and sudden acceleration that now was happening was taking its toll on her. Fearful of being either splattered, or an imminent and potentially very nasty brown moment on the Nappa leather seats, or possibly both I had to make a decision – fast. Given the options, we slowed to a more sedate pace giving Mira’s lunch and her frayed nerves a chance to calm. Although she said nothing she was grateful for the reprieve. The corners sighed “Araf” and the passengers sighed enough. Thence we ambled to our destination, Laila and I showing remarkable reserve in the face of inviting and beautifully tar macadam’d roads.

Evening Arrival

We finally arrived at our destination at dusk. Bryn Eglwys touts itself as a country hotel nestling in “one of the most enviable locations in the Snowdonia national park”. For the grandiose hyperbole you get a room at fifty quid a throw or more, and a mediocre breakfast – expensive for what is essentially a B&B.

The garrulous hostess, Lyn Lambert wasn’t there, perhaps fortunately. I had spoken to her some days before on the telephone, at some length, and after a few minutes of chat she “went into one” like I was an old friend. I had a dream of how the eventual meeting with her might have gone if we had met up………

“Hello, you must be the…”

“Yes I am Mrs. Lambert and I am the owner of the hotel. I hope your stay will be a pleasant one. I think we have the weather for it you know” she said cutting me off in mid sentence and with what I detected was a slight nod – the kind of nod that says “you’re going to get an extra herb sausage if you don’t watch out young man”. Or may be I was just reading too much into it.

I wasn’t averse to subtle innuendo myself, so I gave her one. “Will it be the full Monte breakfast tomorrow then Mrs. Jones…in bed…with some Welsh Rarebit…and the extra stuffed, herb crust sausage”?

“Oh anything you desire boys” she said in a wanton manner.

This was getting close to the bone and we had hardly passed the welcome mat. I decided I should not venture down this route of double entendre any further, so I whipped it out!

I snapped out of the dream and back to reality at hand. Her husband Kevin greeted us with pleasantries and answered all our requests patiently and with a dry sense of humor. He had the air of a military man, someone used to taking charge.

The Saracens Head

Having showered we met in the lobby and walked to the Saracens Head public House where we met Kevin and Sue who had both taken the day off and had made the trip up at a more leisurely pace.

We got a table quite late and we were all ravenous. The waiter was a young boy of no more than sixteen and appeared to have just started doing the job. Ordering the food was a protracted and drawn out affair, particularly for the vegetarians – Sean and Mira. They interrogated the waiter like a petty felon, although I hadn’t decided who was playing the good cop/bad cop part. “Was there garlic in the food, were the carrots organic and was the cabbage uprooted without suffering?” Dealing with a bunch of fussy Londoners was not what he was used to, particularly project managers. He had taken lessons from the Fawlty Towers school of waiting and was shaping up as a perfect Manuel.

Karen, the last of our party arrived in time for dessert and was very chatty. I guessed she was full of eagerness and possibly over-tiredness from the long, solitary trip up.

“Was their any Danish Blue?” she inquired,  expecting the answer “no”.

“Well we have some lovely Edam Miss” the waiter said, rather apologetically.

“No that’s fine, just some coffee please then” said Karen. ]

On the way back to the hotel we were accosted by an inebriated welsh choir on their way home and practicing their close harmony singing and sheep shagging techniques. “Men of Harlech tar tar tumpum…”, they roared. There was a booming baritone, a terrifying tenor and a squeaky ginger beer at the back who minced around with what I imagined was a nasty case of knob rot from a recent lost weekend.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2.