June 25, 2007

This morning we awoke to the sound of heavy rain again. We packed up and headed over to breakfast. The eating area was very full, as the schoolgirls were still there. But we finally found a table and got our food. Today there wasn’t any porridge so we had the English breakfast of beans, bacon, and waffle potatoes. As we did yesterday, we each took an extra bun and some jam for our lunch.

Christine packed her car and then found out the battery was dead. We couldn’t do anything about that, so we said goodbye to her and left her waiting for the AA. The weather still had not improved, so we parked in Ambleside and looked around the town in the pouring rain. The town is very lovely with a small river running through it. Standing across the river was a tiny building that was once a house. It was shaped like a boot and consisted of a single-room main floor and a room upstairs where six children used to sleep. The building had also been used to store apples at another time.

We didn’t have much time, because we were scheduled to meet Heather in Chester at 1 pm. Like Neil and Christine, we had met her last year on our Explore trip to Lesotho. The trip back down the M6 with the rain coming down in buckets was nothing special, but at least there were no traffic tie-ups. Driving into Chester we couldn’t find any of the park-and-ride places that were supposed to be there, so we ended up at a short-term car park just outside the city walls. As Paul was trying to persuade the machine to take ₤2 coins, a man came up and gave him a duplicate ticket that the machine had printed out. So we parked for free.

We donned our Gore-Tex coats, and Rosemary even put on Gore-Tex trousers, then we walked through the North Gate and down to the cross in the centre of the town, where we had arranged to meet Heather at 1 pm. It didn’t look much like a cross, and we were 15 minutes late, but luckily Heather was still waiting and saw us.

It was still pouring rain, but she took us on a quick walk around the city walls and then through the streets and the shops, including Chester’s unique two-level buildings. The rain never let up, so we didn’t take as many pictures as we might have otherwise. Before heading out again, we stopped at Marks and Spencer for tea and had a nice chat.

Back at the car park at about 3 PM, we said goodbye to Heather. We ate our buns with blackcurrant jelly and then started west to Wales. Some of the roads near Chester were flooded but still passable, and as we drove along the A55 in North Wales we could see high winds shaking the trees violently. (Headline in the Express: “Wettest day in last 50 years”.)

From Caernarfon we turned inland on the narrow and winding A4085 to the Snowdon Ranger hostel, just in time for it to open at 5 pm. By now the road was flooded in various places, and outside the hostel there were county road workers where a river was running across the road. We were just happy to have arrived.

Checking in at the hostel, we asked if there were any two-bed rooms available, instead of the dormitory beds we had originally had to reserve. It turned out that with a bit of juggling on the computer, we could have room 10 at the very top of the house, three flights of stairs up. This was a good thing, as it turned out, because within a few minutes a bus-load of 10-year-olds came screaming in. They had driven for 9 hours to get here through flood detours, so naturally they were a bit out of control. And they would be staying for the next four nights, just like us. Hopefully they would be kept under control.

For dinner both of us had very good haddock, chips, and peas. No dessert because we felt quite full from our meals at the Grasmere hostel. Then we retired to the lounge to catch up on our journal-writing. Apparently the kids had been told to keep out of there, which was good, but we could still here them crashing about overhead.

The rain had finally let up, but the wind was still very blustery. The weather forecast called for better weather, so we planned to hike up Snowdon if it wasn’t too bad. If not we would explore the Anglesey, Llyn, or Conwy areas and postpone Snowdon to another day.

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