So, the sun was shining when we set off. It was…fresh. That’s the word, fresh. Except for the remnants of next door’s snowman, most our snow had disappeared so we were fairly surprised, because we all tend to live in our own little world and don’t expect anyone esle’s to be much different, to find that just wasn’t the case.
Of course, we were heading for Snowdonia and that should have given us a bit of a clue. Seemed like a good idea (it was) to go to Bala Lake. We’d done John O’ Groats in October, how bad could Bala be in April?
As we grew closer to the Welsh mountains, the fields turned from green to white, the roadsides were piled high with mini-mountains of the cold stuff and Snowdonia, laid out before us, was picture-perfect cloaked in a pristine cloak of winter white. Beautiful, we thought, while we sat warmed by the sun shining on the Bongo windows. Even when we stopped at Bala, we were intrigued as the lake and its surrounding hills seemed to bask in the much awaited spring warmth.
Did I say warmth? I did, didn’t I?
I meant to say, Bala Lake looked wonderful and the reason its waters weren’t being churned by too many speed boats, water skiers and swimmers was because, outside the protection of a warm van, it was bloody freezing!
We ventured out and then we quickly ventured back in. The wind! There are some winds that don’t stop when they come into contact with woolly hats. A north-east, direct from Siberia, stopping at Iceland to re-fuel, is one of them.
We took the coward’s way out and sat in the van eating fish and chips and admiring the world from a warm and comfortable distance.
But, conscience always pricks after fish and chips and we decided to brave the cold and take a walk – not just a fifty yard jog to the loo, but a proper walk, with cameras of course. Hats, gloves and scarves should slow down the prospect of hypothermia and the exercise would do us good. Anyway I wanted photos. Lots of photos. I would have had lots too if I hadn’t tried to take them with my gloves on.
We did a very healthy thirty minute walk and then dived back into the safety of the Bongo and headed for the campsite. It was about three miles away from the lake and when we arrived we were surprised at how warm it was. It was! Away from the lake, the wind had dropped and the sun was actually throwing out some real warmth. We took another stroll. What a difference without those icy blasts freezing your nose.
We were hoping to stay for two nights, though we’d only booked for one – just in case we couldn’t handle the cold.
Well, guess what. We couldn’t handle the cold. It was alright until the sun disappeared behind the mountains, then as it began to get colder, we hunkered down with the obligatory wine, huddled beneath a blanket and watched a DVD.
At ten-thirty the sky was clear and awash with stars – and we know what that means!
We bedded down and crossed our fingers. By midnight, the world was silent. Not an owl, not an animal, not a hint of wind…only the chattering of teeth told us that we hadn’t turned down the hearing aids. We turned on the heater and then, when we could barely breathe for the heat, we turned it off. With minutes, the chattering began again.
At John O’ Groats we were cold, so we bought an amazing blanket which aided and abetted the sleeping bag and numerous other blankets to kept us cozy for the whole ten days. We put it with the very important items which should not, under any circumstances be forgotten – and we forgot it. The discussion about whose fault that was, was the only thing that got heated that night.
We did sleep, fitfully, eventually. Once I woke up because my nose was cold and I was tempted to find my hat. I’ve never had the need to sleep in a woolly hat with my nose in the finger of a glove, but at that point, I could see it might be an idea. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of putting my hand out of the sleeping bag. I pulled the covers up and hoped for the best.
Six-thirty a.m – a respectable time of day – and we were ready for a cuppa. Fortunately, because the Bongo is a very small house on wheels (about the size of a dog kennel – a very large and wonderful one, but you get the idea) the kettle, tea, sugar etc. was all to hand. A steaming hot cuppa was just what we wanted. Now normally, while sipping this early morning delight, we’d open the blinds and enjoy watching the wildlife. But we’re not that stupid. Normally. Sometimes. We chanced a peek. The cold poured in. Couldn’t get the blinds down quick enough.
I have to say, at this point, that the site was excellent. All Camping and Caravanning Club sites are. The people who run them are invariably helpful and pleasant and if you wimp out and run back to your central heating, they don’t laugh at you. Much.
That’s what we did. Wimped. We decided to spend the day in the area and then hit the road, get home and sleep in our bedroom, next to the radiator. We’re excused, we’re getting old – ish.
Anyway, good trip, even if it was short. We are now searching for the next one, scanning long term weather forecasts on various websites and comparing each one to see which we want to believe.
The weather will do what it wants in the end and the only thing that matters has been dealt with – the really good blanket is now safely stored in the Bongo next to the whiskey, so bring it on – we’re ready.