Day Twenty Six

On the road again today, heading ever north, this time to the north
east coast of Wales, in the small town of Harlech, a popular beach

Wales on this side of the coast is almost entirely by the Snowdonia
National Park, but unlike our park lands in Australia, people,
pasture, fauna and flora live peacefully side by side. The land is
populated with small villages, the hillsides are dotted with grazing
cows, goats and sheep, and yet all the natural habitat is maintained.
It’s a good model I think, and one that holds some hope for the
native animals, birds and their habitats. Their environment is
protected from loss, and the area is still available for human
habitation and tourism. I think we could learn something there – the
rate at which we are losing native habitat is horrifying.

On our way out of the park yesterday we saw a number of
emergency vehicles tearing past us in great hurry. We thought at the
time, car accident, but found out today that the military has been
conducting SAS exercises in the Brecon Beacon national park. We
saw the boys and their trucks on the way in and back out again – all
fit young men. We were both shocked to here that six of those boys
had collapsed during the exercise and that two of them had died.
The official cause seems to have been deemed the heat, and
dehydration. I am at a loss here. The day barely hit 30 degrees, and
these were the fittest of young men. It makes you wonder whether
they were denied water as part of training. Their poor families.
There will no doubt be an investigation if that the case. Strong fit
young men don’t die from the heat in 30 degree days.

The trip north was some 80 miles so along beautiful backdrops of
mountain ranges indispersed with little costal towns and tiny villages
along the way. Wales is much more sparse and wild than England,
and in many ways has kept it own culture with Welsh being taught in
schools as first language and English only introduced in middle
school. One in five of the locals are fluent, and it does seem to be
the proffered choice for chit chat and general exchange. They are
very proud of their differentiation and showcase it wherever

We arrived late in the day, to quite a sight; the Harlech Castle at the
top of the hill, guarded by a huge fierce dragon, exquisitely
fashioned in metal by local artist. We settled and set off to explore
the town centre, thinking it would be a short walk, but it proved a
vertical climb to the castle to the small whitewashed township at its

It was a long drive and an unforeseen closed road added a
significant spanner to the works. Lord bless the inventor of GPS and
TomTom. I have seen the alternative, and let me tell you, it ain’t
pretty. Two people who both like to be in charge, enclosed in a
small space with wildly differing opinions on which way to turn does
not happy travel companions make.

An early night perhaps.