This is the fifth post in a series about a UK road trip that begins here.
Rebecca and I whiled away a week in Wales. We hiked along the cliffs; this was my favorite sign:
We spent a day at St. David’s Cathedral, which is a functioning place of worship. St. David is the patron saint of Wales. He punished himself for his sins by standing neck deep in the sea. The ice cold sea.
The cathedral was erected on top of a monastery circa 500 AD. The interior was fantastic, though cramped, with signs like this throughout:
It was impossible to get good photos inside because it was so dark and I couldn’t back up enough to get perspective. That’s okay; sometimes it’s good to just be and really see, and not be preoccupied with getting the best shot.
The little gem below is from the exterior. It’s important, in the UK, to look up or you’ll miss the gargoyles, murals, and curlicues.
We wandered about the countryside. You know the expression, “take the high road?” Well there really is such a thing as a high road. They’re useful during floods, apparently:
Back in town, we stopped at the butchers—a real butcher shop—to buy lamb. This is Wales, after all, which has more sheep than people.
Rebecca is a great cook, and she managed to make lamb stew with spring potatoes and peas on a camp stove. Here she is doing her impression of a posh Oxfordshire camper, complete with pinky aloft.
There was one rainy day, so naturally we attempted to cook inside the tent. This is a Very Bad practice. As experienced campers, we should have known better. The stove toppled over, the meths ran along the floor, flame followed, and we screamed and scrambled to put them out. We succeeded, but there was a burn hole in the floor of Rebecca’s newish tent.
We often recall this story. She remembers it being her fault, and I remember it being mine. At least it’s not the other way around! All that matters is that neither of us got burned and we still had a tent over our heads, if it did have a hole in the floor.
We returned to the pub a couple times and learned a great deal about McGiver, Mr. T., Luke, Bo, and Daisy. The farmers just couldn’t get over that I, and American, was so ignorant about my own culture.
If our road trip had only been this much—this sojourn in Wales—it would have been enough. But we had only begun! We packed everything back into the Micra and bade farewell to our beautiful, peaceful, seaside outpost. Off we went to our next destination, Silverstone, England, for the Mini Cooper Festival.
The “Welcome to England” sign made me laugh. The drive was like going from Minnesota to Wisconsin, and yet here we were crossing country borders, sort of.
Rebecca wasn’t laughing. She was driving 200 miles on a week of sleep deprivation and encountering Bank Holiday weekend traffic jams and spring road construction projects every two miles. As we slowly progressed I watched her shoulders rise up to the level of her ears. This was my introduction to certain charming British terms such as “buttock clenching,” and “fuckwit.”
The drive took most of a day. By the time we neared Silverstone, Rebecca was laughing in a way that made me nervous. Once again, as we neared our destination, the skies darkened and the winds rose. We pulled into the campground adjacent to the racetrack and festival grounds at dusk and this time did a little better at pitching the tent. We looked around. We were surrounded by a sea of tents and teepees populated by rag-tag Mini owners from all over the world. We were famished, so we walked and walked and walked until we found the food stalls and bought some extremely overpriced and under spiced curry in a paper cup.
We trudged back to the campsite to use the porta loos before it started raining. Neither of us said anything, but we were both thinking we should have stayed in Wales.