A while ago a friend of ours ran across a birthday ending in a ‘0’. To mark the occasion secret plans were laid for a surprise party in Dublin. When the invitation arrived we decided, not having had a break of any description for a while, to turn it into a week’s holiday through England, Wales and Ireland. We decided it would be a complete break, no phones, no tablets (well, we haven’t got any of those anyway), and no laptops. For navigation we thought we’d try a road atlas.
The week started with an all too short visit with some friends in Gloucester. From there we picked up the hire car and set off for a drive through North Wales to catch the ferry to Dublin.
Upon arriving in Dublin we discovered the busses were on strike so, having left the car in Wales, we walked. As we wandered through the port looking for the exit a friendly security guard pointed out we were going the wrong way, heading towards a dead end and a long walk back. He asked where we were going and, noticing my travel guitar case, asked what instrument I played. It turned out that he was a fiddle player preparing for a gig in Blackpool the following weekend. He told us to hop in and took us right to the door of our hotel.
That evening we went to the surprise birthday party on a ship moored on the Liffey. The following morning we stumbled around Dublin in a self induced fog, hopped the ferry at noon and resumed our drive through Wales reaching Dolgellau (pronounced: dol geth li) in the evening.
We spent the next day following the aptly named Precipice Walk and the day after that took a 10 mile hike over a disused rail line that ran alongside the estuary. Weary legged we hobbled into the local supermarket to seek refreshment where, once again, my travel guitar stimulated a conversation. The gentleman stacking shelves turned out to be a guitar player. We wound up chatting for about 20 minutes and it ended with an invitation to an open mic the following evening.
Sadly we were off in the morning and couldn’t join. The drive back to England was breathtaking and heavily populated with sheep.
We dropped the car off in Gloucester, slumped onto the train and headed for home.
The best part of our temporary separation from the modern world was that it coincided with the General Election in the United Kingdom. We remained blissfully unaware of the media circus throughout and didn’t learn the result until we’d arrived home and plugged back in. Once we’d learned the result I felt an overwhelming urge to head back to the wilds of Wales and revive our less connected life style.