Thirty-six hours awake, a good portion of which was spent wandering every nook and cranny in London, left me rather spent. I asked Neil to drive us home and he was kind enough to agree. I believe I sat down for just a minute before I fell asleep in the passenger seat. And I could now say that I had seen London, the classic tourist hotspot. I could also soon say I explored Peterborough, which most would need a map to locate. But after a couple days to gain my bearing, it was time to move on.
Neil was a generous host, insisting on a proper Easter roast and breakfast each morning. And, as I would soon learn to be the norm, on a whim I changed my route: Wales. Neil had planted the seeds of Snowdonia in my brain, and I knew that the chough had a preference to Wales’ coasts… it was inevitable. Rerouting, I drove on a whim with incorrect GPS coordinates and found myself in some hiking town in the middle of Snowdonia National Park where I quickly thanked myself for being smart enough to buy the insurance on my rental car as I scraped it across a stone wall to bare metal. Cringing at the sound, I realized: I have absolutely zero idea where I am in the world right now. But that’s a pub across the street with Guinness, all is well.
Leasing a car for the month was the best decision I’ve ever made while traveling. Well, that’s debatable, but it definitely ranks highly. While driving in the UK is terrifying, in a few short days I had already seen more than most would see during their entire journey. And I had a place to sleep if I screwed up too badly to fix. Driving in the UK was an adventure in and of itself, and I’ve yet to figure out what all the traffic signs mean here. So I must credit the U.S. for it superior traffic: red means stop, green means go, yellow means slow down, and everything else is posted otherwise. In the UK, red means stop (most of the time), yellow means both slow your pace and quicken your pace, green means go only when it coincides with the direction you want but sometimes others as well, there’s at least four different variations for yield and stop depending on the context and enforcement, intricate patterns on the road can mean pedestrians or loading zones (but good luck not being incredibly distracted, to me the pattern translates as “earthquake zone,” not “pedestrians crossing”), nothing is posted otherwise which means you’re left to your own devices to figure out what the hell is going on, and the terms “overtaking lane,” “climbing lane,” and “dual carriage way” are all synonymous for two lanes/passing lane… because, you know, variety keeps things interesting.
Sometimes sheep or cattle find themselves in the road, but they seem to know which direction traffic is flowing as they are always, oddly, on the proper side of the street (which even I can’t always get that correct). Sometimes ewes give birth in plain sight of the road, which is a sight to see as one enjoys coffee on a leisurely stroll through the country, sometimes it doesn’t end well for the ewe… ah, the birds are singing, the grass is the greenest… and that ewe potentially just prolapsed her entire uterus squirting out those twin lambs: COUNTRY.