The Prisoner escapes! and other stories…

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Up and at ’em the following day; the original plan was to go up the hill again, but we decided against it on the grounds of aching limbs and saturated hiking gear – poor Pete had to wear his soggy jeans and boots again, as he hadn’t brought a change! Even with the drying facilities provided by our hosts, that stuff was *not* drying!

In the absence of a climbing plan, and with a marked reluctance to rush back to London, Pete decided that he wanted to visit the location where the old series The Prisoner was filmed, and it turned out to be a stone’s throw from where we were – sweeeet!

And so on to the bizarre village of Port Meirion, which was conceived and built by an architect named Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, between 1925 and 1976, to demonstrate how a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling it. And what a place it is! Colourful in continental style, borrowing architectural features from all over the place, but still green and peaceful and pretty – I would heartily recommend the place to anyone, Prisoner fans or not. They provide accommodation, so you can whisk your beloved away for a naughty weekend…

But it was strange to be touring the place of whose existence I had only just learned – I always thought it was a set! And wandering down to the quayside, I could see the place where the escape sequences were shot, and Patrick McGoohan was engulfed by that big bubble-gum ball thingy… Very strange, but a wonderfully serene experience. All in all, a damn fine weekend.

+++ STOP PRESS +++

Gin Panic‘s new album, Moved By Remote, produced by Dew and packed with poundin’, sweaty, and yet melodic and beautifully crafted rawk, is out now and available from their website: – get it now, while they’re hot. And tell them Al sent you – they might buy me a pint! 🙂

In other news, I had the last of my practical hypnosis assessments, where I had a woman who wanted to deal with her husband’s passive-aggressiveness so that she could get on with her own life – phew! But apparently I passed that one with flying colours. Now just to the final written exam on the 5th of November – hear that sound? It’s me manically chewing my nails…

Then a nice long weekend in Ireland to celebrate my youngest sis Claire’s 18th birthday – one of those rare events where the whole clan appears under the same roof. And a good evening was had by all. For the rest of the time, I loafed about for the most part – I had to have a lazy trip to Ireland just once! No rushing around like a blue-a*sed fly for me this time – oh no. although I ended up being recruited to various tasks, like typing CVs, hanging framed photos, dismantling motorbikes, etc, etc. And yet it all somehow seemed to be relaxing.

Coming back on Ryanair, I vowed never to fly with them again. On the way over, I had a seat whose consistency resembled a 40 year-old sofa with all the foam gone; on the return trip, the seat sagged to the left, and wouldn’t stay in the upright position. Thankfully, my mind was taken off this by the girls sat next to me, who invited me to a game of Shithead that they were playing. And I only managed to lose once, under their careful tutelage. They were in Dublin with a huge posse for a friend’s 21st birthday party, and as I walked through the corridors towards baggage reclaim, I heard some of their friends talking about me: “this bloke sat next to […] was funny, telling the steward about his seat: ‘It won’t stay up!’ – missed a big opportunity for a laugh there, I thought!” – I felt like turning round and saying something, but I left it. 🙂

So now it’s ‘head down, bum up’ as my Aussie chum Kiz would say (always thought that sounded rude, but maybe that’s just my perverted thought process!), while I bone up on all the stuff they’ve been trying to beat into my thick skull over the past 9 months. It would be a savage bummer to get this far and lose on a technicality, wouldn’t it???!! But it’ll all be over in time for my birthday shandy evening (all I can afford at this point!), so I’ll have worked up a thirst by then. Cheers!

Up to the top, then down again

Nothing to see here…

Well, Pete & I made our epic journey to north Wales to climb a mountain, and by gad we did it! Through fog, gale, hail and lashing rain we made it to the top of Snowdon, and it was a bit odd. Certainly a feeling of achievement, as we stood there and had our photo taken by a fellow hiker, but a bit of a let-down at the same time: we were deep in cloud, and visibility was less than 10 metres in places – so no spectacular panorama for me!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I started at sparrow’s fart on Saturday morning, getting myself sorted and biking over at licence-threatening speeds to Ealing, and Pete’s place. A quick cup of tea, and we were on the road to Llanberis. Stopping briefly at the B&B we were staying at, we dumped our bags and headed for the starting point of the trek.

Here, we stopped for a quick cuppa and a bite before starting to climb – Pete with his sensible turkey-on-wholemeal sandwich, me with my buttered scone(!). The words “idiot” and “loon” spring to mind, on hindsight. So off we set, storming up the slopes, observing the train that chugs its way to the top laden with sensible people, greeting the hordes of people who were pouring down off the mountain as we ascended – including several mountain bikers, and one chap who was running – RUNNING! Should’ve got the point there, methinks.

About halfway up, there’s a resting point, where a large bunch of hikers were gathered on their way down. We asked people roughly how far we still had to go, and one middle-aged chap, bundled up in his waterproof gear, said “you won’t see much, it’s very cloudy” – we said that’s OK. “The cafe will be closed, and the last train will be on its way down by now” – that’s alright, we’re walking down anyway, and we’ll manage with our water. “It’s very cold up there!” – no problem, we’ve got layers. If we only knew…

Further up, the ‘path’ began to deteriorate, until it became a steep slog on shale and slate – by now the rain was lashing down, we’d hit cloud level about two-thirds of the way up and visibility was pretty grim. My waterproof mac was doing OK on the top half (when the hood wasn’t being blown off my head by the wind), but my trousers and boots were *soaked* through. A repeat of the BIGFoot scenario, when the water was frothing through the toes of the boots with every step… And then we got to the summit – or so I thought. Looking to my left, I saw a raised platform with steps going up to it, and muttered expletives at it before climbing to the top.

Pete & I shared the platform with two other intrepid souls, and we took turns photographing each other before clambering off – the wind was gusting something scary up there, and with nothing but cloud around us it looked like something from a bad fantasy movie! And then, all we had to do was go all the way down again. By this time, my old knee injury had resurfaced, courtesy of the fact that I’d forgotten to bring my knee support from the B&B – what a plonker! But we made it down, and in daylight too – which we were not expecting. Stopping at a tea shop near the bottom gave us a chance to rest up before heading back to hot showers and hitting the mean streets of Llanberis for a bite to eat.

[to be continued…]