Sunday, July 11, 2010

You Shall Awaken as Either a Madman or a Poet

Well boys and girls, hereon to my last trip of note before the festivities that were the Easter Break Euro Trip (henceforth to be known as EBET, although I doubt I will actually use it on account of him still being sad that Roger is dead and that Siskel is no good).

The weekend before Lilly arrived in mid-March was my final (tear) UBES trip to Cader Idris in North Wales. In the end-of-year UBES newsletter there was a little quiz to determine what kind of member of UBES you are, and I definitely fell into the social butterfly category, meaning mostly parties and not so much actual expeditioning. As Ariana is so adamant in stating however, we did do one per semester, so you know, not that bad.

Cader Idris means Chair of Idris in Welsh. Idris was a giant, and if the geological features are to be believed, though he did have a nice back and armrest for his throne, he had a wet bum. Perhaps there was less water in Wales back in his day, I don’t know. Everyone commented on how lucky we were with the weather when we were up for the weekend, because it did not rain a single drop. And that is unheard of in North Wales, so I suppose the Giant was happy to have us meander about on his furniture for the weekend.

Another spiffing tale about the mountain entails sleeping on said climb. I think the Giant may have been a poet, and so legend has it that if anyone is to bunker down there for the night, they will awake as either a madman or a poet. Are the two mutually exclusive? But honestly, chappies did do this up to the nineteenth century for inspiration. I think they already had one of the symptoms down pat.

As per usual we arrived late on the Friday evening after meandering drives through incredibly small towns with incredibly strong accents. It was quite a small group that went, only about fifteen of us, so we fit entirely in one of those big van/bus things and another car, which made keeping track of each other quite easy for the drivers. We got fish and chips in the quaintest of quaint hamlets (I promise I do eat other things), I’m sure bewildering the poor proprietors who had to contend with the volume of haddock that our group required. It was then to settle in to the bunkhouse. Unlike the barn we stayed in on my first trip, this one had proper bunkbeds and a kitchen: it was a veritable lap of luxury.

We awoke the next day at of course a very untoward hour to Todd’s excellent stick-to-your-ribs porridge and conveyer belt production of cheese and pickle (pickled onion, mind you) sandwiches. Due to our tiny numbers there were only two trips for the day, each taking a different route up the mountain to meet at the top. I trekked up with Adrianna, Chris, Todd, Ariana, and Rich (behind the camera). We were the fun group, obviously. Todd was very generous to us, letting us stop when and if we needed it, so I felt no pressure to perform unlike my ill-fated trek during the Snowdonia trip.

Comparatively, this trip was the best of all three - fitness-wise at least. I was so out of shape for Snowdonia that I vowed to not be such a shmo in future. The Mendips was silly and didn’t count as actual hill-walking cause it was tempered with silliness and games. Thus, Cader was best cause the hill was definitely easier than the “medium” (Luke is a liar) Tryfan that I climbed earlier in the year, and I had been doing little things like taking the stairs or taking the steepest route to campus in order to make my calves all nice and muscle-y. Don’t get me wrong, I still wasn’t a bounder like Adrianna who seemingly has to put in no effort, but I was definitely proud of how I had improved.

Personal achievements aside (thanks, alternative education!), the feats of others in our group were certainly something to be reckoned with. UBESters have a special tradition in which I didn’t personally take part, but is at least something infinitely amusing and cringe-making to watch: Lake Bagging. It is a year-long competition to see who can get the most points for jumping into a lake. You get one point for jumping into any lake fully clothed. You get more points if you do so naked. And then you get even more if you do so whilst breaking ice. Remember, boys and girls, Great Britain is not the hottest place (time of publication excluded, I’ve been sweltering, whodathunkit?) and so a nice refreshing dip is hardly nice. While we were climbing Cader that day Chris (55) went for the highest number of points. He sliced his legs and feet up something terrible on the ice, and then had to climb for the rest of the day being absolutely freezing (it was probably smart that he didn’t go in with his clothes on), but of course he was a super trooper about it. He won the male Lake Bagging championship (half a bottle of wine and a Spiderman flotation device) and good on him for he deserved it.

We continued climbing and sliding all about the mountain (sliding down snow is much easier than climbing down steep faces) and met up with the other group at the summit. Our jollility continued during our descent, which included cartwheels and rollicking in the snow, and in my case taking a tumble down a mud-slide RIGHT before we reached the bottom. It was then back to our illustrious bunkhouse for eating (c/o Chef Todd who won not only Cook of the Year but also Member of the Year), drinking, and long and hilarious rounds of assassin, at which I was spectacularly terrible.

We had played in the snow one day, but it was on to sand for the next. On our second day we went to the beach in a nearby seaside town. I told you this was the fun trip; no unnecessary exertion for us! While the rest of the folks buggered off to climb the hills behind the town (pish), Todd, Ariana, Adrianna, and I opted for gallivanting about and laying upon said sandy shores. We also meandered into town to the arcade, which included the Two-P pusher of the Crompton clan. Something to be proud of? Not so sure, but I’m always chuffed to see evidence that I long-ago belonged to this country. We continued with more fish and chips (I eat vegetables in Bristol, I promise), ice cream while everyone else played rounders, and some horrid yet hilarious attempts at a human pyramid. The latter resulted in a lot of faceplants by yours truly with three or four people landing on top of me when the ill-fated structure inevitably collapsed.

I mostly slept on the way home, waking only to blearily peer at a dam in which the civil engineers were interested. Did I ever mention that we were not only the token foreigners, but that we were also the token Arts kids? Work on that UBES. I love you all dearly, but there is only so long that I can feign interest in physics or maths.

I don’t feign interest in your trips though. Those were truly great.

Still finding sand in her eyebrows and ears,

Your friend Lina