Last year during a work session in England, Derry’s family invited me to go camping with them in Wales. They go a couple times each year, apparently going back several decades. As a result, they get first choice of camping location. They told me it’s lovely, peaceful, and a wonderful place to “get away from it all.” I had some apprehension. I’m from New Jersey, as in born and raised in New Jersey, as in not doing much camping in my life, well, more accurately, any camping. As in none (unless you count throwing a blanket over a line strung between two trees and playing in it as a kid). After saying noting my apprehension, I saw the looks with the seeming consensus that I wouldn’t be able to cut it. Reverse psychology? Maybe. But it worked. I went.
The drive to Bala, located in Gwynedd in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales, is quite breathtaking – especially in clear weather.
I cannot understand how to pronounce anything Welsh, but luckily for me English is generally spoken (albeit with an interesting accent, although I’m always dealing with various accents when on that side of the pond, as I’m sure people are dealing with mine).
When Derry says most of his family camps here, he’s not kidding, like three generations of them. There were tents everywhere, and not small tents. Nosiree, some of the tents had multiple rooms.
Here’s Derry and his mom. She’s quite a beautiful lady!
The lake was peaceful. Very peaceful. Then I realized no motorboats.
I learned that except for emergency workers, motors of any kind are not allowed on the lake.
Despite the beauty, as the sun started to set, it was cold. Very cold.
Notice how some are bundled up and some are in shorts? I was bundled up. This is just the start of the clan that would later gather around the campfire – probably some 20 people at least!
The morning was quite beautiful and peaceful, although I do have that “how the heck did I get here” look. And, I will admit that I’m not keen on walking several blocks to get to a toilet and shower. But at least for 50 pence one can take a quick shower, albeit a cold one (who knew I had to wait a few minutes for the warm water).
Lake Bala (or Llyn Tegi) is the largest natural lake in Wales.
That’s me with Derry’s brother Mark. Mark gave me clear instructions – how and when to lean, what to do when the sail goes this way or that, and that if I were to go into the water, to immediately get to the boat. I listened. But Mark is somewhat of a jokster, as evidenced by his stories of monsters coming out of the lake (which only had me asking for times so I could photograph them).
Notice wet hair? We were going along, and I was enjoying it. Then I heard something snap. For one brief nanosecond, our eyes widened and met with an “oh *h@&!” expression. The next thing I knew, I was under water. It was that fast (now I get the need for a life jacket). When my head was above the water, I saw that Mark was also in the water. We both got back into the boat, and I learned that something with the sail snapped.
Luckily, I love the water so I had no fear. But Mark, the jokster, had a look of true concern on his face. I did think about milking it (only because my brain sometimes works that way) — playing the “are you trying to kill me” card or “I’m so frightened I must leave” or “my husband is going to hunt you down and make you pay.” I even considered acting as though I fainted and falling back into the water. But, instead, I reassured him that I was fine. In fact, not only was I fine, but I found myself smiling and finding it all incredibly fun. It fell into that “I’m alive” feeling.
He artfully held the sail to guide the boat back to shore. Derry and his entire family were lined up along the coast. Derry was taking some pictures when he realized the sail went down and we weren’t on the boat. He was very concerned and hoped I was okay physically and mentally. I thought about the “I was so scared” and “Rich would have killed you” speeches (I fantasize a lot), but I also told him I was fine. Derry’s mom had a 50 pence piece ready and told me to immediately take a hot shower and change into warm clothes. She was right, I discovered on route to the shower that it was far colder than I had originally though. When I returned, she had a hot chocolate waiting for me. There were lot of smiles and pats on the back. I do believe their original assessment that I couldn’t cut it may have melted away.
It was an experience, including getting use to weather that changed many times during the day, vacillating from bitter cold and rain to downright sunny and nearly hot. The scenery was serene and gorgeous, and I’ve lots of pictures – food for Photoshop play and quilt ideas. Will I go again? Well, never say never, but not anytime soon.