Wow have I been bad about updating this blog. I offer two excuses: work has been busy, and perhaps bigger - I've been immersed in a pair of personal writing projects. We also haven't been doing much 'around London' stuff.
But - we did make it out to Wales over the Easter weekend, a nice four days on the Cambrian Coast. The trains there were FUBAR'd for several reasons: death on the tracks at Euston, then delays that caused us to get in far later than we wanted. But we had two solid days of sun and hiking; we stayed in a little B&B in Harlech, which is, as they say, "way out there." Very little tourist infrastructure, but that's fine. Snowdonia National Park was right there so of course we got some hiking in.
The 'tourist' highlight was Harlech Castle, one of the famous 'iron ring' of castles built by King Edward ('Braveheart') I to subjugate Wales. Several of Edward's castles are exceptionally well preserved, including Harlech, which may be one of the easiest to get to because of the train line into town. The castle is a World Heritage Site and is remarkably well-preserved, despite having fallen in several sieges and its curtain wall being mostly destroyed by cannon fire.
There's something to be said for leaving the tourist track a bit, even if it becomes inconvenient (especially when you don't have a car.) There's a certain authenticity that comes with staying in places that aren't designed to shuffle tourist dollars through, most notably in people's attitudes. Tourists are something you deal with, and it's almost a kind of false hospitality in a tourist town because you're there to Spend Money. In places like Harlech, you're there because you want to be there and the locals recognize it. They may be surprised, but it's a more genuine- authentic - feeling.
Kind of refreshing really.