26.9.96 (Thu)

I think I need to keep a more detailed account on what happened because memories fade and feelings change.

I like Edinburgh quite a lot. I should have spent more time in Scotland. I think Scotland has more to offer than Wales. I imagine that the scenery on the highland must be splendid.

York is a nice place too.

But when I got to Chester, I think I had already taken up too much of castles, city walls, cathedrals and old houses. I felt a little bored there. The city wall there was just a wall and the old buildings simply old buildings. I visited the Chester Cathedral and walked along the wall and the shopping streets. Then there was nothing else to do. I was so bored that I joined a Guided Friday tour. I also saw the movie "Emma". But only after I had bought the ticket for the 7:50 pm show did it occur to me that the show was too late because my hotel was not close to the cinema. I returned to the hotel at about 6 pm, rested for an hour and started to walk to the cinema. I made sure that I carried my fruit knife in my pocket. I had to protect myself, right?

Of course, nothing bad happened. The movie was all right. The sizes of the pop-corn and soft-drinks were huge. After the movie (about 10 pm), the streets I walked on were almost empty. Other movie-goers just took other directions. So I walked alone. Occasionally I saw couples walking and I kept close to them. People walked in pairs at night, a couple, two girls or two men, never alone. There were only a few cars running. I reached the hotel in about 10 minutes. I think I almost ran back there.

I had a room with a river view (River Dee) in Chester for £45 a night. The room was not bad, but there was no shower, just a bath. I have no idea how people manage to wash their hair without a shower.

The next day I went to North Wales. I had never been sure where to go, where to stay and what to see in Wales. I didn’t have enough information for the decisions. Well, finally I decided to stay at a place called Bangor because that was where I could take a bus to Caernarfon. When I arrived in Bangor, I simply checked into the nearest hotel I saw. That was a hotel right opposite the train station. I didn’t even bother to look around. And the room was good, for just £25. That was good value for money.

That day I went to Caernarfon first. I took a bus (there was no train) and it was quite convenient. I didn’t have a map of Caernarfon but one just wouldn’t miss the castle there. I joined a guided tour in the castle and it was the most interesting guided tour I had joined in this trip. And the castle looked good.

Then I took the same bus to Conwy. The worst thing about taking a bus was that I was never sure where exactly to get off. So I remained alert and followed the passengers whom I thought would possibly get off at the right place.

Conwy was a very small place, completely walled. I did get into the castle but was not interested in joining another guided tour, especially when the guide was an elderly man with a walking stick. I was not really impressed by this town. I left Conwy and returned to Bangor by bus.

The towns in North Wales were close to the sea so I could hear and see seabirds. Their sound was peculiar.

So I visited three places within the same day.

Yesterday I was in Cardiff, after hours of train ride, that was. Cardiff was a real city, though a small one. But I found it strange that I had to get out of Wales to travel from its north to its south.

The Cardiff Castle was impressive. It was in very good condition. The peacocks and swans on the green certainly made it more attractive. They just walked freely or slept lazily. The keep looked magnificent. Too bad that I bought a cheap ticket so I could not get into the lodging and the clock tower.

I think I felt so good about the Cardiff Castle because of the sunny weather. Everything looked fine in the sunshine.

But apart from the Castle, I couldn’t find anything else to do. So I booked a room in Plymouth for today and went to shop for my dinner in Marks and Spencer. The one thing I don’t understand is why shops close so early. They close at 5 pm or 6 pm. How do people shop? And the glamour of the "city" died down very quickly when the evening approached.

My original plan was to go from Cardiff to Plymouth today and from Plymouth to Penzance and then Land End tomorrow. I got on the right train as planned but got off at the wrong station in Bristol. Well, never mind. I took another train to Plymouth. It was on that train that I changed my mind. Why take all these troubles and uncertainties just to go to see Land End? It was so far away. There was not much to see in Plymouth. And I was not sure about the train schedules and the connecting buses’ schedule. I was also not sure if there was luggage storage service at the stations. Such service seems to have been suspended owing to the recent "security condition". If I went to Penzance at all, I would take a night train back to London. Without the luggage storage, I would have to carry my backpack with me all the time. It would be impossible. So why not call it off?

That’s why I’m in Taunton. I simply got off the train here. I also cancelled my hotel reservation in Plymouth. I am going to Oxford. I hope everything will be fine.

Wasn’t it stupid to change the itinerary when I had already spent two and a half hours on the trip to Plymouth?

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