Monday, March 29, 2004

Cader Idris, Wales

We spent a glorious three nights in Central Wales last week and the highlight (literally) was a day spent on Cader Idris, one of Wales' best mountains for serious hiking. We hiked the Minffordd Loop Trail in a clockwise direction. The photo below is looking east from near the first summit (791m) on the way to the main summit, Pen y Gadair (893m). The lake in the foreground is Lyn Cau, a glacial cirque lake contained within the Cader (chair) of the mythical warrior Idris (can you imagine a giant warrior sitting in a freezing cold lake!)

The hike starts in the valley to the right and the path climbs steeply through trees to the relatively flat area east of the lake. The trail then climbs steeply up the ridge to the right and round to the first peak. The hike continues to the left to the top of the world then continues to the second highest point, Mynydd Moel, which is just visible at top left. The hardest part was walking down the slope back to the tree line - the "trail" is in poor condition and very hard on the knees!

The highest areas were snow covered and very cold, with a 30 mph north wind blowing. Parts of the trail are well defined, other areas are marked with large stone cairns and other areas are quite difficult to trace. Not a mountain to be trifled with if the weather closes in.

We have decided to return in late summer and go for a swim in the lake after revisiting the summit!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Small airports have their advantages

The past few and next several weekends will see me doing a lot of traveling. Today I flew from Birmingham (UK) to Newark/New York Liberty and on to Houston Bush Intercontinental. Birmingham has very few translatlantic flights which is a distinct advantage as everything is very efficient. Newark is big and busy but reasonably efficient. Houston is getting even bigger and busier and it took 15 minutes to walk from plane to baggage carousel and another 20 minutes for the carousel to start delivering baggage. Not the best ending to an otherwise good trip.

I sat next to a Continental pilot from Birmingham to Newark (no, he wasn't actually flying the plane) and got some interesting insight into airline travel, freedom of thought and why we need to understand the finite and the infinite (you can't have the one without the other). Thanks, John, for helping the hours to "fly" by!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Snow in the Cotswolds

About 10 cms of snow fell last night. Early this morning I set out to take a few pictures around Chipping Campden before it all melted:

Westington Green

Thatched Cottage, Westington

St. James Church and part of the Manor House

St. James Church, the Entrance to the Manor House and, in the foreground the trough used to soak wagon wheels!

Park Road with the Volunteer Inn on the left. Park Road used to be called Watery Lane.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Don't Cry For Me, Venezuela

I am editing this entry at 37,000ft between Newark and Birmingham, having left Venezuela for a few weeks. The political situation in Venezuela is not good but it isn't hopeless as in countries like Haiti where one despot will probably be replaced by another.

Venezuela has an excellent tradition in democracy and these dark hours may be its greatest test. Not being an expert I will not prejudge the issue, but one thing I will say. The Venezuelan people are taking their recall referendum very, very seriously. The intention of the Opposition is to effect change using the constitution. This they will do if allowed. The country needs our support, not necessarily of a partisan nature but more an encouragement to "do the right thing". Crying won't do. Nor will outside intervention.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

A Venezuelan family

In many ways the greatest honor a foreigner can have is to be invited home, to beak bread and begin the process of "understanding". My hosts are pictured as they prepare supper: