When holidays don’t go quite as planned

By Nina Steele 

We have just returned from a break in Snowdonia, north Wales. It was meant to be a week long holiday, however, we decided to shorten it to a weekend break. It was exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure.

Hiking is a passion, and Wales is one of the best places in Britain for people like us, who love going up mountains. As luck would have it, we arrived at a time when the weather was at its most glorious. We stayed in a cottage, and as we always do, we chose one that advertised broadband.

Because of my work, access to the Internet is one of our key criteria when choosing places to stay, unless it is a weekend break.

We arrived at the cottage only to find that the broadband we were promised didn’t work. Unlike other cottages we stayed at before, this one wasn’t part of a farm setting. The owner lived miles away. To make matters even more of a challenge, there is no mobile coverage in the village we stayed in, and so we had to contact the owner using a pay phone. Every time we tried, it was straight to voicemail.

As it turned out, she was out of reach the whole weekend and only got back to us via email on Monday. Nowhere did it say on the promotional material that the owner would only be reachable on weekdays. What if we had a real emergency?

Thankfully, the good weather was taking our minds off the Internet access issue and we enjoyed some of our best walks to date. For me personally, it was a revelation, since I found myself using my bare hands to climb up mountains.

My husband is keen to do more rock scrambling, and the agreement is that whenever we are on holiday, he would go off on his own a few times to do so, while I stay behind to work. I have walked up some very steep mountains in the past, and I generally use my poles to help me up. I have barely used my bare hands, until now.

This time, there was no getting away from it, particularly for our second walk, where it was the only way to get to the top. The mountain we were to climb (part of the glyders), was a mere 1001m, but reaching the summit, meant walking up a steep scree slope, and as anyone familiar with scree would tell you, it is a very scary affair because unlike normal rocks, they are unstable, and so great care has to be taken.

When we finally reached the top after three hours, I was both relieved and amazed at what I had just achieved. I now find the whole idea of rock scrambling quite exciting and naturally this will now become a frequent occurrence, to my husband’s delight.

Back at the cottage, we were still without Internet access. Funny enough, the only place we were able to send messages to the owner, was whenever we were in the mountains. The higher up you get, the better the reception. There was no sign that we would get Internet access during our stay, and so we decided to cut our trip short. We left on Tuesday afternoon, instead of Saturday as planned.

If this trip has taught us anything, it is that, it is always best to stay in a cottage with the owner also living on the premises, in case any problems should arise. All the cottages we had rented before were exactly within that set up, and naturally, we will go back to that arrangement in future.

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