Daylight bounced off the starboard wing, reflecting its way through our cabin as we banked over in the turns leading up to final approach.
Dropping through the last few thousand feet, the world outside shone with the budding promise of an early Summer’s treat as our meteorological fortune stayed with us, all the way up until we descended through thick alto stratus and under a ceiling of melancholy gray. But not even the weather could dampen down our excitement as twelve wheels kissed the ground on a cold Manchester runway.
Being the current alpha ape in our family, I was able to pull the other two primates away from their attempts to gain optimal viewing by the window seat as we came into land. “Anyway, the real reason I have to sit here and open the window blind, is to help the captain land us safely back on earth again,” I told the kids, before yelling out “take her five feet over, we’re too close to the verge here.” I take my role of flight simulator geek seriously in real world aviation experiences such as these.
Less than two hours after landing, our time under England’s lingering cloud was over. Cutting west through lush countryside, we headed out towards a land of ancient castles, fluttering red dragons, family digs and the Isle of Anglesey.
Pulling into the driveway at Rachel’s parent’s house signalled the end of our mammoth trip. The only hurdle to overcome now, was an acute bout of lingering nocturnal insomnia while we sheepishly adjusted to the Northern Hemisphere clock ticking away at the in-laws kitchen. Time, it felt, was against us, as our natural circadian rhythm battled the first 48 hours of six o’clock nod off’s and 4am breakfasts.
But, by the third day homeostasis was restored. It even became difficult to pin our anti-social habits on anything related to lack of sleep. As days rolled by, it was useless trying to blame jet lag as an excuse for picking our noses, persistent flatulence or chewing with open mouths. It soon became clear that what we really needed was distraction therapy to avert family gazes away from our normal kiwi habits. For a change, we headed to the 850 year old, still unfinished, castle of Beaumauris.
They have their priorities right here in Wales with regards to work life balance. Having seen how full the beach was during the few sunny day’s we’ve had since arriving, it’s not surprising they’ve taken almost a millennium to complete the first two stages of this three stage citadel.
These people are living proof that you can have a life, plus, hold down a steady building job for over twelve generations. Talk about recession proofing your income. “Take it easy boyo’s, I reckon we can squeeze another 400 years out of this construction site yet.”
But what a castle it is. It’s as much a feast for the historian, as it is for any aspiring knight. Especially the kind with plastic helmet, wooden sword and New Zealand accent.
Boasting secret passageways and spiral staircases, this beautiful Welsh fortress seemed the perfect place to chase away any unruly invaders that surrounded its city walls.
And, by the end of the day, we rested in the castle’s interior to gaze up past its unfinished roof as the drifting cumulus passed above. Amongst the clouds gliding by, it was just about possible to make out the faint outline of a Welsh dragon floating overhead.
But then, I suppose the lingering effects of jet lag can do that ……