Wales in under one hundred hours

2007-03-05

in Daily updates, The outdoors, Travel

Asteraceae (Compositae) Barnadesca Rosea

With my departure for Wales only five days away, I have been trying to do a bit of reading about the place. The derivation of the name, from the Germanic word ‘Walha’ meaning ‘foreigner’ or ‘stranger,’ is an interesting one. It makes you think about how perceptions of difference still remain local, despite all of the economic and political integration that has taken place in the last century.

The Walking Club plan includes the strong possibility of climbing Snowdon: the highest Welsh mountain. At 1,085m it is about 150m shorter than the mountain on which my parents live, and about ten times higher than anything close to Oxford. It is also slightly higher than the tallest of the Five Sisters of Kintail, which I hiked with the walking club in August. The fact that Snowdon has one of the highest annual rates of precipitation in England should help to avoid any excessive contrast with Oxford. That said, I am really excited about the prospect of visiting a new place, meeting new people, and climbing some mountains, all over the course of four days. I am not even overly concerned that the draft of my third thesis chapter is due three days after I return.

Thirteen people are going on this expedition, none of whom I know. Judging my my prior experiences with the Walking Club, most of them are likely to be pure or applied scientists. The same was true of the group with whom my mother and I walked in Malta. I wonder why hiking has such a special attraction for scientists.

I will be bringing both my digital camera and one of my film cameras on this expedition, though the black and white T-Max film I have left over from Turkey is not what I would have chosen for a wilderness foray.

PS. I am interrupting my series of daily images from various Oxford colleges. I haven’t had time to explore new ones recently, and the remaining ones are somewhat scattered. That said, I will complete the collection before I leave.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah March 5, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Your point that Snowdon (which is within a national park because it is a mountainous region) is littler than Grouse (which is part of the GVRD and thus in one of Canada’s biggest cities) could be seen as tactless. Next, you’ll be saying that the UK isn’t ‘really big’ and that it’s mountains aren’t ‘very pointy’.

Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 8:38 pm

It makes you think about how perceptions of difference still remain local, despite all of the economic and political integration that has taken place in the last century.

Ignatieff has a good term for this: “the narcissism of minor differences.”

Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Re: tactlessness,

Of course, a really nasty American might point out that all of Wales is twenty times the area of the five boroughs of New York City, with about 1/3 of the population.

Milan March 5, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Sarah,

I do not mean to disparage Wales. I am exciting about going there. The numbers were just because I like comparing figures. Also, the mountains are one of the things I miss most about Vancouver. Going to a place with similar peaks is therefore very appealing.

Anonymous,

I think that term was devised by Freud, though I agree that Ignatieff uses it.

Mike Kushnir March 6, 2007 at 6:11 am

that makes me think of the roots of the word “spain” – hardly “remote” by anyone’s standards today.

enjoy your getaway, milan.

Tristan March 6, 2007 at 7:32 am

When the sea level rises Wales will be cut off!

Oh, alright, alright. England will be cut off!

johnny dee March 10, 2007 at 7:06 pm

The fact that Snowdon has one of the highest annual rates of precipitation in England

Interesting fact, that – one which a Welshman would never claim, for sure.

I’ve discovered your blog once before – nice to see more local bloggers for local people. (“.)

Milan March 12, 2007 at 11:07 pm

johnny dee,

From what we saw of Snowdon, the top is cloud free for about twenty minutes every three days. At least, that seems to be true in March.

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