Final Destination

Day 03 – by the time we got back to our Travelodge, after driving through an apt place called Loggerheads, it was 4:10am. And we couldn’t sleep because it was too cold. Eventually, at some point, we got up and put our hoodies on and eventually fell asleep about 7:30am. We were up by 9, ready to visit Conwy Castle. As it was our last day, we wanted to see another castle before we went home. Thoroughly knackered and with Ryan on a nicotine withdrawal, we headed for Conwy. We were tempted to wind Ryan up, taking full advantage of no cigarette crankiness then filming his meltdown and posting it on NHS stop smoking sites, but seeing as he didn’t film ours on the the way to Ruthin, we decided to be good mates and stop at some services for him to buy fags. The petrol station was deserted. Think creepy, horror film, place with filled zombies snacking on the cashier type deserted. It was brilliantly atmospheric. Naturally, we let Ryan go in alone and got the cameras ready for his bloody, screaming exit.

We drove into the Little Chef car park and saw a sign that would lighten the weariest of hearts – FREE WI FI! We rushed in, set up our laptop and started taking advantage, all the while trying to ignore the waitress and pretending we hadn’t decided what to eat. Feeling bad, we eventually asked her if the chips were vegan. She kindly went to check and assured us they were, so we ordered some. So fellow vegans, if you want vegan chips, Little Chef is fine. There’s also a vegan cafe in Bettws-y-Coed and a vegan chip shop in Llandudno, but we didn’t have time to check those places out. Ryan decided to keep us entertained by tripping over our laptop wire and very nearly face planted in his search for salt. He really didn’t have to go to the trouble, but you know what some people are like – always have to play the clown. Turned out, the salt was on our table. Oops 😀

Just as we left, we were topping up the Mini’s oil when Cat suddenly remembered something – we’d forgotten to pay! The waitress didn’t ask for a bill and because we were served at the table, we completely forgot. We sent Ryan back in with some cash and when he came out, he claimed the cops had been called. As we pulled out of the car park, there was a police car parked. We fled the scene.

We reached Conwy Castle without getting lost. Cities crumbled, civilisations collapsed and the gods fell to their knees with the shock. The only problem was, we’d come on marathon day and there was nowhere to park. If there are any types of festivals, big events, or marathons, guaranteed, we will unwittingly pick that day to visit that town’s castle. It’s a gift. We eventually parked by the harbour, but after Lynx had done an amazing long reverse down the road, finishing the move with a flawless parallel park beside a wall, we realised something – Ryan & Cat couldn’t get out the passenger side. Ryan attempted to slide across into the driver’s seat, but because we’re so short, we have the seat pumped right up and forwards, so he got wedged under the steering wheel. Sensing an opportunity, Lynx, who was already out, started filming, while Cat, who was trapped in the back, started taking photos. So we have footage and action shots of Ryan having to crawl out of the car, ending up on his knees in the road. We texted our mum so she could update Twitter & Facebook, Ryan’s humiliation going global. It was a defining moment of the holiday.

Ryan demonstrating how NOT to leave a car

Conwy Castle is beautiful and another contender for our base in the Zombie Apocalypse. Apparently, it was our favourite when we were kids and we used to run along the walkways, as opposed to now, when we hold on to the walls for dear life. Though walking up to the castle from the harbour was dangerous. We had to go up a narrow, two-way road, with no pavements, under a castle bridge that acted as a chicane. How we didn’t die is a mystery that only Sam and Dean Winchester can solve.

Conwy Castle

As much as we hate heights, we can’t leave any area of the castle unexplored, so insisted on going all the way to the top again. We were rewarded in one tower by seeing pigeons and their chick in one of the tower walls. We waited ages, perched near the edge of the tower, for the chick to make an appearance. It was worth the vertigo & sheer terror.

After Conwy, we decided to head for home, as the light was failing us. Though before we left the beauty that is North Wales, we wanted to show Ryan Denbigh Asylum, the setting for our novel, Soul Asylum. For those of you who remember the pointless eight hour road trip we took last year to see it from behind the gates, you’ll be pleased to know, this year, the gates were open. But the asylum was fenced off, with demolition notices all over the gates. This was our final chance to see the asylum up close before it was torn down to make way for flats. Though we’d been warned about the nasty caretaker who lives next door, we had to seize this chance. We walked in. Unfortunately, the driveway is at least one hundred metres long and we’d only got about thirty metres away from the asylum when a guy shouted, asking what we were doing. Fearing it was the nasty caretaker, we explained we were just having a look. Luckily, it was a nice guy, who explained he didn’t mind, but the other guy did and was on his way – with a dog. And we’d forgotten to load Ryan’s pockets with meaty treats to ensure our safe getaway. He kindly let us take a few pictures before escorting us off the grounds. As we got into our car, the other caretaker arrived. We drove sedately away, acting like we hadn’t been inside the gates. Though we will never accomplish our dream of getting inside the asylum, we got as close to it as we’ll get ever get and the thrill of being so close to all that history, will stay with us.

Denbigh Asylum


Lost in Translation

Day 2 – Nov 19th

We spent last night cheating at Monopoly – NB. If you ever play Monopoly with us, we cheat. Every game. Be warned. Then we watched Seven. One of our favourite films.

Caernarfon Castle

We started the day full of hope and plans. Then realised we’d left our makeup at home. Now we’re not the kind of girls who won’t leave the house without makeup. On the contrary. Half the time we can’t even be arsed to wear it. Might wear it once or twice a week. But we were on holiday, appearing in video and photo footage. And we’re vegan so we couldn’t just nip out and buy whatever was around. We had no Internet. Our mum came to the rescue, locating places that sold Barry M makeup and giving us directions. So we started the day much later than we planned after getting lost in Bangor trying to find a Superdrug. Eventually made it to Caernarfon castle. North Wales has an amazing knack of only displaying road signs on one route into wherever you’re going and this always happened to be not on the route we were travelling. We made it to the castle. It’s stunning and perfect for the Zombie Apocalypse. We were there for 2 hours, exploring every inch. After a Red Bull break, we decided to head for Anglesey. We made it to Holyhead then got lost around the coastal path trying to find what we thought was Penhros Feliw castle and turned out to be a couple of standing stones in the middle of a field with very suspicious horses. Then we eventually found some Hut circles. A lot of Hut circles to be precise, still intact. We didn’t have time to go anywhere else as we had to be at the Ruthin Gaol tour by 9:30 so we headed towards Halkyn at the other end of North Wales. And got lost. Very lost. Turned out the Halkyn Travelodge wasn’t actually in Halkyn. After taking the wrong junction (Ryan’s fault, again) we wandered the lonely country lanes trying to find our way back to the A55. Couldn’t get back on it, like it was a magical road that just disappeared. When we did find our way back to it, we were pointing in the wrong direction. Then we got stuck behind what we suspect was a drunk driver doing 25 in a 40 zone, windscreen wipers on despite there being no rain and his car was misted up. Every time an oncoming car, he braked to practically a standstill. Tensions were rising, time was running out. We made it there at 7:10pm.

Our mum nagged us to leave the Travelodge by 8 to make sure we made it to the Gaol. But we’d printed off an AA route planner and it said the journey would take 31 mins. Plus we had detailed directions from the route planner so as usual we ignored our mum’s advice and left at about 8:50. By 9:35 pm we were hopelessly lost and miles from Ruthin Gaol. The route planner told us to go right. The sign pointed left. It told us to take a right at first set of traffic lights and we’d come to a roundabout half a mile away. Two miles later, down a dark country lane, there was still no roundabout. Tension in the car was reaching critical. Our tour was at stake. Had to phone our mum and get her to find a number for Beyond the Grave to tell them we would be late. Horribly, horribly late. Ryan got out and asked some drunken church goers for directions. Turned out, AA route planner meant turn right at first traffic lights in Mold. They’d missed an entire village off their route plan. Cat drove like an F1 pro. Ryan spent most of the North Wales trip claiming her driving scares the shit out of him. After her epic driving to reach the Gaol, we’re lucky he got back in the car. We told him safe sensible driving through the holiday would be boring. This kind of driving would make his heart race. For some reason he wasn’t at all grateful about the adrenaline rush. On the way we passed a place called Loggerheads. It couldn’t have been more apt. By now the tension in the car had reached explosion imminent. Lynx was shouting and swearing so much nearby sailors phoned their mothers to apologise. Cat just concentrated on not moving down pedestrians. Ryan was planning his funeral.

We made it to the Gaol at 10 pm. By this point, the silence amongst the party was heavily loaded. The friendship was fracturing. Lynx was furious, her rage causing natural disasters in several countries. Cat was praising herself on her driving skills at top speed through those bendy country lanes without crashing. Ryan was just thankful to still be breathing. We walked in to the Gaol and everyone cheered. The host told us to have a coffee to get over being lost. We cracked open a Red Bull and prepared to spend the night in an abandoned, haunted Gaol.

Long Road to Ruin

Day 1 – Nov 18th

Well… where do we start? We left our house at 9 am ready for our great paranormal adventure. Three hours in, we were totally lost. Several miles off course and heading back to somewhere in Mid Wales. Not only were we lost but to get to where we were, we had to wait at road work traffic lights for 15 minutes then be taken through the road works by a convoy vehicle. Like the safety car in F1. Then we had to turn around and wait at the other end of the traffic lights to be taken back through by the bloody safety car. We also got stuck behind numerous lorries and buses (one lorry doing 13 mph!) and because North Wales is full of mountainous A roads, you can’t overtake. SIX hours after we left home, we arrived in Beddgelert. The POA was go to Beddgelert then Caernarfon castle. But the light failed us. So we went to Gelert’s grave then sat in the Prince Llewelyn pub for a while. They had free Wi-Fi. Cheering, we hurried back to the car to fetch our laptop so we could connect to the internet. Except the Wi-Fi failed. Our mum was receiving dictated texts to update FB and Twitter for us in between caring for our animal army.

And then what happened when we finally made it to Bangor? We got lost. Hopelessly, utterly, embarrassingly LOST. Stopped at a chip shop to ask for directions. We blamed our navigator, Ryan. Men just can’t read maps. After following the chippie owner’s directions, we ended up even more lost and down some dark country lane in the middle of…hell, we have NO idea. Eventually made it to the Travelodge at 6:30. What did we accomplish in 9 and a half hours? Visiting a dog’s grave. Wonderful.