The last time Sue and I went anywhere was to Liverpool in February 2020 (with the exception of Covid jabs, GP appointments and minimal trips to the local Tesco Express). We once took the bus all of the four miles to Bangor to get my eyes tested. Fortunately we met a friend there who whisked us home in her car before the panic attacks really set in.
But we have been gradually ground down by the persistent claims that covid is over and, even worse, “normality” is returning. And the sun started shining to further weaken our resolve. Does rather fly in the face of the fact that covid increased by 60% in Gwynedd last week
So we worked out a plan to go somewhere with minimum risk. Instead of heading for the great metropolis that is Bangor we would go the other way to the soft tourist resort of Betws-y-Coed, a mere 35 minutes away on on the new visitor-friendly T10 bus (every 2 hours both directions!).
The idea was: get the bus, take in the beauty of the sunlit mountains as we move up the valley, poke around Betws for three quarters of an hour until the OKish pizza place opens its doors, quick pizza and home taking in the beauty of the backsides of the sunlit mountains.
Bugger me if the T10 didn’t turn up on time. A gleaming new coach, friendly driver, and no more than five passengers all masked up. Safe as you could get.
The idea started to fade with our arrival. Betws was the same as it was pre-pandemic plus a scattering of face masks and a lot more little dogs. Just as many coaches spewing out their elderly clientele to jostle round the cafes and souvenir shops, same incongruous gangs of aging bikers and their molls. We don’t look like them, asked Sue aged 76. Of course we don’t, said Mick aged 75. Same old collection of outdoor gear shops either closing down or with 60% off boots or both.
Boredom started to set in within 10 minutes. Headed to a boozer with a huge sunny terrace for a nerve-calming drink. Tried three sets of doors before someone took pity on us and said they didn’t open ’til midday.
Poked around a bit more, returned to pub. Find a table, they said, and press the black button on the table when you want a drink – but don’t press it twice or you go to the back of the queue. Found a table, pressed the button and waited. And waited.
As we waited we started to wonder. Were we really enthused by the idea of our first meal out in over two years being at an OKish pizza restaurant. The choice was get the bus at 1.00 p.m. or be committed to Betws for two more hours.
Started to think what we had in the freezer if we decided on an impromptu lunch chez nous. Sausages featured large.
Waited until it was clear that the time it would take to place an order, have it served, drink it and pay exceeded the time when the 1.00 p.m. bus departed. Fuck it.
As we bounced gently back on the one o’clock T10 admiring the mountains’ backsides I had a thought – we shall have our pizza! Before we came out I knocked up the dough for a large Pain de Campagne being short of bread as all bakers always are. We shall snaffle 400g of it and make a double size pizza featuring sausages and whatever else we can find.
So, ignoring proving times, I made a large sausage and mushroom pizza with an uncooked herby tomato sauce and cheese, which we had with a salad of winter leaves and lots of wine. And it was great.
A little later the rest of the dough became three baguettes.
You’ve got to be adaptable – and hang on to some values.