We left Bakewell today and headed west. The discovery that this weekend was a bank holiday (what's the history behind them, by the way?) meant Sam was rather nervous about finding accommodation for tonight. He had called a few places along the coast and they were full. Others had said they were only taking two night bookings anyway. Eventually, he found a backup, and we got on the road, intending to keep an eye out on the way.
Of course, the weekend being what it was, the traffic was pretty bad for a while. We were heading for Rhyl, on the coast, but when Sam got hungry we stopped in Chester. He had wanted to visit anyway, as it had been recommended to him by a maid or someone at the previous hotel. When we pulled over, we spotted a pub offering discount rooms. They had a twin available for one night, which we took, but Sam wanted to stay two, so we'll spend the day here tomorrow as well. We'll have a few long drives to get down to Cardiff without that extra day, but we'll see how it goes.
I headed out to get some lunch and see a bit of the town, which I soon regretted, as there isn't much of a town to see. I might have accidentally done most of the sights in the afternoon. There was a nice garden along the riverfront, some old Roman era monuments and amphitheatre, a ruined church and a pleasant shopping mall. It is actually unique in the world in that it has two levels of shops in each building. There are stairs past ground level storefronts that take you to the second floor, which is kind of like a verandah, set back and covered. You can walk the entire length of the mall on the second level, underneath higher storeys and yet still open on one side. Pretty cool, actually.
I found a little store selling mini cinnamon donuts, and bought eight for two quid. Then, I ate them all. I was simultaneously proud and unproud of the accomplishment. Earlier, there had been a weird commotion at the park as I approached, with an unmarked police car speeding past me and screeching to a halt in front of the grass. A minute later, more sirens and cars. Someone said to another passerby that someone had collapsed.
I was thus surprised later that night, after I'd had pork roast for dinner (last night in England, after all), to discover I was again a witness to an accident, twice in one day. As I rounded the corner to our pub, there was a loud bang. A car had skidded on the wet roundabout and slammed into a concrete barrier. Many of us ran over to see if they were hurt, and it was a young girl, probably still a teenager. She was hysterical but unhurt. We got her off the road, and another woman called someone to come pick her up. The car didn't even seem too badly damaged, but she was in shock and couldn't even speak on the phone. When the police arrived and removed the car, I headed off.
It's funny how things can change. Sometimes, it can be a gradual process or realisation that creeps up for months. Other times, in a split second you can be barrelling down an entirely new life trajectory. The world is chaotic and random. If I hadn't taken the underpass beneath the roundabout, there's a fair chance I would have been near where the car skidded out of control. We have driven a fair chunk of isolated English countryside, and who knows what could happen tomorrow? Well, not tomorrow, obviously, because we'll be spending an entire day in Chester, but, figuratively speaking, tomorrow. All you can do is be aware of the risks and prepare for ways out of them. That's why I know that in the post-apocalypse I would easily overpower Sam and use his limited flesh to attract and then tame a pack of wolves for my protection.