We've just checked into the Royal Victoria Hotel in Llanberis, having driven all day across England to get here. Tomorrow we'll do the last 30 miles to Holyhead to catch the fast midday ferry to Dublin.
We don't do all that much driving on motorways in England. Things change, subtly all the time. There is a distinct hitch-up in the aggression rate. People drive fast all the time, so as they leave a motorway and get to a roundabout they're still on high adrenalin and swerving round as if it's a racetrack. That makes anyone going at a more suburban rate, maybe unfamiliar with the route or struggling to see the signage, vulnerable. There's a lot of horn-work, aggression. More than, say, five years ago. Perhaps we should impose lower speed limits on all roundabouts, so they just slow down before they join in with less speedy traffic.
It's also interesting to see how all the big heavy vehicles are evolving. Whereas HGVs used to be fairly standardised, they are now getting more specialised. There are so many different kinds of trailer, grab, tipper, crane, low-bed, car-carrier etc now. They seem much heftier, chunky. Whoever makes and sells these things must have upped their game, designing and marketing very highly specialised vehicles in much greater numbers. No idea if these are British or not, though.
We had an impressively unimpeded journey round the M25 (N), then up the M1 as far as about Daventry, and then hopping off onto the A5, thus avoiding some sort of vile hold-up on the M6. Hoorah. It's such a relief getting off the motorways... the kind of concentration and manoeuvres you have to make on an A road are just more stimulating. I was wondering if there would be any special reason evident to a passer-by to explain why the A5 (Roman Watling Street) has a distinct change of direction at one point - now a six-wents, and it turns out that was where it crossed the Fosse Way. Wikipedia has a good page describing the A5, concentrating on the engineer Telford who did a lot of work on it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A5_road_(Great_Britain)
We stopped for lunch at a random cafe which turned out to be the works canteen of the wonderful British haulage firm of Eddie Stobart. It is smallish but clean and gets good marks from reviewers on Trip Advisor (we only read those after we sat down). It is deeply reminiscent of motorway service stations in the early 70s. The food is ok, hot, reasonable choice, brought to your table by willing waitresses... but, I feel sorry for anyone eating in such places every day. The French established les Routiers, which had culinary standards.... This stuff is done to a price and even the salad was tasteless.... though we were grateful for it. The chips were ok, but cooked in the dullest oil. The peas were copious and bright green, but could have been made of soya.... no flavour, and I guess little nutritional benefit.
Once again we observe how the great choice of roadside pubs has diminished - many are now Chinese or Indian restaurants, or closed down altogether, or for sale. England is changing.
Getting into Wales made a great difference - suddenly everything looked beautiful. Dusk was falling (a bit later than in Kent, of course), and the Dee valley was lovely. By the time we got to the Llanberis Pass which I would have liked to see, everything was dark, and rain had started, so it was more an imagination-road than eyeball-socking Gothic. But the hotel is brightly lit, over-heated, with cheerful reception staff, and a stormy wind blowing outside so we feel snug.