Pic one is a shot of the GPS display when we were inside the huge Channel Tunnel complex near Coquelles/Calais, northern France. From my neck of the woods there's several ways to get to Wales and from there to Ireland, but I'd never taken "Le Shuttle" before, so I thought this was a perfect occasion. "Le Shuttle" is marketingese for the train concept involving a locomotive pulling a series of containerlike doubledeck waggons through the Channel Tunnel and inside the terminal perimeters on either side of the Channel. I write "uniquely" because the track gauge is wider than the normal European railways gauge. Unlike the Eurostar train which takes you from Brussels to London and vice versa, Shuttle wagons are thus confined to the fifty kilometers between Coquelles and its English counterpart, Cheriton near Folkestone. Don't ask me how Eurostar and Shuttle use the same route then. I suspect the less wide Eurostar rails have simply been laid between the Shuttle rails. As I was unable to get out of the car before entering the shuttle, and neither after getting out of it, I couldn't check it out for myself.
Pic 2 shows yours truly preparing to ride inside a wagon. They are interlinked and act like a gigantic moving tunnel of their own. You drive in (in my case, I immediately went up a ramp to the second level) and proceed through the series of wagons until you can get no further. Just before departure "sluices" close each wagon off, so you cannot park your car right on a junction. You wouldn't be allowed to anyway, there's loadmasters telling you what to do.
Once outside the tunnel on the English side, we first spent some time with the kiddos on the (stony) beach in Hythe, just west of Folkestone, and then it was off to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where we had planned to spend the night and do some sightseeing the morning after before moving on to Snowdonia, Wales. Pic 3 is a photo I took of a gentleman who made Stratford famous. The grave is inside the Holy Trinity Church. Stratfordians can thank the bard on their bare knees. Yearly, about three million people (120 times the town's population) visit Stratford-Upon_Avon and spend about 100 million pounds.
Sometimes I wonder whether ole William would be so enamored with the tourist circus that has been set up around him.
On the way to Wales we halted in Ironbridge, a village near Telford, and the site of the world's first, you guess it, iron bridge. It was built between 1779 and 1781 by Abraham Darby III, whose grandfather perfected the technique of smelting iron using coke. This was the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The bridge, which is of cast iron and about thirty meters long, spans the river Severn. It is not used anymore for rolling transport, but tourists are free to walk over it. This place is now an UNESCO World Heritage site.
A little bit further we stopped in Wroxeter, a tiny village near Shrewsbury (birthplace of Charles Darwin). Wroxeter is special because almost 2,000 years ago it was known as Viroconium, a major Roman city. What you see are the remnants of the basilica, at least that's what the guides here call the complex the Roman bathing house.
If only I had more time, then I'd have marked on the photo below the small area that the bathing complex constituted in Viroconium. I'll give it a try. You see that white building in the centre of the town, just to the left of the main road axis? That's it. That's what my pic show. You now have an idea of how big it was back then. Once, this was the fourth largest Roman city in Britain. More info here. Viroconium Corniovorum (its full name) was excavated in the late nineteenth century by Francis Bedford, who was actually a renowned photographer.
Last pic for today taken when ascending the Snowdon, at 1,085 metres Wales' highest mountain. In Welsh, it's called Yr Wyddfa, meaning "The Tomb". I used the so-called PYG track, the origins of that name are unclear.
Don't want to brag, but it was a piece of cake. I was up in barely two hours. Wanna do it yourself, just be fit and wear good shoes.
Nite. Sorry for the scant info, back to work again tomorrow.