I'm now at Chirk, between Wrexham and Oswestry on the Welsh Borders. It's been warm and sunny and windless for nine days now, ever since I left cool and breezy Aberdeenshire. Fife was markedly milder, lusher and greener. Here at Chirk, so much further south, and so much more sheltered, it's like high summer. I'm enjoying some of the best weather I've ever had on any caravan outing in the UK.
There is however a serious downside. It's June, the local pollen counts have been high or very high for days, and I'm suffering from a bout of hay fever.
I thought it was just another cold, although how one could develop while in super-healthy Aberdeenshire is a mystery. An ordinary mild cold could be picked up in any casual encounter with another humanoid. But it seems more likely that I've inhaled a dense soup of pollen, with uncomfortable results. I have irritated eyes, a sensitive and constantly-running nose, and I need to cough all the time. And these symptoms are not following a definite course, as they would with an ordinary cold. They show no signs of letting up. I'm presently a martyr to mucus and phlegm, and I've all but lost my voice - I'm reduced to a hoarse croak, as if I were a gigantic superannuated crow! And yet I don't feel ill at all, just tired from the disturbed nights and lack of quality sleep. In fact I want to get out and about, and explore the area in depth. I'm thinking that a few days of cooler, wetter, windier weather would do me a lot of good, rain and wind washing the pollen from the air. The next best thing is to head for the Welsh mountains, and get up high. That in fact is my plan for today and tomorrow.
First, however, some more hand-washing. A few tops and knickers, just enough to get me home. There's no escaping necessary chores! But my washing will dry quickly inside the caravan, even if it looks a bit like a Chinese laundry with everything pegged up. (I'm too thrifty with my pennies to use the Club washing machines and tumble driers)
Home itself is now just five days away. I'm looking forward to that, if only because my house in Sussex is much more pollen-proof than the caravan is. But I still want to make the most of the remaining days of my holiday, and not waste them by skulking inside the caravan in a vain effort to avoid floating pollen grains. In fact, I seem to have a more comfortable time when driving about in Fiona - which is not surprising, of course, given Fiona's Scandinavian-strength air filter and climate control. And so a mountain cruise for a few hours seems by far the most sensible plan, exactly what my doctor would have ordered.