When early mapmakers weren’t quite sure what lay over the horizon, they’d simply label the uncharted area as “Here Be Dragons”. The menacing phrase suggested an uncertain fate awaited the reckless swashbuckling explorer.
I wouldn’t describe myself as reckless, and as for swashbuckling, I fear my swash was buckled some years ago when negotiating a barbed-wire fence that was a few centimetres higher than the length of my legs.
I’m an erstwhile cub and scout, though, albeit without the talents of current chief scout, Bear Grylls, who could probably wrestle a dragon to the ground, dissect it, light a fire, barbecue it and fashion its bones into a set of useful utensils, all before nightfall.
I’m more your packet of Co-op ham and a few salted peanuts kind of chap.
I must say, however, that Mrs F provided excellent picnic fare for our own explorations this week when we travelled down to the Land of Dragons for a short break.
Wales is a beautiful country and, like Scotland, which is so much more than kilts, tartan, haggis and shortbread, you’re unlikely to face cliched hordes of boyos with miner’s lamps carrying leeks and daffodils and singing Cwm Rhondda harmonies at the top of their voices after too many pints of Owain Glyndwr’s Old Anthracite beer.
At the Millennium Stadium for an international rugby match, perhaps, but not every day.
Nor are you likely to meet any fire-breathing dragons, unless Katie Hopkins flies into Cardiff following her deportation from Australia for being a bigger Covidiot than the average Covidiot.
It takes a certain something for a “celebrity” – I use the term loosely – who is notorious for outspoken and outrageous opinions, to get kicked out of one of the planet’s most outspoken nations.
It’s such a shame she was deported back to the UK. Surely a Pacific atoll or Antarctic ice floe would have been much more apposite?
If she was feeling the heat down under, so were we here. An “extreme heat” warning issued by the Met Office for much of Wales presented major challenges for us.
Thankfully, I’d packed a pair of shorts, despite them, like my knees, usually seeing as much sunlight as a winter Wednesday in Wick.
Mrs F looked stylish in hers, but to prevent me looking like a sack of tomatoes, Factor 50 was spread liberally like butter on a bit of Bara Brith.
That said, even if you rushed butter from the fridge to plate, it had melted by the time it arrived.
Crikey, it was hot. For once, I would have given everything to take part in the new snorkelling trail being launched in Lochaber, even although the sight of me in a wet suit is enough to give the average bull seal heart failure thinking that a new super-race of giant maritime mammal has arrived in west-coast waters.
When we lived at Fort William, I occasionally thought a snorkel would be useful just to visit the shops, such could be the rainfall, but it never occurred to me to try one in the waters of Loch Linnhe or elsewhere. It’s a brilliant idea to encourage people to explore amazing underwater habitats and exotic species found in our gin-clear west-coast waters.
Perhaps a wider understanding of our fragile natural environment might help offset the actions of those callous clowns who trashed Balmedie Beach and parts of the Highlands, too, because it was summery weather. They’ve absolutely no excuse.
Sadly, it’s the same here in Wales, with local headlines dominated by the boorish behaviour of brainless bampots in the sun.
Perhaps VisitScotland and the Welsh Tourist Board should label all beauty spots on their maps as “Here Be Dragons” in the hope of discouraging such behaviour.
We should become a nation of sensitive snorkellers, not environmental vandals.
Still, I’m doing my bit. I’m sitting in the heat in sustainable minimalist clothing, listening to my solar-powered radio, munching a sandwich of locally-made bread and cheese, all of which I’m sure Greetin’ Greta would approve.
I’m also about to enjoy a cooling pint of Clogwyn Gold from the Conwy Brewery. This is indeed a Fyne break in the lovely Land of Dragons. Yachi da.