EVERY so often in life, you get a Golden Day. You know the ones – they stand out in your memory as days when everything went right, the weather was beautiful and you didn’t have to do any washing up.
Most days just slip by without anything remarkable happening in them – rather grey days of drudgery with just the odd exciting moment on Coronation Street or perhaps a sudden hailstorm to keep you going.
Then there are downright diabolical days which tend to start with your car breaking down, your child vomiting all over the local farm shop floor and the washing machine exploding.
We had a Golden Day at the weekend when we helped to fulfil my family’s ambition to reach the summit of Snowdon.
My parents had been agonising over how to celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary for months and frankly, we were all rather fed up of it. Party, barbecue, trip to Paris, family meal, weekend away: what to do?
Finally, they settled on scaling the highest mountain in England and Wales, which is, well, different. But having made many attempts and only reaching the halfway point before deciding to turn back, it seemed like a loose end they had to tie up.
We were utterly blessed with the most perfect weather I have ever seen in Snowdonia.
The valleys were smothered in a white mist while the mountains glowed terracotta against a cloudless Mediterranean sky.
It was cold enough to make your cheeks glow, but warm enough to strip off in the sunshine.
Husband Chris and I have climbed it many times up different routes but decided that the quickest way was up the Pen y Gwryd track which leaves from the massively busy car park at Pen y Pass.
By 10am, we were off – along with hundreds of other people. This wasn’t quite what we were used to.
Our mountain jaunts tend to involve going up obscure, perilous routes into total fog and meeting two people and a dog all day.
For the first half hour, we were jostling for position with hordes of noisy youngsters shouting to their mates several metres away (or next to them, it didn’t seem to matter), packs of older ramblers clutching two poles (beware being spiked) and tight packs of serious-looking folk hell bent on overtaking on awkward stretches.
But for the first time ever, due to the excellent visibility, we could see the path zigzagging up to the summit full of tiny people like ants. It was like being part of a ritual, a pilgrimage.
What made all these hundreds of souls follow in the same footsteps to reach the highest point around?
Were they struggling, trying to prove a point, out for a fun day’s climb or just doing what comes naturally, trying to get a better view of the world?
As the sun beat down, I became an anxious mother, removing Douglas’ winter hat, then replacing it again.
I fretted that I had forgotten his sun cream – fancy needing that in October – and whether he was eating enough.
Meanwhile, my own parents worried that I was overdoing it with my five-month bump.
My younger brother was pondering whether to ditch his job and go round the world with his best friend, my sister worried whether we drank enough fluids and my mother was dreading the climb down.
It was a huge physical effort for the whole group. You forget just how difficult it is to keep going up and up and up.
Husband Chris was especially heroic, lugging a waving, singing toddler on his back.
Scores of burly men asked if he would carry them up as well, which got a bit wearisome.
Then suddenly, we reached the summit ridge and a panorama to die for. It was also lunchtime.
"So who brought the sandwiches?" asked my brother, who is never organised.
I had packed enough cereal bars, cheesy biscuits, fruit and hot chocolate for all of us so we filled our boots.
Douglas was let out to roam the ridge wearing his own rucksack and reins.
Some gullible people even believed he had walked all the way up by himself. We were so proud. He was certainly the youngest there.
We trudged the last few hundred yards to the top, which was so packed with cheering pilgrims that it was hard to believe you were so isolated. The train wasn’t running so everyone had got up under their own steam.
This made the bizarre café building site just below the summit look even more innocuous.
Yes, it was a total blot on the landscape, but in its own way, was a remarkable achievement, whether you agreed with it or not.
Standing on the tip of the mountain, for a few moments we experienced total joy at what we had done, at what we could see and at finally achieving my parents’ long-desired ambition.
It was even better than they could have imagined and far more strenuous than they had thought.
Everyday cares melted away. It was just us and the mountain, and a thousand other smiling faces.
Happy ruby wedding anniversary! Now it was just downhill all the way to a waiting bath, crippled knees and bottle of champagne.