Thursday, 29 July 2010

Wales is beautiful

Wed 28th

Mid Wales is stunning and to be honest I had a better day just driving through the beauty of the valleys with their rivers tumbling over steps causing mini waterfalls following the road, (or is it the other way round?) than the Brecons. Don’t shout if you are a mountain lover as I am one myself, but I chose the delightful Elan Valley as a way of passing a period of time, and a not unsubstantial amount of fuel. A series of connected reservoirs make up the valley that once housed villages. Not unusual I hear a cry, but this was to allow Birmingham to have water. The Welsh who did not need a reason to hate the English, found one right there. As I drove alongside the depleted water levels I could empathise. At one point all that could be seen was the original small river slowly making it’s way to the deeper channel. Turn off the taps and renew the leaking washers Birmingham!

The winding roads are in places steep and first gear nearly let me down on a tight switchback. I got to grip with tarmac just as the clutch started to get warm…phew. I had to do a rethink about my complacent daydreaming of skiing in the Alps next spring. Must Google snowchains as I definitely need them if after my trip to the snowdome is successful and the old knee holds up, I can plan in a ski on real snow.

Visiting Devil’s Bridge was a must. I had always read about it in bike mags as a good day out so I couldn’t drive past without a visit. £3.50 to negotiate 600 steps that are scarily steep on the way down is small price to pay for the fabulous sight of the many falls with massive tree trunks stuck on the way down. A lot of water passed by that day to move them, that’s for sure. My symbiotic pooch summed up how our ham strings felt after coming back up by promptly falling asleep and not moving for the most of the rest of the day.

So onto Machynlleth (Ma-hun-thlith) where the Centre for Alternative Technology resides. I think it might make a jolly day out. But, I find myself far further along the road that the projected two miles that the guy in the ‘ti’ told me, and not particularly cycleable as the road is fast and busy. I checked out the brochure and it doesn’t look particularly Fin friendly either. A rethink.

Onto another field with an attractive river alongside. I am paying about £4 a night for these sights, which isn’t bad, all things considered. I go to bed early as I feel exhausted.

Thur 29th

I awoke with a start at 0930- 0930!..., with my phone ringing. It was lovely as it was Ebony who is in South Africa, post world cup. She is about to fly to Durban as part of a five week holiday. The women in my family are adventurers. My Mum motivates me as at the age of late 60 something did a round trip to the states to pick up a 96 year old relative and took him to New Zealand, dropped him off and then went on to Australia. She was unsure of doing it initially, but with a gentle bullying session from me she did it. I basically told her she had to do it as I need something to aspire to and, well, here I am!

I have decided to have a down day and realize that being spontaneous on your own is hard work and time consuming. To decide where to go takes about an hour a day of research and planning. The Hobby is a big ol’ unit and I need to think about where I am going and what car parks I’m going to go in as most tourist car parks accommodate something the size of a fiat siecento. Reversing back into the car park at Devils Bridge to be able to negotiate the turn to get out of it was not funny. Many thanks to the bus driver who held the road open by waiting for me, as he probably knows only too well how difficult it is. I am getting to be a dab hand at negotiating small spaces though. It’s a learning curve.

So today is about summing up so far and while I wait for the butternut squash to soften into soup potential in a pan, I shall tell you what I have learned along this part of the way.

Buying this motorhome is my absolute dream come true and I love my ‘adult wendy house’. I had to plan carefully what I was to put in it and what to leave out. I have wanted to travel without agenda for so many years I still feel a little surreal doing it. I realize that for the first few weeks it is going to feel weird and lots of things that I have brought along cannot be used yet, but in a few weeks time I am seriously oop North and will need that extra fleece blanket I move from the bed to the sofa to the chair. Also, were I to do this with company I would probably spend more time outdoors in the evening, instead of sitting researching and writing. However, that is the point of this I suppose. As I write that I can see in my mind that when I get to the coast I may feel differently. It's something about the hemmed in feeling I get when I am surrounded by mountains.

I pause for amazing soup, and a nutty roll. See, this is the benefit of this vehicle, it can do everything I want it to do, shower not-with-standing, except wake me up with a cup of Earl Grey.

Today’s top tip. When you enter a field and assess the level with the naked eye, drive up to it and check it out from various angles with your triangular dual spirit level to see where the corners need lifting. Get the most even spot and if you have to use your chocks make sure you have not rolled across a fresh cow pat and coated your wheels. Plastic chocks tend to slip straight off again with a huge bumpety slide to the side, that is if you can even reverse up them to start with. When you get to the gate of a farm, stop and listen with the window down. The animal noises might give a hint to what kind of scat might await. I cannot imagine how a cow even got into this bit as barbed wire fence is everywhere, but bit’s of it founds it’s way onto my tyres…Su’s world!!

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