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    • Day 19

      Snowdonia Sunshine

      May 15, 2023 in Wales ⋅ 🌬 10 °C

      Despite the pessimistic prediction of our Fishguard Fuel Station proprietor, we were not ‘punished’ with the weather today.
      A bright, clear (albeit breezy and cool) morning dawned and we hit the road after some WhatsApp calls to the grandies back home.
      We reprovisioned at the local version of an IGA, went for a quick drive down around Fishguard harbour then headed for Aberglaslyn National park, just over 3 hours away.
      Before leaving Fishguard, we stopped at the fort on the headland that had defended the UK from the last actual invasion in 1797 (see the inscription above the door of the hotel we were in last night- yesterday’s photos).

      As we drove further north, the villages got smaller, the scenery became more mountainous, English became the secondary language and the need to refuel became a little concerning.
      One tiny town did have a service station, but no fuel in the pumps. Just when things were starting to look a little concerning, a service station and adjacent Starbucks appeared in the middle of nowhere.
      The staff were all speaking Welsh to each other. Even when they spoke ‘English’ to us, we could barely understand it.
      Never having been a fan of Starbucks coffee and against our better judgement we ordered a Cappuccino.
      Perhaps it was the language problem now exacerbating the endemic Starbucks problem, because what we received in the cup resembled bitter dishwater rather than coffee. However, the caffeine boost was welcome and we continued on to Aberglaslyn Pass which was the start point for a scenic walk in Snowdonia National Park.

      After a bit of lunch sitting in the car park-there were absolutely no food facilities so our self catering independence was invaluable here - we set off on a delightful walk following the banks of a beautiful mountain stream.
      As we ascended, the path got considerably more tricky. One of the locals we met told us about an abandoned railway line just above the track which he had walked along many years ago.
      We spotted this just above the walking track and decided it looked much easier walking than the rough track we were on.
      However, when we got to the rail line there were very functional looking steel rails set on solid looking sleepers.
      Being a responsible traveller, at this point I decided I needed to immediately submit a formal risk assessment to the travel insurance company for this little adventure, but there was no mobile signal.
      I assured Loss that the fact that the tops of the rails were fairly shiny was of no concern- the Welsh signage we had seen almost certainly said that ‘tourist steam trains only run occasionally on weekends’; and today was Monday.
      Additionally, the train driver speed signs for this section of the track were so slow (10mph) we were pretty sure we could have actually outrun the train if necessary. We briefed each other on how to press ourselves against the side of the tunnel if necessary, then set off on a leisurely walk along the tracks, through a couple of tunnels and enjoyed the view of the river from this new vantage point.
      No trains were encountered (after all it was a Monday) and we retraced our steps to the car park and continued on toward our overnight destination.
      We drove straight to the most historic castle in Wales - Caernarfon Castle, which has history stretching back to Edward 1 and Constantine the Great.
      So historic is the castle, that it is where the Queen chose to invest Charles as ‘Prince of Wales’ in 1969.
      Our accommodation tonight is a 500 year old hotel inside the old city walls with direct views to the Castle.
      Read more

    • Day 18

      Mumbles Meeting and Meteorology

      May 14, 2023 in Wales ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

      Our beautiful weather had evaporated overnight.
      We woke to an overcast and foggy morning but this wasn’t really an issue as we were heading off to Mumbles (a 12 minute drive away) for the Memorial Meeting this morning at 11am.
      We arrived at Mumbles, which still meets in the same hall that Bro. John Thomas spoke in all those years ago. Its only a smallish hall, but Bro. Micheal Owen informed us that 300 people packed into the hall to hear ‘the good doctor’ give a public address.
      The meeting at Mumbles really felt like ‘home’. Apart from the Owens, we knew a number of others there, including Bro. Stephen and Sis. Ruth Palmer and Mike Movassaghi who would be known to many of the younger ones. Mike visited Australia with his brother Duncan (Spunky Dunc) many years ago, and he is now married with several children.

      Today was a special day for Mumbles. For the first time they held a picnic lunch in the grounds of the nearby Norman-era castle (doesn’t every ecclesia have a 900 year old castle in their backyard?) where a short talk was given on the significance of the 75 year anniversary of Israel becoming a nation again. This was followed by a game of ‘Rounders’ for the kids (well everyone, really).
      Interestingly, the Welsh almost completely shun cricket as a sport. Their go-to sport is ‘Rounders’ which to all intents and purposes appears indistinguishable to Softball to my untrained eye.
      At this point, we bid farewell to our wonderful friends here in The Gower as it was time to continue our journeys. John Owen had given us 3 towns of interest that were ‘mandatory viewing’ before we drove to Fishguard which was our final destination for tonight. “It will delay your arrival a little, but its worth it. And the forecast is that the weather should be fine”.
      Unquestioningly I followed his advice and as we drove away towards our first point of interest - the quaint little town of Tenby - visibility started to reduce a little and there was the odd shower of rain. Never-the-less we pressed on and Tenby came into view with a temporary clearance from rain and a very welcome coffee stop down near the harbour.
      It was now quite cold, so hunkering down in what was effectively a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ coffee shop was very welcome.
      Fortified by the warming coffee - “Make it a double shot, please” we ventured outside to snap some photos. I wanted to take a quick look around the other side of the harbour wall but Loss was more keen for a quick restroom stop, so we parted company for a few minutes.
      After snapping the required photos, I made sure I kept moving as I thought the plummeting temperatures could be about to trigger a Welsh equivalent of a ‘sheep grazier’s alert’.
      As I made my way towards the WC’s a gentleman unexpectedly called out to me “Are you looking for your wife? She’s just in there in the toilets”.
      How did he know that Loriene was my wife? Was it because we again were the only two people in jackets that were anything other than black, grey or dark blue?

      “Oh, yes” I replied “But how did you know she was my wife?” I asked.

      In his lilting Welsh accent he replied “Ah, because she came up here looking and sounding a little desperate when she realised that these here are pay toilets and she said her husband had all the money 😳and she had no cash, nothing at all, so I gave her 40p so she could . . . . “

      I thanked my new Welsh friend profusely as he disappeared up the hill and then I waited nervously outside the conveniences.
      Pay toilets are an annoyingly common occurrence here, but this time things could escalate beyond a simple annoyance. The subsequent conversation once Loriene emerged could go in a number of directions and most of those possibilities were not generating happy thoughts in my mind. While I was trying to formulate some inadequate responses as to why ready cash or other lines of credit had not been provided for such emergency situations, the ever deteriorating weather gave me the answer I needed. Disarm by distraction and protection.

      As she emerged from the facilities and before she had a chance to say anything, I rushed up throwing my arms and coat around her in a Sir Walter Raleigh-like gesture, exclaiming how cold it is out here now and for her own health and safety I must get her back inside the warmth of the car immediately.
      My plan seemed to work, because so stunned was she by my magnanimous actions that not a word was spoken about the incident.
      Or perhaps that was because it was so cold she couldn’t move her lips.

      We drove on to Solva which was the next destination on John’s ‘must-do’ list. I’m sure it is a pleasant town, but it was difficult to even see to the end of the little harbour due to the drizzle, lowering cloud base and the patchy airconditioning in the car at slow speeds. It was too unpleasant to contemplate getting out of the car, and with no thought of ignoring John’s advice (!) we motored on to our third interim destination - St. David’s.

      The drizzle was steady, the temperatures were low but we ventured out for a brisk walk from the car park to the historic Cathedral. Interestingly, St. David is officially the U.K.‘s smallest city (pop. about 1800), but it is designated as a city rather than a town or village because it has a Cathedral.
      As we arrived at its doors, they were being locked - the afternoon service has just concluded - but the caretaker must have seen our need to go inside to warm up and dry off a little - so he kindly reopened the Cathedral briefly just for us.

      It was now quickly back to the car for our final leg of the trip to Fishguard. Thoughts of a warm welcome by the hotel proprietors followed by a hearty Welsh meal in a warm venue were driving us on.

      We needed some milk and found a service station on the outskirts of town. We commented to the young lady behind the counter about the rapid deterioration in weather today.
      ‘Ah’ she said ‘Yesterday was lovely, but now we’re paying for it’
      Slightly puzzled, we asked for clarification.
      ‘Oh, welcome to Wales. You get one nice day, then you get punished for a week’

      When we arrived in Fishguard proper, the town seemed deserted. We pulled up as close to the Abergwaun Hotel as we could, but it was not possible to park right at their door. I left Loss in the car as I made my way to the front door. It was locked, with instructions to ring a number to gain access.
      I rang the number, which went to voicemail. I left a message and stood in the cold drizzle contemplating a possible ‘plan B’ if no one rang me back. Eventually my call was returned, access was gained and we moved our gear up into the room.

      Dinner options were looking pretty limited. There was a fish and chips takeaway shop that had a sign saying ‘open’. I walked up and peered in. The lights were off, the chairs stacked on tables, but when I pushed the door, it was indeed open.
      I looked around for a moment but there was clearly no one inside. I closed the door and turned around. The owner was in his car behind me, with the engine running. He called to me -
      “Sorry sir, now we are closed for the day”
      “Sure, no problem” I replied.
      I then watched him drive off for the night, clearly not worried about his door being unlocked and the ‘Open’ sign still on display.

      However, all was not lost. There was a small pub right next door to our accommodation which had some lights on and was displaying a menu. We dashed through the drizzle to the door hoping for a hearty meal in a warm and dry dining area.
      On opening the door, we immediately understood why the streets were deserted - the pub was heaving with people. As we pushed through the crowds we searched in vain for a table inside. There was one vacant table but it was reserved, probably for people who wore darkly coloured jackets.
      “There are some tables outside, sir”


      See the last photo for our dining experience tonight.

      I had to delay typing up this blog for a while until my fingers could move in the commanded directions on the keyboard.
      Read more

    • Day 39

      Saint David's > Fishguard - 50km

      May 6 in Wales ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

      Une nuit sous l'eau ! Il a plu quasiment tout le temps, de notre retour du restaurant au réveil le matin. Nos affaires sont humides (surtout les chaussures), la tente compliquée à faire sécher... Heureusement, nous pouvons prendre le petit déjeuner dans le bâtiment de la réception, en profitant même des radiateurs pour faire sécher comme il se peut quelques affaires.

      Il faut quand même partir pour cette journée qui s'annonce courte, et avec du beau temps ! Et on se dit que ça vaut le coup, en arrivant devant la cathédrale Saint Davids, un des plus anciens lieux monastiques de Grande-Bretagne.
      Puis on continue avec la plage de Whitesands : ils ne sont pas allés très loin pour trouver ce nom, mais c'est joli. Autre lieu, autre nom assez explicite : Blue Lagoon (Abereiddy). L'occasion de faire un selfie pour nos fans, et surtout d'admirer la couleur de l'eau et un groupe de gens s'essayer au saut dans l'eau.
      Une petite pause à Porthgain, avant de pousser jusqu'au phare de Strumble Head : un lieu loin de tout, reposant, qui marque un peu la fin de cette Celtic Road pour nous, avant de se rendre à Fishguard pour prendre notre train retour pour Cardiff...

      ... Qui est en fait supprimé ! Et oui, ici aussi ils font grève (#soutien).
      On trouve un pub pour se réconforter et se laisser le temps de trouver une solution : ce sera un train à 22h direction Swansea, nous ferons le reste du trajet le lendemain matin !
      Read more

    • Day 2

      Auf dem Weg nach Fishguard

      June 10, 2018 in Wales ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

      Nach 11 Stunden (ohne Regen!) sind wir nun endlich in Wales.
      Ein mega idyllisches B&B mit sehr netten Gastgebern👍
      Damit wir zum Abendessen nicht noch wieder in den Ort fahren mussten, haben sie für uns ein leckeres Drei-Gänge-Menü gekocht!Read more

    • Day 21


      August 13, 2016 in Wales ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

      We've arrived in Wales. Now we're waiting for the bus to get us to our house for the week. I'm looking forward to settling in for a few days and just breathing without having any real plans. I've already found the city hall here in Fishguard. They are looking for councilors, which sounds familiar. Guess I can work here if I want!Read more

    • Day 2

      Monday Club in Fishguard

      May 13 in Wales ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

      Paul checked the weather today, and basically it showed it was pissing down all day. For once, they got the weather right ✅️ So off for a wet walk we all went. It would have been stupid not to shelter in a pub or two and chat to the locals 🍻 oh and we realised Paul had but the bikes on wrong and very unsafe 🫣 and spent the day trying to work it out! 43 000 YouTube tutorials later, and the instructions, he managed to still be perplexed by this simple frame 😆 Molly was a dream and even found a new friend Oz who lived in one of the local pubs, The Globe Inn.Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Fishguard, Фишгард, Abergwaun

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