It’s feeling like an awfully long time since we put the van away at the end of October, especially so as I was quite ill over Christmas and our usual trip up to the smoke had to be curtailed.
Still, never mind eh. Spring has entered the building, if only in the guise of putting the clocks forward an hour and not in the form of better weather. I do like it when the evenings start to get lighter as it means I can watch it raining outside.
Another season of dragging the tin shed around the roads of the UK, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Wednesday 1 April
I’m awake by 7am and having got bored with all the hilarious April fool hoaxes on Facebook and Twitter I get up and start doing what needs to be done. Miranda is taken to fill up with juice, inflate her tyres to towing pressures and a quick wash before returning home to inch the caravan out of it’s cwtch.
She’s in a sorry state, what with a winter’s worth of green and a few month’s worth of builder’s dust coating her, so she gets dragged down to Morrisons where she gets the good news for 20 mins in their jetwash.
With both vehicles sparkly clean we are climbing the slip road at J48 with clenched butt cheeks waiting for the crosswinds to slam us as we cross the Loughor. Miranda is behaving herself and towing is stress free, until we hit stationary traffic as we approach Glais.
Once cleared we thread our way up the Swansea Valley and start climbing into the Beacons National Park, pausing briefly near the Crai reservoir for a Practical Caravan type photo shoot. It was howling a gale up there so Herself didn’t venture outside the air conditioned and heated seat comfort of Miranda’s bosom.
We roll into site, and first impressions are good. It’s well kept and the pitches are flat, there is no facilities block here, but at only £12.50 a night it represents excellent value for money. However, despite the fact that it is only 1/3 full we are offered a choice of just two pitches! Me thinks the warden is saving pitches for friends and regulars! Nevertheless, one of those is where we would have pitched anyway and I site the van in a different way than as he suggested, just to start him twitching and clicking!
We are set up in no time, including the new canopy, and after throwing a few pasties down our necks Herself makes a list of things we have forgotten to bring. We need pillow cases and we need bath mats, as our met an untimely end in October after I missed during one of my middle of the night excursions!
After exploring the dog walk we pile into Miranda and make our way towards Morrisons in Brecon, and their homewares dept. Turns out that they don’t have one and we leave empty handed. Well, not exactly, I came over all soft and put a bunch of roses in the trolley together with about £25 of treats that will ensure that no amount of walking this week will reduce my girth.
Herself suggests a spin over the Beacons to Merthyr, where there is a mahoosive Asda. It’s about 18 miles each way so we probably spent more on fuel than the cost of the cheapest set of pillow cases and bath mats they have.
As we approach Merthyr Herself grabs hold of the steering wheel and yanks it to the left saying ” I want to pop and see my Nanna and Grandpa. We thread Miranda down and up the steep hills of Cefn Coed cemetery for what seem like ages until we find the spot. The roses I had got Herself get recycled as we pay our respects before threading our way back out.
Asda is the next port of call, and as we enter the foyer Herself loiters near the floral displays. I pick up a £2.50 bunch of roses but Herself is taken with the £6.50 bunch next to them. In a moment of extreme bravery I say “Blod had your expensive bunch!” and i throw the cheaper bunch in the trolley as we head to Homeware section.
It’s raining, so the trip back over the top is pretty bleak’ Herself drops me at the main road and I walk the dogs the mile or so back to site.
Tea is a chicken casserole and mash, washed down with some Coors before settling down for the night with some Gin and Proscetto.
I am enjoying myself. The last time I was up here was many moons ago when I used to come up to see the Epynt Road Rally. The place is as spooky as I remember. Epynt is a vast mountain south-west of Builth Wells, ‘dull, treeless and gloomy’ and made even less hospitable by the fact that it’s been an MoD firing range since the thirties.
The public are only allowed to use the main road over the range, other roads that lead to top secret stuff fork off to the left and right all over the place with signs forbidding entry. I’m not going to argue as these people have guns!
In the distance we can see a mock village, built solely for the purpose of urban warfare training.
We even come across an MOD pub, and old drover’s pub. The inn has been kept spotless by the MoD, but heartless too: empty, with bare concrete floors – and of course locked as tight as a military prison. A melancholy little relic of the droving age.
Brecon is well blessed in the outdoor clothing shops departments, with all the usual chains as well as a few independants. if I’m away somewhere I always try to shop local, so first stop is Gills. I’m taken with a pair of Timberlands, but am sucking in large quantities of air through my teeth every time I glance at the price tag with is north of £100 by some distance.
Herself starts tutting, I’m still sucking, and a timid shop assistant gingerly approaches.
“Can I help?”
“Don’t think so,”
“Were you looking at the Timberlands?”
“Yes, but I’ll leave them thanks.”
“They’re reduced by £30 in the stack over there.”
“Are they really …… oh, so they are.”
I left Herself pay for them, as £90 for a pair of shoes is still way too far out of my comfort zone.
Now we have to start heading back west. The sun is out and the spin along the very scenic A40 is very enjoyable. We pass through Llandovery and Llandeilo before arriving at the metropolis that is Llandybie and their rugby club. Roids has a game here today, not for Llangennech though, but for Bynea – he is playing for them on permit.
The match is very enjoyable, Bynea came out easily on top, and Roid’s darts were superb with him hitting his lineout target 100% of the time. Tali appeared to enjoy the game too.
After a quick pint it’s time to make tracks back to Brecon. There are bikers galore, all riding in packs on the twisting roads of mid Wales, and all riding too fast and taking risks in overtaking. Really though, if they are not prepared to take any notice of the big yellow signs pleading for them to ride safe maybe they should pay more attention to the shrines that litter the hedgerows in these parts every 10 miles or so!
We pull off into the forestry at Halfway and find a sunny glade to enjoy a drink and bar of chocolate while the dogs run around the slopes and frolic in the mountain stream. With the sun still high enough to peak over the trees it’s idyllic, it really is.
Back on site, after only 5 mins, any ideas of chillaxing are thrown out of the window. We have nothing in for tea. Herself gets onto Trip Advisor to locate the highest rated curry house within 10 miles, and we phone up to order food to carry out. Come in 30 mins they say.
We arrive at the allotted time and the place is rammed. They take my money and I take a seat with all the other starving gits. I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait.
I’m hungry and am losing my patience. Many have come and gone so i ask where my food is at the same time complaining about the length of time I’d been sat there. In under a min he come scurrying back up the restaurant clutching my food and apologising for the wait. I’m thinking to myself that it’s a bit of a coincidence that as soon as I complain the food arrives, but say nothing.
When we get back to site I wished I had. The food was cold, and it was pretty obvious that my food had been ready for some time, but sat there not being brought out. Brecon’s number 1 rated Indian Restaurant? My arse!
The rest of teh evening was spent finishing off our alcohol stocks and waiting for this red moon that was supposed to make an appearance. It didn’t.
Sunday 5 April
It’s breaking camp day today, as Herself has to be in work by 7am tomorrow. It feels wierd packing up on a Sunday with a bank holiday tomorrow, but hey ho.
Bloody typical though innit. While the weather could have been a lot worse this week, we’ve hardly been running for the factor 50, and this morning we wake to clear blue skies for the first time.
We’re up by 9am, packed and hitched up by 10.10am and heading for home.
The roads are quiet and the tow is very scenic, but more importantly …. uneventful.
Until next time.