A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: mickyt

The Journey

This could be a horror film

semi-overcast

Well, it was quite a journey to mid-Wales from Lancaster. In mileage terms it’s not that great a distance but with a stop for lunch and a couple of dog and dad stops along the way, it took the biggest part of 5 hours.
The scenery through North Wales into mid-Wales is stunning. Nearing our destination, we decided to stop off in Llandrindod Wells, a Victorian Spa town. Both dog and dad needed treats. We found a street that was like stepping back in time. The shop frontages were a throwback to their original Victorian splendour. There was a general store, an olde worlde sweet shop and others and many had old fashioned bikes or penny farthings or Victorian dresses in the window. A printing shop had the old fashioned printer’s blocks in the window but further inside, large Apple Mac widescreen monitors. As we neared the end of this street, two women in full Victorian outfits crossed the road and then two more. They were heading towards a small park containing a bandstand surrounded by many more in Victoriana garbed splendour. Still not entirely sure what was going on, we both commented that it felt just a little weird. Like being in one of those films where the weary unsuspecting travellers suddenly find the villagers are not quite what they seem. A bit like Stepford wives or children of the corn. “You’re not from round these parts are you?”. Any minute now they’ll be chasing us down the street with blazing torches and pitchforks.
Oblivious the strangers and their dog approached the throng around the bandstand. A female town crier in full ceremonial dress is just announcing, in reverse order obviously, the winners of the “dress your kids up as town criers” fancy dress competition. The winner is declared to rapturous cheers from the crowd also in fancy dress, followed by the cry of “death to the strangers and their dog”. Well, if it had been a film that’s what would’ve happened next.
The out-of-towners and their cute canine companion would have been chased into the spa park through the wrought iron entrance and down the labyrinth of paths surrounded by huge dark foreboding trees. All joking aside, the park was lovely with streams, a mini-waterfall, a cafe and everything.
After a lucky escape we resume our journey to our destination and finally arrive at our holiday lodge park which will have to remain nameless to protect the guilty as will become apparent later. The park is gorgeous. It’s in a valley surrounded by trees and has a river running through it. The lodges are of an older style to the modern UPVC wood lookey likey ones you see advertised for sale in the Sunday Newspaper Supplements for the same price as a decent sized 3 bed detached house in suburbia. The lodges are well spaced on decent sized plots and therefore quite private. All have decks surrounding them and many proud owners have adorned theirs with hanging baskets and lots of plant pots full of begonias and fucias and the like, all very colourful.

Posted by mickyt 17:05 Archived in Wales Tagged wales wells mid-wales llandrindod Comments (0)

and they're off

'R' words everywhere

semi-overcast

Wildlife surrounds us. Birds are singing and there are rabbits everywhere. No, I mean there are rabbits everywhere. Milo pricks his ears up at the mention of the ‘r’ word. There are rabbits by the river, rabbits on the grass verges, rabbits amongst the plant pots, rabbits everywhere. Jo reminds me to stop using the ‘r’ word.
We pull up in front of our lodge and begin unloading. Jo says leave the dog in his crate whilst we get everything out of the car and into the lodge, “I don’t want him chasing things beginning with ‘r’”. I swing open the back door of the Shogun. Milo’s in his bed, in his crate surrounded by bags, walking boots, the coolbox, walking sticks, coats, provisions and all sorts. He’s keen to get out. The car emptied Jo says get the dog on his lead and he can go on the gated deck, he’ll not be able to get out. Dog lead in one hand, halty in the other, I barely get the crate latch undone when Milo pushes it open. Eyes wide and dark as night, he leaps from the car and he’s off. It’s like the start of Greyhound racing. They’re under starter’s orders, there goes the bell, there goes the ‘r’ word, the traps open and he’s off. Except in this case it’s not an automated, mechanical, look alike ‘r’ word – it’s the cute, fluffy, real-life, hopping, bunny version. Milo’s like a kid in a sweet shop. He’s won the lottery. He think’s he’s died and gone to doggy heaven. ‘R’ words everywhere. Which one shall I choose?
Rabbits are flying in all directions (it’s too late to worry about the ‘r’ word now). Milo’s at full tilt. Crikey he can move. “I told you to put him on his lead” Jo reminds me. Milo changes direction every time a rabbit darts in front of him. He’s focused. Rabbits are scooting right into the woods, left towards the river, Milo’s in pursuit, under decking, down the road, under parked cars, through people’s gardens. Flower pots and buckets are scattered. Jo’s shouting “Milo, Milo, come here” He’s in the zone. He’s right on the tail of one. His mouth opens but the rabbit jinks in a different direction at the last second. He sets his sights on another one. “Whistle him Mick, he’ll come if you whistle”. Now this is true. He’s pretty obedient to the whistle. The snag is the only way I can whistle is by placing two fingers of each hand in my mouth and blowing which is fine unless you’re laughing and then it becomes absolutely impossible. The more Jo shouts “Milo, Milo” and “Mick, whistle him”, the more I crack up. Milo’s now disappeared. No, there he is heading for the woods. All of the rabbits have now vanished, down burrows or wherever rabbits disappear to. He’s just chasing scent now. After a number of splutters, spits and wheezes, I manage to produce a decent double toned whistle and follow it up with a verbal “this way, Milo”. He responds and I trick him up the steps and through our decking gate on the pretence that this is the way to more rabbits. We have him. Jo tells him he’s been a bad dog whilst I secretly think “that’s my boy”. Hopefully owners arriving at their lodges this weekend and noting the toppled plant pots etc will put it down to strong winds.

Posted by mickyt 17:12 Archived in Wales Tagged wales jack russell mid-wales Comments (0)

A nice dinner

Wilted vegetables

rain

The lodge park is in the grounds of, and just across the river from, an old manor house, now a hotel and restaurant. On our afternoon walk, Milo secured by halty and lead at all times, we did a recce on the hotel for dinner. It’s only a short walk through the park, across the rope bridge and up a path. Now the bridge isn’t a proper rope bridge. It is a bridge suspended by steel ropes to which are attached wooden decking boards. It fair rocks and swings and undulates as you walk across, there are a few loose and bendy planks and a sign instructs you that only two people are allowed on at any one time.
I decide on pan fried salmon on a bed of wilted vegetables and a red pepper consomme. It not only looks great, it tastes great. Some unusual wilted vegetables. One has a long stalk and a huge leaf on it. Jo tells me it’s kung fu, no pad thai, no koi carp no it’s pak choi, that's it. Anyway it folds into a nice neat parcel on the end of my fork and I pop it my mouth, whole. I become aware that I’ve been chewing this leaf for some time now so I swallow it except it doesn’t go down. It’s stuck. I swallow again. Worse. The huge leaf has now unfurled. It’s blocking my throat. I try a slight and polite cough that nobody in the restaurant would take any notice of. It’s still there. It’s like it’s inflated like a balloon and is completely blocking my windpipe. I can’t breath in. A little more urgent now I decide to try and pick it out of my throat by reaching inside my mouth with my thumb and forefinger. Now this doesn’t go unnoticed and I get that look from Jo that says “what on earth are you doing?”. I want to explain but I still can’t breathe in. Panic sets in. I’ve run out of options and as a last resort I let out one of those cough type exhalations that are combined with a back of the throat kind of spit making a very loud ‘hack’ sound. If this doesn’t work and there’s no one in the restaurant who knows the heimlich manoeuvre or how to perform an emergency tracheotomy using a paring knife and a teaspoon, I’m done for. The rest of the diners turn and stare. It takes two ‘hacks’ but it clears. I’m alright everybody, panic over. No need for diy surgery. It’s cleared. Jo is still giving me the ‘what on earth’ look. We enjoy a really nice dinner and some wine and I round the evening off with one of my favourite single malts, a Dalwhinnie - perfect.
It’s something to ten and we leave the hotel for our return journey in the pouring rain. It’s like stair rods. Straight down, heavy rain, huge drops. But we’re prepared. Jo has her brolly and I, my lightweight waterproof. As we set off down the path and start descending the steps towards the river and the rope bridge, we come to realise a torch would’ve been useful. I illuminate my phone and that just provides enough light to see the steps. We access the rope bridge by some wooden steps and then the bridge slopes down towards the lowest point of the bridge in the middle where it rises to the top of the wooden steps on the lodge park side of the river. It’s belting down, I’m on a rope bridge, the decking boards are old and soaking and now extremely slippy, the shoes I chose to wear this evening are brown leather and have the smoothest sole ever imaginable, I may have had a little drink or two, I have only one hand to hold on to the swinging, undulating, rocking, sloping, slimy, wooden rope bridge because I am lighting the way with my mobile with the other. Jo tells me to walk straight and stop rocking the bridge - if only! Miraculously we reach safety on the other side and it’s an easy flat walk along a lit path to our lodge. I have a little giggle to myself as we pass a lodge with a couple of skewed and tipped plant pots outside.
And so to bed

Posted by mickyt 17:23 Archived in Wales Tagged wales vegetables mid-wales dalwhinnie pan-fried-salmon wilted Comments (0)

the curious incident of the face and the wall in the night

A full moon

rain

The lodge bedroom is not dissimilar to that of a static caravan. Just enough room for a double bed and a wardrobe. Not quite as much room around the bed as we enjoy at home. I semi wake at stupid o’clock as the liquid refreshment taken earlier is now signalling it would like to leave my body. As I always do, without putting a light on to disturb Jo, I swing both legs out sideways, my feet find the floor, I sit upright and then stand – thump! My face connects with the bedroom wall which I forgot is almost touching the bed and I collapse in a crumpled heap wedged in the 12 inch gap between the bed and the bedroom wall. The dog barks and starts jumping all over me and the light comes on. “what on earth are you doing?” I thought I was at home, I explain.
Dazed and still half asleep I make it to the loo whilst there I gaze through the patterned bathroom window and note the brightness of the moon. On exiting the bathroom I head for the kitchen window to gaze in awe at the wonder of a full moon only to realise that there are now three moons unless of course I’ve been gazing at the solar lights attached at intervals to the lodge gutter with one directly above the bathroom window. Oh well, back to bed but I’m now wide awake so decide to write a blog.

Posted by mickyt 17:23 Archived in Wales Tagged full moon wales jack russell mid-wales Comments (0)

Elan valley walk

That'll stain

sunny

Friday morning is clear blue skies and sunshine and we start the day with a walk along and over the river. Milo is strictly on his lead and Jo refuses to walk on the bridge at the same time as me and waits till I exit on the other side. After breakfast we drive to the Elan Valley visitor centre to get some advice about a walk in that area. You never know the policy on dogs in these places so I pick Milo up and carry him under my arm. We approach the information counter and before we can utter our first words, “I’m sorry, we don’t allow dogs in here, not even flying ones like yours” she says. I say oh ok, we just wanted details of a walk and continue to stand there whilst she explains. We leave with directions for a walk, a map and a flying dog.
The walk is 10km of stunning, breath-taking scenery. There’s even a tea room at the half way point where I choose from the menu ‘Fruit cake and Welsh Cheese’. Huh? Both were extremely delicious. We head back to the lodge for a rest before we set off to meet my brother Pete, for dinner. We pick Pete up at his idyllic cottage by the river. His cottage is accessed by a stepped path leading down from his single car parking space on the road. Imagine a passing place on a narrow, single track road and Pete has squashed his car into the hedge to make room for me to park the shogun next to him. My bonnet is in the hedge at the front, my side of the car is also in the hedge and I’ve left the window down. I close it and trap a branch of blackberries inside the car. A couple squash as the hastily closed window traps them. One drops onto my shoulder and my nice clean shirt and explodes leaving a purple juice stain on my shoulder. I have to exit the Shogun via the passenger door.We’re joined at dinner by our nephew, his wife and our great niece, Lucy. We enjoy a great meal together and Jo and I return to our lodge.

Posted by mickyt 17:27 Archived in Wales Tagged wales mid-wales elan-valley elan-valley-visitor-centre damns Comments (0)

Let's go home

The next morning I’m up first and check outside the lodge for any sign of rabbits. There aren’t and I let Milo off our gated decking to do what dogs do first thing in a morning. Apparently Milo and I have differing views about what dogs should do first thing in a morning. I expected a bit of leg cocking. Milo’s first thought is to pick up where he left off with the rabbit chase. Not a rabbit in sight mind you. Nonetheless he’s off like a rocket. Through the bushes, across the neighbouring lodge’s garden down to the river. Back under the lodge to the next lodge, through some more bushes and disappears out of sight. I’m shouting in a whisper “Milo, this way”, it’s too early to do one of my whistles, whilst slipping down the steps wearing my pyjama tee shirt top (short sleeve) my pyjama shorts and the first shoes that were handy, my brown leather ones with the smooth soles and not laced up. The ground is soaking with a heavy dew as I set off slipping and sliding to try and sight Milo and usher him back. Once convinced the area is clear of rabbits he returns back onto the deck. He looks at me as if to say “did you see any, I didn’t”. I’m now shivering stood on the deck with wet cut grass all over my brown leather shoes and Milo still hasn’t done what I let him out to do.
We pack up the car having had a great couple of days in Wales and set off on the journey home.

Posted by mickyt 17:32 Archived in Wales Tagged wales mid-wales jack_russell chasing_rabbits Comments (0)

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