Today, after a shaky start due to the rental car agency, we headed out west in our Citroen Picasso (that is our silver car their second on the left in the photo). It was perfect for the number of passengers and the extra luggage we were carrying.
Past Windsor Castle, on into the West Country as it is known here. Destination, Bristol. Arrived without incident though I may have made Nick somewhat nervous due to my overconfident driving but nevertheless, we arrived unscathed. Took a short motor tour through the downtown area of Bristol and then turned up Nick and Kate's street parking nearly in front of their flat.
After taking a look around we went out to a local pub and then to have 'a curry' as it is said here (Indian food). Great food, fun evening with Nick and Kate.
Day 5--Heading for Wales and Abbeycwmhir
Our drive into Wales took us over a massive bridge and once across, we were officially in Wales. Everything was green. Overcast but little or no rain. Our drive took us through small villages and towns, quaint, picturesque, downright beautiful. It took us a couple of hours to arrive at the turn off for Abbeycwmhir. The road quickly narrowed to a single lane road lined by hedge rows and only occasional turn outs for oncoming traffic. Fortunately the traffic was light so there were few opportunities to have to turn out. Abbeycwmhir is a small village, an abbey ruin where the last Welsh born Prince of Wales is buried, a few cottages, a small church and a pub called The Happy Union. The pub would become our home away from home for the next three days. Our home, thanks to a wonderful gift from Nick for our anniversary and Mom's 50th birthday last summer, was a quaint brick cottage on the egde of the village. We all four stayed in the home of a wonderful local family. In fact the sister of the pub owner was the owner of our B & B.
Our first day, Nick had us out on a hike up into the hills around Abbeycwmhir. We walked uphill, up and over and through pastures and across streams. After a vigorous hike we headed for a pub where we would meet the rest of the group of Nick's friends. We ate and drank at a pub in Rhayader, a village quite a bit bigger than Abbeycwmhir and about a 7 mile drive through the hills and one lane lanes. A tall Christmas tree and creche scene sat in the middle of the town in the crossroads. Had dinner and a couple of pints before heading back to Abbeycwmhir for the night.
Day 6--New Year's Eve Day--The Big Hike
After a great English breakfast of corn flakes, eggs, two rashers of bacon, sausages, mushrooms, toast, marmelade and a pot of tea, we headed off up the valley to a location where Nick had planned a big hike. Up near a series of reservoirs, we parked the car and headed off down a trail along the water. About a mile and a half along, I decided I wanted to spend time sketching (a favorite passtime of mine) and Kate, Nick and Mom all headed up hill into the moors. We agreed to meet at the car in about two hours. I settled onto a bench that appeared to have been taken from a Tolkien novel--hand hewn of gnarled tree limbs. I happily sketched the pastoral scene in front of me and listened to 15th century English lute music. Wow!
Meanwhile, up in the hills, the rest of the party was having a great time finding their way using the ordinance map and compass Nick had brought. I finished up my sketching after about an hour and headed back up the trail towards the car. They hadn't arrived yet so I walked across the dam, got into a conversation with some folks and still no sign of them. I wandered up the trail in the direction I knew they would be coming, sat, listened to some more music and waited. No sign! Hummmmm. I wandered back down the hill and climbed into the car to get warm. After about another hour, a short while before it became dark, they came tromping down the trail.
They had become lost for a while, waded through an ankle-deep bog before spotting some bikers in the distance and realized where the trail was. All ended well though they were cold and tired. We pointed the car back towards Abbeycwmhir and a big evening of fun!