There have been some good things and some bad things that have happened since I last chatted here. One of the nicest was a 111th birthday party at Poppit Sands youth hostel, near Cardigan in Wales. The party was for two people whose ages totaled 111 (to save you getting too confused).
I drove there on Friday evening, but with little preparation so I just fed the post code into the car's GPS system, tweaked it a bit when it wouldn't accept it and headed off into the unknown. The system decided that the "best" route from the Cardiff area (where I started) was as far west as possible along the M4, then as far west as possible along the A48, then straight north until I ran out of road and finally to head back east ... OK so you cannot do straight line driving through Wales but this does seem a bit out of the way. The end point I'd been able to persuade the system to accept was actually a road junction and there was still a mile or so to go once I reached that. However life is never simple :) The first time I reached the junction (see you are getting the hint here ... more that once!) I didn't realise I needed to turn left ... so I carried on, over a little bridge (which I wasn't expecting) and found myself in Cardigan.
Cardigan is, I'm sure, a lovely town; it has narrow picturesque streets and crowds of people ... and on that Friday had a street market blocking most of the town centre and causing all other roads around it to be one way! After a short tour of the town with many pauses to guess at the best direction to go and still more pauses while the crowds milled around and over the road, I found an escape route (not the one I had come in on) and looped around to the GPS system's end point. This time I did turn left and headed off down increasingly narrow roads towards the youth hostel.
The last section of the "road" to the youth hostel is a narrow track, one car wide with scattered passing places. I wasn't quite sure how far down the track the hostel was, so drove steadily looking out for signs. After a while I met two cars coming the other way and, after a bit of reversing and edging back and forth, discovered it was Max and Sue, two friends from the Morris side who were taking their cars down to a car park at the start of the narrow track. The hostel had very limited parking available so after unloading most cars had to go down the hill ... oh, hadn't I mentioned that this narrow track was steep in places? Any way we passed, I agreed I'd meet them in the car park once I'd unloaded (Max was going to run a shuttle service for people). One thing I didn't do was check how much further on the hostel was ... but I'll know to do that next time.
A few hundred yards further on I met yet another car coming down, a big range-rover looking car. Fortunately there was a trackway on the right (as I looked at the road) so the other car went into that, I drove past and we both carried on. The track carried on further and further, with various side branches ... none of which had any youth hostel signs. The track was by now only just a car width and the centre of the roadway was overgrown with grass ... this was not looking promising! finally I reached a sign of civilization ... a cattle grid! I drove over it and headed up an even steeper track ... with rough rock sides just clear of the car, rough rock surface where the wheels were going and a raised centre of the road that looked like it would remove any sumps that were that bit too low. This was looking even worse! My immediate though of phoning Max to check where the hostel was was thwarted by the lack of signal so I was on my own in pitch black on a wild and windy track more suited to four-wheel-drive vehicles than my car.
Rather than trying to reverse between the rocky walls I decided to go on and after a while came to a T-junction. To the left was a private drive way; to the right was an even worse looking track. After a couple of goes I managed to get the car turned around without hitting anything and headed back down the narrow rocky track, down the slightly less narrow track and eventually discovered that the hostel was where I had passed the range-rover looking car!
After unloading I and another guy headed down the hill in convoy ... but the excitement wasn't over yet! A few yards down from the hostel we met another car coming up! The first car managed to pass using what looked like a field entrance on the left. I reluctantly tried using it. My car being that bit wider meant that I had to get a bit further off the road and when the car had passed I found I couldn't get my car back up the grass onto the road! I left the car, hazard lights flashing, and walked back to the hostel to get a crew of strong people to push. Eventually I managed to get 8-10 people rounded up and we shifted the car back onto the track quite easily ... well it was easy for me sitting in the car :) This just left one last problem ... by now there was yet another car waiting to get up the track!
By the time I eventually made it down to the car park Max and Sue (remember them from earlier in the post?) were quite worried as to what had happened to me!
The rest of the weekend was good and relaxing, spoilt only slightly by gout in my left ankle. The sands there go on for miles and miles and it was good to walk along them. The rocks have interesting layering lines (almost vertical in places) although trying to cross the smooth slightly green areas was very hard going, like undulating sheet ice! On the Saturday night there was a dance and I was asked to sing my "Muckspreader" song ... much to the amusement of an actual farmer who was there :) I even had the chance to practise my hacking skills ... but we'll draw a veil over that except to report that no computers were damaged in any way and nothing was left less secure than it originally was.
On the Sunday we headed off to a local pub and Morris danced ... well I organised and nursed my ankle but the others danced. Finally I headed back to Joe's (near Cardiff) and disregarded the suggested route from the GPS system ... my route was much straighter but probably took about the same time as the route there!
I took some photos over the weekend and they may get uploaded sometime ... but don't hold your breath :)
I'll save any comments on other subjects for now :) After all I can't overload your friends pages can I :)