Thursday, 30 July 2009
Abergavenny to Bury
The next leg on the road to The Highlands and Islands included some places in Wales with names beginning with 'A'; Abergavenny, Aberystwyth and Anglesey. Not that we plan to work our way slowly through the alphabet. I suspect we were simply being drawn back to the coast and Abergavenny was a convenient stop off on the way. Anglesey attracted us because it is an island (lots of coastline) and it has plenty of ancient monuments to check out. It seemed like a good place to endure another Bank Holiday.
The journey from Oxfordshire was very straightforward. As we progressed through Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Ross on Wye the sun shone, and as we crossed the border into Wales the trees appeared more verdant. The countryside was very pretty. It rolled and twisted and turned and burst with greenery.
We stayed at a decent caravan site just outside Abergavenny. There were views of mountains and we were pitched next to a river with lambs bleating on the opposite bank. Occasionally the RAF would fly low and noisily overhead and briefly disrupt an al fresco G&T. We visited the town on market day, had some lunch in one of the many cafes and milled about the indoor and outdoor markets.
Moving on to Aberystwyth, our first impressions weren't too favourable. The promenade on the sea front provided a good spot for a walk but the town looked a bit run down. All that seagull poo doesn't help. After exploring further we found that the more interesting shops were down side streets, naturally, and we had lunch in an organic cafe, The Tree House.
Our next stop was Anglesey, North Wales. We were staying in a great spot called Lligwy Beach.
For a few days it was our ideal pitch: lots of space around us, a sea view and a short walk to the beach. The walks to the two nearest pubs were longer, but we coped. There was a vintage Airstream on a seasonal pitch in one of the other fields. Unfortunately the owner didn't turn up (maybe he knew that marauding bank holiday crowds were on the way!) but we went and had a good look. It was a 1976 International, looking rather handsome on the outside and like a work in progress on the inside. Glinting in the sunshine, you couldn't miss it.
We had arrived on a Tuesday and enjoyed some fair weather but the Friday brought what some might call 'foul weather'. I loved it . The wind was strong enough to rock the trailer and the rain was lashing. A perfect day for reading, writing, planning my next knitting and sewing projects and truly feeling the simple wonderfulness of this nomadic life. Later the rain stopped, the skies brightened and we flew our kites on the beach. Since we managed to do so whilst avoiding the dog turds it was an exhilarating bit of fun and rounded off my perfect day.
That evening the mob started to arrive for the holiday. Thankfully this particular site does not pack them in, and they have three fields to spread out in. It was still quite a contrast though. And the space in front of our trailer seemed to be just right for those games that involve throwing stuff. Small kids don't understand aim, do they? They sort of spin like miniature shot-putters and let go of whatever is in their hands at the point of maximum momentum. And how would they know that a giant Frisbee could make a nasty dink in the lovely big shiny Airstream? It's not their fault, it's their owners, I mean parents, merrily getting the most out of a whole extra day off. If I had a job I'm sure I would need to neck some beers and relinquish all responsibility now and then too.
We escaped and explored some stone circles and ruined villages, as we do. Well, it gets you out into the fresh air and bronze age man usually picked a scenic location for his sacred/ceremonial/burial thing.
Often they're on a hill, or overlooking the sea, or nestled between mountains, so there is usually an impressive view to go with them. One notable exception which our Neolithic ancestors couldn't have foreseen is Trefignath Burial Chamber on Holy Island which is now overshadowed by an aluminium processing plant.
Ah, the reverential atmosphere. It was absolutely and definitely absent.
What we did see plenty of was funky little dolmen style monuments (upright standing stones with a stone slab on the top, forming a roof). They're usually just sitting there in the middle of some farmer's field, sometimes with a fence around, other times with sheep wandering in and out of them.
By 11am on the Monday the site had emptied quicker than it had filled up and we and our Airstream could breathe again. We could also see the sea once more and enjoy some solitary beachcombing. This agreed with us so much we extended our stay by a couple of nights. Mmmm, empty roads.
Onwards then, and after having things our own way for a couple of days we moved on from Anglesey to Bury, just outside Manchester. It couldn't have been more different. We had to negotiate motorway, ring roads and roundabouts aplenty and finally a stretch of old cobbled road which jiggled us unpleasantly towards the caravan site. It was a return to the pitch-perfect type of site, all set up in rows, where the grass seems to get mowed every day. And why had we chosen this polar opposite environment? It was all part of the route to the company who were going to repair our delaminated floor.
In the meantime we felt an urban thrill on a trip in to Manchester and we invited our city-dwelling friends Lucy and Vanessa round for Sunday lunch. They had been among the first to hear of our travelling plans when still in the planning stage and this was their first chance to see the Airstream. They had been excited for us from the start and now that they've seen us on the road, they still are, maybe more so. We had a lovely afternoon catching up and having a good old giggle. Plus, Lucy gets extra brownie points for wearing her silver Birkenstocks to match the trailer.