12th March 2015
A day cycling In reasonable if somewhat misty drizzle turned into one of very heavy rainfall as the distance was covered. The change happened as I enjoyed a large hot chocolate at Tesco's in Carmarthen. From Llanelli to there I had taken the coast road around to Kilkenny and from there the hills had started before getting to Carmarthen.
Back in 2010 I had had 2 punctures along this stretch and I remember what a beautiful day it was with lots of sunshine and no wind. I also remember photographing a mass of jet trails over a number of electricity pylons. They were to be the last jet trails seen for a couple of weeks because of the Icelandic volcano stopping air travel.
From Camarthen the road was mostly dual carriageway with great smooth tarmac. You tend to notice the quality of tarmac a lot when one;s cycling especially when heavy laden. It's not just the pot holes one notices but the texture; the use of pebbles or not etc. I have always intended to make a Dulux paint style chart of tarmacs around the country. Names such as Cornish crumble, Devon dirt, Shetland smoothie come to mind and maybe I'll complete the task with appropriate photographs one day.
The rain got heavier and my waterproof coat wasn't! It got heavier. The lads got heavier as they absorbed the water.
Eventually I thought enough was enough and around 8 miles west of Haverfordwest I stopped at a B and B with an advertising board outside stating vacancies. No room at the inn, I went to the next in the village. No answer, I went to the next. Here I met the lovely Mari. This B and B wasn't open but I could come in out of the wet as she phoned around for me. I stood on her doormat and dripped as she phoned and I stroked the 3 dogs. Mari phoned Ian Heaps! He was one of my heroes from the days when my main passion was match fishing in the Midlands. Ian was a many times World fishing champion and had a fishing complex not far away. No answer. Shame I would have loved to have met him.
A hotel back along the road a couple of miles had a room. How much could I afford? Two miles of back in the rain later and after many thanks to Mari I arrived at the very plush Plas Hyfryd hotel in Narberth. Leaving the bike in the foyer to drip dry I was shown to my room. In my soaked state and with clothes suitable for the cycle trip but not for a hotel of such standing I entered my suite. Yes suite. It had a lounge, a bedroom and a bathroom with a bath. After divesting my wet through clothes and washing them in the bath, I realised that I wouldn't be able to go to Dinner. I hadn't a thing to wear.
One last thing to mention but the most important thing about the day was the 60th wedding anniversary of my Mum and Dad. Stupidly I had thought it was their 59th anniversary and was about to phone congratulations on that when I realised that I would be 59 this year. Oops!
Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad. Enjoy the day and the telegram from the Queen.
Friday the 13th!
Into Haverfordwest on a dry, windy day with sunshine, I spent an hour in Nationwide finalising my moving of my Lloyd's account to them. As it was Red Nose Day, I shared a bag of red noses that I just happened to have with me.
Then it was to a fishing tackle shop to buy a better coat.
Next it was the cycle to St David's, Britain's smallest city, with fabulous views of the coastline cliffs and beach as I descended the steep hill to Newgale.
At St David's I found a small hotel and enjoyed watching the sunset over Ramsey Island from my top storey window.
Sometimes not a lot happens on a cycling day.
To St Justinians in the morning via St David's cathedral, I met two lady cyclists, one of whom said “we saw you yesterday,” as I was overtaking them. Sian and Ella, mother and daughter, I cycled with them to their caravan park – farm on the coast nearby. They told me of their own cycling adventures including cycling to London. Dad came out to chat as I tightened up my brakes for and aft and drank a coffee. Fabulous people, as one meets so often. They had around 60 green caravans on a lovely site overlooking the sea.
To the quay and lifeboat station at St Justinians to get as close as I could to the unopen RSPB reserve of Ramsey island. A boat company in St David's had advertsied that they were open all year and I had hoped to at least go around the island. They didn't even have any boats in the water until April the 1st, more fool me. So two RSPB reserves will have to be added to the list as seen instead of stood upon; Grassholm and Ramsey.
No auks tazzing around in the Sound was a surprise, just a couple of gannets and a few black-headed gulls. A large new lifeboat house was being built here and the old one is going to be taken to a museum in Cardiff, I was told.
Back to the hotel to collect the panniers and it was off on another afternoon of long cycling, this time into a head wind from the north east. Crafty how the wind keeps changing direction to be in my face, I must be getting paranoid about it! Doesn't stop me singing as I'm going though.At Fishguard I stopped for a light lunch and gave Harry, a Mr Happy cuddly toy to a little girl enjoying a meal with her Mum and Dad. Well I have to get the bike lighter.
As darkness fell I stopped at a B and B and asked whether a room was available and at what price. I cycled on.I came to a hotel and went in. The England rugby game was on a large screen TV and a group of Welsh supporters were watching it supporting Scotland. They were a great family group of three with a 3 year old grand-daughter who came over and hugged my legs! The landlord then told me that it wasn't a hotel anymore he just didn't want to change the name of the establishment. I cycled on.
In Newport I came upon a B and B, The Globe and the price was great, as was the owner Pat and before she left for a rendezvous with the local vicar for the evening she told me her life story and family history. Upstairs in my room there was a pile of Birds magazine, the magazine from the RSPB before it changed its name to Nature's Home. There was the issue with a page about me! May 2011 page 87. I photographed it and put it onto facebook.
Alone in the house, I bathed and relaxed and soon fell asleep.
Mother's Day and my sister Donna's birthday, I texted both but with no signal it wasn;t to get to both until later. A lovely different breakfast of Manuka honey and toast, Greek yogurt and fruits, cereal and coffee was enjoyed with more conversation with Pat.
Off for the long ride to get to Lampeter, the day was taken up with steep hills to push up followed by thrilling speedy descents. Over 37 miles with an elevation of over the height of Snowdon; 3570 feet up hills over the day.
I took lunch beside the river by the waterfalls at Cenarth, a beautiful spot famous for the small coracles, strangely shaped little boats.
Reaching Lampeter as the sun went down I fund a hotel at the fantastic price of £25. Pembrokeshire now gone, I am looking forward to being able to do some birding again as every one of the last few days has involved getting as far as I can through Wales to catch up the 4 days I am behind MY schedule. I am actually a month ahead of where I was when cycling all of this back in 2010 but I am going to be going a lot further this time.
Now please have a look at my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/bikingbirder2015
Also if you could please make a small donation to any of the charities that I am supporting then please click on the links to the right. I know I put this onto the end of every blog posting but I really get a boost from every donation. The RSPB, The WWT, Asthma UK and Chaskawasi-Manu. I would be so grateful if you could make a donation however small. Thanks.
All the very best everyone. Love to you all xx