Wales has so unique a language that makes me laugh as a ride. Sometimes I will pass a directional sign and think, “couldn’t they afford to buy any vowels?” Some of the names are: Rhayader, Bwidhgtwyn, Machynlleth, Llandidloes, Brynrug, Tywyn, Cwm Maetholon, Y Rhos, Ynysgyffylog and Morfa Mawddach. Get the point?
Listening to the locals is also fun. We speak the same language but not! Asking for directions to the showers one day, the only thing I understood was where his finger was pointing. If he hadn’t done that I still would not had a clue, even after 10 sentences or so of direction! I asked a little girl age 10 or 11 if I sounded funny to her. All she could do was giggle! Guess it works both ways.
This day the DRG described once section as having “excellent climbing ahead with some fast descents.” Translation: “you will be tired and walking your bike a lot.” The hills were so steep in parts I couldn’t make it go, even in granny gear. At least my legs worked in walking!
The country seemed to get more beautiful, the further north we went. There were millions of sheep, white ones, black ones, really dirty ones and a few cute little lambs. Mostly they were quiet but at some points it seemed they were all talking to me. “Baa baa baa!” I would like to think they were greeting a foreigner to their land.
The sheep were very timid. I stopped to snap a picture of one mother and lamb, but they scooted off before I could get a close up. The lamb was so pretty and soft looking, I really wanted to pet it, but mom would have none of that!
We are getting close to the training base for the RAF (Royal Air Force). All throughout the day, low flying jets were in the air. Some were flying faster than their sound. It gave me goose bumps to hear and watch them fly, that must really be fun, like a video game only live! I was told the jets were Hawks and F16′s. Of course all I know is they were very noisy. Larry would have liked to see them, he could have told me the names of each.
I discovered “flap jacks” today. While eating a cup of yogurt, I noticed Diane and Sadie had purchased two packages each of these strange looking bars. I asked them if they were good and they both rolled their eyes and said “YES! They are addictive.” OK, I’m game, so I marched into the store and bought two for myself! How’s that for confidence!
As it turned out, Diane and Sadie were right on. Flap jacks are a cookie-like bar, that is kept in the refrigerator section. They come in different flavors, the bottom is a moist oatmeal and the top comes in various flavors. The bars are about 2 inches thick and they are very filling. They are something I will need to ration myself. I love discovering new things like flap jacks!
After eating one flap jack I was ready to tackle the remaining hills. It was only 30 miles left to camp and I was anxious to get in. We had only one more day in Wales before we departed on the ferry for Dublin, Ireland our 22nd country.
Barmouth turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Ever since we left Cardiff, the country was getting more rural each day. Looking at the map, it looked as if there would be almost nothing in the area. Well it was wide open, even when I reached the coast there was nothing but sheep farms along the bay. Back home in my childhood state, homes along a coast like that would be door to door. Here they still had a lot of wide open spaces with an outstanding view.
When I reached Barmouth it was a medium size town with a fabulous wide, white sand beach. There was a boardwalk with shops and rides for the kids. It was definitely a beach town like I think of a beach town. We got to camp right alongside the beach and a very nice campground.
We had an interesting dinner in a nice B&B located about 2 miles back into town. I say interesting because, once again the owners shared with us the fact that they had only been called the “day before yesterday” that we were coming. Our meal was baked potatoes (notice a trend here), chicken on little buns, salad and a choice of soup.
The soup was delicious but the way it was served was curious to me. The gentleman was using a ladle to pour the “lamb cew soup” into a styro foam cup. When the cup was full, he didn’t stop pouring, he kept letting the both spill over the outside of the cup. I watched as several people ahead of me politely though reluctantly took their soup from him. I was encouraged though when several folks came back for refills. The man repeated continued this routine, giving everyone a sticky cup, including myself. Then it occurred to me, he was trying to be sure everyone got a portion of the lamb that was in the cup. The broth came out the fastest so he was having difficulty getting the lamb in before the cup was full.
The soup turned out to be the best part of the meal. I had seconds and I never asked what part of the lamb was the cew. I don’t want to know.
Tonight I finally got an email from my daughter, giving me Larry’s new cell phone number. Immediately, I called. He answered the phone and said hello three times, I responded each time, then finally I said, “this is Kristal, your wife.” He said I didn’t sound like me. Hummm, one week gone and he forgets my voice? This is not a good sign!
We had a nice conversation and after hanging up I realized I was too keyed up. I ended up not sleeping that night. The camp was very restless. Our route tomorrow was to ride over more hills for 80 miles to the Hollyhead ferry, which was to take us to Ireland. There was a choice of 2 ferry’s, one leaving at 1:45 and the other at 6:30. Many riders were trying to leave early to catch the early ferry. I knew I couldn’t make the early ferry so I planned on going on the late one.
All night long I could hear people getting into the lockers, sliding stuff in and out. I had set up my tent much too close to the gear trucks, lazy me and now I was paying for it! Next time I must lug those bags further!