Monday, 17 August 2015

An August Month

Having planned to spend August in the UK as there were a number of milestones to be celebrated I have been visiting various friends, exploring new places and revisiting old favourites.

We joined friends at the excellent Camping and Caravaning site near Rhandirmyn to enjoy a walk round the Dinas RSPB reserve, the spectacular Llyne Brianne dam and remote splendour of the Abergwesyn Gorge followed by tea at the forest cafe near Beulah. The Royal Oak provided a good meal as ever and we hope to return in September once Mike has fully recovered from an operation.

A return to the Doethie Valley ride in mid Wales gave me a chance to chat with the guys undertaking the repairs to the deep erosion gulley that so far has taken 300 tonnes of shale to fill and will require probably a thousand or more to complete. The dumper drivers were shifting 5 tonnes at a time up the steep rough track where a mini digger was filling the gully. Heavy rain the previous week made the track down the valley a bit more challenging but it still amounted to a cracking day. 

Early August saw a gathering of old friends near Brecon for a 60th birthday bash where nocturnal giant Jenga caused amusement and risked injury to participants and onlookers alike. During the day I had fitted a new leisure battery - being an AGM type it could be placed on its side under the passenger seat overcoming the usual height restriction and should provide 118 AH of power for the forthcoming winter trip south. A new smart charger was also wired in permanently to keep things properly topped up - I have another identical one that tops up the engine battery when on hook up so have I hope covered all angles.

A good walk in the hills above Aberedw on the Sunday rounded off an excellent time after which I headed in to the forests of mid Wales to remove 20 bags of accumulated rubbish from the bothy recently the subject of an unauthorised visit by off roaders. Later that week the abandoned 4x4 was removed using a timber forwarder so with luck the thoughtless driver whose details are known will receive a large bill.

I returned to Shropshire that week to celebrate Mum's 80th birthday. The kindly neighbours took us out for coffee in Montgomery followed by a surprise champagne and nibbles party in the communal gardens of her estate which were looking at their summer best. That evening we celebrated in style at a local restaurant although my sister in law was unfortunately absent after the sad passing of her father.

A busy schedule then took Mum and I back to Coventry for her to stay with old friends while I accompanied Penny to a wedding in nearby Cubbington. Superb weather underpinned a day of celebration - the bride and groom left the church in style in a wagon and horse combination and at the reception we all enjoyed a hog roast and energetic dancing.

After giving the van its 52nd service (312,000 miles) I noticed that a couple of coolant hoses and a steel pipe are looking tired so will replace those later this week after my return from a few days in Sheffield. 

Last week whilst walking in Pembrokeshire we saw a sign advertising a garden open and teas available and were rewarded with a surprise visit to Ffynonne - the family home of the Lloyd George family. The caretakers gave us a warm welcome and we decided to return the following day for a tour of the impressive house - this was well worth it and gave an insight in to the life of an important family with many links to historical events, political dynasties and royal lineages.

A short visit to Sheffield started well with an 8 mile walk above Marsden in the Pennines followed by a trip in to the impressive Standedge Tunnel. This made for an excellent day which included a brief foray in to Holmfirth - no sign of Compo and his friends.

Walking tomorrow will be followed by a meal to plan the finer details of next week's intended coast to coast bike ride - Morecambe to Bridlington - after which I will return south to change the aforementioned pipes and depart for a few days wild camping in mid Wales.

The trip north should have included a trip to see family in York but my aunt has joined the MI and stent club so we decided to give her time to recover before calling in, probably in the early Autumn when I also hope to spend a few weeks in Scotland before the South American trip.

Before then September will see the Brecon Beast take place on the 13th followed by farm sitting locally, the van MOT and some preparation for a return to Morocco and then a planned venture through Italy and down to Greece and beyond for 2016.

Thus as ever you can review the above by the photos here and follow my meanderings from time to time here. 

The clip below is a hint of more to come from the Oz trip.