The Tour pt 2 – What’s Occurring….

Saturday 14th April and still in Cardiff and after the dodgy start it’s been going rather well.

The chap from Green Flag sorted out the issue with the lights. One of the tow bar relays in the control unit in the boot of the car had failed. I will still need to get the unit replaced when we get home but the repair should last. Whilst out and about we also procured a bag of nails that will serve as replacements for the jockey wheel pin until we get home, so hopefully now we’re all set for the rest of the trip.

So, what has been occurring? Well, fans of Gavin & Stacey on the BBC will deduce correctly that we’ve been down to Barry Island. Just half an hour out of Cardiff on the train it is a really pleasant little seaside resort with beautiful crescent shaped beach and a lovely innocent charm. So, we had an enjoyable time in Barry….. and yes, wait for it – he liked it too!

We’ve done the local hop on/hop off bus tour of the city. We always look out for these as they can give you a good overview of the area and help you to get your bearings. They can also be a source of fascinating information, for example, the fact the the first million pound cheque was reputedly signed here – for the supply of coal to the US Navy. More interestingly, the Welsh flag is the first in the world to feature a design based on someone's mother-in-law. Think about it….

One morning was spent down in Cardiff Bay – the redeveloped docks area – and what a great job they have done of it too. In amongst it all remains the old red brick Victorian pierhead building. So well restored and preserved. Fan’s of Torchwood will recognise the chrome tower in the middle. BBC Wales produced both Torchwood and Gavin & Stacey and have a huge purpose built facility here. The Doctor Who experience  (another BBC Wales production) is due to open this summer.

Yesterday we headed further afield and north, first to the Big Pit at Blaenavon, filling up with diesel on the way. Doing the sums showed that we only got twenty eight to the gallon on the run west on Tuesday. I had been hoping and expecting a little more considering the price of fuel and the amount we are likely to get through on this trip. A note to our friends in the US - we are now paying close to eleven dollars a gallon! You think you’ve got problems.

However, it was very windy on Tuesday which may account for the poor consumption. Patsy is also quite a bit heavier than on our jaunt to Crystal Palace. As well as the extra bit’s and bobs likely to be needed for a longer trip – including  a new full size awning which is still in the box – Patsy is carrying more booze than an off licence. We are working hard to reduce this though!

Anyway, back to the Big Pit and what a great experience. You get kitted up with a hard hat and battery pack and light just like the miners would have and descend in to the pit 90 metres below. Sadly, no ‘dry cell’ powered items are allowed in the pit so we weren't able to take any photos. However, an ex miner gives a fascinating insight in to what it was like to work down there and the hard hat was essential as I found out several times. At the end of the tour you get introduced to two canaries – no longer used of course but kept for prosperity – and named Maggie & Arthur. Apparently they get on really well…

Next up was a drive up from the national park to Brecon and a stop for lunch. The scenery here was stunning and there’s so little traffic around which was lovely. In the afternoon we headed back south via a different though no less scenic route. The plan was to call in at Penderyn and take a tour of the local distillery. Penderyn make a very fine whisky but all the remaining tours for the day were full so we didn’t get a chance to sample any.

Friday night and our night ‘out on the town’ and check out a couple of Cardiff’s gay bars. Both pleasant enough and with differing clientele but with the usual banging happy house music attempting to drown out all conversation. It' seemed quiet everywhere for a Friday night but then we remembered that ‘Steps’ were on at the local arena. Indeed as we crossed from one bar to another, the gig finished and several thousand happy revellers spilled out on to the streets. Now, they’re not really to my taste – a bit to cheesy even for me – and should be strung up for butchering the all time classic that is ‘Tragedy’ – but they were clearly very popular.

So, our time in Cardiff is nearly at an end. It’s been very enjoyable and is a lovely clean city to visit. The caravan site is fine and in a great location. It is a municipal site rather than a club one so the facilities are slightly different – older but still clean and tidy. You don’t get a key to the shower and toilet block but a code for the keypad on the door instead. Trev is not great at remembering numbers so I wrote the number down on the back of one of my ‘A Load of Nonsense’ ‘business’ cards for him. When he came back from his first visit he said he had left the card in there in the hope that someone would pick it up and get on line and read the blog. So, you heard it here first – I’ve been reduced to advertising in men’s toilets…..

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