Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Losing it in Wales (Part 2)

Since my last post, I've gotten more active & have done a fair bit of walking around the place. I left my friend's place in Penpaedriol & headed west to the little town of St. David's. Well……'s actually a city 'cos it has a cathedral. It's a quaint little town. It has a cathedral & the ruins of the Bishop's Palace but not much else. It is a good base to explore & walk along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path: a meandering path that follows the Pembrokeshire coast (derrr !!!) for about 299km. I met guys in the pub (as one does) who were walking the entire length (taking approx. 15 days).

I only did a 9 km stretch between St. Justinian's & Porthclais (then caught the bus back to St. Justinian's……..a 2.5hr walk but a 5min bus ride back). The views were spectacular, it was a sunny, warm day & I even had a seal pup, from the Ramsey Island sanctuary, follow me for about 10 min (probably never seen anyone from Canberra before).

St. David's is also where I met three lovely people from Wales & Manchester (Cerri, Emma & Nigel). By the end of the evening, we were debating (as one does after several pints) the fact that the human race is descendent from just seven females. Don't ask me where we got the facts from….it was late & I'd already had quite a few pints !!

Next on the agenda was the seaside city of Aberystwyth. It's a typical British seaside town with a typical British beach (brown) & an over-the-top pier with the usual selection of amusement parlours. Nice enough town though….it was nice to sit on the boardwalk & watch the sun go down over the ocean. Aberystwyth is a good place to use as a base to go out to & explore the Mynach Falls….well….you simply follow the path down to the bottom of the falls & then follow the path back up to the top. Nearby….there's the Devil's Bridge. Well…actually, it's simply three bridges built right on top of one another: an 11th Century bridge, a 17th Century bridge & an early 20th Century bridge.

Just down the road from the Devil's bridge are the ruins of the Strata Florida Abbey. As with a lot of churches, it's set in an isolated valley with great views. This one, however, was punctuated by the sounds of a trail-bike competition approx. 100m down the road. Talk about mood killer !!

The next part of the trip sees me in Caernarfon with it's truly impressive castle. It's a really amazing place to explore (lots of towers, a maze of wall tunnels & spiral staircases). The views are stunning…overlooking the Menai Straits, Anglesey Island & (if the weather's good), Snowdonia.

I've spent the last two days exploring ye ancient monuments on Anglesey (burial cairns, churches). Anglesey was the centre of the druidic culture in Britain. The druids influence over Britain was considerable & the Romans saw them as enough of a threat that they launched an attack on the island (in AD60) & wiped them (& the sacred groves) out. The attack was led by one Suetonious Paulinius, who had no sooner wiped the druids out when he had to race back down to the midlands to quell an uprising of the Iceni tribe (led by a certain warrior leader called Boudicca).

The weather has been good until I got to Caernarfon. It's been quite blustery & there have been instances of horizontal rain a few times these last three days.

Negotiating the small roads around Wales has been "fun" to say the least. I've had to negotiate my way around goats, sheep, cows, ponies, cars, vans, tractors & one the odd occasion….fully loaded lorries that couldn't possibly fit on such narrow roads !!

Food experiences

There have been some quite nice food experiences this last week…two of them in St. David's.

There's a restaurant in St. David's called "the Bench" that I highly recommend. The service was great & the food was excellent.

Entrée: Canapé selection consisting of rocket, normal lettuce, sliced prosciutto, sliced chorizo, canapés of marinated eggplant, peppers, artichoke & I think tuna. Very nice way to start the meal.

Main: Pizza Arrabiatta which needed some more "Arrabiatta".

Dessert: Bread & butter pudding with Marsala Mascarpone ice-cream . Yum !!

Now…after my comments about the Rhossili "beef" burger….I have another beef burger story. This one was (again in St. David's) & was a good hand-size pattie with cheese, mustard & sauce….plus a decent side of salad. Yum !!!

Now……I love my Indian food & my favourite dish is Butter Chicken. In Aberystwyth….I was seduced by the smell of Indian emanating from this particular restaurant as I was walking along the street. I popped in & ordered the Butter Chicken. It turned up with grated Cheddar Cheese in it !!! I kept tasting the cheese to make sure I wasn't imagining it. What's the story with that !! Is this some local variety I've never heard of ??

Well….that's it from me. The internet café is about to close so I have to sign off. I'll be leaving Wales in the next few days to head up to Hadrian's Wall.

Watch out for the next posting.

Take care.



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