Monday, June 02, 2008

Windy Billets

Cader IdrisA 6 year old, a 7 month old baby, two adults developing colds and one sitting a major Uni exam in 7 day’s time holed up in a tent in the middle of tornado conditions in one of the wettest valleys in mid Wales... were we utterly mad?

Quite possibly.

It’s fair to say that the weather could have been better. High winds when we arrived had the farmer guffawing at our efforts to erect our Vango uber-tent in his camping field though I’m at pains to point out that Karen and I achieved this assignment so singularly that ours was one of the few tents in Wales not to be blown out into the middle of the North Atlantic by the end of the day.

When we asked the farmer what the forecast was like for the rest of the week he smiled and nonchalantly replied “first the wind, then the rain”.

And he wasn’t bloody wrong.

Anyone who’s ever sat in a tent while the wind howls around them outside knows how oppressive and claustrophobic such an experience can be. However, we could just about cope with that. The kids were fine and we were definitely getting lots of “fresh air”. The torrential rain on Monday evening however was the last straw. Karen and I were feeling decidedly rough by this point and just could not get warm. All our plans to walk the hills had gone for a burton and we just couldn’t face another few days sitting miserably on a plastic ground sheet listening to the deluge outside fall at a 33 degree angle in an attempt to perforate our tent defences.

We either had to find an emergency B&B or bite the bullet and head home.

Our one and only stroke of good fortune saw us locate possibly the last free B&B in the area – another de-camped family tried literally 5 minutes after us and were turned miserably away. I admit I took sadistic pleasure in their disappointment knowing that we had secured the one-and-only room for ourselves.

Ah. What can one say about a proper bed and a television? A sofa and an en suite bathroom? Cooked breakfast and no washing up? Such things are worth killing for. Honestly.

The rest of the holiday was alas a bit of a wash out – 2 of the museums we went to turned out to have closed down and the weather was still too inclement to risk a walk in the hills. So we mooched around Machynelleth, Corris and Betws-Y-Coed and took comfort in the fact that the weather was ineffably worse back at home in Leamington Spa.

Ho hum. Another Great British Holiday experience notched onto the old umbrella handle.

We got home Thursday afternoon and I then had to get my head around some last minute revision for my Uni exam on Saturday. Poetry In English Since 1945. And what a bitch it was too. One of the toughest exams I’ve ever sat. I had to answer 3 questions. Normally I run through the list of questions at the start and put an asterisk next to the ones I feel competent enough to answer. By the end of the list I’d earmarked just one.

Gulp.

I had to find 2 more. 2 more!?

Suddenly being stuck on a hillside in Wales with a tornado shredding my sleeping bag around my legs seemed a much healthier place to be...

18 comments:

Annie said...

Gosh did you stay in a free B&B? Usually you have to pay for 'em.

Seriously, sorry your hol was a bit of a windy washout. Hope you and Karen are feeling OK now.

Good luck with exam results Steve.

The Sagittarian said...

Haha, some of the more memorable holidays that your eldest child will remember for some time! I was never one to enjoy tents and stuff, more to do with the fact that my mother would grind her teeth in her sleep, my dad snored for Africa, and both brothers talked in their sleep. I lay there practically in tears with tiredness - to this day the mere thought of tents makes me hperventilate!!
I'm sure you did well in your exam tho'!

-eve- said...

It says something about how good your camping equipment was that you didn't get wet at all! There's nothing like a nice comfortable hotel room, though.... ;-)

Steve said...

Hi Annie, if only it was free as opposed to merely available... but at the time available was heaven I can tell you! As for the appalling weather - what can I say? Cliff Richard was a bloody liar.

Hi Amanda, weirdly we all slept rather well as the continual "white noise" of the wind drowned out everything else and after a while was curiously lulling! As for the exam results... have to wait until next month I think before I hear how I did.

Hi Eve, out tent is very good I have to say - it's been tried and tested to the extreme. We've never had good weather on holiday since we bought it! I'm beginning to wonder if it's cursed!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh dear. But hey, that was lucky re the Gwely a brecwast. I always think Gwely is such a wonderful word for bed - sounds all warm and snug like a nice dry welly doesn't it?

It always rains in mid Wales, Steve. Where I used to live (Aberystwyth) it was generally quite dry but you'd only have to head inland a few miles to Comins Coch (oh yes, really!) and it would be raining.

But it is very beautiful.

The weather was horrid here too if that is any consolation?

I'm sure you did better in the exam than you think.

I'm glad you are back anyway.

Steve said...

Thank you, Gina, it's kind of nice to be back too - though I could do without work! The Dysynni Valley - where we always stay - is apparantly the wettest valley in Wales - but when we first started visiting a few years ago we always seemed to hit good weather. Sadly our weather eye has been rather rheumy since then and we get nothing but grey skies and rain! For all that we're planning to go back in August - gluttons for punishment. I actually bought myself a 'teach yourself Welsh' book in Machynelleth in the arrogant belief that I could master the language in a few easy lessons.... hmm! If I can start pronouncing things properly that would be a start at least!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I'm afraid even without dire weather, my days of slumming it in tents are well and truly over.

Give me creature comforts any day of the week! But you are right that your older child will never forget it!

Glad you survived both the week and the exam Steve. I hope you've done well.

Steve said...

I must admit Laura, much as I love camping (and admire Ray Mears) I do wonder if maybe I'm getting a little long in the tooth to put up with deliberate deprivation...! Guess I'm just a wuss at heart who likes soft furnishings and cable TV... ;-) Cheers for the good wishes!

Inchy said...

I shall be enjoying the blisteringly sunny warmth of Fort William this coming weekend. I have therefore packed the strange combination of waterproof jacket & trousers, beanie hat, fleece top, Timberlands, sun glasses, flip flops, and sunblock.

Think I have all bases covered.

Daisy said...

this is precisely why i don't camp anymore...well that and the snakes we have here...and bugs...and spiders...it's so romantic to want to go camp...however a bed and a warm fire suite me just fine...

Steve said...

Inchy: a beanie hat! Damnit! That could have made all the difference! Actually I was incredibly stupid and didn't pack a fleece - my wife ended up having to buy me one with the belittling suggestion that she pack all my clothes for me in future...

Daisy, I think you've hit the nail on the head. The idea of camping is romantic. The reality is very different. A warm fire, a cosy bed and room service... now that's romantic. However, camping is a darn sigh cheaper. That's economics.

Old Cheeser said...

Sorry the holiday wasn't as good as it could have been - the perils of being in the great outdoors I guess. I did two long hikes during the past month and I'm pleased to say on both days the weather was fine - however if I'd been trudging 16 miles through the pouring rain or wind it would have been a different matter.

Hope you do okay in the exam!

And, Mr Stevenage...you've been tagged.

Inchy said...

As long as she doesn't start buying all your clothes, Steve. That's when you know that your life as the dashing young man-about-town is finaly over.

Steve said...

OC - good to hear from you as always. It's not quite the same with you keeping a low profile I have to say! Yes the hols were a bit of a disappointment; to the point where Karen and I feel like we haven't really had a proper holiday at all. It was all a bit grim and with my exam hanging over me I just couldn't relax either. Ah well - here's hoping our second attempt in August is more successful! And cool tag by the way. I shall make it the subject of my very next post (or rather the one after the one I've just posted) with the very greatest of pleasure!

Inchy: "dashing young man-about-town" - I'm sure my wife is laughing hysterically even as I type...

Reluctant Blogger said...

Indulge me! Why does Old Cheeser call you Mr Stevenage? I meant to ask once before but forgot.

Steve said...

Do you know, Gina, I have no idea though I must admit I've become quite fond of the moniker. You'll have to press OC himself for his real reasons... but I suspect it's a play on my name rather than anything exciting or shameful. Alas, I don't do exciting or shameful...

Old Cheeser said...

Thank you Steve, that's a very nice thing to say! You know I would love to write/post more, it's just making the time...(although as you've already seen, I like to "cook up" long posts over a period of time...I usually start months back, lol...)

Yes, obviously exam nerves were probably playing on your mind, so once that's out of the way you can REALLY relax!

And thanks for responding to my tag! I look forward to seeing your musical tastes....I suspect a certain Ms Bush might be there? And what about Ms Craven?? Perhaps not to the latter!

And, ha ha, as for your and Reluctant Blogger's query about muy usage of "Mr Stevenage", well I thought it befitting to name you after the well known Hertfordshire new town, cos your name was very similar! And, as you suspected, it's just a bit of a play on words/your name really. Me attempting to be "funny"....ahem! I don't think it's particularly shameful, unless you view Stevenage as a shameful place...some might do?! And there you have it!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Ah yes I hadn't twigged the similarity to the name

I went to secondary school in Stevenage - but shush, don't tell anyone!!

When asked where I went to school I am always coy and say "Hertfordshire" - cos somehow it doesn't seem a very cool place.