26 July 2008

A Weekend in Wales (Biker Style)

I haven't brought you anything new in a while, but I have won new-found inspiration to post on a regular if not daily basis from my new friend, Stephanie aka Domestic Miss. She never seems to run out of things to talk and write about. She is right and I should be posting something everyday for the benefit of my writing and my lovely readers.

So, I am brainstorming a topical rhythm for this blog as well as my knitting blog. I am thinking that BrittuniaInMancunia could look something like: Monday - Writing/Creativity, Tuesday - Expat Life in Manchester, Wednesday - Knitting (did you think you would be spared?), Thursday - Food, Friday - Wild Card Day and weekends off. What do you think about that? 

The Biker Bear and His Babe Take on Wales

Yes, five weeks ago, Matthias and I became the proud parents of a black 2004 Honda Vardero. And since the days are dwindling that we are carefree, childless thirty-somethings, we had been playing with the idea of an extended (ten or twelve-day) motorcycle camping trip through  Scandinavia or Southern France. And because doing something like that on a whim is just a little too carefree and crazy, we decided to do a test run somewhere closer to home. Last weekend, we took on Wales. I have never seen so many sheep before in my life.

On Borth Beach on the Welsh Coast.

We started out on a Friday afternoon. Matthias picked me up from my volunteer shift at Oxfam in Didsbury and we hurried home to change clothes, stuff a quick lunch down the chute and load up the bike. 

We strapped our tent to a rack on the top box and crammed both side paneers with our sleeping bags, mattress pads, cooking kit (burner, gas cans, pot set, salt and pepper, can opener, tea, sugar, 2 plates, 2 mugs, 2 bowls, and cutlery), one change of clothes and basic toiletries. And that was it. Can you imagine surviving for twelve days like that? We could before we went but afterwards decided that we really would rather lie on some beach and drink margaritas.

The sky was grey and the air was heavy with humidity. I was afraid that it was going to dump all weekend, so we were also geared up for a wet ride but somehow I knew it would be okay. It did rain very briefly twice the whole weekend. It was perfect for riding. 

Most of the weekend we spent on what the British call A and B roads, which are the equivalents of two lane highways and country roads, respectively. It was pretty comfy cruising. I am not quite there to where I can handle 90 mph on the motorway. So, we just happily toodeled  down these country roads through the middle of nowhere. British bikers are not into toodling. The need speed and leather jumpsuits, which is cool, but not our intention.

We spent our first night in Caernarfon, a fortress city built in medieval times as stronghold and castle for Edward I on the Welsh coast. The old city was fascinating: several city blocks within the walls of this fortress castle.

The castle in Caernarfon by night

The campsite was ten minutes by foot from town. We set up camp and headed in to get dinner and a few pints. It was Friday night and everyone seemed to be out. People were pouring out of the pubs with their drinks, laughing and talking boisterously - in WELSH. Yes, it really is spoken. My impression was that the further west we went, the more exclusively Welsh was spoken. I

always knew there was such a thing, but I never really wrapped the old noggin around the fact that Welsh is a completely independent language and subculture. All the street signs are in Welsh first and has the English translation underneath. Everyone speaks English, though, which makes the Welsh even more fascinating to me. Imagine an entire 'nation' of people who exist completely bilingually. I think that is an interesting notion.

Matthias and I were a well-oiled camping machine. We got the tent up usually in ten minutes or less, had no problems cooking, and even managed to wake up together for a stroll to the facilities for a 4am tinkle.

We saw some incredibly breathtaking scenery, not to mention more sheep than people:

It was a great weekend and I am glad we did it. We want to do it a couple more times before there are any patters of little feet. And maybe next time we will stay in B&Bs depending on the weather and where we go. I am thinking Edinburgh or maybe a weekend in Ireland. I have uploaded some other pictures on Flickr so if you would like to see any more, feel free.

Finally, the last night we spent was on a campsite in the village of Rhayader in Mid-Wales. And wouldn't you know it: they were celebrating their carnival that weekend. Costumed drunken people speaking a language with an alarming number of consonants and guttural sounds...you would think we would be pros at that, but this time, the tables were turned and we were the foreign onlookers. At least we were in biker gear.


Cathy said...

Ooooohhhhh! Loved reading this! Beautiful pictures!!!!! How fun to read about camping in Wales! Loved the picture of you and Matthias together.


Tamagosan said...

Jeez girl, them be some AWESOME pictures. And of course, a great write-up. Ten days in the South of France? I see it happening... :-)