Last weekend we paid a long-overdue visit to our best friends in South Wales. They had just bought a new house and spent two months redecorating, so we just had to go have a nosy.
The house is lovely, spacious, in a quiet dead-end lane with friendly neighbours. It was fab to see our friends so well settled so quickly.
Of course we had to squeeze in a few things to do. We arrived on Thursday and enjoyed a recce of the house, some bubbly to celebrate and a yummy fish dinner (ginger, anyone?). Altogether a leisurely, relaxed time catching up.
Friday we took to our feet and walked across the valley up the hill on the other side, passing a private plot with chickens and ducks, all filthy from mud-drenched ground after the recent rains. The chickens were so curious, within a couple of minutes they'd gathered inside the fence staring at us intruders.
Then the hike up the hill began, with regular stops for snaps. We were looking for a pub our friends remembered from years ago but, traipsing around the countryside, we just couldn't find it (found out later we took a wrong turn). Instead, after a three mile hike, we ended up in another lovely country pub where we stayed for a couple of pints and lunch. Rarely have I seen such huge portions. While I managed to wolf down my delicious omelette ('with a bit of everything'), I couldn't eat all the chips, peas or salad that came with it. Eventually we wandered back (just as well, given the size of the portions!), only to get caught in heavy rain - with very little shelter - barely a mile from home. Three of us wore waterproofs with hoods but poor Ryan got a proper soaking in his fleece top. Ouch!
We arrived home drenched but happy. Changing into warm, dry clothes and a cuppa tea set the world to right again. Later that evening we ventured into Pontypridd for a lovely Italian dinner - but not without having waited at an obscure bus stop for half an hour, without any sign of a bus, but with another downpour. It was time to get the car!
On Saturday we had planned to hike up Pen-y-fan, in the Brecon Beacons. But given the rains the previous day, and the unpredictable forecast, we decided to go for a wander around Brecon instead.
Now, Brecon is one of my favourite Welsh towns. Lots of narrow lanes with individual shops - gem stones, 2nd hand books, hiking gear - you name it. Ryan bought a new waterproof jacket (with a hood attached!) and I ended up with three 2nd hand books. I could've bought more but the 10kg restrictions on our hand luggage was threat enough not to. Argh! Hate it when I can't buy the books I spot. Blame the airline! ;-)
We finished off our busy day waching ice hockey in Cardiff. There was a clear party atmosphere - much more so than in Edinburgh - and the whole experience was exhilarating. It helped that Cardiff Devils won 7-4 over Hull Stingrays. Go Wales!
Then it was Sunday - time flies! We took our time getting ready in the morning (and squeezing our purchases into the cases, hoping for the best). On our way to the airport we took a short trip into Penarth and strolled along the seafront to the pier. Blustery winds and choppy seas greeted us. Of course that doesn't deter seasoned wanderers like us!
And whoosh, the long weekend in Wales was over. Loved it!