Not as bath-like as the name so deceivingly suggests.
There are no baths that I was able to see.
We are awake, but the shenanigans of last night’s game, mixed with the fact that it was a Friday night last night didn’t help the sleep factors all too much. There was a lot more partying happening along the streets just beside where we had parked than either of us had anticipated.
Not to say that we didn’t sleep well. Its just that I would imagine a night like that to not be unlike a night with a newborn child. Except that we aren’t parents yet. And the drunken population of Bath were our children.
We had many adventures to tick off today, so we didn’t dick around, and made much haste to get on our way to Wales.
One thing about The UK, which will do your head in as an Australian, is that you can go from one country to another in the space of just a couple hours. I mean, were going to be in Wales in the early arvo. This just seems absurd. Bec and I will be looking at our maps trying to plan out where we should go, and because we are crossing half the country, we assume that it will take us a good entire day’s driving.
Just an arvo instead.
It’s pretty much a Sunday stroll in our terms.
We skip out on brekky cos we’ll just have a decent lunch instead. Being that both our phones died, and we woke up late (again), we’re going to buy back some time by neglecting our bodies’ sustenance.
We hustle out of Bath. Really cool city, but really nothing that catches our eye. Fast forward an hour or so, and we are touring through the the english countryside. We kinda forgot about that whole thing about how you can download maps on google, to use when you don’t have wifi or anything, so we were still relying on pixelated crayon scribbles pretending to be maps on our phones.
With this in mind, it is no surprise that we ended up missing the turn off to take us to Wales, and not just a turn off, it was the turn off. We missed the main turn off to the motor way which would lead us most of the way to where we needed to go.
We literally spent the next half hour driving country roads which looked less and less like they should connect back to the Motorway. It got to the point that I decided it was best to just as a local how to get back onto it. I mean, we can see the motor way, its just that the universe felt like we shouldn’t find our way back to it, without a decent geographical spanking.
I knock on the guy’s door, and he is equally as confused as I am.
He’s not too sure what to make of this punter in this spray-painted hire car. In the animal world, bright colours mean don’t go near it. I feel as though the same caution should be applied to tourists.
Especially those in brightly painted vans.
The bloke is a proper English lad and sends us on our way. It was literally as easy as, “two lefts and a right mate”.
Side note: It’s kinda funny to hear things like “mate” again. I forget that Australia isn’t the only culture that uses mate. It’s great to not have to explain everything about your culture to someone again.
We get back on to our path, with sighs of relief and tunes to keep us company.
In no time, we reach Wales, and navigate our way to Gez’s place through a combination of not-very-googly-google maps, explanations from Gez and the height of the sun from the horizon.
Finally, we reach this little road which sits at the bottom of this dip in the road. As Gez put it: “Nobody thinks that is the road, because nobody thinks that someone should be living at the end of the road”. The road to their place is lined with paddocks from the neighbouring farm on either side, and the road just twists where the paddock isn’t.
We get out of the car, and spot Gez through the window, feet propped up, waiting for us stragglers, watching tele.
We hang around long enough to warm up, so he gives us the tour of the house. It’s pretty bloody decent. His Uncle and Dad built the house, way back when. They did a bloody good job it too.
His olds aren’t going to be home till tonight, so we decide to go check out some of the local area to occupy the arvo. We load into Gez’s little hatchback, and he is ripping down through the little Welsh streets. Pretty much everywhere you go, there are hedges lining the roads. Nearly every corner is blind, but that in no way stops Gez, or any of the other Welsh drivers from hooning around the bends.
Naturally, I am new to all this, so to me, it feels like we are qualifying for the Isle of Mann. Oh sweet little baby Jesus. This would be something else in the summer. Just nick a bike and go touring through the UK. That would be the way to go.
Gez is taking us to some beach-nature reserve place that he used to frequent when he lived here.
Having lived in Australia, he knows that we have got good beaches, but were not in the UK to see good beaches. We are here because we want to see what makes up the rest of the world. We wanna see your shitty beaches, and then see your forests, and then see the things that we can only see and experience while we are here, and this was one of them.
When we arrived, we had to pay for parking and everything.
BUT! We had a local, and the locals don’t pay for parking at this place. Not because of some superiority, but because he knows where to go, so that you don’t have to pay. We pass so many people who are completely oblivious to the little hidden car park.
I’m not saying a thing.
In true hipster fashion, once you find something cool you only brag about it. You don’t let anyone else reap the benefits of your new discovery.
We climb the grass-covered dunes, and we are met with views across the bay. The beach is low tide, and runs out for hundred of metres. There are families paying on the beach, people riding the horses, a dude that is land kiting further down and a few people walking their dogs. You have to have a few dog walkers at the beach. Its a given.
We walk, and I snap the photos that I want, and move inland to explore the forest.
One thing I love about Gez’s family, is how much they get out doors and how well they know the know the areas around them. With this in mind, I have no doubt that Gez will discover some of the best landscapes from in and around the areas he lives.
We wander through the forests, and we think that Gez is leading us down a path that he is familiar with, but turns out that he hardly knows this track (which is really ironic, considering the praise I’ve just given him about knowing the outdoors so well). We literally just follow this path, until we think that it is time to head back to the car, in which case, we just use the direction of the ocean to guide us.
The whole time, my mind is buzzing, and I am thinking of all the different ways I would use the environment for shoots as we go, and the entire time, my mind is firing with all these ideas. Its near impossible to switch off.
I am really lucky that Gez is so interested in photography, otherwise I would pretty much look like a twat.
We walk, and he explains to us little bits of history that surround the area we walk. There are brick shelters in the middle of the forest everywhere, which the soldiers would use as a means of defence against an an invasion if need be. I mean, the hills and forestry would offer a fair bit of an advantage anyway, but I’m no military strategist.
Gez tells us about these bunker-like structures that are under these big hills, which they used to keep ammo and guns. They have now been abandoned, and some of them blocked off. But, there are a few that still are accessible, and therefore, explorable. It’s like a mini maze, but a maze loaded with mammoth mosquitos, so we didn’t hang around for ages.
We wander the long way back to the car, and I tell Gez to stop for a picture.
The forestry is magic.
I’m not sure whether it is just because I am not familiar with it, or whether it is actually really nice forest, but I’m loving it nonetheless.
We head back to the car, and make our way toward home. I mention to Gez that I should film the driving for my bro, so he ups the ante and takes the corners faster than I would have.
We make a detour to stop by the castle near Gez’s place. It’s pretty intact (so I found out), so I think that I wouldn’t mind having a look. But, in true ‘budget tourist’ fashion, I don’t fancy having to pay to enter. So, what do I do?
Well… You see, you walk down toward the river, which is naturally public access, and there is this section of the wall of the castle that is knocked down. Naturally, in the spirit of good H&S, there is a fence erected to stop anyone climbing up and in, or rolling down the side of the hill.
So, I think, this is my ticket.
I bid Gez and Bec fare well. Gez has been inside before, so he isn’t fussed, and Bec doesn’t wanna climb the fence. So, I climb up this bloody mound, with the sun shower beginning to set in. I feed my camera and hat through the gaps in the fence, and through a series of steps involving levering my weight against the wall, I thud my feet on the ground…
On the inside of the fence.
I feel so accomplished right now.
I look down to my right, and I see a sign which reads: “Warning! Anti climb paint”.
Oh the irony.
I walk around like I own the place. 100% worth the climb. I spend the next couple minutes exploring the fort that once was. It’s totally brilliant. I can only imagine what would have gone down inside these four walls. Just as I am on my way out, I check out a couple dungeons and admire all the ways that they can conjure up to stop someone entering without an invite.
We jump back in Gez’s black wagon, and make our way home.
It’s been a great introduction to Wales. We warm up back at home and are introduced to Gez’s olds once they make it back from their little trip to none other than the Isle of Man. They are a bit of a dynamic duo and certainly seem well suited to each other. We spend the evening drinking, eating and chatting.
We head to bed, and Bec dries herself with what she thought was a towel… It had a lot of cat hair.
It wasn’t a towel.
Still, it was a great way to start Wales.
Come back tomorrow,