Clapped out clutches & wet weather


As the end of lockdown loomed in England the urge to flee the confines of home grew and the chance to grab coffee with a friend too great an opportunity to miss. So despite the atrocious weather forecast & some other constraints we plotted a quick trip to Wales.

Checking the forecast the night before departure hubby decided the safer option was to take the car so we packed accordingly & set off the next morning. We only got to Chepstow when the aroma in the car turned from ‘fresh linen’ to ‘burning clutch’ which left only one option – turn back rather than risk a total breakdown of both us & the car! Undeterred I repacked in a flurry while the bike was being got ready & we set off once again. Scary probably doesn’t cover the sensation we felt recrossing the Old Severn Bridge in gale force winds but we didn’t get blown off. Relentless rain dogged us which meant we were more than a little damp when we stopped for a cup of tea & chat with a friend before remounting for our final destination. By the time we reached Portmadog it was several hours later than scheduled & we resembled drowned rats. Thankfully the staff at the Royal Sportsman were on the case getting us checked in quickly and hot meals organised.

All thoughts of ‘whose mad idea was this’ were pushed aside the next day as we rode to Portmerion for a look around. Whilst the ground was wet underfoot the sky was blue & by mid morning the sun was blazing. One of the small upsides of the restrictions was that there were not many others at the venue so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Wandering down through the village with the eclectic mix of architecture was relaxing & interesting. Plenty of times to snap instagram worthy shots without having to wait for a vista to clear!

A couple of hot drinks & some sticky buns later we had seen the sights, walked the grounds & bought a picture so were ready to venture on. Collecting the helmets from the storage we hopped back on for a ride around the area soaking up the beautiful scenery & feeling lucky to have escaped the rain. Stopping for another brew ( yes we are truly British & consume way too much tea) we did get caught in a local shower but it was nothing compared to the previous day.

The following day we opted for a ride on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways which winds its way up to the unique spiral at Dduallt where fantastic mountain scenery can be had. The covid restrictions meant that we pretty much had the carriage to ourselves and didn’t have much a queue at the Tan-y-Bwlch Team Room.

The forecast for the return journey home was grim but we set off in the dry with our fingers crossed. As we headed through the spectacular scenery it felt that we were being chased by the rather dark & angry looking clouds but miraculously it didn’t rain.

Earl Grey & Lemon Cake

If you ever are passing through Rhayader then the Swan Tea Room is definitely worth a visit the coffee & cake are lush but you do need cash they don’t take cards. Suitably refreshed we continued onwards and managed to dodge the rain until we reached the outskirts of Gloucester where we got soaked but we were so close to home it wasn’t so bad.

Meanwhile the restrictions in England seem to have lifted a little but we still are by no means back to ‘normal’ what ever that might mean now. Second jab next week means I should be good to go for some of the music events that for the moment still seem to be viable but what last year taught me was ‘nothing is certain’. I remain sad that international travel still seems largely ‘off the table’ at the moment due to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any parity between countries over what is a consistent policy for managing length of quarantine or acceptable paperwork. The traffic light system the UK is a list of ‘countries ok to visit’ but seems ill conceived & likely to change as quickly as you can utter ‘new variant’. Literally you could quite legitimately leave to visit a ‘green country’ to find its turned ‘red’ which would risk you being stranded (as happened to my brother in law) or trying to source a premature return journey with all the nightmarish scenarios that might lead to. So frustratingly for me it seems that the tent will be getting some use if the festivals get the go ahead & UK based accommodation will be the thing. Our next planned visit should be to Scotland to use a voucher purchased nearly two years ago! However its by no means certain we can go at this point as Scotland are still running on a completely different set of rules. It will make travel plans a challenge what ever your destination.

Meanwhile trying to make up for lost time by eating out & catching up with friends and family. The relaxation of some restrictions means its been possible to catch up with some friends & family so in order to support local business we have been eating out more than normal. Out being the operative word as literally most has been in some drafty cold places but largely its been worth it.

So until next time stay safe but hopefully have some fun & lets see where this crazy roller coaster takes us next time.

Not A Normal Day at the races?


Despite the teasing that it could be administered by a vet, I recently ventured off to a local racecourse to receive my covid 19 vaccination. Given my background in nursing & amount of travel to far shores I am basically pro vaccines so why did I feel apprehensive about having this one ? I guess it stemmed from memories the only flu jab I have ever had. The reaction was so bad I refused to have any more so I felt a little conflicted but having weighed up the scientific data head ruled over heart. So I am pleased to report that it all went very smoothly and the NHS staff & volunteers did a splendid job to ensure the whole process was as quick and easy. I am pleased to report that post the first dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine I a very mild ache in the arm that resolved in a couple of hours & the slight feeling of being a bit ‘jet lagged’ for 24 hours.

So to celebrate I decided to embark on the Jillian Michaels Burn 60 workout minus the ‘surfer get ups’ because I have no desire to hospitalise myself. Hubby is winning the war with the wiring & so as I follow in his wake carrying out repairs to plaster & covering his tracks so to speak the house is gradually returning to ‘normal’.

Talking of returning to ‘normal’ it’s to be hoped that our lives in general will return to some semblance of what we probably took for granted before. I have always loved Spring watching the flowers emerge bringing colour & all things new after the gloom of winter. This year more than most they represent a glimmer of hope which is definitely a welcome sight this year.

As I sat listening to Waterparks & merging pdf documents the parallel of how weeks of lockdown seem to be merging to one bland lump was all too obvious. I was drawn to Parx due to the slightly dark, ironic humour in the lyrics of their songs & so bagging a ticket to their ‘Coming Nowhere Near You’ tour was the perfect way to punctuate weekly monotony of lockdown life.

In the next couple of weeks if all goes well then some more of the restrictions will be lifted & coffee in a cafe once more might be on the menu so to speak. Hubby & I went out on the bike for a blast around & check in on his parents. Thankfully it was a lovely warm day so we sat in the garden & was able to chat which was great for everyone. Mothers Day was unique in the way we were able to travel to a shopping mall carpark & eat burgers while chatting through the open windows. It’s occurred to me that these strange times have led to a new level of creativity on what counts as a nice day out or a treat.

Take care & stay safe until next time.

Getting older but not giving up fight against agism in its many forms

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