Wales, the land of sheep and unpronounceable names

 

Well our first day kicked off with us packing the rest of our flat hungover, after some impromptu last day drinks with Sarah’s work colleagues (thanks for the Jagerbombs guys!) and we opted for a taxi to Heathrow to pick up the hire car. Things got off on the right foot when Sarah went to the Europcar depot and after a 30 min wait (entertained by the Europcar magician whose job it is to obviously make the customers forget how long they’ve been waiting) was told there was no Fiat 500’s available, so she should just pick another car from the lot…any car…how about the brand new Skoda Superb station wagon (saloon to you Brits) with less than a mile on the clock? Sold! Lucky as I’m not sure how we would have fitted all our camping gear and bags into a Fiat 500 for the next week. 

Our free upgrade from the Fiat 500, thanks Europcar!
Our free upgrade from a Fiat 500 to a Skoda Superb

Wildflowers
Welsh wildflowers

Reaching South Wales we soon realised compared to the UK, the Welsh know how to drive, and were soon at our first sightseeing stop Caerphilly Castle. Moody skies and loads of local geese made for some great photos, and we stopped off for some local Caerphilly cheese and biscuits (we see a trend starting here). Opting for the path that looped around the castle, we soon found out why nobody else was doing it when we hit the minefield of geese shit. 

Caerphilly - Wales
Caerphilly Castle, Wales
Caerphilly Castle
Caerphilly Castle, Wales
Caerphilly Castle
Caerphilly Castle, Wales
 

Back on the road the skies darkened and a mist rolled in as we arrived at Pitton’s Cross campground in Rhossili. Pitching the tent Matt made the first ‘stupid comment’ of the trip with


‘Is this a waterproof tent?’


A question that was soon answered when we were hit by a 5am deluge of torrential rain. Tent 1 – Weather 0. Our first night was spent at the local Gower Penninsula pub, The Worms Head, watching the Netherlands beat Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup game for 3rd. The misty views from the pub were otherworldly but when the mist finally cleared we had amazing views down to the beach, with a man and his son the only ones game enough to hit the non existence waves. Despite the rain it would have been a great nights sleep if it wasn’t for both of us being woken up at 2am (ear plugs and all) by some girl in the campground doing her best porn star impersonations of a possum for the next hour. We can only assume they’d had too many pints and had forgot tent acoustics are pretty limited to say the least!! (Although Matt gives kudos to the stamina of the bloke, nothing short of legend!!!!)

 
Pitton's Cross campground in Rhossili
First night camping at Pitton’s Cross in Rhossili
Misty views from The Worms Head pub, Gower Penninsula
Misty views to the beach below at The Worm’s Head, Gower Penninsula
Pitton's Cross campground in Rhossili
First night camping at Pitton’s Cross in Rhossili
 
Waking to a cracking morning after last nights mist and rain, we packed up camp and headed north through the herds of cows, sheep and horses crossing the roads. We made a quick stop off at Pant Mawr farm for some more cheese, a quick tour of the cheese making facility and a jar of amazing red mustard made by The Welsh Mustard Company (Mustard lovers: A mellow and sweet taste due to the inclusion of honey and if you ever come across this we can highly recommend it!) we then headed to stunningly located Gwaun brewery. The brewery was setup in 2009 when owners Len and Sarah moved to the area and realised home brew was a way of life. Realising their daughters were ot keen to carry on the farming lifestyle, and Len’s new found love of home brew  (who wouldn’t), they finally got planning permission and established their new way of life.

Gwaun Brwery - Wales
Gwaun Brewery, Wales

Gwaun Brewery
Gwaun Brewery, Wales

Picnic stop in the beatiful Welsh countryside
Picnic stop in the beautiful Welsh countryside


The brewery holds regular popular live music events, and on brewing days you can watch Len at work and tasting. As it wasn’t a brewing day, we opted for a three pack of Blodwen, Valley Brew and of course, King of the Road ales and enjoyed one in the sun, avoided by the old farm dog who took a major dislike to Sarah, poking it’s head around the corner several times and running off when it realised we were still there (must be the red hair, yep dogs don’t trust em either). There’s a campsite on the grounds and if we’d have been a day earlier we would have happily pitched up and caught the live music for the night with a short stumble home. 
 
Windy back country roads took us to the 5,500 year old (3,500 BC) Pentre Ifan burial stone. Living in London for so long, with it’s famous and visible historic sites and 500 year old pubs, it’s easy to forget that there were people in this country building monuments which date back further than the Great Pyramids of Giza (2,560 BC). Not a lot is known about this site, but it’s said fairies sometime gather here, which wouldn’t surprise us with the unique Welsh language which is somehow able to create Middle Earth type words 10 letters long without a single vowel. 

 


Burial stones of Pentre Ifan
Pentre Ifan burial stone, Wales
Tenby
Tenby
Tenby
Tenby
A quick stop in nearby Tenby was well timed when we came across the red carpeted finish line of the Wales marathon and managed to get our faces on TV in the cheering crowd. Well done to Graham Hedger for first place! Dipping our feet in the water and back on the road we arrived in the west coast town of Barmouth and pitched up at Hendre Mynach campsite right by the coast and a short walk down the seafront to the Min y Mor pub for the most annoying World Cup 2014 game we’d seen the date.

Wales - Cley
Wales
Barmouth
Barmouth, Wales
Camping at Hendre Mynach campsite
Camping at Hendre Mynach campsite, Barmouth
It wasn’t the fact that Germany and Argentina made the final (and not our beloved Dutch with a respectable 3rd place), but the two Swedish families all decked out in German gear, particularly the drunk father who proceeded to make a loud obnoxious fool of himself in front of the whole pub. Now our Swedish is pretty awesome (ok it’s shite) but our version of events is like this. Good looking drunk father of one family is having an affair with good looking mother of another. Ugly wife catches them in a drunk half time embrace, confronts ugly husband, who confronts good looking husband. Things kick off into a full blown Swedish argument, followed by the local barfly trying to diffuse the situation by speaking German and offering drunk husband a beer. Shame he doesn’t speak German! The situation did improve when drunk husband came back for the second half without his German gear, the kids and wives had all disappeared, and the normal people finally got the pub back to watch the rest of the game. A great final and kudos to both Germany (1) and Argentina (0) for an entertaining evening.

Sunset over Barmouth Beach, Wales
Sunset on Barmouth beach, Wales
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2 responses to “Wales, the land of sheep and unpronounceable names

  1. Shwmae Matt and Sarah,
    Glad you enjoyed your time in Wales. Just a note about the reference to Welsh being like a language from ‘Middle Earth’. Tolkein lived in Wales for a while and was influenced by Celtic language and mythology hugely in his writing. So yes, the languages of Tolkein were inspired by Welsh (and other languages).
    To help you next time you visit, just remember a few simple sounds:
    We have 7 vowels in Welsh – aeiouwy
    w – is like ‘oo’ in zoo
    y – is like ‘uh’ or like ‘ih’ or sometimes like ‘ee’
    a, e, o – are all open sounds like a small child says them (ah, eh, o)
    i + u – are both ‘ee’ sounds
    The problem often comes for non-speakers with diphthongs when two vowels come together
    e.g. wy (oo-ee) meaning ‘egg’
    But its all phonetic so it only takes practice. Its a beautiful language that sounds like music when you hear it spoken by poets. Dewch nol! Please return!

    pob hwyl! all the best!
    Wogan Jones

    Like

    • Shwmae Wogan, thanks for reading the post and for your really useful insight into the Welsh language. We agree it is a beautiful language, and a beautiful country we’re both glad we got to visit again before we left the UK.

      Like

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