Gathering sun beams
There are sun beams out there if you just go and look for them.
The last week riding through Wales has been full of precious moments. The sun beams have been real at times, shining down through the trees so bright and strong that I almost felt them as I passed through. They also act as a lovely metaphor for people, views, moments of delight, even a pint of golden ale at the end of another day of endless ups and downs. The Welsh coast is certainly hilly, giving Cornwall a good run for it’s money both in the effort required to ride it and the visual rewards that appear around every corner.
I thought I knew this corner of Wales quite well but my visits have all been car based and even though Gill and I love to take to the quieter roads when travelling I quickly realised last week that I haven’t even scratched this landscape’s surface. Take Cardigan for example. I have passed through this busy little town dozens of times before. I have wandered it’s streets and enjoyed it’s picturesque river setting before moving on down the A487 towards St. Davids. What I have never done before is to go north up to Cardigan Island where you can find some amazing coastal scenery.
We camped opposite the island a couple of nights ago and took a walk around the headland in the evening light.
The sun was low behind hazy clouds producing a golden light that picked out the drama of the cliffs in pin sharp clarity. We scanned the flat calm seas for any signs of dolphins but had to settle for a couple of seals, one of which bobbed curiously in the water, seemingly as pleased to see us as we were to see him.
The next morning as we left the camp site we startled a couple of badgers as they strolled nonchalantly down the lane only to disappear into the undergrowth in panic at being caught out well past their bed time. As I cycled down a quiet lane a short time later I was treated to the sight of a hobby flying just inches above the road ahead of me. It alighted briefly in the hedge, thought better of it and put on a further display of breath taking aerobatics as I chased it down the lane. Wonderful sights that will live in my memories long after I have hung up my panniers.
We stayed in Aberystwyth last night with another sun beam in the form of Hannah, aka the Seaside Donkey. That doesn’t sound quite right but it will make more sense if you go and read her blog. Hannah is one of those people that are good to hang around with. She exudes positive energy and it was lovely to be able to talk to someone who has so recently come to the end of a long journey like ours. We sat on the prom last night, surrounded by dozens of seagulls intent on stealing our chips, and we talked about ‘coming down’ from a big adventure and how easy it is to underestimate the amount of rest required before normality returns. Being aware of these things is going to be a distinct advantage when we get home, staying aware will be the difficult bit I fear. It was interesting talking to Hannah about our respective trips and the one theme that kept recurring was the generosity of strangers when you put yourself at their mercy. It’s another memory to cherish and to hang on to once we are being bombarded again by media negativity every day.
Tonight we are staying in Machynlleth, somewhere Gill and I lived close to for ten years and I for ten more before that. I must say that riding towards the market town today past so many familiar landmarks it really felt like a bit of a home coming. Almost like a practice run for our arrival back in Freckleton in about ten days time. Thinking of all the people we left behind when we moved from here and those back home now makes me realise how much home is ninety percent friends and family and ten percent place. I find my thoughts turning more and more to these things as our adventure draws to a close. It’s getting harder and harder to avoid thinking about the end of our travels and how we will settle down again once we get home. For the next two days we will be diverted from such thoughts by seeing old friends and enjoying their company and on Saturday we head for the beautiful Lleyn Peninsula and a bit more more sun beam hunting. I’m sure we will find one or two to put in our pockets before we get home.