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Published: July 26th 2011
The Lizard King
Me and my new reptilian friend.
16th June 8.30pm Farmer’s Arms, St Davids
Ah, excellent, another tepid cup of terrible English coffee. Just what I felt like! I tell you what, these people are damn luck that coffee is an essential part of my writing process or they’d never see a penny of my money for such swill. By rights they should be paying me for having to suffer through it. I know that Nietzsche said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but he was German and they normally do coffee pretty well, so in this instance I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he doesn’t have a clue what he’s on about. The luke-warm dish water that I have just consumed certainly hasn’t made me any stronger. Rich, fragrant Italian espresso or a thick, rich, creamy Aussie flat white; these are things that stimulate the body and soul and give one the strength to take on whatever lies ahead. All English coffee does is make you a tad more alert and able to face the rest of the day. Now that I think about it in this way, it actually makes a lot of sense as
A Monumental Coastline
The view looking back from the headland at Porthgain.
it is in this manner that the British approach many of the facets of life; don’t demand excellence to be experienced and enjoyed, but rather accept a mediocre compromise that enables you to better endure the misery and hardship that is life.
Now I apologies of that comes off as sounding a little harsh, and perhaps it is going a little too far, but it’s been weeks since I had a decent cup of coffee (and those of you who know me well know what a big deal that is) so I’m a little cranky at the state of affairs. Now I could go on (I mean it’s not hard to make a decent coffee if you only try a little, and it’s not as if they don’t have the required equipment, so…no…deep breaths…leave it Justin, just leave it son) but I’ll cease my ranting here and get on with the rest of this entry properly.
After finishing my last entry I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around in the sun reading and generally relaxing. Come around 9pm I figured it was safe to set up camp for the night and moved down on to the
A Monumental Sunset
The sun setting over the headland at Porthgain.
green to do so. By the time I had the tent up the sun was setting so I walked up to the point to get some shots of the sun as it slipped below the Irish Sea. There was just the right amount of cloud about for it to be quite stunning and I got some great photos of the orange and pink hues that filled the sky.
Sunset over I headed down to the pub for a couple of cheeky halves and to read until they banished me to the cold, dark recesses of my tent for the rest of the night. While I was there I ended up having a word with the assistant manager about the prospect of work and was informed that it was highly unlikely that the owners would be willing to participate in any kind of under-the-table arrangement. To tell you the truth I wasn’t that put out as I didn’t really need the work at this stage and Porthgain, while charming, is tiny and miles away from anywhere (and also lacking in both any form of shop or phone reception).
After a while a few more of the pub’s employees rocked
Sun and Sea, Wales Style
Another shot of the sun sinking into the Irish Sea.
up and invited me over for a few drinks as the bar was closing. One of them turned out to be a lovely fellow by the name of Paul. Now Paul, in addition to being a nice guy, was also quite pissed and ended up inviting me back to the staff house for a few drinks. I did so, had a pleasant evening of chatting and drinking, and then was offered the couch for the night even though it was against the house rules for me to crash there. I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to spend a night indoors, and generally have scant regard for overly stuff ‘house rules’ at the best of times (yeah, that’s right, I’m a total anarchist! I’ll sleep on your couch, leave your toilet seat up and leave all the lights on in the rooms when I’m not even in them. Take that society!), so parked up on the sofa and promptly fell into a boozy slumber.
As luck would have it, the assistant manager did come by the house in the morning and catch me kipping on the sacred staff sofa, but I’ll get into that more later. After packing
Doesn't get any less pretty the more you see it, does it?
up and stashing my gear I caught the bus back to the youth hostel at Pwll Deri and re-joined the coast path at the point where I had abandoned it a couple of days before. It was perfect hiking weather, a little cloudy with a nice cool breeze, and being unencumbered by a pack I decided to push myself and hoof it quickly the entire way. I actually surprised myself with my apparently increasing level of fitness and even managed to jog the last 30mins of the three hour trek. It would seem there had been some improvement in this area after all despite my best efforts to stave this off with excessive levels of drink.
Getting back to the pub I ran in to Paul who’d already had a few by this stage and we headed down the road for a couple of pints in a nearby village. On the way he informed me about the bollocking they’d received over me crashing on the couch the night before and warned me that he assistant manager (the one that had discovered my inappropriate slumbering) might come up and have a word in the pub that night. It would seem
This Land Is My Land (Well Not Really)
A shot of yours truly looking inland for a change.
that, in the eyes of the management at least, it was a local couch for local people and there was nothing for me there.
Heading back down to Porthgain I set up camp on the green once again and then headed back into the pub. They were having a staff do that night and Paul had invited me to stick around for a couple of drinks as they were all going to get a bit rowdy. However, when I got in they were all sat down for a meal together, and not wanting to intrude I grabbed a beer and retired to a corner to read, figuring someone would come over and say hello and get me involved in things soon enough. This did not happen, and it soon became clear that I was no longer welcome and that the hospitality I had been shown the night before was not to be repeated. I had transgressed the laws of this strange little community, and this time around was banished to tentland come closing time, leaving the staff to carry one drinking and performing whatever strange rituals are endemic to this remote Welsh backwater. As I huddled up in my
Ruined Building Covered In Ivy
I love buildings covered in ivy I do, especially ruined ones. Here is a fine example that covers both of these things.
sleeping bag and was drifting off to sleep I could have sworn I heard the sound of a goat in a state of distress, but it was probably just the wind or some kind of sea bird…
Feeling more than a little alienated, I packed up and headed off early the next morning after a delicious breakfast of flavoured pasta and fresh mullet. The weather wasn’t fantastic and I was carrying my full pack, but things weren’t too bad until I came along some long grass still wet from the night before. Soon my boots and socks were wet through, and as I have now come to learn, wet feet equal blisters and general discomfort.
After a few pretty uncomfortable hours I reached my destination of Whitesands Beach and got some lunch in the café while deciding on my next move. The weather was worsening and the surrounding area seemed a pretty exposed place to set up camp. Add to that a general lack of shops and other essential elements of civilisation and I decided to head to the nearby town of St Davids. My legs were up to the challenge of walking it, but my feet were
God Is In The House
The Cathedral at St Davids.
in no condition and the wind and rain were really picking up by this stage, so instead of enduring another several hours of wet, painful misery I did the only sensible thing and jumped on a bus.
Arriving in St Davids I gingerly walked down to a campsite/caravan park by the bay that I had seen on the map. As with Sunday, I was praying that it had at least a functioning clothes washer and dryer. Well, I must have some good karma stored up from some past good deed, because not only did it have the aforementioned laundry equipment, but also a large, relatively well equipped kitchen and a sort of living room thing with a computer, and all for only £4.50 a night. Score!
Tent up I hobbled back in to town to stock up on supplies that had been exhausted by a few days away from civilisation. I also relented and went to a camping store and bought one of those thin, self-inflating mattresses. Despite my macho pretensions of not needing such a luxury, because as we all know real men are rough and ready and can take anything thrown at them, I have to
The sea rolling in at Caerfai Bay right by the campsite.
admit that week of sleeping on the cold ground of the tent had taken its toll and I was very sleep deprived and in need of a good night’s rest. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the laundry/kitchen/living room thing doing laundry, cooking, reading and napping. It was so nice to spend some time indoors that wasn’t a pub or café and where I could chill out and spend some time on my own. Later I went down the pub, had a coffee and read the paper before going back to the tent and bed; a standard end to a fairly standard day’s hiking.
Having spent a night on it now, I have to say that buying that sleeping mat was the best move I’ve made in a while. It’s surprising how effective only 2 ½ inches (insert knob gag here) of foam and air can be and I had the best night’s kip of the entire trip. Today being a rest day I slept in a bit, had brekky and generally sauntered around town for a bit not doing much at all save for buying a few bits and pieces at various shops. I did, however,
Breakfast Of Champions
Flavoured rice and tuna, an excellently cheap staple of my walking diet, and much tastier than you might expect.
have an excellent afternoon nap, something which has been sorely lacking from my life over the past couple of weeks. Call me a wuss or lazy or whatever you will, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving afternoon naps. There’s something so decadently pleasant about lying down, having a good read and drifting off for a few hours while the rest of the world carries on with whatever the hell it’s doing. Pure bliss as far as I’m concerned.
Now that my feet are sufficiently recovered and my body rested my plan of action for tomorrow is entirely weather dependent. If it’s nice I’ll bus it back to Whitesands and do the next leg of the walk, if it’s horrible I’ll head indoors and book a date with my reading and writing materials for the day.
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