A small recap; We left off as four weary, foot sore mountaineers having traversed the peak of Snowdon, and a few others to boot. That night was laughter inducing to say the least. Our friend Jason doesn’t normally drink much and all the exercise certainly makes the alcohol go to your head. Jase decided shotting tequila at 6pm at night was a great idea, I drank more than a little of cider and we were both rolling on the grass laughing and reminiscing in good humour at past adventures. Royce in unusual fashion was the sober friend. He stopped us from causing too much havoc, ensured we had actual food and not just liquid calories, and also had to enforce the barbaric no music rule. Sam, I imagine not being accustomed to our #baddecisionsmadehere banter and kiwiness most likely thought we were just a little cray cray.
An early night ensured (starting early on the drinks will do that.) I woke up to a yet again deflated mattress and was keen to get cleaned up and off the campsite. So a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs loving cooked by Royce as he was feeling the best of us. The tents and sleeping bags all packed pack into the van for the next leg of the journey. Gps co-ordinates were punched in for Shrewsbury and back over the border we went. On everyone’s request we were off to find a comfortable place to sleep. We ended up at Whetherspoons hotel in Shrewsbury and everyone went off for afternoon catnaps. Comfortable beds, if a bit of a maze to actually get to the room. Everything was a little dated but clean and more than adequate after being in a tent.
We dined out at a rib house; Old Smokey Bbq for our evening meal as the boys had rib cravings. Good sized meals if a little disappointed at the lack of variety in the menu. Sam and I made our own meal by throwing a few small pates together. The Rib house was Texan diner style, with booth seating and a great music selection going on. A lot of old classics such as Def Leopard and Bon Jovi. That night was pretty quiet, all of us wanted to catch up on a decent night’s sleep.
The Following morning we dropped Sam at the train station. While we set our sights for Chester (or there about), where we caught up with Allen the middle son of the Styan brothers. Allen lives in Shotton around 30minutes from Chester on the other side of the border. So on our way there we hop skipped over the English/Welsh border 3 or 4 times before finally arriving.
Allen is very keen on adventure sport and outdoor activities and is an avid rock climber and runner of mad man marathons. The sort that runs a marathon then finishes it off with algebra. He kindly took us for a walk around a local trail (his morning run route) as we were all pretty keen to stretch our legs.
Our walk took us to Ewloe castle. Ewloe was built around 1257, and is a relic of a brief triumph that the Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd had over the English in the mid-13th century. The Welsh Prince erected the castle as a battlement was sorely needed after around 150 years of continual Norman invasion. It is a stone castle not particularly well located as it doesn’t sit on the highest point on the hill and today is totally surrounded by trees. Not great from defensive point of view! However early 20th-century interpretive drawings of what the ruin may have looked like did suggest a moat. What’s left of the battlements is a large curtain wall of stone and the remnants of the Welsh tower.
As we had arrived at Allen’s on Royce’s birthday, a Friday night. Allen had set up a trip to experience the night life of Chester. We had a small celebration that evening with bbq and cake, then showers and off to town! Chester is back in England and so there is a few more people there to Allen’s little village. We started in a salsa bar at which we all got ID’s checked (our first time in town in mainland England). At this point Royce dressed up in his “birthday boy” badge realised he didn’t have any ID on him *insert face palm.* However the bouncer announced it wouldn’t be an issue as he looked 10 years older than the rest of us anyway.
Several bar hops later our small group along with Allen’s friend Harry our local guide for the night led us to a dark alley…
At the end of said alley up a few stairs was a closed door. Harry our guide knocked twice on the door and a slider at eye level opened. The person behind the door gave Harry the once over then the main door was opened for us to walk Inside. What greeted us was an American prohibition style cocktail bar, it was a dimly lit small intimidate bar. The room looked as if it could’ve been a drawing room from a 20’s movie. The staff also looked the part, and the waft of incense set the mood perfectly. I opened my menu, an old book with cocktails cello taped into the centre. All with obscure names and ingredients. The drinks were on point and the whole experience was definitely a highlight of the night. Definitely a must see hidden gem if you’re in Chester.
Back at Allen’s Harry had headed home but we had gained Georgia, Allen’s girlfriend. Jase headed to bed and the rest of us jumped in the inflatable hot tub with the bottle of bubbly to finish the night.
Up came the sun and with everyone feeling a little tired, if not too much worse for wear. Allen cooked a fantastic breakfast of bacon and eggs, and we packed the van back up for the next leg of our journey to Aberystwyth.
We arrived in Machynileth not far from Aberystwyth where we promptly got lost looking for Royce’s cousin Emily’s caravan at a rather nice looking caravan park. Thankfully we managed to get a little patchy reception for Emily to come and find us. We parked up sat down for 5mins then all four of us crammed into Emily’s tiny VW polo and off to Aberystwyth we went. A little shopping later (the boys grumbling and moaning all the while.) Emily had got herself sorted into her new house/caravan and we got some Welsh fish and chips and headed down to the beach. A stunning afternoon sky greeted us as we took a seat on the rock wall at the edge of the beach. The Aberystwyth castle overlooking us and the sea coming up to meet us. A few people wandered up and down the stone beach, and we could see a few kayaker’s out near the reef marker buoys. A great way to catch up with old friends and a beautiful evening to say the least.
The following day we went for a walk for a few snaps round the back way to town. Emily’s caravan park borders on some farmland and a local walking trail. We set off down the trail which took us to the river’s edge a buzz with all manner of arthropods. The trail took us into town via the train station where we went searching for hidden treasure (geocaching.) We then stopped in town at one of the local café’s in Machynileth. Which meant a mad dash back home and a run to the train station to ensure Jason didn’t have to walk to Liverpool. Down to three, Emily Royce and I spent the afternoon at the Welsh Institute for alternative technology. Both now a school and a museum. It had a range of solar, wind and water powered generators. The institute holds a range of courses from how to build a composting toilet to the science of solar panels. Worth the look around, unfortunately we missed out on the walk around the grounds as in true Welsh fashion the weather packed up. The rain poured all evening and Royce and I figured it was our cue to head home. So off we went the following morning back to Evesham and more vegetables!
What a week! Thanks for tuning in everyone, we certainly threw open all the gates for this action packed week of free ranging all over Wales. We were looking forward to winding back down to somewhat of a rhythm back here on the farm. And some good news we have finally moved into our caravan house! And are back to van conversion, my Ebay account is in full swing. Still looking for names for the van so if you think of anything let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to hit the like button.