We made it to Swansea with plenty of time to spare, but not before getting caught in a rain storm. We hid under a bridge, wondering if it would clear, and when it slowed down to a drizzle we kept on riding.
After hanging out for a while we decided to go down to the ferry terminal early, about 5pm. When we got there I figured we were in the wrong place, with a checkpoint and big semi-trailer trucks pouring through. We asked the man, twice because we couldn’t understand the first time, if we could go through to the ferry. ‘Six o’clock is the earliest ye can coom, no earler’ then this’ he said.
7pm and we go back to the checkpoint, but the man has left, so we just keep on riding, until we hit the traffic jam. Half an hour of standing in line, sitting on our bikes and it seems we’re nearing the front of the queue when we see someone yelling out to us, in Irish and gesturing that we should go around the back way. Thanks for telling us, Shanna says laughing, and mumbles something to me about us freezing our butts off for nothing.
We get down to the spot and there’s no one there who knows what’s going on, so one of the coppa digga’s (police) standing around doing nothing sends his buddy off to find out.
Ten minutes later and he comes back and tells us we have to go join the queue and line up with everyone else so that customs can search our bags. Awesome, I say, annoyed, no more like pissed off.
Half an hour later after going through customs were one man is working and being watched by six other people (no wonder the UK is going broke!) and we are finally on board. After riding more than ten ferries over short and long distance this one has taken well over double the time to board of the next best challenger.
We watched the boat leave the harbor under Swansea’s glittering lights and then found our room on board, a hot shoe box. It was so hot in there we decided to check out the boats attractions, and found, a leprechaun for sale in the down stairs shop.
Over the PA system the captain announces that the stabilizers are coming out to try and settle things a bit, but nothing seems to change, and our stomachs are still churning. Finally, with the boat rocking like mad we fall asleep at midnight, but get woken up by a bunch of drunk welsh women at one in the morning. In my sleeping attire (a pair of jocks), groggy and still half asleep I open the door to see what all the fuss is about, and immediately get an ear full of cat calls. One of them says sorry and I hope this means the noise will lower a few decibels.
6am and the captain is on the PA again to let us all know that the restaurant is open for our business, if we would be so kind to get up now and cough up some more money.
At 8am we go down below to the cargo area to untie our bikes, only to find that they’ve been untied already, and are now in a different position. We look at each other, droopy eyes, both thinking the same thing, it can only get better from here.
And it does.
Yesterday we left Pontypridd.
Thanks Juanita and Lex for your hospitality, it helped us out heaps.
...And thanks Shanny for the lasagne last night and the pancakes this morning, they went down a treat!
After having caught the train back from London the day before we stayed the night in Ponty', and then we left, on the way to... on the way to the ferry terminal in Swansea, were our chariot (a big boat) awaits us.
With only about 70k's to ride to get to Swansea I was keeping an eye out for a good place to free camp for the night, and it didn't take long to find the perfect spot. With a small stream running over smooth rocks and a large field, trees and a big old beautiful bridge, we figured we were set for anything, and if it rained, (which it did) we decided the bridge would be perfect cover.
After checking out the hiking tracks nearby we crashed in the tent about 9, or just after sunset, and layed on our little sleeping mats wondering about what our new destination would have in store for us.
Hereford to Pontypridd
...And then we cycled into Wales amidst a blaze of glory, cheering fans, adoring spectators, idolizing teens and mad devil men!
But of course, as you must have already guessed this was all part of my dream, and sadly we hadn't really gotten anywhere at all by this stage, and so the truth was, or is, that I, we, are still laying in the tent, in our sleeping bags, really close to each other, because as you all know it's a small tent, and it only fits two small people, so even if we wanted to be further away we couldn't be, because it wouldn't be possible.
And then I heard some dogs, sniffing, curious sniffles, coming closer... but not close enough, good they didn't notice us, or they made an educated guess that bums in the forest have no food on hand and so didn't bother. But now I think about it I don't know any dogs that you might call educated so I'll guess that the former was more likely than the latter.
Actually, as luck would have it we had found a spot that somehow made everyone else walking in the National park visible and conspicuous to us, but us not so visible, or inconspicuous to them. What a mouth full.
We shook all the spiders off the tent, they seem particularly attracted to it here in England, packed up as quickly as we could, rubbed the sleep from our eyes... and discovered a fantastic toilet block as we were riding out.
To make matters even more exceedingly great and excellent we discovered, almost simultaneously, that next to the above mentioned toilets there was a cafe with very affordable food. Throwing my peanut butter sandwich that was so dry it was making me choke back into the bread bag I made a dash to the counter, and ordered a big breakfast.
Almost an hour later and full as dogs we rode off toward Wales.
Sore legs, tired heads, aching bums, we rode across the 'heavily policed' 'border check point' into Welshieland. And then all of a sudden things changed.
The hills went higher, the sun became warmer, and the beer became cooler.
But that last part could be purely speculation, because we never stopped, well OK not never, we had a diminutive intermission to fix a puncture, then we jumped over a fence next to a waterfall for some water, and then we stopped at some bushes to get rid of the water that we drank from the waterfall, and then, and then we stopped in Pontypridd. Stinking of sweat, blood, and tears, exhausted, satisfied, happy to be...
Happy to have made it.
Whitchurch to Hereford
Weather- Perfect! No seriously!
Scenery- Green, farms and stuff, small towns, no more camp sites, more farms, lots of cars on one road. Hereford is a nice 'historic market town,' (every town in England is a historic market town!)... a bit boring actually.
On the day before yesterday we rode a very long way, and then we went up a very big hill because a jolly fat lady said so, when it was getting night, at the end of the day, and then we tried to find a free campsite, but it was getting night and we couldn't see, but we finally found one, in a forest, in the trees, and then we got to sleep, and then I was exhausted and not asleep, and then the owls woke me up, calling to each other, they wouldn't stop making noises, and then I fell back to sleep, but then I woke up again, because I needed to do a pee, so I had to get out of the tent, and then I when I was doing a pee I stepped on a slug and it was gooey, and then... and then when I woke up in the morning I was so damn tired. And then we still had to ride another hundred kilometers to get to Pontypridd in Wales. A real country, with real things, and real people... But no real Government, and funny accents.
But it was good. Because then...
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia