4.3.09 Into Wales – Brecon Beacons National Park

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4.3.09 Into WalesBrecon Beacons National Park

 

The loudspeaker of the Tesco super-grocery store in Pembroke, Wales rang out:  “Would the owner of the mo BILE home, registration number 06-KE- blah-blah-blah please come to the Customer Service Desk?”

 

We looked at each other and grinned and off I skipped to find out why they were calling us.  The security person and then the assistant manager discussed the call they’d received from the parking person.  Had “my time expired?  What time did I arrive?” and upon learning that I got there around 8 am and was shopping now at 9:30 am and that I was indeed in the farthest corner of their admittedly busy lot, they kindly assured me I was fine.  They just wanted to make sure I hadn’t overnighted.  And I told them that I had parked with the trucks by the port, that although I had been told I could overnight at that Tesco I had not, and that had I wanted to overnight there, I always request permission and would have done so.  And they were humbly kind about it and we smilled and I skipped off to shop some more.

 

The ferry boat ride last night was very smooth and delightful.  The kids enjoyed some new friends and the freedom to stay up until the 1:05 am docking time.  Jazy saved the life of a little boy who’d climbed some steps and gotten his head stuck in the railings by the kids’ theatre and was turning purple by the time she and her friend lifted him up to release him from hanging by his neck!  Bad, life-changing things can happen SO fast.

 

There were folks on board from another country who, once you got over annoyance at their social protocol oblivion, were really hilarious- they yelled everything!  Even in the lounge where all were sleeping, they would come up and just bellow their conversations:  the uncle, kids, grandmother, mother- really quite hysterical the cultural divide.

 

As we drove off the ferry, we asked the port hands if we could overnight and they said that the area at the front was okay for parking, and that it would quiet by 3:30 am.  It really was a small port and we saw about 5 lines of people in rows for confirmed boarding, but I thought that looked tricky and like a disturbance in the early morning for boarding was possible.  So we continued just 20 yards further to the trucks parking on the apparent sidewalk (as the Irish Ferry’s lady at Pembroke told us) and we joined them.  Closed down the hatch and slept soundly until about 7:30 am, I got up and drove us, sleeping kids and all, through the midst and fog to the Tesco, where I hung out reading the map of Wales for a while and then returned to sleep a bit more.

 

The Tesco store was like Disney to us.  The prices were terrific and we were thrilled to get things like a stapler, organizer for paperwork (3 L- British sterling pounds), a folding crate for shoes (2L), Ladybug Tesco grocery bags (2 L), and other such essentials.  We had a terrific time and still spent less than we did last night in Ireland on our dinner quest.

 

The drive through Wales was on U.S. quality, high-speed interstates.  We stopped for cheeseburgers at one of the thousand parking pullover locations.

Right now, we’re at a farm parking area that the National Park Visitor’s Center was kind enough to locate by phone for us.  They provided directions and it was 12L for the 4 of us.  The first place they called (5 stars, they said), was 33L and I said, “No way!” in a nice way.  I guess that would work for people on a week vacation but when you’re out for months, you have your budget.  We love this farm site along a river.  The people are very nice and we do not have electric, but emptied our chemical tank at their dump location.  We steamed the cottage pies in a pan on the stove- wrapped them in aluminum paper and steamed them hot- delicious! 

 

The NP is gorgeous.  It has beautiful mountain vistas and sheep grazing, sometimes walking in the middle of the road.  There are many tiny lambs and they are adorable.  We want to hold one.

 

The Visitor’s Center staff say that overnight parking is not allowed by the highway police, but it is rarely enforced and “if you have to move on, you have to move on.  Big deal” but I don’t like moving on, so we were glad to find this site.  We could have had electric for 3L extra, but we’d charged the computer and camera battery with the inverter on the drive, so other than the dinner (which we managed fine), we really don’t need electric and now we got to pull up in the field, all alone (rather than lined up side by side and park along the sparkling river.  There is a camper about 200 yards down and they have a complete awning room out, so maybe that is where the 5E extra charge comes into play in Ireland.

 

What is the first thing you do when you get to a foreign country? Get money!  After asking another shopper in the Tesco store, we found the ATM and got our British Sterling. 

 

Jazy and I also visited a hardware store near the Tesco and after returning parts only once, managed to fit an appliance 8’ hose on a clamped on reducer piece to prepare our grey water dump system.  We think we are so smart.  Hope it works!  Can’t wait to get someplace to try it.

 

What do you know about Wales?  We are ignorant and trying to learn fast.  It has been a sovereign country since before England was England!  The Anglos were not able to take over Wales and so it has remained its own country.  The road signs are in both Welsh and English- Welsh is a very interesting language and very difficult to pronounce with rows of consonants.  The soil is too poor for growing crops, so sheep are a big source of income.  One of our Motorhoming books said that the UK is the most unfriendly place for Motorhoming in all of Europe, yet we read that you can essentially park where you want, provided you don’t disturb the privacy of others.  We were surprised to hear the National Park did not allow it, although private campgrounds and farms within the park provide the services.  It also appears that major highways run though the NP, which is a bit unusual from our experience.  Some of the people seem very friendly when approached and others seem very standoffish, not offering to help in situations where they know the answer.  The kids were not impressed with the wave of one teenager, who provided the vulgar signal for which their friends on the ferry had warned them.  They figured perhaps he did not know that they knew what it meant.  Not a very warm welcome, but then there will always be some nice soul to offset the unhappy ones.  Like the Visitor’s Center Rangers who went to significant work to help us find a place to spend the night- something likely beyond their usual job descriptions.

 

We don’t know what tomorrow holds. There’s a local arts and crafts festival at the National Park Visitor’s Center tomorrow around 10 am- we think Cardiff sounds like someplace we ought to see and we definitely want to head to Bath, a British UNESCO World Heritage Site, that is not far from here.  Distances are short and we are trying not to hurry through the places that intrigue us.

 

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the peace at D & Nicola Jones’ Aberbran Fach Farm, Aberbran, Brecon, Powys, LD3 9NG, tel 01874 622929.  It is right off A40 in the National Park.  Daugher Sophie’s ride on the horse out to greet us was a sweet welcome.

 

Ducks are swimming by.  There’s some bird in the field in front of me- is it a peacock or a fancy fowl?  I hope we get to hug a lamb soon.

 

 

 

 

 

azsalsa says:
You should try northern Wales sometime. The Snowdonia National Park area is gorgeous.....so mountainous, green and full of lambs!! I spent 4 days in hospital in Abergele 2 years ago and the staff were fabulous. Of course it didn't cost a thing as it is NHS (government medical system). Also, the cult British TV show of the 60's, "The Prisoner" starring Patrick McGoohan was filmed in Portierion, (in county Gwynedd) which is also home to the famous pottery of the same name. Well worth seeing.
Posted on: Apr 23, 2009
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