Books I've Read

Saturday, April 14, 2012


The second weekend in March I took a Friday off, joined Mark and his Mum in a car headed for Wales. While we always have fun the purpose of this trip was not sightseeing or relaxing it was to be a part of a 14 person work crew for a bunkhouse in Wales, Tyle Mogrug.

Mark's Dad used to be the the chairman for committee that ran the charity that is responsible for this bunk house. We continue to go periodically to help out on the working weekends. The Cynon Valley Cottage and Bunkhouse is in the middle of nowhere, which is perfect for what it groups that are enjoying the outdoors. From scout groups to hiking individuals many stay here as it is on the edge of the Breacon Beacon which makes it perfect for hiking, biking and getting away from it all!

Now up until this trip I have been extremely fortunate and had not yet experienced stero-typical Welsh weather. When we came out of the local food shop armed with the bits and pieces needed for supper and breakfast the next morning...I got that experience. Grey and rainy. So the drive up and over the hills it to the Cynon Valley was not as spectacular as before as you couldn't really see much more than grey mist, fog and rain! 

Supper was made as Sue had done all the hard work before leaving England. Supper finished we all retired to the lounge area where a fire was burning bright. The guys all swapped stories of what the bunkhouse (affectionately referred to as the hovel) and the role that Mike had in turning it from the hovel it was with sheep dung piled up so high the front door couldn't be opened to the 3 star bunkhouse it is now.

Off to bed. Bunks for Mark and I. The next morning I awoke to clump, clump, clump....BANG. As each person...ok lets be honest...MAN, staying our side of the bunkhouse plodded down the stairs slamming the door to make sure the rest of the working party awoke! Soon all was well, as is tradition the chairman of the charity knocked on Mark and I's door with a mug of tea for me and a cheery good morning for Mark! It was again grey, misty and generally miserable. After breakfast two of the work crew sat with Sue and I and gave us very detailed instructions on how to get to the nearest Travis Perkins (a hardware store) in nearby Aberdare as well as a shopping list of things they wanted us to get for them. 
Caerphilly Castle and the Welsh hills beyond

Sue and I at Caerphilly
So we got in the car and I used my handy android smart phone to look up the address and then plugged the post code into Mrs. Garmin and we were off. No troubles no dramas we arrived at the Travis Perkins armed with a list of parts and tools that we were to get using the chairman's trade card. Unfortunately they did not have everything they men wanted. So we spent the next 15min with the VERY helpful staff member who located all the items we needed at nearby Caerphilly. I was very happy to hear this as on a previous trip Wales I had been to Caerphilly and it has the most beautiful castle! So off we went. The lower in the valley we got the more beautiful it became! Soon the sunroof was open and the windows were rolled down. Very easily we found the Travis Perkins and got all the required parts for the work team. Job done! Before doing the shopping necessary for the next few meals and heading back to the bunkhouse, we decided we needed a reward so we had a quick exploration of Caerphilly castle where I was the guide! That was weird...being in a the UK and acting as a guide for Sue! he..he...Tour and photographic evidence taken, as we knew the guys would never believe us. We stopped in a local cafe for a coffee and a cake YUMMY!

Caerphilly Castle, outer moat
Back at the bunkhouse the men were all VERY please to see us! And helped us bring in the food. They were happy to see we got the parts, but as predicted they did not believe we had been to Caerphilly! Not even the pictures proved it!! It took the dated receipt for the parts before the chairman would believe us. 

Caerphilly Castle, inner moat
They were all quite hungry and took turns "helping" us in the kitchen to speed the homemade soup we were making for lunch! In the afternoon the sun came up and Mark, Sue, John, and I took a moment and a bit of a walk to remember Mike. The rest of the afternoon was a cleaning extravaganza as we got the bunkhouse back into good condition. The work crew mainly all stopped at 16.00, but that is when Sue and I began. I have never made such a large tagine in my life! enough to feed 14 hungry people. It went down a treat! Even the couscous which was a new experience for some. It was good fun but hard work! Thank I now have a little better appreciate for what cooks and chef's do! 

Sunday we were all prepared to spend another day working as is the tradition. There is usually a promise of a walk which never happens due to the amount of work that needs to be done. But things and the bunkhouse have come SO far that the entire work team went for a walk. Well everyone except us. We had no idea that the promised walk now happens and had not brought the right gear. So instead after walking to the most beautiful sunrise and the bleating of the sheep we did a few final things and then hopped in the car. We decided that we would do a little exploration of Cardiff. 

Cardiff is just on the inside of the sea coast. It boast a brand new stadium, a newly developed docks are, and an old castle. We did a drive through Cardiff Bay (the docks area) and they did a fabulous job down there. Lots of new buildings with interesting architecture and loads of space and pathways for people to wander. Then we headed into town. Found a place to park and went for a walk. It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed being out and about. The castle looked impressive from the outside and a famous wall of animals! Which were fun to snap. We then returned to the park and found a sunny bench where we watched the world of Cardiff go by while enjoying our picnic lunch.

Castle clock tower

One of the many animals on the wall

 After lunch, we needed to get on the road if we were going to miss the traffic. I hopped behind the wheel giving Mark a break as he had done the majority of the driving so far. It had been a great weekend.

No comments: