We left Godmanchester early Sunday morning to make our way across England to Shropshire, where blog friend Gretel of the Middle of Nowhere blog lives. I've been following her artistic adventures and stories of life in a small cottage in the gentle Shropshire hills for several years, and when she heard we were coming to England and would be passing through her area, she invited us for lunch. I was thrilled and anxious it meet this talented lady.
Here's the thing about the SatNav: you put in a British post code and by golly that thing will take you right to the door. It's just amazing. I don't know if Google maps can do the same; when I plug in my zip plus 4, the directions are about as vague as it's possible to be. Gretel lives out a ways on a small lane and I seriously do not think we could have found her without the SatNav, and my phone, of course, was getting no signal out there.
But find her we did, and we had the most fascinating 3 hours of nonstop talking with Gretel and Joe. Their cottage is lovely, quite old and a work in progress as they renovate to make it their own. I didn't even think to take photos, but you can visit her blog and see for yourself. Her felt creatures are serious artistry, so very cunning and unique. And her kitchen---I could love that space, I really could.
Gretel made a lunch of a delicious casserole; I cannot remember now what she said was in it, but it was one of the best things we ate on this trip. She also made homemade rolls and a lemon cake with Devonshire cream. Oh. My.
|Warm rolls, pretty plates, old wood table, friends--perfect.|
I hated to leave. Joe and Gretel made us so welcome, but our b&b was still some miles away, so we said goodbye and continued on our way.
And then, we saw this sign.
and we got a good look at some of them as we followed Peter Jolly's Circus trucks for a long, winding way.
Araf means slow in Welsh, and we had fun saying it like a pirate.
Eventually we were able to pass them and we arrived in Aberystwyth (pronounced a-bur-ISS-twith) early in the evening. Then to find our b&b.
This one, I have to say, was a letdown. It was right in the center of town on a narrow street, and the place was just not what I envisioned, although it was fairly close to the harbor which was nice. We did learn that our room was once the home of the famous Welsh poet Waldo Williams, but the room had been quite modernized so there was no vestige left of how it might have been when he was there, except for the view of the back alley from the window. Not inspiring, I can tell you. However, I'd rented this room for two nights, so there we were.
We ventured back out after getting our bags inside, and found Aberystwyth Castle, high above the harbor. Built in the 13th century, the castle once was also a royal mint at one time, making silver shillings. We explored a bit, enjoying being by the water at last, before returning to our room for the night.
The bed was hard and uncomfortable so neither of us slept well, but early in the morning we wakened to the sound of seagulls calling. That was kind of nice, really. Our breakfast was a cereal-toast-and-tea variety, no fruit or anything extra here.
We were up and out early so that we could: a) find a grocery store and pick up some food for lunches and suppers (saving money that way) and b) get to the Rheidol Valley Railway in time for a journey into central Wales. We found the store, with prices more reasonable than expected, stashed our goods in the car, and then waited for the train.
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