The day after Bath was a bit of a loss, recreationally speaking: A drive to Nettle’s home town to get her LPG tank put in and a couple other bits and pieces, then onwards towards Oxford, with a lengthy stop-over to get some supplies at B&Q, a Bunnings-like establishment, then eventually to another Certificated Location (CL) club site in Faringdon, a region of fields as far as the eye can see (which isn’t that far, as it’s very flat).
It was raining by this point, a not unpleasant change for us water-starved Australians, but we needed to clean out our water tank and the onsite tap had no fitting for a hose. So, it was a matter of carrying bucket after bucket from the tap to the tank’s access hatch inside the van, then emptying the now full tanks, rinse and repeat: A rather annoying task, especially in a field of recently cut and now wet grass! We got there in the end though (and saw this cute snail in the process), and settled in for the next two nights, catching up on things like email and journalling.
Having formed a plan to catch up with our friend Tiff in Cardiff, we decided to put off Oxford for next time, and set off for Cardiff — Wales! — a quite pleasant drive, at the end of which we found a nice CL in a field overlooking the city from the north. Our GPS navigation system, consisting of Katherine and my iPhone, had one or two hiccups as the iPhone’s flaky radio system lost the mobile network a few times, turning the world into a grey grid, but there were no real issues other than the odd stop-over for an iPhone reboot. Damn you, flaky iPhone!
Having arrived at the site, I embarked on the task of emptying our euphemistically named ‘black water’ tank. You know, it wasn’t so bad — I mean, it was just blue liquid, although there were a few unpleasant moments, like when the lid thing slipped off and into the toilet thing and I had to reach in and get it out. Euch. Next time will be a bit easier. I washed my hands about a thousand times.
Moving on: The Cardiff area didn’t quite have that quaint charm we found at some other places — it seemed fairly utilitarian — but we had fun catching up with Tiff to see the new Harry Potter (oh, and what a film that was!). We caught the bus in, with no real idea of how we would return after the late film (probably by hideously expensive taxi). Just by accident, I bought tickets to the session starting imminently, which we managed to catch, and which finished in time for the bus service to still be active, so we were happy to find our way back to the bus stop, just a careful slug-avoiding walk by iPhone-light to Nettle.
The final part of our brief Wales visit was to Pembroke, where we were to take a ferry over to Ireland. Given that the ferry was quite expensive, we had decided to spend as much time in Ireland as possible to make it worth the money, before heading over to France to meet up with our friends Tim and Jen. Wales and England can wait!
So, to Pembroke, a much longer journey than we expected, made longer by a detour to a laundrette in a little village along the way which turned out to be closed when we arrived (why-oh-why didn’t we call ahead?). The iPhone was replaced by GPS navigation software running on Katherine’s mobile, who we’ve dubbed ‘Nigel’ due to his poncy British accent. And poncy it should be, at $15 or something for 30 days’ use. Stupid greedy Nokia.
Anyway, along the way somewhere, Nigel got a bit tired and fell asleep (phone ran out of power and shut off, unbeknownst to us, who were listening to the vocal prompts), so we went a little Fantasia ‘following the road’ until we realised what had happened. Luckily, we were still on course, so we continued down winding roads surrounded with deep forest, Nettle’s fuel light flickering impatiently. Then we came to a round-about and were met with stony silence from Nigel, who had since decided to crash, presenting us with just the phone’s home screen. We got him back again a few minutes later and, having presumably missed the original route, were directed down a teensy little laneway with two-way traffic, requiring a little creative manoeuvring.
Somehow we made it out alive, and didn’t even side-swipe the walls on the side of the road or another car, which was a plus, and found it to the site in Hodgeston, Pembrokeshire after a brief help-me phone call to the owner. Another field, quite lovely; no mobile reception, so no Internet access — damn — which meant we couldn’t do any preparation for Ireland, which was still a bit of an unknown. Not having had Internet access in Cardiff either meant that we felt a bit unprepared!
But nevermind; we went for a very pleasant walk instead. The ferry is about 20 minutes drive away, and it leaves at 2 pm tomorrow. Ireland!