A reunion, a shortage of cash, and a coastline of dizzying heights.

Aberdaron is the nearest place to Mynydd Mawr and I stop here for provisions before going further. I soon discover there is no bank or ‘hole-in-the-wall’. A Spar is the only shop selling food and the choice is limited. I kick myself for not going into Abersoch before coming here as I don’t have much cash on me; the campsites around here are on farmer’s fields and I’m unlikely to be able to pay with a card.

Luckily, the shop is taking card payments so I ask for cash-back. How much, the lady at the till asks? I make a tentative bid for fifty.

“Ooh, fifty?” she says, sucking the air between her teeth, “I don’t know…”

Looks are exchanged between her and the person behind the post office grill at the back of the shop while I hold my breath. There is a nod of assent and she says ‘yes, it will be alright’. Phew!

I go in search of Mynydd Mawr which is about three miles away along twisting, narrow lanes. I am in time to reunite the lovely, Scottish lady with her walking stick before they head off home.

On our first morning I awake to the sight of a flock of crows flying overhead, though they make a noise like no crows I have heard before. I discover they are choughs; the red-beaked, red-legged variety of crow that lives in this part of the world.

The landscape here is not far from the chin of the Llyn and yet it is so different. Here, there are no beaches; mountains drop steeply down into the ocean from dizzying heights.

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From the topmost part of Mynydd Mawr, the views extend away up the northern edge of the Llyn.  Up here there is an old coast-guard’s hut where a map on the wall shows the shocking number of shipwrecks which have occurred around the LLyn over the past few hundred years. It is said that a local family still possess a barrel of whisky which was washed up from a shipwreck in 1908.

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Near the top of the cliffs, there is a massive standing stone, pointing out towards Bardsey Island to show the ancient pilgrims which way to cross the treacherous waters….

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The nearest sandy cove seems to be Whistling Sands, a few miles up the coast, famous for the sand which makes whistling, squeaking noises beneath your feet.

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I’ve heard about them many times, which is probably why my experience of them fell short of my expectations. For me, it was the cove at the end of the sands which was most rewarding. The massive slabs of rock here were shot through with a myriad of patterns in rich blues, greens, purples and golds. They are stunningly beautiful. Someone tells me there is a jasper mine not far from here, the stone from which went into the Liver building…

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I had planned to stay at Mynydd Mawr for a couple of nights but ended up staying three. I was reluctant to leave it behind but found there was something about that landscape which made me feel lonesome for company; a loneliness exacerbated by an absence of wi-fi and mobile phone signal. Some places are better shared with other people, I guess.

So it was, on the fateful Sunday morning which was to bring the freak accident and an end to my travels, I headed off in search of a place called Porth Iago. I wanted to go and see this place for two reasons; I had been told it was a stunningly beautiful cove, and Iago was the Welsh name of the anti-hero in my novel, Leap the Wild Water, who ruined poor Megan. How could I resist going in search of a place of the same name? (Iago, by the way, is the Welsh version of James.)

Needless to say, I never saw a signpost for Porth Iago and had gone some way up the coast line before I realised I had gone much too far and pulled into the car-park for Penllech beach to consult my map-book. The rest, as they say, is now history.

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy, historical suspense novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow     The Calling of the Raven updated book cover     Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books and purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/i1sy302jXXK

Follow me:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

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I suffer an intermittent fault with my bullshit detector.

It was a funny old week. My travels around the Llyn Peninsula began near Black Rock sands and the most extortionately priced campsite I’ve yet encountered. Twenty-five pounds per night is the charge for the dubious pleasure of being able to park your outfit on a potholed field backing onto the dunes. For your money you get a pitch with electric and use of the toilet and shower block which are converted porta-cabins.

Black Rock sands is a vast stretch of flat, sandy beach which also serves as a car-park for anyone wanting to spend the day there. From your car you can watch and listen to the senses-assaulting scream of the water-scooters (what are they called?) motoring up and down the bay the whole day long. We head inland for a walk along the pretty country lanes, instead.

On Saturday night, whichever council employee is responsible for locking the barriers at 8pm forgets to do so. The result is a bunch of lads arrive in their cars for high-speed races up and down the beach (which has a 10mph limit), keeping everyone awake. Those not racing their cars light bonfires dangerously close to the dunes, ignoring the risk of setting the bone-dry marran grass alight.

On Sunday morning, I decide one night on this site is too much, in every sense, and take a walk through the dunes down to the beach before we leave. Those who kept us awake half the night have left the smouldering remains of bonfires, barbecues, and strewn litter in their wake; carrier bags, food wrappers, beer cans, etc. are blowing about the sands. This beach is very popular and I can’t think why, for the life of me.

I make an early start and head for the ‘chin’ of the Llyn Peninsula, beyond the trendy town of Abersoch, and soon we are pootling along country lanes which branch off in all directions, hemmed with wild-flower strewn stone walls.

I come across a sign for a campsite that is two empty fields mown to putting green standard.

“You’ve arrived at the right time,” the owner says, “we were chock-a-block at the weekend.”

Sadly, there is only one electric hook-up, which is attached to the owner’s house. I dither about whether to park here, where there would be no views or privacy at all, or to forego the electric. I dither because, as yet, I haven’t been able to get the fridge to work off the gas, despite repeated attempts according to the instructions of the chap that sold the camper to me.

“I’ll take a look at the fridge, if you want,” says the owner, “see if we can get it working.”

I’m thinking I’ve landed on my feet and park the van at the far side of the field where I can see the views. Then me and the dogs go for a walk along the lanes.

Back at the campsite, the owner comes over, saying he will take a look at my fridge – later. He talks and talks about everything and nothing before finally returning to his house.

I go to the toilet and shower block. Here, I discover, too late, there is no loo roll in the toilet cubicle. On exiting, I see a notice on the wall; loo rolls 80 pence each, available from the house. Now, wouldn’t it have been nice to know I needed to bring my own loo roll or purchase one from the house, before I’d used the loo?

Some other notices catch my eye, one of which says that campers will get no refund if they are asked to leave, or if they choose to leave earlier than the amount of days they are booked in for.  Later, I go to use the shower and find it is a coin-operated shower which will only devour a minimum of 5 x 10 pence pieces at a time. I get dressed again, go over to the van in the vain hope I may have some in my purse. I have only four, so trudge over to the house but there is nobody about so I don’t get my shower until the owner comes back.

Over the next few hours, I lose count of the number of times the owner strolls over, hands jammed into his pockets and shoulders hunched up to just below his ears, until it gets to the point where my heart sinks at the sight of him.

“Alright? Not bothering you, am I?” he asks before continuing his chatter, this time to tell me how all the people around here are nutters. He tells me how he came from up Lancashire way to buy this place and the trouble he had from the council when he wanted to put a campsite here. He tells me he is a qualified such-and-such and all his customers are millionaires because everyone around here is a millionaire; it’s the millionaire belt of Wales. Again, he leaves, promising again to take a look at my fridge – later. It’s probably just a bit of dust on the pilot-light, he says, or the pipe may be blocked; easily fixed. Meanwhile, my icebox is melting.

Half an hour later, back he comes for another chat which again begins with the same question. “Not bothering you, am I?”

By now, he is really beginning to bother me but I am far too polite to say so and I’m hoping that, on this occasion, he has come to do what he’s been promising to do since I got here, i.e. fix the darned fridge.

He asks me what I’m doing. I tell him I was writing. He peers around me, where I am standing inside my doorway, and he sees my laptop. He wants to know how I’m charging it. I tell him I use the invertor, or whatever it’s called.

“You can’t do that! You’ll drain your engine battery if you do that!”

I tell him it isn’t running off the engine battery; it runs off the leisure batteries which are charged by the solar panels on the roof. He exhales a breath.

“Well, I’m telling you now, you’ll knacker those batteries if you go doing that. Have you any idea how much it costs to replace them?”

I’m not one for being rude to people, so I don’t tell him it isn’t actually any of his business. Instead, I politely tell him I need to crack on with what I was doing.

“I was going to have a look at that fridge for you, wasn’t I?” he says.

I answer in the affirmative.

“I’ll just take that grill off the vent and have a look inside.”

At last! I am so longing to get that fridge to work! He takes off the grill and says he will need a screw driver.

“Don’t suppose you’d have thought to pack something like that, would you, eh?”

“Well, actually…” I say, and nip inside and come back with my multi-headed ratchet screwdriver (no less) and present it to him with a smile.

He gives it a scathing glance and asks haven’t I got something a bit smaller than that. I point out the multitude of screw-heads he has to choose from, one for every size of screw.

He heaves a sigh and unscrews a metal plate.

“Look at this! This is wired all wrong, this is. No wonder it isn’t working. These wires shouldn’t be where they are,” he says, wiggling the wires about. I reckon someone has been tampering with this. No wonder it isn’t working.”

There is an intermittent fault with my bullshit detector but when it is working I tend to trust what it tells me and right now it was detecting a very suspicious smell. I nip inside to get the manual in which I recall seeing diagrams of the wirings. As I come back down the van steps, he has his hands jammed back into his jeans pockets.

“Can’t help you, I’m afraid,” he says, with a jerk of his head in the direction of the vent grill. “Those wires have been tampered with. Didn’t you check if the fridge was working before you bought it? You women! You haven’t got a clue, have you?”

More of a clue than you could ever imagine, matey.

I’m no longer surprised that I am the only one here. I don’t respond to his comment but show him the diagram in the manual which proves that the fridge is, in fact, wired up as it should be. (Incidentally, since my accident, I’ve had an engineer to come out and look at the fridge. The problem was the gas valve which had ceased up – apparently can happen if not used for a length of time.)

He shrugs and fixes me with a cold stare. “It’s not working though, is it? All your stuffs going to go off! It’s only a few extra quid a night if you want to plug into the hook-up at the end of my house.

I say thanks but no thanks, I’ve got a cool box; I’ve put what I can in there for now.  I’m thinking; across this field has become a lot too close to this nutter and I’m going to get out of here as soon as possible.

“I’m off into town, now, to get a few things,” I call out as he saunters away.

I drive away and don’t look back. I recall the notice in the toilet block about not getting a refund if you decide to leave early. How many people before me have stopped here and soon wanted to leave? I can only guess. I’m beginning to fear I have become a magnet for interfering gits and/or lunatics. ( This fear becomes a reality on the journey home following my accident!)

I find another site a mile or so away and love, love, love this part of the beautiful Llyn. The dogs and me take off down the flower- bejewelled lanes and go along a footpath which takes us down to Porth Ceiriad.

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I am so pleased I chose to come to this part of the Llyn for it exceeds all my expectations. What a landscape of contrasts this is; cosy, sleepy, little lanes lead to open headland where the trees grow sideways; away from the blast of the prevailing winter winds.

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We walk from one end of the beach of Porth Neigwl to the other, marvelling at the myriad of colourful pebbles along the beach. I find a small shard of blue and white china amongst the pebbles; another treasure to add to the trove.

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Porth Neigwl’s other name is Hell’s Mouth, and if you look at its position on the map, you can see that Hell’s Mouth is between the ‘chin’ of the Llyn (where I’m camped) and the ‘nose’ at Mynydd Mawr. Hell’s Mouth is a massive open jaw between the two.

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On my last day in this region of the Llyn, I meet a couple along the lane who have lost their way along the Llyn coastal path. I point them in the direction where they will pick up the coastal path again. That evening, I pop into Abersoch to get something to eat. I’m in the local shop and who should I see at the counter but the couple I saw on the lane. They are asking the girl behind the counter how best to get to back to Hell’s Mouth. I tell them I’m going in that direction and can give them a lift if they’d like.

I am then apologising for the mess; I’d have had a bit of a tidy if I’d known I was having guests! On the way, they tell me they are camped on a site at Mynydd Mawr (the tip of the ‘nose’ of the Llyn), and describe how beautiful it is there. I’d been planning to go in that direction next and think perhaps I will go there.

After dropping them off, I discover the lady has left her walking stick in my camper. There is no ‘perhaps’ about going to Mynydd Mawr, now; and so it was that this chance encounter led me on the next leg of my journey. The next morning, I headed for the area that is known as the ‘Land’s End’ of North Wales; to reunite a lovely lady with her walking stick and discover the most awesome part of the Welsh coastline I have yet encountered……

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy, historical suspense novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow     The Calling of the Raven updated book cover     Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books and purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/i1sy302jXXK

Follow me:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

 

A driver reduced to tears, a wet bed, and a lot more than I bargained for on the most arduous journey yet.

So, it’s the Tuesday morning after my accident on the beach and I’m waiting for the brother of a-friend-of-a-friend-of-a-relative to arrive by taxi from Bangor to drive me, my dogs, and the camper van near to family in Shropshire. Liz and co. have gone to walk the dogs down to the harbour and I’m watching out for said arrival of the taxi.

I see a taxi hurtling down the lane to the farmhouse on the site; the taxi turns, wheels spinning, and as rapidly departs again, leaving clouds of dust ( but not my  driver) in its wake. How very strange, think I. Stranger things will happen before the day is out!

Five minutes later, Liz and co. come back with the dogs and my driver. The dogs have had a swim in the harbour. I ask what happened with the taxi. My driver, let’s call him Clive, says the taxi driver wouldn’t stop where’d he’d asked and had dumped him down at the harbour instead.

He seemed to be in an awful hurry, I say. Over the next few hours I will come to understand why the taxi driver may have wanted shot of Clive at the quickest opportunity.

Liz makes us all a farewell cuppa before we depart. Clive says the ‘effing’ taxi driver had refused to stop along the way for him to get some breakfast and he’s starving. Jo makes him a sandwich. He’s very twitchy, is Clive, and spends a lot of time ranting at someone on his mobile phone while pacing up and down. His language is liberally sprinkled with profanities whether conversing with us or on his phone.

When he’s eaten his sandwich, he is practically dancing up and down on the spot, anxious to get away. I say my farewells, the dogs have hopped into the van already, and I strap myself into the seat belt. Clive jumps in and immediately starts shouting.

‘What the ‘effing ‘ell?!’

It is soon apparent that Morgan has been sitting in the driver’s seat since coming back from his swim and the seat is now soaking wet. A towel has to be found to put over the seat and then we are off.  I am sat on the bed in the back which is unfortunate because I am in direct line of Clive’s vision in the rear-view mirror. Clive is looking at me far more often than at the road and Clive is a talker. Within five minutes, I know this is going to seem like the longest journey of my life.

He begins with some peculiar quotations, e.g. ‘If you want to see the wood, don’t look in the trees’ or ‘In the mouths of horses you will find happiness’. He has a seemingly endless list of these ‘misquotes’. Each misquote is preceded with ‘how about this one, right?’ and ends with ‘you like that one? Good innit?’, his eyebrows raised in expectation of approval.

I smile politely and close my eyes hoping he will think me asleep and so stop talking gibberish.

‘You tired are ya? I tell you what, you’re a wimp, right. That’s nuffink, right, what happened to you. If you want to see some proper injuries, right, I’ll show you my effing leg, right, then you’ll know what real injuries are. Ya wanna see my leg?’

‘Not right now, thanks.’

Then he tells me why he agreed to this job, right. It was because he is really upset, right, and he needed to do something to take his mind off his problems, right. Because he’s just found out his wife, who has left him, has been seeing someone else, right. And it has completely done his head in, right. And he hardly slept last night, right. Do I get his meaning, like?

Oh, yes. Obviously, taking this job has done nothing to take his mind off his troubles. If we all get to Shropshire without serious mishap it will be nothing short of a miracle is what I am thinking. I tell him I’m very sorry for his troubles, which is a mistake because he now starts weeping. He asks me if I believe in karma, cos he’s hoping what goes around comes around for his effing wife. I say, sorry, no, I don’t believe in it.

He goes very silent and concentrates on his driving for a good five minutes.

‘Have you seen my teeth?’ he asks, breaking the silence and startling me back to grim reality. This is what my mother used to say if she mislaid her dentures and for one horrible, fleeting moment I wonder how on earth he can have mislaid his teeth whilst driving. He taps his teeth with his fingernail and asks what I think of them.

‘I can’t see them.’

He leans forward in his seat so I can get a proper view of his grinning teeth bared in the rear-view mirror.

‘Very nice indeed,” I say, and this has the desired effect of seeing him sit back properly in his seat.

He tells me how much it cost to get them whitened and it was worth the money because everywhere he goes, right, everyone tells him his teeth look amazing, man.

The subject turns from his wife’s infidelity to how she conned him out of tens of thousands of pounds, too. I am as sympathetic as I can be under the circumstances; he’s been hired to drive my camper van, and us, safely to our destination and I am sincerely wishing he hadn’t taken on the job in his present state of mind.

He goes on and on and on. Two hours into the journey, he tells me he is taking us to Chester races for the day; what do I think of that?

‘Not a lot.’

‘How about Wrexham? You want to go to Wrexham?

‘No. Thank you.’

Jessie is lying at my feet. I look down at her and think she is taking a long time to dry out from her swim in the harbour, despite it being hot in the van. Then realisation dawns; she has peed on the bed – the bed I will be sleeping in tonight; the bed which will not be cleaned and dried by nightfall.

I ask if he will stop at the very next service area and if he can fill the diesel tank and let the dogs out.

‘Na! Don’t want to!’ says the wise-cracker.

I fix him with a steely glare in the rear-view mirror and he ceases grinning like the Cheshire cat. He is quiet until we pull into a service area a few miles down the road. Jessie dog isn’t the least bit interested in getting out as it’s a bit late in the day as far as she’s concerned. Morgan dutifully cocks his leg on every shrub before hopping back in the van. I give Clive money to pay for the diesel and to buy us coffees and something to eat. He comes back and parks up on the verge.

Before he has finished his sandwich, he starts weeping again; swiping at his tears with the palm of his hand. He tells me his mother put him into care when he was a kid, and how she died of cancer two years ago before he got a chance to find her again and ask her why she did it. I am very sorry to hear it, I tell him; that must be hard; to have no answers, no apology, no resolution. I tell him that it must have been a very hard thing for her to do, a last and desperate resort, and that it doesn’t mean she didn’t love him. Perhaps, she mistakenly believed it was for the best.

He gets out of the van and I watch him pacing up and down the grass verge, sobbing. I feel desperately sorry for him but am also seriously worried whether we shall make it to our destination. He shouldn’t be driving in this state but my options are severely limited at this point.

The heat builds inside the van until I fear I am going to faint. The dogs are panting. I undo my seat belt and shuffle across the bed on my backside to open some windows.

After a time, he returns to the van and sits behind the wheel, very quiet.

‘Had a bit of a teary moment there, didn’t I? Bet you think I’m a right wimp; a forty-something man, crying.’

I tell him I don’t think anything of the sort. I tell him it does everyone good to have a good cry, sometimes, man or woman.

‘I just think it must be my fault, man; every woman I’ve loved has ditched me, sooner or later.’

I tell him there is his mistake. I tell him that other people’s failures and betrayals are not his fault; the fault lies in their actions, not in him. I tell him he is not responsible for other people’s choices, only for his own, and the best choice he can make is to move on and find new happiness for himself, despite them.

‘Think positive! Smile and the world will smile with you!’ he says with a grin.

He snaps on his seat belt. For the last two hours of the four and a half hour journey, he is calm, chatting occasionally, as normal as can be and, I have to say, when his mind was on his job he was a very competent driver. Along the way, he tells me I can park up my camper van in his drive and have free use of his house, if I want.

‘I’m lonely, see, and miss having someone there when I come home. You would be like a ….’

He doesn’t finish the sentence.

‘Mum?’ I say.

‘Yea!’

I persuade him that it wouldn’t be practical because he doesn’t have a downstairs loo or disabled shower, both of which I now need for a time. I tell him he won’t be lonely for long; that sometime soon he is going to meet someone nice, someone who deserves him.

I guess all Clive needed was reassurance that he was not to blame for the bad things which have happened to him. It seems to me, the source of Clive’s personal anguish and torment was the belief that not being loved meant he was unlovable and therefore he faced a bleak and lonely future without his wife; a belief he had held since abandoned to care by his mother; a belief which was reignited and reinforced when his wife left him for someone else.

Though the experience of having to depend on Clive when in a crisis was somewhat traumatic, I cannot help but remember him with fondness. I’ve changed his name here because I wouldn’t have been able to write about this otherwise. And that would be a shame, I think, because within this experience lies an important message for anyone going through similar anguish; that our greatest torments can come not from without but from long-held beliefs which are not true or helpful to us at all. I feel grateful to Clive for having shared his story with me.

My thoughts now return to that taxi-driver who sped off as if the hounds of hell were upon his heels, and I have to titter. It transpires that Clive had not caught the train to Bangor and then a taxi to the campsite, as I had been told he would; he had got a taxi all the way from Shropshire (which cost me an absolute fortune, as you can imagine). My guess is that the taxi driver must have been at his wit’s end by the time he had gone through four and a half hours of listening to Clive’s woes. It will be a journey I’m sure he will never forget and will tell his grandchildren in years to come.

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical suspense novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow      The Calling of the Raven updated book cover      Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/i1sy302jXXK

You can also follow the author:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

 

The day disaster struck.

On Sunday, I was driving from Mynydd Mawr to camp further up the North coast of the Llyn. Having got somewhat lost along the myriad of little lanes, I ended up somewhere I hadn’t intended to be at all. When I saw a parking and picnic area, I decided to pull in and consult my maps in the hope of discovering my location. A notice board at the picnic site told me this was the carpark for Penllech Beach. From here, there was a footpath leading across some fields, past waterfalls and down to the beach. It was early in the day and I was in no hurry, so we headed off to the beach. I had no idea that I would not be returning to that car park in the manner in which I left it.

Some rough steps led down to the beach and this walkway ended in smooth rocks on which I almost slipped. There wasn’t another soul on the beach at that time of the morning. As I walked along the shoreline, I experienced a fleeting moment of apprehension, and the thought occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to be here alone. I should have heeded my instincts and those of my dogs. I sat on a rock to watch the waves breaking on the sand. Jessie dog came to sit beside me and huddled in to my side, making me wonder if she wasn’t feeling well as she would usually be avidly sniffing along the beach.

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Penllech beach

I got up and began walking back to the other end of the beach, and passed the steps we had come down. As we passed the steps, Morgan dog ran up them and sat waiting at the top. I tell him we are not going back up yet, we haven’t been here long. I continue along and look back to see Morgan is still sat at the top of the steps, as if he wants to go. I wonder if he, too, isn’t feeling well as he doesn’t seem to be as keen as usual, either. I call to him several times and finally he is persuaded to come down and follow.

Jessie dog then begins to play fight with him, trying to get him to play chase. He takes off, with her in hot pursuit. I’m looking up at the gorge where the waterfalls down to the beach are just out of sight, wondering how I can get across the stream to take a photograph. Too late, I turn to see Morgan hurtling towards me, not looking at where he is going but looking over his shoulder at Jessie chasing him. I don’t have time to get out of the way. Twenty-eight kilos of dog slam in to the side of my knee. I scream and hit the sand like a sack of spuds. The pain in my leg is excruciating, radiating from my kneecap down to my foot. I lie there in shock and pain, with the two dogs sat beside me. I fear my leg may be broken. I am on the edge of the water, with the waves of the sea seeping into my clothing and soaking my shoes. I tell myself I must get up, I must get out of the water. I try to turn over to get to my knees but I can’t move the injured leg. I pull myself into a sitting position in the water, wondering what on earth I’m going to do. I manage to pull my rucksack off my back to get to my mobile phone which is inside. No signal.

I look around me and see a couple walking along the coastal path. They come down the steps toward me and ask if I am alright; they had heard my scream and seen the whole thing. They lift me to my feet and I try to walk but each time I try to put weight on my left leg it gives way beneath me. It feels like my knee is folding inwards and I’m beginning to feel really scared.

The realisation that I may be seriously injured throws me into a panic. Maybe it was shock, I don’t know, but all I can think is that if I can just get back to my camper and lie down, I will be alright. Another lady comes along at that moment and asks if she can help. Her name is Liz, she’s from New Zealand, and she’s staying at a place on top of the cliffs. Between them they managed to help me to the bottom of the steps.

I have a brainwave born of fear and desperation. If I could just brace my knee, and with the aid of my walking stick (which is in the van), I am certain I can walk back to the van. Liz goes off to see if she can find something to bandage my knee. Jacqui, the lady who found me, takes my keys to go and get my stick. Twenty minutes or so later, my knee is bandaged up, I have my stick and a lady on each side of me. I take one step and my knee gives way again with an excruciating bolt of pain.

Another lady, Jo, arrives and says she is going to call for air ambulance, at which point I dig my stubborn heels further into the sand. No, no, no, that is not going to happen, I tell her. I just need to get my dogs and myself back to the van and rest up and then I will be fine. She says, okay, she is just going to go and ask a local farmer if he can get his quad-bike down here to get me back to the van.

When she comes back it is to tell me she has called for an ambulance. I tell her I am not going in any ambulance, I will not leave my dogs. My dogs have been huddled up to me all the time I’ve been sat on the steps. Honey, she says, you are not going to get off this beach without a stretcher, you can’t walk. You need to get that leg seen to. Listen, she adds, they’ll probably just stretcher you back to your van, check you over and say everything’s fine, so don’t worry, okay?

This reassures me. I now think this is what will happen. As we sit and wait and the kind ladies are chatting, I am formulating a plan. When me and the dogs are back in the camper, I will stay parked up in there in the camper until my knee is feeling better. I tell myself it will be better by tomorrow. I know now that due to shock, or panic, I wasn’t thinking straight at all, but at the time it all seemed perfectly plausible to me.

Then half a dozen people turn up in red overalls; they are a marine rescue team who had been on a training exercise up on the headland somewhere and had picked up the emergency call. They say the ambulance is on its way but has been held up by a trailer of silage along the lane. A short while later, half a dozen ambulance crew arrive. They ask me lots of questions like ‘can I feel my toes’, etc. I apologise profusely for the trouble I’ve put them to but say I’ll be okay if they can just get me back to my camper so I can lie down, I’ll be right as rain in no time. I am not leaving my dogs, I tell them.

The kind ladies say I must not worry about the dogs, they will look after the dogs for me until I get back. Jo owns a camp site over the hill. She’s going to drive my van back to her site for me and look after my dogs until I return. There won’t be any need to look after my dogs, I’m thinking, because I’m only going as far as my van.

An ambulance man explains how they’re going to carry me out on a stretcher back to the car park. They put my leg in a brace. They have to carry me across fields and across a stream, poor things. Back at the car park, they have me inside that ambulance before I have time to blink, and we’re on our way to the nearest hospital with x-rays facilities. The ride seems to go on for ever; as well it might because they’re taking me to Bangor. Then begins an interminable wait as I sit in a wheel chair, in my still damp clothing and shoes, staring at the walls, waiting to be seen. It is five hours later when I am finally discharged with a pair of crutches and my leg in splints (with no idea that I would be in those splints for months).

I ask the nurse for the number of a taxi cab to take me back down the coast. She tells me I don’t want to do that, it will cost me an arm and a leg if I hire one from Bangor and that I would be better off getting one to come up from Porth Colmon. I am at my wits end, now. I tell her that would mean waiting an extra hour and a half before they got here. I tell her I’m exhausted, I haven’t eaten for over eight hours, and I don’t care how much it costs, I want to leave now. If able, I would have stamped my foot, I’m sure. I can become as cantankerous and grumpy as the next person, when sorely pressed.

You have had a day of it, haven’t you, the nurse says, and comes back with a sandwich, a cup of tea, and the number of the cab. Seventy pounds it will cost to get me back to my camper and it is worth every penny. One and a half hours later, I am reunited with my dogs, and Liz and her friend, Lynn, make me a cup of tea. I sit on the step of my camper to drink it because I don’t feel strong enough yet to hoist myself up the steps, bum first.

As I’m sat there and Liz is making up a bed for me in the camper, I begin to feel very ill indeed. Lights are flashing in front of my eyes. I am sweating profusely and begin to feel sick. I tell Liz I’m not feeling well. She gets a cloth and drapes it over the back of my neck and tells me to breathe. I start throwing up. I can’t sit up any longer, I have to lie down or I’m going to collapse. The sky is full of flashing lights and I hear Liz say ‘we need to get her in the recovery position’. Then my hearing goes and all I can hear is the pounding of waves inside my ears. Next thing I know, I’m on the ground with a pillow under my head.

Next day, I am laid up in the camper. Jo, the campsite owner, tells me I am welcome to stay as long as I like and they will help me as long as needed. I decide it is time to get back to family, and so my daughter tries to arrange some way of getting me and my camper back to her place in Shropshire. Meanwhile, Liz and Jo have walked the dogs for me, fetched water for me, and gone out to buy some provisions for me.

It was an unlucky accident, but I consider myself incredibly fortunate because I can’t help but think of the ‘what if’s’.  What if the tide had been coming in and not out? What if no one had come by? What if my injuries had been life-threatening?

I shall never forget how I was blessed by the kindness and help of strangers; and the efficiency of the marine rescue and ambulance teams was second to none.

Jacqui from the Yorkshire Dales, Liz and Lynn from New Zealand, and Jo from the Moel-y-berth campsite at Porth Colmon; I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I shall never forget your help and kindness.

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical suspense novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow      The Calling of the Raven updated book cover      Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/i1sy302jXXK

You can also follow the author:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

 

The travelogues; I enter a time-warp near Llanbrynmair and cause a bit of a stir.

I didn’t think I was doing anything remarkable or that I would ever be the subject for conversation until I stopped off at a small campsite on my way to Dolgellau. On my arrival, a little chap wearing a tweed hat and pushing a wheelbarrow directed me to a pitch and told me not to worry about paying as the owner would be along later. Within an hour, I got a visit from one of the couples staying there.

“I hear you’re driving this thing on your own. How are you managing it?” asks Mr.

The little chap with the wheelbarrow must have duly noted my singledom and passed on the word. I tell Mr I’d found the camper’s size a bit intimidating at first but I’m used to it now.

Following much shaking of his head, Mr says, “Well, I take my hat off to you but you do know you have to have a special license to drive one of these, don’t you?”

Gulp. What? Where? Who? Why? “Eh?”

“Oh, yes! You have to have a medical to get the license – camera oop the bum, the whole works. I know ‘cos I thought of getting one of these big motor-homes.”

“Then, after all that, he goes and gets a caravan instead!” says Mrs, laughing indulgently.

“I’m sure that can’t be right,” say I, hoping to god it isn’t. “No one said anything to me about needing a special license.”

“It’s true. Anything over 3.5 ton and you have to have a medical!”

“Ah, well, I don’t think it’s as big as that!” I say, not actually having a clue how much the damned thing weighs.

“Surely is!” he says.

I decide I’m bored with this conversation now and want to retire to my van and hold my head in my hands but Mr is not to be deterred.

“Look here! It’ll tell you somewhere in the cab,” he says, opening my cab door. “Here you are!” he says wiping the dust and dog hair off the said information label.

I hold my breath as he hunkers down and pushes his glasses up his nose and peers; then he rubs the label and squints at it again, as though he can’t quite believe what it says.

“Ah! Well, it’s a 3.1, so you’re alright,” he says, avoiding my cool gaze and not apologising for causing me unnecessary anxiety.

“Anyway, what’s the height of it, eh? The width? Do you know? You need to know these things or else you’ll find yourself without a roof when you go driving under a low bridge. See?” His questions come at me like bullets from a machine gun.

“Yes, of course. I know,” blag I, making a mental note to look up the dimensions again in the manual as soon as he’s gone, and praying he won’t put me to the test because they’ve gone clean out of my head.

No sooner has Mr departed than the owner stops by.

“I hear you’re driving this on your own!”

I bristle slightly and brace myself. I don’t think they can get much passing-through trade here.

“Um, well, yes.”

“Jolly good for you! I think it’s marvellous!” he says, beaming with bonhomie.

As the owner walks away, I feel a momentary glow of pride; thinking ‘gosh, aren’t I the one’. Then my feminist brain kicks into gear and I think how sexist the whole thing is. A man on his own, doing what I am, would never illicit such remarks or get a lecture about things he may not know, or congratulations upon his ability to do it. I feel like I’ve entered a time warp.

I know Mr know-it-all probably meant well. He belongs to that generation of older men who think women are delicate creatures who need to be looked after and aren’t capable of doing the things men do. I’m hoping I’ve disabused him of some of his illusions; though, in all fairness, he did give me a timely reminder to memorise those dimensions, but don’t tell him I said so.

Then, uppity and independent old thing that I am, I’m off to Dolgellau and driving past the mountain of Cader Idris in all its brooding, massive majesty. I used to gaze at this fabulous landmark of a mountain, over on the distant horizon, when I lived in the east of Wales. Up close, it fills me with awe.

I fall in love with Dolgellau, where at last I feel I have entered a proper Welsh town. Here, you will be reminded that Wales is indeed another country. You will hear the lovely, lilting, Welsh language spoken all around you and all the shops have Welsh names.

In the region of Wales I come from you don’t hear so much Welsh being spoken. Welsh was my mother’s first language but she never spoke it to her children. At school, she was punished for speaking her own language and taught she must speak English or not speak at all. Thus, my generation were robbed of their heritage, language and culture via parents who had been brainwashed from childhood that Welsh was inferior. So I have a deep and abiding gratitude to those who held tight to their language and didn’t let anyone persuade them not to, and passed on their language to their children with pride. If not for them, the Welsh language would not now exist.

I buy real bread and a heavenly home-made Bara-brith in the bakery, and am offered a cup of tea while browsing in the inspiring little wool shop. Here I meet two lovely ladies who are fellow (what is the female equivalent?) spinners and we spend a half hour enthusing over hand-spun yarns. They tell me that Dolgellau once had a thriving woollen industry, and that at least one house in Dolgellau still has a weavers shed at the top reached by a spiral stone stairway which the weavers used to use so as not to disturb their employer when going to and from their work. Before the decline of the woollen industry, which occurred in the first half of the 19th century due to the introduction of mechanical looms, annual output was said to be worth between £50,000 and £100,000.

The other thing Dolgellau was once famous for was its large community of Quakers. Apparently, following a visit from George Fox in 1657, many inhabitants of Dolgellau converted to Quakerism. Many emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1686, led by Rowland Ellis, a local gentleman-farmer, because of the persecution they suffered (persecution was suffered by all dissenting religions in Wales). The Pennsylvanian town of Bryn Mawr was named after Rowland Ellis’s farm near Dolgellau. So now you know.

Dolgellau is possibly one of the least spoiled towns I’ve encountered and I love that it has preserved its Welsh identity and language. But oh, how I would have loved to have been a passenger in the motor-car of H. V. Morton in 1932, for while I, in 2014, celebrate how comparatively unspoiled it is, he was lamenting the changes which had led to the exchange of pony for local omnibus as a mode of transport for the locals. He describes the market square crowded with farmers and their labourers on a Saturday afternoon;

They wear breeches and leggings, caps or bowler hats. Most of them are shaggy as mountain ponies; some fair, some small and dark as Spaniards, some tall and fair, rawboned as Highlanders. Now and again local girls, walking two by two, pass and re-pass among the herd of men, and occasionally they turn to smile back at some chance remark in Welsh which is flung at them……I look at them and miss the ponies on which I feel they should have ridden to market. But they have come in from miles around on motor-omnibuses. It is a grotesque thought.

The descendants of those farmers of which he spoke now each own their own motor car, of course, and land-rovers, all of which are crammed into the parking spaces on the square or in the car park – an unimaginable thing in H.V. Morton’s time.

I can only imagine what thoughts he may have had should he have seen women driving around the country alone in motorised homes on wheels, let alone driving buses, trains, lorries….

From Dolgellau I’m off to Barmouth ….see you there.

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical suspense novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow      The Calling of the Raven updated book cover      Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/i1sy302jXXK

You can also follow the author:

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Weaving my way through the wilderness.

….and so the builder did not return next morning (thank the heavens) and the rain ceased at 11am. Rain before seven, fine by eleven, my Daddy used to say, and often as not it is right. It was grey and overcast with a chill in the air but any weather which isn’t rain is considered fine in Wales. The ravenous midges disappeared along with the rain, so we headed off up into the mountains for a couple of hours rambling.

The path took us alongside a mountain stream. The stream tumbled ever downwards over the pebbles and boulders. It was like a symphony, the noise, with deep gurgling notes where the water fell into bubbling pools and a cacophony of percussion where it crashed down over rocks. Morgan dog jumped in and lay wallowing like a pig in mud…

WP_20140528_11_48_06_Pro…while I sat listening to the stream’s music and the chorus of skylarks overhead, thinking how my greatest moments of contentment have been found in such places as this.

As the track took us higher, away from the stream, and the skylarks stopped warbling for a few minutes, I heard a sound which is rare these days; it was the sound of utter silence, which can only be found for fleeting moments in the remoteness of mountains. At the centre of such silence, thoughts cease and all that can be heard is the beat of your own consciousness. I stood as still as the landscape around me to listen.

On our return, our only neighbours had departed and been replaced by a family with five children further down by the stream. By the time I’d eaten lunch, the rain had returned along with the midges. I promptly slammed the door and watched them throwing themselves at the windows.

Holed up inside ‘the beast’, and without internet or phone, I amused myself by finishing a weaving I’d started as a souvenir of my time along the Ceridigion coast. The driftwood I gathered on Gwbert beach; the shells I gathered at Tresaint. Some of the wools in it are from Ceridigion sheep. With the colours, I tried to capture the ever changing colours of the sea, the sky, and the hedgerows.

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By late afternoon it was raining hard again and every time I opened the door to look out, a swarm of midges invaded, hell bent on eating me alive. So, when I had killed every last one of them, though not before they’d enjoyed a good nibble at my ears and forehead, I began another weaving in the hope of capturing the essence of the sheep and tree dotted mountains with the stream running through the centre of it all. Some of the white wool in this one, and the pebbles from the stream, I picked while on our mountain walk.

 

These weavings are the kind of things which, if they haven’t fallen to bits by the end of my travels, will end up as moth-eaten relics, stashed in an attic somewhere until one day when I am gone and someone throws them out in disgust. But right now, they are vibrant and meaningful to me.

At 5 pm some Belgians arrive and search, in vain, for the owner. They are soon followed by a biker who has been wild camping up the Elan valley. There is a sign by the entrance telling people to book in at the house before entering the site, so they are reluctant to do so. The biker just wanted to know how much it costs to stay here, should he need the diversion of a shower on his wild-camping adventures. I tell the Belgians to pick a pitch because the owner has been out all day and heaven knows when she might come home.

By the time she does return, a chap who I swear is Boris Johnson, or his twin, has turned up with his family. Then another couple turn up and pitch their tent smack bang outside Boris’s tent, obstructing his idyllic view. They had about two dozen empty pitches to choose from, all with stunning views across the valley. As I watch them pitch their tent, I wonder if some people go out of their way to be annoying or if it comes as naturally to them as breathing. I watch them slapping at the midges eating their faces and getting soaked in the rain, and uncharitably think it serves them right. Boris hasn’t emerged to bravely sit out under his awning since they arrived, but then that could be down to the dastardly midges.

I’ve lived amidst Welsh hills for most of my life, but never have I seen midges in such numbers or with such vicious intent. They are swarming outside my van as I write. I’m not opening that door again until the dogs can cross their legs no longer, and I’m out of here in the morning…..

…our journey out took us over a narrow mountain road, across a vast wilderness of open moors and peat bogs. As the road twisted and turned, the shells and pebbles tied into my weavings were clanking and clacking against the camper walls. By the time I reached my next destination, they were strewn around the camper. I have inadvertently invented a new style of pebble-dash.

Leap_the_Wild_Water_Cover_for_Kindle

Jenny Lloyd is the author of the acclaimed novel, Leap the Wild Water, a story about a family torn apart by secrets and betrayals in early 19th century Wales. Oh, and the soon to be published sequel, The Calling of the Raven.

Amazon UK; http://ow.ly/uEv3O

Amazon US; http://ow.ly/uEuXQ

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