Friday, 13 July 2007

A Busy Weekend

On Friday afternoon G took me to Newcastle Airport in plenty of time to catch my plane. I was surprised to find that Eastern Airlines have a fast channel through security - you actually queue barge!. Consequently, I didn't need to leave lots of time for all the extra faff.

We took off at the right time and arrived in Cardiff Airport on time too. Finding the Hertz place was no problem and I was soon in my Ford and ready to set off. Fortunately, the route to the M4 is well marked and I had road numbers readily availabe. Once I had reached the first turn off the M4 it was well signed to Methyr Tydvill (Sp?) and on to Brecon. Popped round the bypass and on to the turn off to my youngest brother's nearest village. A call produced him in his car, very quickly to lead me up to their house, where they gave me gin to revive me and scrambled egg to fortify me. No 3 (youngest) daughter was already there. Next to arrive was No 2, with her new partner. Then my eldest brother and wife. They took us up to a nearby self-catering converted barn and we settled in.

Saturday was the day that youngest brother and wife were celebrating their 60th birthdays. We took ourselves down in time for breakfast - 10 people because No 1 and wife had arrived after we left. Excellent - sausages, bacon, egg, tomatoes, fried bread and baked beans!! After a bit of hanging around we set of for a layby on the Abergavenny to Brecon road where about 38 people gathered - many family members and some friends. My children were there, though one grandchild was on a school trip, so missed it. About mid-day we set off to climb the Alt. That's not the full name, which I cannot remember, but it was always called that by the family who lived in the big house on the edge of Llangorse Lake, below. I knew it was about 4 miles but I did not know what it would be like. Just as well! The pace was mostly fairly slow, luckily. The ages ranged from 6 to 76 (me) The young tended to go fairly fast but there was so much gossiping going on that it helped to slow people down!! At one point we stopped for a sugar break (chocolate biscuit) and the chance to look at a ruined hunting lodge. The next bit was horizontal across a steeply sloping field - not the easiest bit! Then the climb started again and rather steeper. It was a hard slog to the top - and I was not the only one to find it testing!

Some had finished lunch by the time I got there! Fun with a kite was just starting. We had each been given a plastic bag with an interesting picnic in it, so I settled down to eat mine - and still lots of gossipping. At one point a poor lady walker appeared, was barked at by one of the dogs, nearly attacked by the kite and horrified to find all these awful people on what should have been a peaceful resting place. Her face was a picture and she went on at a vast speed! Meantime, we were able to enjoy a view up and down the Usk valley, across to the Beacons (with no cloud on top) and in the other direction, the Black Mountains. It was fabulous. This pic is looking north over Llangorse Lake.

The walk down was much easier though quite a few of us suffered from pains in the knees. My middle brother was absolutely infuriating because he has had both knees replaced and kept going on about how HE was alright. When we got down to the cars, I couldn't believe how well and untired I was. Everyone who knew my age was as amazed as me!

The next stage was to return to our barn, have a cuppa and a bath and back to youngest brother's house. A mini bus turned up a little late and we all climbed in. Off to Brecon and the Restaurant that is part of the Theatre. It is beside the Brecon-Abergavenny canal, so we wandered about talking and drinking champagne cocktails before going in for dinner. I was sitting next to my grandson, which was nice, also middle brother. We had a fascinating and delicious dinner. Lots of smallish amounts of all sorts of things, served on dishes for 4 and coming one after the other. eg bread to dip in oily dips, lavabread and Welsh cheeses, salmon and a wonderful sauce, small pieces of lamb etc. Each was entirely different and equally delicious. Grand Son didn't like some of them, which meant more for us, but he did like salmon and lamb, so Granny went abit short there!! After this it was all change and I found myself with a nephew and, under the table, his 6 yr old son who was fast asleep in a bag. Also my daughter-in-law, who I love, and an artist. Masses more talk and the pudding - a choice of mocha creme brulee or summer pudding. The mcb was out of this world! Then not one but 2 cakes came in for the birthday people and a few words were said - not too many! After a while the minibus arrived and we were driven home at a vast pace as he had at least 2 other things to do and was running late! And so to our barn.

Next morning we did breakfast at the barn, then I found myself being taken round a large pond/small lake by a real plantsman. He has many trees and some shrubs of all sorts and varieties, some of which he has bred himself. There are 30+ varieties of oak, apart from all the rest. He is plant mad, used to show all over the place and knows every horticulturist worth his salt!! Fascinating! Then to Brother's house and tea/coffee/wine/beer or whatever you wanted. Quite a number of people from yesterday came + all the family who were still around. People gradually disappeared as lunch proper was not on the agenda. My young and I remained and had good food! Lovely bread made by a friend and all sorts to put in it. Eldest brother had gone off to the family home, aquired by our Grandfather and now owned by a first cousin once removed who had been at the supper. After lunch, my lot and I went to the said family home. Brother and wife were still there and we all ate lovely sponge cake and drank tea. Unfortunately, it was pooring with rain so we could not go and look at the garden, stream etc. which was sad as my lot had not been there before. About 4.0 they left for home in Sussex and I went back to base, where I found them glued to the Wimbledon finals so I joined them. What a match! Later we had roast Welsh lamb and then I went back alone to the Barn.

Next morning, after I had sorted it and left it as I would have expected when I did self catering, I had a tour of the vegetables and more trees etc. What a man! I left with cuttings which I hope will take. From there I went to cousins even older than me!! He was an Admiral in the Navy and is a great friend of G and me. I had lunch there and found that the controversial pipe line is passing right by - going under the Usk, under his fishing and also under the way down to his house. He seems very calm about it, but had just thought that perhaps the concussions from pushing the line under the river might kill the fish! Somewhat worrying. I left there at 3.0 and headed for Cardiff. By Methyr there was an almighty downpour, which reduced us all to 40mph! When I got down to the M4 I missed the pull off so was heading into Cardiff centre towards rush hour! Help!! Kept my head and managed to extricate myself and achieve the airport. Loaded on time then held by Flight Control Brussels for an hour. Luckily, it being a one horse airport, we were allowed to use our phones, so G knew not to meet me!! Had an untroubled flight to Newcastle, drinking Champagne and Sloe Gin on the house! Never tried it before - it is delicious! Then "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news again, but there is a fault on the runway, so we are being held for a while"! We must have circled for at least 1/2 an hour! Once down, I got straight into a taxi, who charged me less than usul, and arrived home about 9.0.

Quite a weekend! Did not really feel exhausted until the next day and on Wednesday, when I had to get up at 6.0 to get to Darlington in time to judge Northumbria in Bloom. We all find judging tiring, so you can imagine what I felt like on Thursday! However today, I feel fine and am on the count-down for the next adventure!