So - after a long weekend for the Bank Holiday, I have *another* long weekend, this time with Alice, Jell and the motley crew. Jell and Alice came over to mine at half past early on the Friday morning, and, after an interesting spatial awareness test of how to get two and a half sets of camping gear (they were lending me lots of stuff, so mine doesn't count as a full set. This time...) into a not very big car, we set off for the wilds of Wales, heading towards the Dan Yr Ogof Caves Campsite. As the weather forecast was interesting (rain, rain, and a bit more rain), the decision was taken not to do the original Friday walk, but to do a lovely waterfall walk instead (first 16 or so photos on the album...) The feeling of walking behind a waterfall has to be experienced to be believed - it is amazing. Rather sadly, we were told that there are plans to build a bridge in front of the waterfall and to stop people from walking behind it, as the overhang is starting to get dangerous.
Then on to the campsite - it had started to rain by this point, and putting up tents in the wet is not the most pleasant of experiences (I was wearing gloves, and, by the end, I could wring my fingers out...), but going to the pub afterwards was brilliant!
Next morning dawned bright and wet... The plan for the day was to walk up Black Mountain (the mountain directly behind the campsite) - however, the strength of the rain and icy wind meant that Alice, Paul and myself came back down about an hour into the walk, and opted for the much more comfortable passtime of sitting in a tent, drinking coffee, eating Paul's brownies, and listening to the rain outside... The rest of the walkers came back at varying intervals, all saying that the weather didn't get any better, which completely justified our decision :-)
The afternoon was a little bit brighter - not a huge amount of sun, but the rain did ease up, and we decided to go geo-caching for a multi-cache - this being where the references are given the one mini-cache, and the mini-cache then contains the clue to the full cache. The mini-cache in this case containing an acetate sheet which was designed to be overlaid onto a clue given in the original document - the two clues both containing seemingly random lines that would then make up the Geo-reference for the final cache. Brilliant idea. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of printing, the scale of the printed clue and the acetate sheet were completely different, leading to an amusing 15-20 mins or so whilst Andy was used as a table to draw out the acetate clue onto the printed sheet... However, we got the co-ordinates, and found the second cache with little problem.
Saturday evening was a bit alcoholic... An amazing meal cooked by Peter and Franz (pasta, bacon and tomato sauce featured heavily), followed by two competitions, for the best gadget and the most useless gadget. Followed by wine, a description of how the sun can appear to go backwards when passing under the equator in a submarine, more wine, a discussion on double reed instruments, wine, a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy discussion, whisky, and a milky coffee (and I'm sure it was the coffee that lead to me being ill....) I poured myself into bed at half past one-ish...
Next morning, I might have still been a little drunk... However, judicious application of water, coffee, bacon sandwiches and a couple of ibuprofen meant that by mid-morning, I was feeling absolutely fine, and had managed to completely by-pass the hangover.
As it was still pishing it down (worse than Saturday), we decided to go into the Dan Yr Ogof caves. The caves site has the most amusing display of fiberglass dinosaurs - all built to scale, and with looped 'roaring' that could be heard from the campsite. The caves themselves were nice - some lovely effects done with lights and water, and it was an amusing way of spending a morning and early afternoon. (the red-light hyenas in the Bones Cave were particularly silly...)
After lunch, a group of us decided to go to the Welsh Indoor Climbing Centre. I was the only novice there - I had climbed a little at Warwick School, but not much more. However, everyone was very patient with me, showing me how everything was done, and even trusting me to Belay for them. It was great fun - I am still slightly hyper four days later! There is a brilliant physical challenge to climbing - and the routes that I chose, whilst nowhere near the hardest, were tough enough that I was stretching myself each time. This is definitely a hobby that I would like to continue with, although it might have to wait until the summer!
Sunday evening consisted of another pasta meal, this time cooked by Paul - equally delicious, though. I decided to save my liver this time, and opted for drinking water... It wasn't a late night, though - I was in bed by half 10.
Monday morning saw yet more rain, but nowhere near as heavy as the weekend. Jell woke us with coffee (life saver...), and Alice and I lay in sleeping bags listening to the sound of the rain and of people trying to pack up tents in the wet. About half an hour later, when the rain had stopped, we got up, and packed Alice's tent away in the dry (slight smug mode...) After clearing the camp site, we started driving home, but had enough time to head up Pen Y Fan via the easy route. Then back home, getting back to Bristol at about half past four - time to collapse!
And John was absolutely lovely and bought an Indian bring-in so that I didn't have to cook...
Many thanks have to go to Jell for organising the weekend, for lending me his thermarest, and for loaning me his spare climbing shoes - I will put them to good use! Also to Alice for letting me share her tent, loaning me her sleeping bag, for putting up with me for the weekend, and for loaning me her spare harness. And to everyone that cooked and washed up - I know that I didn't do my fare share of the work!
Photos are here