It was chilly, it was raining, it was windy, but…we got on the bikes for our first pedal in Wales. Despite the all too familiar weather conditions, it was a lovely ride through the parks and back roads of Cardiff. The parks were beautiful in their post-autumn and winter wardrobes of golds and greys and we rode beside the river, which was flowing mighty fast and throwing up some rapids. It was super fun.
Every time I get on the bike, I seem to learn something. There’s always some new lesson, or some new fact or feature to discover and today was no exception. Today’s learnings were:
- Welsh mud is kinder than French mud. We rode through lots of mud today, thick mud that was like riding through porridge, but the bike stayed up, my feet stayed on the pedals and the mud left me alone to slip and slide on my way, without trying to suck me down or plonk me in the middle of the mucky ooze. It was very personable Welsh slodge!
- Bassett Hounds seem to think we are aliens from the planet Zog. We’d stopped on a bridge to look at the rushing water and across to the Millennium Stadium when a lady came walking across with her little Bassett Hound. That little fella took one look at us and did a double take, a couple of backward steps, the dozy, sleepy looking eyes now goggling at the strange weirdos on wheels that had appeared before him. He then took a couple of side steps and took a very wide berth around the lady and away from us, to get as much distance between him and the aliens as possible. The lady laughed, “He’s a bit wary isn’t he.” I tried to reassure him with a “You’re right mate,” but that little hound was steering well clear of the two residents of Zog!
- Cyclists would be very good in limbo competitions. We’d stopped to look at Cardiff Castle and take a photo, when a cyclist came speeding along the path. He saw the camera lined up to take the shot of the castle, called, “Sorry” then hunched over the handlebars and ducked, so as to ride underneath the camera lens and not get in the way of the photo. It was an impressive manoeuvre on the fly! Another very nice person to cross our path too.
Always something to learn!
After a fun ride that took us through the parks, out of the parks, along some back roads, down some muddy tracks and back along the river, we settled the bikes back into their van and set off for a new place to explore. We headed out of the city to visit Dyffryn Gardens, a National Trust property in the seasonally appropriate town of St. Nicholas. We sat in the blustery wind to have some Arvos at a table before we went in, then took ourselves into the grand house.
This was another lovely Victorian house which the National Trust had decorated for Christmas. It was also manned by a team of volunteer ladies who were utterly delightful, friendly and chatty. They told us about the house and the gardens and we had a pleasant stroll through the rooms.
As we climbed the stairs to the first floor, we were met by a lovely lady, who took us into a room with a magnificent view of the gardens and told us about the design and how the original family had used the extensive grounds. She told us it was alive with colour in the spring time and suggested a return visit when it was at its most colourful.
“Are yer local?” she asked.
“Afraid not,” I said, “we’re over from Tasmania, Australia.”
“Aw, well, yer can’t jerst pop barck fer a look another day then can yer!”
“Unfortunately not,” I replied.
She asked how long we were in the UK and I told her about our travels.
“Are yer going North et all?” she continued to chat, in her beautiful Welsh voice that made everything sound like poetry.
Her face lit up. “Aw, good on ye. I’m frem the North ye see. It has all the mountains. It rains a lot though. All the weather cerms frem the west yer see, so it hits us first. It makes everything lervely and green though!”
She was so nice and we chatted for quite a while about this and that, before we headed outside to have a look at the gardens.
“Yes, gor before et gets dark, it gets dark sor early now.”
It does indeed! We took a stroll around the grounds in the gradually fading light, until it was time to head back.
Another top day. It was so good to get back in the saddle again and to have such a nice place to ride. It was the sort of day that would normally have seen us a bit reluctant to ride, given the weather, but today we didn’t care a jot, because it was just nice to be out and riding and taking in the sights of a new place. It was also a day of meeting more lovely people, which is always the highlight of any day. Every day has something new and special. Every day pays out to the memory bank. Every day is simply grand, or should I say, as I attempt to pick up another language, it’s all simply…godidog!