A Travellerspoint blog

The axeman

And Mum leaves the UK

sunny 19 °C

The following day, on Wednesday the 20th of July 2011, a miracle occurred in Aberaeron. The sun came out, and even more remarkably, stayed out! Wow! Mum and I went for a long run in the morning, along the river and up past the church, enjoying the fresh air.

We made the best of the weather and did some work in the garden. Instead of trying to chop off a branch of a dead tree, I decided it would be a better idea to hack away at the diseased part of the trunk with an axe, to see if we couldn’t get rid of the entire problem in one go.

Three hours of hard work later and it was almost done. Now we had to make sure the tree wasn’t going to crush us, and a bit of manoeuvring allowed us to direct the fall towards the road. Only one car had passed since we’d started work, and thankfully, none were passing when the branch fell, either. We ventured down, cleared the path and retired to the house for some much-needed rest.


On Thursday morning, Mum’s ridiculous idea of a swim came up once again. Given that it was a good few degrees cooler than the previous day, and overcast, I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but agreed to tag along to New Quay.

We met Mair there, as well as Connie, Mair’s mother-in-law, and while the four women went in, I stayed on the shore and skimmed rocks. There were some very, very good rocks on New Quay beach.

We had a coffee break while the swimmers tried to get the feeling back in their fingers and toes, then bid each other good bye, as we went back to Abers to pick up Gramps from his walk.

The first England vs. India test had started, in a series that would turn out to be brilliant for the Poms, and hence painful for me to watch, so after an hour or two of gardening – clearing out the greenhouse, spreading some tanbark, digging out weeds – I went inside while Mum kept working (she never stops!).

She did go out for dinner in the evening, though, to say goodbye to her Aberaeron-based friends until her next visit.

On Friday morning, our last day in Abers and Mum’s last day in the UK, we went for a long run past Llanerchaeron, a national trust property similar to Ripponlea Estate back home. They’ve also got a nice café backing out on to a grassy bank over the river, and we managed to convince Grampy to go there rather than the Celtic for once.

We said a teary goodbye and got going. Mum had a flight from Stansted Airport, outside London, and a lot can go wrong on a six-plus hour drive.

But it didn’t. Unusual that it didn’t really, given Mum’s record of disastrous events on trips to the UK. There was a stop for an hour or two in Cardiff, to say goodbye to Trace and Rich and Mol, and then she was off, back to join the rest of the family in Melbourne.

Posted by sammyhez 20:19 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged aberaeron new_quay Comments (1)


Not a real town, but if it was, it would mean 'the bridge by the mouth of the New Church river'.

semi-overcast 16 °C

On Monday morning Mum and I jumped in the car and we got going once again to Aberaeron. We braved the heavy rain, not that one has much choice in Wales, and got up there safely, and even managed to take Grampy to the Celtic in the afternoon, despite his complaints that he was getting wet. Nana and Mum cooked me a huge dinner, just for a change, and I perfected my darts technique while the soundtrack to ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ could be heard from downstairs.

On Tuesday, under the guise of going to the dentist so that Grampy wouldn’t get jealous, we gave instructions to the carer and headed towards north Wales. It’s a really beautiful part of the world, but it rains so often that you can rarely catch a glimpse of the scenery. As we passed through each town I asked Mum the pronunciation and meaning of the names. ‘Llan’ means church, ‘pont’ or ‘bont’ means bridge, ‘newydd’ means new and ‘aber’ means mouth as in river mouth – there are plenty of others, but I can’t remember them now. There actually is a town nearby called Penbontrhydyfothau - the Welsh long name stereotype is not just a myth.

My pronunciation is improving, too. I know now, for example, that Cwmtydu is not said ‘Kwum-tie-doo’, but ‘Coom-tid-dee’.

We wanted to go for a mountain walk and have some lunch, and Mum had some ridiculous idea that we should go for a swim, even though it was probably below fifteen degrees and the water below freezing. There wasn’t any particular destination for our walk, but we ended up picking a pretty good spot, Cader Idrus, with fantastic views over the valley and lake below.


We encountered a pretty strange bunch of campers on the summit. Probably photographers, this motley crew were shivering with cold, looking particularly glum, standing around and not really talking much. Their tents weren’t fully enclosable, and it was cold enough during the day, so I’m not sure how they coped at night.

The pub we had bookmarked for lunch, with signs outside spruiking their ‘restaurant food served all day’, wasn’t serving food. We had a drink, while Nana commented in a voice that might have been slightly too loud that it was an outrage that they could have a sign saying they were serving food when they weren’t.

Still very hungry after our exercise, we drove to Tywyn (pronounced Tow-in, the ‘tow’ rhyming with ‘cow’ or ‘wow’ rather than ‘toe’), a town famous for its vowel festival. The beach looked pretty grotty, so thankfully Mum didn’t force us to go in, and we finally ate, a big plate of fish and chips at a local shop. I didn’t mind it, but Nana suggested, again slightly too loudly, that I deserved a medal for finishing the food.

It was a fairly long drive home, but scenic all the way.

Posted by sammyhez 22:15 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged wales aberaeron Comments (0)

Rain, rain, go away

rain 16 °C

On Thursday, Dad and the girls needed to be at Cardiff airport pretty early, so the rest of us sleepily dragged ourselves out of bed to say farewell. I’ll see them again in just a few months, but it always seems like forever when it comes to saying goodbye. I won’t see Mum until Sunday night, either.

I went straight back into work with Trace, despite my exhaustion. It was good to see my colleagues again, but I couldn’t muster up the energy to get to cricket training. Still can’t quite shake this cold – the teammates will have to wait until Saturday.

I had the day off on Friday, and still not feeling 100%, I took the opportunity to finally have a good sleep. In the afternoon, Essendon were playing in Adelaide against the Crows, and I delighted in our brilliant comeback win – not that Adelaide are a particularly good team, but our record interstate is abysmal, so it was very good to watch us winning away from home.

I took Benson for a walk around the reservoir in the afternoon, needing to give myself some exercise more than him.

On Saturday I was in the threes, and I had organised a lift with Chris, who lives nearby. There had been some rain around, but we had been sent three texts from the skipper throughout the morning telling us that the game was definitely on. The fourth, though, received while we were on our way, told us that it wasn’t. Chris very kindly took me home.

Of course, a couple of hours later it was quite sunny, so I went into town. I had a long look around the National Museum, recognising very little from my last visit (they change the exhibitions regularly), with a highlight being a National Geographic photo competition – there were some really great pictures.

I popped into the Castle, as well, and had a wander around the war tunnels, were many residents sheltered during raids. There’s a wealth of things to do in both the Castle and the Museum, they’re brilliant attractions for locals as well as tourists in that sense, it’s just a matter of finding the time and energy.


The following day was also supposed to rain, and we were going to be playing at Miskin, a ground next to a river that often floods, so I wasn’t exactly confident that we’d get a game. But the word on the street was that we were good to go, so made our way down the M4. At 2/52, already having had two rain breaks, a third, much heavier shower came through, and that was us done for the day. Still managed to have tea, though.

Mum arrived in the evening from Abers, and we had a nice dinner while Trace and Mum caught up on medical matters and the rest of us rolled our eyes.

Posted by sammyhez 22:08 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged cardiff Comments (0)

Cricketing heroes

Well, almost.

semi-overcast 17 °C

After getting home so late the previous night, we had a bit of a lie in.

With only one day to see the sights, though, we eventually got moving. Driving into town using our large people mover, we had a walk through Bute Park to Cardiff Castle, exploring the towers, the keeps, the underground passages, the brilliantly decorated rooms and seeing the birds of prey that are kept there for some reason.


Mum then took Ro, Mat and Molly to explore the great sights of Cardiff (actually, no, they went shopping) while the sensible ones went to the Cardiff Story museum, another free museum in Wales, and of a pretty good standard, too. The history of Cardiff and the region was outlined in great detail, from prehistoric times through to the Romans through to the coal glory days and the present. They had interactive stuff to keep kids entertained, too – I think it’s great that the Welsh Assembly sponsors all of these museums, but I’m not sure quite how they afford it.


In the evening I packed my cricket bag, gave Dad some whites and we headed off to the Blackweir playing fields for our first (and probably only) cricket game together, for MCC against Media Wales. For a journalist who is generally suspicious of medics, it was quite amusing that Dad was fronting up for a team of doctors against a team of journos.

Having not won any proper matches for the entire season, and only fielding ten players and no wicketkeeper, we weren’t exactly confident of victory. But we won the toss, elected to bat and on a slow pitch put up a reasonable fight. After walking into the change room and saying he hadn’t played for twenty years, Dad was demoted to number nine and wasn’t required, but I managed to get a scrappy twenty-odd opening the batting o help the team to a score in the nineties.

I opened the bowling, too, quite successfully, and I would’ve been even more successful if a certain short cover hadn’t dropped a catch. I forgive you, Dad, even if the batsman did go on to bat nearly the rest of the innings.

I bowled the last over, too, trying to defend six runs, and failed, consigning us to yet another defeat. But it was much closer than it might have been.


Defeated, but not disheartened, we got in the car and drove up to Cardiff Bay, the trendy, newly developed docklands of the city. After showing the family the sights, including the brilliant Millenium Centre and Welsh Assembly buildings, we had a nice dinner to cap off a great trip. It was sad knowing that this was our last day together, and for the girls knowing they had to go straight back to school, but by the time I actually got around to writing this I’m only a few weeks away from seeing them again!


Posted by sammyhez 21:12 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged cardiff family Comments (0)

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