Monday, 9 August 2010

Day six. Machynlleth to Llanbrynmair. 15.5 miles.

I forgot to take any photos today, so took two in desperation towards the end but they have limited appeal. Then again so do photos of bowls of unidentifiable somethings.

It's not that the scenery today was rubbish or anything, I just forgot. In fact the scenery was as impressive today as on any other, and the sea made a second appearance in the distance. Today was basically three hills with a couple of gaps in between. I started at 9:45 after saying goodbye to Jen and Liz, then hiding in the Co-op till a shower had passed. After that there was only one shower, and I was able to hide under a tree till it passed.

Three events defined today. The first was that I met two other walkers doing Glyndwr's Way, so I am not the first after all (something I'm a bit disgruntled about to be honest). They did the southern half last year and were on the verge of completing the northern half when I met them, as they were finishing at Machynlleth. They moaned so much about the weather yesterday that I didn't have the heart to tell them that I'd had a day off.

The second event was when I dropped down to the village of Cemmaes Road at lunch time to visit the pub. I wasn't too optimistic after the disappointment of Llanbadarn and sure enough the pub was shut when I got there. In fact it was boarded up and looking almost as derelict as the Greyhound in Llangunllo. There was an old bench outside so I sat down to eat my packed lunch, trying to convince myself that it was a blessing in disguise for my health, etc, etc. I'd been there for about 15 minutes when the door opened. An old man was standing in the doorway looking, well, ill. He said, "I saw you sitting there and thought you might like a drink". Out of context it doesn't mean a lot but at the time I was absolutely staggered. The place was in as bad a state as the Greyhound had been, but this bloke hadn't even died yet. I followed him in to a small, musty room with far too many antique clocks on the wall, only one of which seemed to work. Everything was old, which didn't bode well for the beer. There was no hand pump so I settled for a pint of Ansells on tap. It was actually one of the better pints I've had, partly because it wasn't chilled to within an inch of it's life. We had a chat, during which I discovered that he was ill and that business wasn't good. I left with a real sinking feeling. I have been to several villages now that are losing their focal points, whether it's the pub, the shop or the post office. It's very sad and probably irreversible. But at least I'll remember the time that someone opened their pub especially for me, and closed it after I left.

The third event was in the evening at the Wynnstay Arms in Llanbrynmair, after I'd eaten my lamb shank with veg and mash, meal rating 5/10. I know lamb is a greasy meat but this was ridiculous, the Kenickie of the sheep world. So five points docked for excessive grease and for the presence of a grilled tomato, which had surely escaped from a different meal. Anyway, there was a girl staying at the pub who was studying wind energy as part of her masters and was visiting various mid-Wales wind farms on foot. Along with the landlady we had a brief chat about the subject, then the girl (Jess) asked me if she could interview me for her studies. I said that was fine but was nonetheless quite surprised when she went up to her room and came back with recording equipment, a sort of giant dictaphone, including headphones. Anyway I think I acquitted myself quite well in such stressful circumstances, rambling on happily about renewable resources, education and Adolf Hitler (can't remember now where he fitted in).

After she left I sat in the lounge for a bit, then the landlady informed me that the lounge was closing but the bar was licensed to serve till 4, if I would like to move into there. With 17 miles to do tomorrow I reluctantly declined the offer and toddled off to my room to watch the Football League Show. Ah the new season, it's been so long!

-- Posted from my iPhone

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