Kiri and


Take time to make your soul happy

November 7th, 2021 (by Steve)

With the pandemic still in full flow (albeit with hope on the horizon), when a chance appeared for Kiri and I to escape with Fifi for a few nights in the summer, we leaped at it! The grandparents arrived, we packed our things and hopped into Fifi, ready for a quick escape! Kiri pushed back the driver’s seat… but then couldn’t get it forward again. 10 minutes later after levering the mechanism back into place with a short plank, we tried again. Only this time we’d forgotten the key – good start!

With a slightly rosier outlook for the pandemic, we chose to venture further afield in Fifi than last year, but still heeding the advice of the Pet Shop Boys. We arrived in Brecon, stopped at Aldi to stock up the fridge (reduced lamb burgers, brioche rolls and local beer), then found our car park for the night. It had a big sign saying “no camping”, but we know that one! All it means is that we couldn’t put out an awning, camping chairs, barbecue etc – and that was fine by us. The car park was in a lovely quiet spot right next to the river and whilst it was deserted when we arrived, others joined once it was free to stay (between 6pm and 8am). We got cracking with tea and found the reason that the rolls were reduced; lovely and mouldy inside… but the rest of tea was good. It meant that we had to head into town to hunt for bread that evening, but it was a lovely stroll along the promenade and back to nicely set us up for an evening of beer and crib before being in bed soon after 9.

The night was fairly uneventful – we were only woken by rain once, and then again when I rolled over in my sleep, knocked the bottom of the spring-loaded blind and it shot up, but otherwise it was quiet. The alarm went off at an incredibly civilised 7:55am for us to get another parking ticket, then we had a leisurely cooked breakfast with the fresh bread.

We’ve said before that when we were travelling and we arrived at a new place, we’d always seek somewhere high, to get a feel for the lie of the land and several years on, we haven’t changed (at least not in that respect). It was a short drive to Pen y Fan from Brecon, where we changed into our walking gear and set off.

About half way up we were overtaken by the army who were going at quite a pace, but we were in no rush. Whilst we started in sunshine, as we climbed the mountain we entered a cloud, where it was very wet. By the time we reached the peak, we were soaked, and couldn’t see much at all. Was that a metaphor for life at the moment where we don’t have a clear view of the lie of the land? However, there was a small, painted stone with the words “take time to make your soul happy”. Maybe that’s the message we should be taking from this?

It was amusing to see some graffiti on a stone at the top saying this was nothing compared to the Tatras mountains and we had to agree, but the descent was much more comfortable 7 years on following my knee operation a few years ago. After a soggy amble down the mountain, we broke into short-lived sunshine that turned to a torrential shower just as we arrived back in Fifi for lunch.

After lunch, we turned south, towards Pont y Pandy… nope, that’s not right… Font y Gary. Now why would we do that? Well, whilst we try to be optimists in life, we hadn’t expected England to be in the Euros semi-final, so had totally mistimed our trip away. We’d heard rumours that we’d have a good signal and electric hook up on a campsite in South Wales and given we wanted to avoid being in a bar (due to COVID) that seemed like a good solution. So we’d hastily booked a few days before.

So we arrived at the campsite, hooked up to electricity, turned on the gas, got the kettle on… now time to test the television. Wouldn’t tune. Tried again. Wouldn’t tune. Went outside to see if the aerial was pointing the right direction. No aerial. Started to panic – had it fallen off? Called for remote technical support – my Father in law confirmed there wasn’t meant to be an aerial. Hmmm, still no signal. Kiri didn’t like my alternative suggestion of watching a DVD of Midsomer Murders that we’d found by the TV, so we tried a different tack. We had free WiFi on the pitch (camping, not football), so we tried that – DHCP not working, so couldn’t get an IP address.

Now I was very uncomfortable being in a bar with cases on the rise, but Kiri was adament that we couldn’t miss the match, so we headed to the campsite bar (yep, it’s some campsite!) to find out if we had to book. We didn’t, but it was first come first served, so they suggested we arrive by 18:30 for an 20:00 kick off. Just time to grab fish and chips from the campsite entrance.

We arrived in the bar at bang on 18:30, to find it deserted. So we filled in the track and trace forms, ordered drinks on our phones and nursed them over several games of crib before the bar began to fill up at around 19:30. I won’t give any spoilers in case you missed the match, but there was a mix of English and Danish support in the bar and one group left disappointed. We had news from home that kids were asleep nice and early (following a 5:30 wake up that morning!) and to be honest, I didn’t want the match to go to extra time because I wanted to go to bed too! At least we had an option to have a lie in the following morning.

And that’s exactly was we did – it wasn’t solid sleep, but we remained horizontal until 9am which was a luxury. Just one night without an alarm was so restorative. And a slow-paced morning with no agenda was equally balm for the soul – bacon butties and coffee with a sea view in the sun. First question was whether we should shower (we decided it was best to as I had to go to work the next day as soon as we got home), and then the second question was how we should spend the rest of the day. After much deliberation, we moved to the car park next door (still in the grounds of Font y Gary) and then went for a wander along the South Wales coast path

We took our time wandering around the perimeter of Aberthaw power station – a beautiful post-industrial landscape being reclaimed by nature. It brought back memories of a photo walk I did at Folkestone Harbour Railway Station many years ago before it was restored, with amazing flora and fauna fighting back against concrete and rusting steel. And we saw a heron. Definitely not a pelican (don’t ask!). As we wandered we had long conversations about how to be church – the pandemic has got us questioning, deconstructing and exploring. We stopped for a protein bar and some Makka Pakka stone stacking on the beach, then headed back to Fifi for a well overdue lunch. Mountains? Tick. Sea? Tick. Just woodland to find now, and we’ve ticked off the three best types of landscape…

Sadly we’re out of practice with this whole motorhoming malarkey, and we’d forgotten to turn on the gas when we parked up, meaning the fridge had slowly been warming up whilst we’d been walking. It was such a shame that I had to therefore have icecream for lunch! It was also a shame that we had to have a game of adventure golf before we left the campsite – I mean, there was a dragon on the course and it would have been rude to drive away without getting a selfie with it…

Our drive back up to Gloucestershire took us on a couple of loops of Newport (I was navigating, and totally missed the petrol station!) before we arrived on a great campsite – well established, quiet and well thought-out. We emptied the loo and disposed of some recycling (we’re living the dream!) before tucking into one of our standard Bertha meals – pasta and veg in a tomato sauce… and just like the old days before kids, we could put olives, wine and chorizo in it. Nom.

After dinner, we stowed things away in preparation for a swift morning getaway, before settling down to read the bible together. It used to be a solid part of our Bertha travelling routine (normally straight after breakfast) and we miss that unhurried daily rhythm of grappling with what the words mean for our lives. We picked a section at random that talked about living a radical life of sacrifice and service to others and pondered on how we could live that with young kids… in the middle of a pandemic! We continued pondering as we played a game of Ligretto for old times sake. I tell you what, our reactions are a lot slower than they were 7 years ago!

Our 7am alarm would herald the last lie in for a while, so we grabbed a banana, tidied up, emptied the loo one last time and the grey waste before the short drive home. Our arrival home was timed to perfection – 2 minutes later and Fifi would have been facing off against a recycling lorry coming the other way, but that epic standoff (and resulting screenplay) would have to wait for another occasion. Instead, we hopped out, had an enthusiastic welcome home from the kids – it was so great to see them – and then after a swift handover I headed off to work.

So that’s twice we’ve been on a Fifi adventure just the two of us. Could we make it work with 4? She’s a six berth beast… so maybe our next Fifi blog post will be about the trials and tribulations of motorhoming with two little ones?!

And now once again for the infomercial. Do you want a selfie with a dragon? Do you want to sleep in a car park? Are you dreaming of football success? Actually, all of those are irrelevant to booking Fifi… but if you do fancy taking Fifi on her next adventure, why not visit the Motorhome Holiday Company website to find out more. Terms and conditions still apply; it will likely be time taken to make your soul happy, and you may end up buying your own.

One Response

Great to read of your adventures, makes me feel young(er) again! I always wanted a motor-home or a caravan) but there is nowhere free to keep it 10 months of the year, and Jean refuses point blank to share any space smaller than this house with me.

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