Monday, 17 September 2007

A W(h)ale(s) of a Time

The windtunnel broke down for a couple of days and the weekend was open so we decided to drive to Wales. A couple of years ago Robin visited a village called Hay-on-Wye in Wales that is famous for its many and varied book stores. Right up my alley! We arranged a B&B for 2 nights and hit the road. As we got close to Hay I saw signs for "Arthur's Stone" so once we settled in we got out the bikes and headed out on our "quest" to find it.

The terrain in Wales is quit unforgiving to cyclists. Very narrow roads with steep steep pitches. Plenty of great scenery but you are either in oxygen-debt trying to get up a hill or holding on and watching out for rocks, holes, cars, fences, and sheep on the way down. At the bottom of one hill was a sign that said Not Suitable for Heavy Goods Vehicles (also sometimes referred to as HGVs). As I ended up pushing my bike part way up this hill I've determined I must be an HGV.

Arthur's Stone was the name given to a Neolithic burial site. It was in use many many years before the legend of King Arthur ever came to be but it is a good name anyway.

One of Robin's co-workers, Dave, was in Hay that night too so we had a nice dinner with him. Next morning Dave was heading back to Farnborough but we were doing a bike loop that would bring us back to Hay through the Black Mountains. More unforgiving hills and sheep but a very cool ride. We visited a little church tucked way back in the hills that had this intricately carved wooden screen, St. Issui in Partrishow. A little further north we saw the ruined Tintern Abbey.

Next morning we looked in a few book shops before leaving town but didn't buy anything. Stopping in Ross-on-Wye we found a plague cross in the churchyard. It is a plain stone cross commemorating more than 300 townspeople who were buried by night in unmarked graves during the plage.

We were about 45 minutes from Farnborough when Robin's boss, Rick, called on the mobile to say the wind tunnel was back up and running. Good thing we'd decided against staying one more day in Wales!

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