Finding the Washing Line

Tuesday, December 07, 2004 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Swansea, Wales to Aberystwyth, Wales

From Swansea, we drove to Carmenthen and on to Cardigan. The road to Cardigan is narrow and curvy, through valleys and tiny villages, following a river for a while. Tree trunks along the way have lots of moss, and ferns line the roadside.
We stopped in Cilgarren near Cardigan to visit Cilgarren Castle. The reception for the castle is located in the basement of Castle House, a house next to the castle where the caretaker lives. We were the only visitors this morning, so the caretaker gave us a key to the padlock on the gate up the steps and 200 yards from the reception.

High above the river, the castle was sited to control the river crossing and to be accessible to sea-going ships. The fortress had evidence of four floor levels in the towers. We climbed the wet and slippery circular stairs up one tower and down another. Returning to reception, we talked with the caretaker and learned that her daughter attended college in Texas, where she got married and remained.

We reached the Welsh coast at Aberaeron and took a few photos. The village is very colorful with row houses each painted in different hues.
Following the road north along the shore, we saw many farms on the coast. It remains surprising to see green fields dotted with sheep going down to the beach. As the road climbs up the hills between villages, the vistas are striking. As Woodie described it, you feel as if you are driving through a storybook.
We arrived in Aberystwyth a little after noon. With only the sketchiest of directions and really no help from Rosie (because we had been unable to obtain a street address for the self-catering cottage when we called and booked last night), we somehow stumbled upon the cottages. We were helped greatly by a photo of the cottages in the brochure we had picked up from the TI office, which was great because there was no sign on the property.

We parked next to the cottages which turned out to also be beside a horse barn emitting quite a ripe smell. We found a couple of women and asked where reception was. One was Mrs. Evans, the manager, to whom Ken had spoken last night, and the other was her daughter-in-law who helps with the cleaning of the cottages. She was just finishing the one we had booked and left saying she would return with towels later.

We carried in our things, eager to get some laundry done. We located a single machine in a closet in the bathroom. It sort of looked like a cross between a washer and a dryer, and we assumed it did both. We asked Mrs. Evans, Jr., who lives in cottage #4 to show us how to operate the machine. She came in and patiently showed us which knobs to use in which order and which setting was best for most clothes. I asked, “How does the dryer part work?” “Oh no,” she said, “it only washes. The washing line is in back.” Hmmmm… That would be right next to the smelly horse stables. OK. Maybe we don’t really need to do laundry today after all.
After preparing and eating lunch, we tried in vain to get the radiators to put out some heat. Finally, Ken went and asked Mrs. Evans, Jr. “Oh,” she said. “Are you in for the day? Then we’ll turn it on.” At last, the cottage was beginning to get warm, and we went off to visit a nearby sight called Devil’s Bridge in a town of the same name so Rosie was able to guide us. She is very clever and seems to know all the back roads and short cuts, so we were soon there.
Two rivers, the Mynach and Rheidol, come together to create a waterfall over 300 feet high. Three bridges have been built across the chasm, one above the other, and Devil’s Bridge is the earliest one, believed to be the 12th century work of the monks from nearby Strata Florida Abbey. The next higher bridge dates from 1753, and the topmost structure from the early 20th century. We deposited our £1 coins to enter the turnstile and climbed down the steep, wet, slippery steps to the bottom of the falls where the force of the water has worn circles into the rock, known locally as the “punch bowl.”

Later we visited the Aberystwyth city center and went to the TI center, museums, and the public library for internet access. After we were unsuccessful in locating a grocery store for dinner purchases, we ate at a pub near the cottage, the Tgnllidiart Arms. There we met Boswell Evans, the barkeep, and had a very pleasant chat with him and a local twenty-something who reminded us of one of our godsons. A bit later, a guy who is working on a General Electric wind turbine farm construction came in and visited with us also. They offered some pointers for our travels north, which we were happy to receive.

Finally returning to the cottage, which we learned was in the tiny town of Capel Bangor, we discovered that 1) we had no towels, and 2) the odd-looking box-shaped refrigerator which looked like a freezer actually is a freezer. Fortunately all we had put in it were some Diet Coke(sicles) and some cheese(sicles).

We had an email from Woodie with the name of the B&B where he and Kathy had stayed in Betws-y-Coed. We’ll try to locate it tomorrow.