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Blog: Crickhowell Adventures

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After a FAST-FLYING and FUN weekend at Green Man myself and The Days Of My Week settled into a kind of routine for the rest of our hols in The Charming Brecon Beacons, which seemed to involve a WALK, an ACTIVITY and BEER every day. It's the kind of routine one can fall into very happily indeed.

THUS on the Monday we had a walk down and along a nearby CANAL, which featured a visit to a Disappointing Pub followed by a sit down by the Bloody Lovely River Usk, with can of BEER and some Pringles. It was a PICNIC. On the way back we took a shortcut through Crickhowell's churchyard and found that the Church was proudly OPEN. This was such an amazing thing (they're usually LOCKED UP) we went inside for a look, and LOVED it. My favourite thing was a memorial plaque on one wall from hundreds of years ago which started off with all the letters BIG and spaced out, but then had to make them about half size and rammed together at the very bottom to fit everything in. We have ALL done that at some point!

Next day we had an excursion into Abergavenny - I must admit our INTENT was just to go to WAITROSE, but we ended up having a right proper day out. We went for a look at the Castle which was AMAZING - HUGE! IMPRESSIVE! Fully Annotated! - then took a trip a little less far back in time to the Indoor Market. We were both ZOOMED back to our youths, when we'd visit similar affairs near our homes, and it struck me that a market like this is a fantastic thing when you're a child. Once a week WEIRD THINGS become easily available, like a visit from a world of different possibilities. In this instance I had to TEAR myself away from a stall selling unboxed Action Figures of Wrestlers, at only three quid each. BARGAINS!

We did get to Waitrose in the end, which turned out to be a LONG way away, but were rewarded with a) a lot of Convenience Food b) an unexpected RIVER WALK back to town, after which we went to The Swan Hotel, possibly my favourite pub of the whole week. It was VERY old fashioned - not in a Purposeful Show-Off way, but just looked like not much had changed since the 1960s, with plastic seating half full of regulars and a proper Friendly Enough Barman enjoying a (actually very funny) chat with another regular on a stool. The whole of the holiday was a bit like that, as if we'd stepped back in time 20 years to when people still went on UK holidays. I really REALLY liked it.

Wednesday took us on our BIG EXPEDITION up Table Mountain. It was EXHAUSTING but INCREDIBLE when we got to the top, with views for zillions of miles, and it enabled us to POINT at it for the rest of the week, saying "Bloody hell! We went all the way up THERE!" In the evening we had our second trip to the MAGNIFICENT Beer Garden at the Bridge End Inn, where we sat in the glorious early evening sunshine listening to the river, waving at the AndyLoos lorries taking the Green Man toilets back to their homes far away. It was a beautiful spot, and you could watch the other people arriving, sitting down, and just GAZING at the wonder before them. I liked it a LOT!

On our last full day we went round The Local Shops - another Old Fashioned Aspect of Crickhowell was that the A40 runs RIGHT through the middle of it. When I was little I remember going to Cornwall with an I-Spy Book, thinking "Why does it keep saying things like 'How Many Butchers Can You See'? Those are in TOWNS surely?" for even then BYPASSES were being used, so it was odd to see a major road that STILL went through a town. Apart from the busy traffic and slight WHIFF of exhaust fumes you could see the benefits though - this was a small town that could support two chip shops, two barbers (one with three DOGS constantly asleep in its window), two galleries, a book shop, at least five PUBS and a whole host of Other Local Shops. The only real chain was a BOOTS, in fact - it felt like being in an early 70s Costume Drama or something.

Having supported The Local Economy (i.e. MORE BOOZE) we set off on another walk to a nearby Nature Reserve. The walk up Table Mountain had been done via a handy GUIDE, which was JUST the sort I enjoy i.e. very precise, also ACCURATE, so you never feel like you're getting lost. THIS time we just used a low quality MAP in a LEAFLET and so were in constant fear of going the wrong way, not least when we spent 20 minutes clambering up a SHEER ROCK FACE. I was VERY worried - the Very Unclear PAMPHLET said "The easiest route to the Nature Reserve is via the old tram lines" and the pile of RUBBLE we climbed up, which was at LEAST a 60 degree angle, sure LOOKED that way, but when we finally reached the top there was no sign AT ALL that we'd got to the right place... until The Degrees In My Gradient said "Oh look - a park bench."

And LO! there was a park bench! Sat on this five minutes later we heard voices, so I went to talk to an Older Couple who'd come the same way. I was relieved to have them confirm that it WAS the tram lines we'd all climbed, but slightly ashamed to find them hardly out of puff compared to my SWEAT DRENCHED state, and also to see they had Proper Boots, Ordnance Survey Maps and A Clear Idea What They Were Doing. I felt like a prat with a pamphlet, but they very kindly pointed an easier direction home, so we took a MOUNTAIN PATH back... all the way to the Bridge End Beer Garden, in fact!

And that was that - next day we packed up and took a taxi, two trains and two tubes home, amazed to find ourselves back in Leytonstone just four hours after leaving our cottage in the mountains. The whole holiday had begun as a convenient way to avoid camping at a music festival, but turned into a marvellous ADVENTURE full of surprises, fun, and beer. It's a model of festival going I'd hope to return to in future too - it was GRATE!

posted 27/8/2012 by MJ Hibbett

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