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A Swift Bounce


It has been a year since I took delivery of my campervan and it was to be the start of a life of tramping around Wales at the drop of any hat. That was the theory but often theory turns out to be greatly different to practice, that was one of those occasions. The conversion process turned out to be a nightmare with the six-week delivery period being greatly exceeded with excuses becoming more and more impossible to believe. The thought of the substantial advance payment I had made was causing me increasing worry. Eventually, 14 weeks later, with great relief it was delivered but not without teething issues.

It was nice to drive with a high seating position giving me an improved view of the countryside but the living quarters didn't really work. When extended the pull-out bed took the whole of the space apart from about 2 feet behind the front seats and it extended to just beyond the fridge door making it impossible to open without pushing the bed back. There was storage space but that was also blocked by the bed. It just didn't work and I was very disappointed but, until now, I decided to just make do with the situation. The answer was obvious, the bed would have to come out and be replaced by a permanent single bed along the side, there would be a storage space underneath and a back rest so that it made a seating area. A further unit across the back would provide some more seating, but more important is the storage under it. I also wanted to have the suspension lowered slightly and have the engine remapped.

Looking around for someone to do the work for me was a concern, I didn't want to be caught again so I listed the converters within easy distance and drove around checking their locations, tidyness and so on. I found one within four miles, spoke to the owner who knew exactly what I wanted and added his own suggestions so I booked a date. I took delivery of my 'new' van early last week and was very pleased with the result, it may surprise you to know that I wanted to use it immediately and why wouldn't I?

I had already packed a travel bag so loaded the van up with essentials and hit the open road. I had it in mind to do a walk on the banks of the Menai Strait between the Britannia and Menai Bridges and the conditions seemed just right with the tide being low during the day and a promise of some sunshine. It was about 1.30pm when I set off and had decided to stop at Dolgellau for my evening meal. I stopped at Aberaeron in case there was a chance of a colourful sunset but the sun had already decided on a moderately meagre setting. It was about 7.30 when I arrived at Dolgellau and had parked on what will always be known as the 'Marian' to me. I didn't have to look far for a place to eat because the lights of the Gatehouse Steakhouse was beckoning me, in I went.

I was spoilt for choice but I have a habit of looking out for something different and chose a trio of beefburgers, each with a different filling. Whilst waiting I checked my emails only to find that I had no proper ones, no-one wanted to speak to me - how very sad!

Soon the waiter arrived with a tray adorned with a glossy serviette, three appetising burgers were laid in a row from corner to corner. They were delicious but not easy to eat tidily and I think we can search high and low for different ways of serving food but will never find anything better than a plate! The cheesecake that followed was scrummy and the espresso to finish was perfect, high praise from someone who is fussy about such things!

Back in the van then and on my way, at a little hamlet called Ganllwyd there is a little car park with the convenient presence of a convenience and that is where I chose to lay my head down for a few hours. I woke at 2.00am and was wide awake so decided to continue the journey, not another car on the road, I arrived at a very quiet Porthmadog and started wondering whether there could be the possibility of a nighttime shot of Cricieth Castle. Only one way to find out so I turned left and was soon parked on the front. Had the castle been lit up it would have worked but everyone is cutting down these days, however if there was a full moon ... ! I must look up the dates and note them down on my calendar.

I made my way back to the Caernarfon road, still no traffic, and pulled into a layby on the outskirts and slept until 7.00. The traffic had woken up by then so I crossed the bridge and headed for Penmon point on the eastern side of the Strait, listened to the morning news and gazed out to sea.

The walk that I intended was one of the 'Weatherman Walking' series, if you are outside Wales it is likely that you will not have heard of them so, to clarify. We have a very popular weatherman in Wales called Derek Brockway who has, for a number of years now been tramping the hills and dales of Wales and delighting 'Armchair Walkers' everywhere. Well, if his programmes are a delight to view then to actually walk in his footsteps is trebly so. The walk started at Llanfair PG and ended at Menai Bridge with a bus then back to the start, I shall post the pictures on the site in a few days. The only thing was I had not checked the times of the buses so decided to walk the rest of the circle making a very manageable 7 miles or so. It was about mid-day and time to head for home, I had tested the van and it was a complete success, it was also time for lunch, I knew just the place.

The Goat Inn at Glandwyfach is on the A487 between Caernarfon and Porthmadog, serves good food and, what's more important, they speak Welsh there! I had the braised steak in a rich onion gravy - with chips! I rounded it off with an excellent espresso, bade my farewells and was on the road again. It was easy going until the light started fading so I tucked myself in at a leafy lay-by and snoozed until all the workers were safely sitting at their dinner tables with their napkins tucked into their collars.

I was home about 8.30pm after a very satisfying bounce to and from Anglesey, the Mother of Wales.

And so to bed ....... zzzzzzzzzzz


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