At last, the opportunity arose where I could do something that I had pondered on for a long time and not feel (too) guilty about doing. Sounds ominous, I know but it really isn’t.
You see, I like to write. I like to travel. Like most of us do, I’m sure. I fancy myself as a bit of a Shirley Valentine. For those not acquainted with the story, you have missed a treat. It is about a woman who goes on holiday with a colleague, who cops off with a chap as soon as she is off the plane and Shirley is left to fend for herself in a foreign land. She soon makes friends with “rock” (yes, a real one) on the beach and whiles away the time chatting to it, until she finds that there is more to be discovered in Greece than an inanimate object. In fact, she discovers herself and realises how “small” (her words, or should I say, Willy Russell’s) her life is and as with all revelations, things start to change.
After explaining all that, I have to confess that my life isn’t like poor old Shirley’s. The only comparison, is that I wanted to sample holidaying alone for a weekend, hoping to get away from all distractions so that I can have some quality writing time, whilst the other half works all weekend on night shift and is unavailable for any “couple” activities. The latter does make me feel guilty; I do have some compassion.
However, determined to do this thing, I set off a tad after nine on a sunny Saturday morning, my route planned out and full of optimism that I would reach my destination without any detours. All went to plan, even though I had underestimated how long it takes to drive two hundred odd miles. The Eagles greatest hits helped; I can highly recommend that album for a road trip!
I crossed the mighty Severn Bridge, across the Bristol Channel to the toll booth on the other side. I was astonished at how the fee had gone up since the last time I travelled to Wales. Back on the M4 I surprised myself at the speed that my trusty little Fiesta could travel and on numerous occasions, found myself in the outside lane, a practice that I do not usually participate in on account of being a nervous driver.
All was going well; I completed the M4 until there was no more, joined the A48 and after a very slight detour in the opposite direction towards Carmarthen, I swiftly corrected myself and headed towards the A485 to Lampeter. This is where it all went pear shaped because unless it was my imagination, last time I looked at the map, the A485 forked at a place that I was going to work out when I got there, and was meant to merge into the A486 which led to New Quay and hey presto!
My map reading skills are known in our household as risible at best, nonexistent at worst. I had failed the first test and wished the other half was at my side; even if he was full of “I told you so’s”.
So there I was passing through places with unpronounceable names, welcoming me to their village, one after the other, with their 30 mph speed limits, complete with road markings telling me to ARAF or slow down in Welsh and I begun to think I would never find the sea.
Undulating pastures rolled beautifully before me for as far as the eye could see and under normal circumstances, I would have savoured the experience in the manner it was intended, with the joys of spring. I ploughed on, keeping an eye out for any sign of the A486, even getting stuck behind a couple of tractors, this time not so brave to overtake for fear of taking my life in my hands. Patiently I waited for a chance to get past but there were so many bends and brows of hills, I didn’t dare.
The sun was shining, lambs were frolicking in the green, green fields but WHERE WAS THE SEA?
Eventually, I saw a sign for a place that I knew to be near to my destination. I followed the signs to Aberaeron, convinced I was on the right track at last. Hope started to envelope me and when I drove past the familiar pastel coloured houses and out the other side onto the A487, I had a good feeling in my gut.
A couple of miles further on and I found a sign to New Quay! It was a B road but I didn’t care. I turned into it and passed signs for the big Holiday Park that I knew and the feeling of excitement was growing by the second. Then, was it my imagination or just a cruel mirage because I thought I could make out the outline of a hazy horizon. IT WAS THE SEA!
I gave myself a metaphorical high five and could taste what was the end of the road.
It was lucky that I had stayed at the Dolawel guest house before, so I found it easy and there, waiting for me on the front door was an envelope, containing a key, with my name on it. After five long hours, much stress and a full bladder, I had made it. I was rewarded with a very cosy room furnished in a contemporary fashion, with en suite and then I remembered why I liked the place so much.
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