Monday, 14 August 2017

Maesycrugiau, Carmarthenshire - 3 - 14 August


Our journey
Our next house sit was deep in the Welsh countryside in the county of Carmenshire, in the tiny village of Maesycrugiau, near the market town of Lampeter. We've been to this area before when we did a house sit south of Camarthen last Easter. We spent a few days making our way down in the campervan beforehand.  Our first stop was planned to be a C&CC temporary holiday site in Criccieth. However, on arrival, we were unable to get the van up the steeply sloping field, which was very wet underfoot. So Plan B was another THS just outside Tywyn, close to the sea. This one was in a fairly level field, although again quite wet. We'd planned to stay for a couple of nights; but while the campsite was OK, the town and seafront was very tired. We'd already booked a C&MC CL (5-pitch site) in the hamlet of Forge, just outside Machynlleth for the third night so we rang them and booked another night. On arrival I had a walk around to test the ground - more soggy field! But there was a long, gravelled road in and we were able to park on it at the bottom. It was a beautiful spot, surrounded by mountains and trees, with a river running alongside the site. We spoke to the owner and he told us he fed the kites each day at 3pm. About an hour before these large birds of prey started to appear, calling and circling overhead, an amazing sight. We walked up to the road to get a better view and watched them circle, turn and then, en-masse, swoop down to grab some meat. It was incredible to see so many; we counted 28 but the owner told us up to 50 came on one occasion last year! They stayed around for another hour or so before dispersing back to their own territory.  The next morning we followed a circular walk of about 7 miles; the owner kindly lent us an OS map. It was a lovely walk, a mix of lanes, forest paths, hills and open fields, surrounded by mountains in all directions.  We only met one couple walking, plus one man as we chatted to a lady who lived on one of the farms we passed through. It was a very warm day with plenty of sunshine. As we returned to the van the last of the kites were circling after feeding time and the rain started. Showered and fed, the man we'd seen out walking came into the site to camp.  His name was Rob and he's walking the Glynd┼Ár's Way, some of which we covered today. He was carrying his tent and belongings and had been walking for some days. We made him a brew and sat outside to chat to him; a really nice guy. We offered him some hot water and our blue bucket so he could clean up as this site has no facilities; we know how great a hot wash is after a long walk. Today we also had news from our estate agent that an increased offer had been made on our house, which we accepted - let's see if this one actually gets to exchange! So these last two days in the peace and quiet were very relaxing and I think we'll definitely be coming back to this past of Wales. 



The house and area
We're looking after a large detached house which, until the early 1980s, was the village post office and, in earlier days, also the telephone exchange.  The owners have been here a few months and have started a large programme of refurbishment.  There's a large garden around the house which attracts many wild birds, plus another landscaped garden with a pond just across the road, looking over the valley and hills.  They also have two acres of land. One is a young orchard with a polytunnel and some veg beds; part of our job was to keep them maintained and watered, plus enjoy the veg.  The other field is a wildflower meadow. They have plans to turn this into a small campsite.  The house is in a small hamlet in a village a few miles from Lampeter.  It's close to the river Teifi, which is a popular fly-fishing river.  It was very quiet here with no artificial light, so on clear evenings (not many as it rained most days!) the milky way was very bright.  We walked alongside the river and down some of the quiet lanes.



Cow eating the garden!


The pets


We looked after three lovely cats: Twizzle, Smee and Fidget.  They all had their own personalities and characters and were clearly loving the country life, often only appearing at meal times.  We soon knew we were in their gang, as they left us a few headless 'presents' on the kitchen floor!  They were easy to look after and eventually came to sit with us. Although not strictly pets, we also fed the birds plus put out special food for the hedgehogs to enjoy at night. Here's photos of the cats; Fidget lived up to his name and took an age to get his photo!

Smee - assuming the position!

Fidget is hard to capture - he found the Mac cover a warm spot!

Twizzle - he found Cathy's chair very comfortable
Our days
The weather was a bit mixed but we still managed to get a few jobs done.  This included stacking a huge pile of logs near the top wildflower field, weeding and cleaning the wooden decking. We also spent time in the polytunnel, watering, weeding and picking some lovely veg, which we enjoyed each day.  On the first Sunday we drove to Pembrey Country Park, on the coast, to meet up with some friends from Gosport who were camping in their caravan. It was great to see them again and have a good chat. They made us a lovely lunch and we enjoyed a walk along the beach with their dog Meg; however the very strong wind and rain on that day curtailed the walk.  We also had a sunny but very windy day out on the beach at Traeth Mwnt on the Ceredigion coast, close to Aberporth. I'd anchored off Aberporth several times in warships, as it has an MOD site that monitors and analyses high seas missile firings, particularly surface to surface missiles.  We also had a day out at the Dolaucothi gold mine, which included a great guided tour.


I stacked a huge pile of logs to season for their log burner

If you want to benefit from the warmth of a polytunnel, you need to water



Nido stands out in the car park above Traeth Mwnt

Traeth Mwnt

Blowing a hooley on top of the hill



And to finish
The owners returned after their 10 day break late on Sunday evening. I cooked a chicken curry, aloo gobi (using their home grown potatoes and cauliflower), and rice and we sat eating and catching up on our respective weeks. We slept in the van that night as we need to leave early the next morning as we'd arranged a few house viewings on Anglesey, basing ourselves at another Camping and Caravanning Club temporary holiday sites at Treaddur Bay.   


2 comments:

  1. Hi Paul and Kathy! Love reading your blog about #vanlife. My wife and I are exploring doing exactly the same as you guys did! So we are both fascinated to read to hear about your travels and housesitting. If you are ever passing the midlands and want a cuppa let us know! Peter and Noreen - info@peterbillingham.com

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  2. Hi Peter and Noreen,
    Thanks for the kind comments and offer of tea! Enjoy your adventures.
    Paul

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