That road. I still get the shakes whenever I think of it, even though it's well over a year since our holiday.

It had all began with unexpected sun, a trip to the tourist office and a change of plan. The pictures looked so tempting, and with the beautiful sunshine everyone wanted to get out of town into the hills. And the prospect of ending the day at a picturesque, Welsh village, full of second hand books was enough to persuade me. What the pictures didn't say, however, was that... but now I'm jumping the gun.

We were all in a cheery mood as we left the town and headed out into the country. Our first stop was to be the ruin of an ancient abbey, a renowned beauty spot of high historical interest. For the first few kilometres everything went well. Then we came to the junction where we left the main road. What we saw, did not look inviting. Surely we had made a mistake. A quick look at the tourist guide:

'This must be it. The guide says it's quite a narrow road.'

'Now he tells me!'

We drive on, me wishing I had never succumbed to their wishes to get a large car with enough room to take all seven of us. It would be so much nicer, if we could all stay together. It was okay for them to say that, they weren't driving. Indeed, one and all they had refused to drive on the left side of the road as is normal in the UK. Here, however, there wasn't really a left and right side; just a path down the middle with about a metre of space on either side.

We got to the Abbey safely, and more importantly without meeting anyone coming in the opposite direction. It really was a magnificent site, and the country air, the sun and the joy of being with friends soon made me forget the difficulties of the journey. At least, we wouldn't be going back the same way.

The visit to the Abbey was followed by a picnic only the French know how to serve. They thought of everything; they'd even managed to get French bread back in the town. It was probably made in darkest Wales, but who was I to spoil their illusions. They even managed to forget the wine out of respect for the poor driver. A nice touch.

A few minutes shut-eye and it was time to shake off all those hard-earned calories by climbing the local mountain. I use the word mountain advisedly. It was the term the locals used. In reality, it was little more than a large elevation extending behind the abbey but which afforded us a lovely view of the surrounding countryside.

We left the Abbey wishing we could just pitch our tents and spend the rest of our lives there. But there was more to explore. The guidebook described the scenery we were about to lay siege to as one of the most ruggedly beautiful in the country. From the way the others still enthuse over it, they must have been right. What the guidebook didn't say was that the road, at first deceptively wide, would soon become as narrow as the previous part, before tightening even more until our car could no longer pass without scraping the hedges on either side. I was petrified. I hated driving at the best of times. And now this. In addition, scratches on a rented car... how were we going to explain that one; not to mention the number of times we met someone, sometimes even bigger cars, coming in the opposite direction. And thanks to good old Murphy I was always nearest to the last passing point than those coming the other way. Then and there I swore an oath never to repeat the feat.

We got there. I can't remember how, but thanks to the wonders of a modern electronic car with board computer I can inform me that we did 37 kilometres, at an average speed of 17 kilometres per hour and that if I continued at that rate, our tank would be empty before we got back home. There was also a bit of deceit in there somewhere but I can't tell you about that or it might get me into trouble.

But I got my revenge once we arrived in the book place. Like the hard slave master I am in class, I set the others the task of polishing up the car to get rid of any signs of the scratches, whilst I went and got high off the smell of stale books in old bookshops. I even indulged myself by getting them all to sign one of the books I bought as a small memento of a day I would far rather forget. Oh, and need I say that we took another way back!


You notebook sure knows how to hold good stories..

gyrating on its own steam of oath

22 April 2009 at 14:54  

A well-crafted travelogue.

22 April 2009 at 15:47  

It is the journey. Thanks for letting me come along!

22 April 2009 at 16:21  

Thanks for allowing us to share your trip. You took us right there with you.

23 April 2009 at 00:43  

"the road, at first deceptively wide, would soon become as narrow as the previous part, before tightening even more until our car could no longer pass without scraping the hedges on either side"

Thats how life goes,wide at the start but narrower as it goes


23 April 2009 at 09:12  

Interesting tale. I could feel the frustration.

23 April 2009 at 13:04  

Tales of Designated Drivers! My first car was an enormous American Sedan. A 1970 Mercury Marquis. I ended up de facto driver as everyone could pile in. it was a burden, and I wished for small pickup truck.

A note to Harsha, than our waistlines are inversely related to life!

23 April 2009 at 19:01  

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