On the road again (Machynlleth)
If you've never travelled from Craven Arms to Machynlleth down the A489 as I did today then you should try to make time to do so.
This two hour vintage road to the Ancient Capital of Wales winds through the most beautiful countryside of Europe. Try to time your journey as serendipity did for me on a Sunday morning in late autumn. If you can also russle up little traffic, a cloudless sky, no wind and the sun behind you, then you are in for a magical journey. I defy any approaching winter blues to dare show themselves on such a day in these surroundings. I travelled from haunting hamlets with wonderfully evocative names like Clatter, Carno, Ceri and Commins Coch to old market towns like Churchstoke, Newtown and Machynlleth itself with tempting carboot sales, shops and café coffees, through broad glacial valleys with streams, rivers, pools and mills, stunning houses and pubs and the most breathtaking vistas of the sort only the Borders and wonderful Wales can offer. And if you carry on, you will find the sea creeping up on you beyond Machynlleth as you round the corner North up to the enchanting Aberdyfi which is where I am writing this week’s blog. There’s nothing more to say. Just do it. I guarantee it. Two hours that will stay with you forever.
I discovered the road totally by accident. I’m sure there are other roads to West Wales but this one is THE road to travel. I had stopped off near a friend’s house south of Shrewsbury in a wonderful village called Snailbeach, with superb views of the Marches and a Village Hall with an honesty box charged car park (in case you’re wondering, I paid £2) where I stopped for the coldest night of the autumn so far. This morning, the satnav directed me South then West. I am taking two days to work my way up from Petersfield in Hampshire where yesterday I did an evening’s Mix and Mingle Magic in a Mall called Ram’s Walk. Actually that reminds me. On the road today there were wonderful signs. I love roadside signs on the old A and B roads. Not the formal official ones but the hastily scribbled or painted efforts trying to catch the passing trade. Today’s second favourite was
And of course the mistaken apostrophe shouted at me – Ram’s what for sale? Poo perhaps or maybe even balls! Special attention for ewe? Any other suggestions?
And the other intriguing first favourite
Morning Sticks for Sale
Apparently it’s an old name for kindling. Not something that would be made by the man who gave this talk, discovered on a sign at my destination in Aberdyfi;
It is days like today that confirm the simple rightness of my travelling life and the decision I made to live on the road. I found a lovely quiet free carpark in Aberdyfi and after a long beach walk with the dogs, a read of the paper and a delicious Day 2 pasta (always nicer than Day1), I’ve lit a fire and am settling down for a quiet early night and a film before the Cat’s Paw Theatre shows at Twywn School tomorrow. Yes it is a wonderful way of living and I think the thing I love best about it is the simplicity. In my lorry I only have things I use or are beautiful. Ideally both.
To see what I mean, try the Teaspoon Test. Go into your kitchen now, or the next time you’re in there, open the cutlery drawer and count your teaspoons. The last time I lived in a house I did it. 18 teaspoons. If I had 18 people in that house at any one time I wouldn’t have been able to move! And even then they would all have needed to stir their tea at the same time to justify having all those teaspoons. But there they were - 18 of them. And as for all the rest of the clutter of living, well I’m sure you know what I mean. And I bet the one favourite teaspoon you use all the time is there on the top. Or maybe it’s still in the washing up bowl…
I now have two teaspoons. And one coffee spoon. All three are platonic spoons. Isobel called them that. What is a platonic spoon? (Well please don’t do as I once did, go into a silverware shop and ask for a platonic spoon.) They are just perfect spoons. Silver plated. Classically simple and, for me, they must be made in Sheffield. And I don’t need more than three. Arguably I don’t even need three. It’s just that one teaspoon always loses itself in the drawer.
Till next week, all the best from a road near you,
Mr Alexander’s Travelling Blog