Good evening and welcome to another in my series of 2020 weekly blogs. How has your week been? I hope it has been a decent one. Things have been fair to middling here…
It’s easiest to describe my version of the last week in very short sentences. It’s been wet. The heating has been on more than once. Work is (ridiculously) busy. Weird people are hoarding toilet roll again. I had the shortest flu jab appointment in the history of vaccinations. I’ve slept poorly. I’ve tried to eat better after a week of gluttony. I have started and not finished four separate blog posts. And I have been a master of procrastination.
But those are the boring bits… hopefully slightly more interesting are the bits of my weekly blog I choose to write a few more words about. The idea here has always been to share something of my life that sits between the very exciting and the quite frankly mundane. The highlight of my week this week certainly fits in that category.
A Wet Walk in Monmouthshire
I write this weekly blog feeling warm and dry after a lovely but rather damp walk in Monmouthshire this morning. I mean, I’m even sat here drinking a mug of luxurious white hot chocolate (this one from Whittards). One of things I like about my weekly blog is having the opportunity to share a few notes on very mini adventures I have that I wouldn’t otherwise talk much about, and this is certainly one such occasion.
I met up with good friend Katy (check out her blog here and follow @hellokatyish on Instagram) and her dog Tilly at the Wireworks car park in Tintern, where it is free to park. Did you know that wire was made by pulling metal “violently”? I kind of want to give it a try! Anyway, Katy had earmarked a slightly modified version of the Angidy Trail for us to hike, which takes some of Tintern’s hidden history – the bits a little bit away from the famous and popular Abbey ruins.
The trail does end up at the Abbey, so you don’t miss it completely, but first you see the furnace, forge and wireworks, the workers’ cottages, limekilns, and tidal dock. We added in a bit to take us up onto one of the surrounding hills too, as what’s a Sunday walk without a bit of a hill to climb?! We walked, chatted, took lots of photos, and it was such a good way to spend a Sunday morning.
And yes, it was raining. A lot. Thankfully much of our route was through beautiful thick woodland on the Wales side of the River Wye, which gave us some shelter. While it was heavy rain, it wasn’t torrential, and the still air meant it didn’t get in our faces or make us cold. You won’t be surprised to learn that as a result we didn’t see many other people out enjoying the trails, or even around the Abbey itself. But walks are often made better by encounters with others; today it was thanks to one very chatty local who lived on the trail near the start. He helped us find the right path, gave us a proper local history lesson, and made us both smile with his stories of celebrities in the local pub.
We walked around 5.5 miles in all, up and down hills, through forest and woodland, along muddy footpaths following the River Wye, and even some winding country lanes. It was a lovely walk, the perfect opportunity to catch up with Katy and get some much-needed outdoors time to top up the soul. It’s also opened the door to other hikes in the area. Next time we’ll pick a better weather day and will get up onto the hills either side of the Wye, including Devil’s Pulpit and Eagle’s Nest.
If you fancy walking the Angidy Trail over in Monmouthshire, you can download the trail leaflet here, which includes a map of the route and a whole bunch of information on the metal works related history of the area.
If you are looking for a touch of escapism of want to live through other people’s adventures this coming week, I’ve got three YouTube based recommendations here for you to watch.
Transamericana is the feature length documentary that follows Rickey Gates running 3,700 miles across America. I do love a film about a real person doing a big adventure, I know that I’m probably never actually going to do anything to this extent myself, but I love learning about the people that do. The official description of this film is:
In a time of uncertain politics and a crescendo of differences, American Ultra-Runner Rickey Gates sets off on foot across America. In the midst of the 2016 National Elections, which saw Republican candidate Donald Trump win the presidential elections, Gates realised that the America he knew wasn’t necessarily the America that was. Intrigued and curious, Gates decides to head out and see for himself in order to try understand and empathise with his fellow Americans. Starting out on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina, Gates journey takes him five months and nearly 3700 Miles to the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco, California. What begins as a search for the true America, during a period of political turmoil, ultimately becomes a story of identity as Gates begins to find clarity and meaning in his own life.
What I enjoyed most about this film was that Rickey comes across as very unassuming. Yes, he’s running nearly 4,000 miles, which is an incredible feat of fitness and endurance, and you certainly get a feeling for how hard it was. But it’s not that part of the film that comes through the most. Rickey relishes meeting people all along the way, and learning about who makes up America, and what makes his country tick.
Watch the 75 minute documentary here:
I love a motorcycle road trip, but where as my biking adventures have been reasonably sensible and ordinary, even the big one over in North America, there will always be people who like to take things to a completely different level. And when talking about C90 Adventures, I don’t mean to any level of seriousness, life on this Honda C90 cannot be taken seriously.
Trailed as “man rides crap bike everywhere”, Ed March has spent years riding his Honda C90 all over the place. Following on from his Malaysia to UK trip (which became an actual DVD), he set out to ride Alaska to Argentina. The reason for my recommendation this week is because I just caught up with Ed’s latest episode, which sees him share his ride through Colombia, and it’s well worth a watch. Although, he’s not really riding just a Honda C90 any more, but you’ll have to watch the video to learn more about that.
I wish I could ride my bike while drinking a plastic cup of watermelon juice…!
And when talking about C90 Adventures, it would be very remiss of me not to mention Wanda on a Honda. Rachel, Ed March’s other half (for some of this trip…) also has some absolutely fantastic stories to tell. We’ve listened to them both speak at the Overland event, and I totally admire their ability to have the best time on the road.
Next Stop Everywhere
If running across America or travelling the world on a ridiculously little bike isn’t your thing, maybe Claire and Sam from Next Stop Everywhere will give you what you need for your teatime viewing.
This newly married couple decided life was far too short to settle down, and instead have spent the last two years on a grand tour of the UK, Ireland, and Europe in their Swift Freestyle SE C205 motor home. They might be a small YouTube channel but if you are into road trips, European travel, van life, or just enjoy a history lesson, then it would be well worth you checking them out. I thoroughly enjoy their videos, they seem such lovely and interesting people, and are living a life I reckon a lot of us are more than a little bit jealous of.
Their latest offering shows us around Warsaw and Krakow in Poland. I haven’t actually watched it yet, my plan is to get this post published and then watch it, so no spoilers please…
That’s it. Another short weekly blog this time around. I hope you are still enjoying these. I know they’re not all strictly speaking “outdoorsy”, but I do enjoy putting together these memory-jogging weekly diary entries, and hope you think they’re interesting.
I’d love to know about your week. Please go ahead and comment below to let me know what your favourite thing about this week has been…
If you enjoyed reading this episode of my weekly blog, and if you think my weekly blog series is a fun thing to read regularly, and especially if you got to the end of this one(!), I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Come on by next Sunday evening for the next in the series.