Friday, May 14, 2010
I had another McD’s breakfast (two double bacon and egg McMuffins), checked out of the truck stop Travelodge, and was on the road again by about 9:15. It was raining again today, pretty steadily. I mentioned that I intended to stop and try to get pictures of an aqueduct I had seen in Wales back in the 80’s, but I totally forgot about that, as I was so focused on following my route. I had looked up supermarkets, and I was aiming at a particular Sainsburys in Wexham, which was located right along my route.
I found the Sainsburys with no problem, and I got some provisions, although without a kitchen or a fridge, I was pretty limited. In addition to the whisky and beer I needed, I got some chicken breast slices and some half-fat cheese slices. I also got some apples, some peanuts, and some cashews.
It was pretty slow going most of the way. Traffic was just slow in many places, and one town took about 20 minutes to get through, just due to the amount of traffic, I guess. It was stop and go for 20 minutes, until I finally cleared the traffic light in the center of town. One of the problems was that cars kept coming in to the line from side streets – there were more of them than cars going straight through, I think.
I was getting close to my destination by about 1 (It took significantly longer than Google Maps had estimated. It was only about 100 miles, but it took a good 3 ½ hours, not counting my grocery stop.), and I stopped in a lay-by and ate some week old bread, some half-fat cheese slices, some chicken breast meat, and a couple of shortbread cookies, washed down by a Coke Zero. I know, it doesn’t sound very appetizing, but it was a fine lunch for this old rambler. Food is fuel, as well as a pleasure, and this meal was more in the fuel category, which is just fine when it is necessary, like this was. I had driven through a town, looking for places to eat, but there just aren’t the kinds of places where I want to eat, and there is never anywhere to park your car anyway. Cafes and pubs take an inordinate amount of time to prepare and serve a meal, and the cost is just more than it is worth to me, usually, so I was satisfied with my car meal. It was quick, it was tasty enough, and it supplied me with fuel for the afternoon.
As I approached Rhayader, the town I am staying in tonight, I realized I hadn’t printed out a map or directions to find the Red Kite feeding place I wanted to go to this afternoon. I stopped at a sort of café in a lay-by along the road and asked directions, and the woman was able to tell me where it is. The rain had almost let up by that time.
I drove through Rhayader and located my accommodations for tonight. It is an interesting place – a bistro, a bar, a café, and they rent out rooms. It is in the middle of town, and they have a parking area out back, but the access to it is down an incredibly narrow alleyway, with brick walls on both sides. If you don’t want to chance taking your car back there, they advise you to park on the street out front.
Anyway, by this time it was about 2 o’clock, and the kite feeding is at 3. So, I went on out there, right on the outskirts of town, really, and paid my 4 pounds admission charge (about US $6.50). I think I mentioned before that the Red Kite is a threatened species here in Britain, and it had almost died out. They started this feeding program to encourage the local kites to multiply, and it has been very successful. They feed them all year, but it is in the winter that the birds really need it. I suppose it is a money making proposition for the farm that operates it, but the main point is actually to re-establish the species here in Britain.
The rain had slowed down by the time I got there, which was good, as I had to walk about 100 yards to the hides that look out on the field where they feed the kites. They feed them pieces of beef, as much as 500 pounds a week. The number of kites varies with the seasons, and there are a lot of crows, some ravens, and a few buzzards who participate as well. I would guess there were 3 or 4 dozen of the kites there today.
They had a pretty good turnout of paying customers, I thought. I would guess that there were maybe 40 or 50 people there today, spread out among 4 or 5 hides. They have some premium “photography” hides that you can pay extra for, but I chose to sit with the proles. Wait a minute, that should be “the other proles”, I guess.
It was pretty interesting, and the kites are incredibly beautiful birds. I took lots of pictures, and I am going to be putting up a number of them on the website at the same time this goes up. Even the birders among you are going to be bored with the number of kite pictures, but I really enjoyed taking them, and I want to display the ones I like. There are lots of different views of them, which will remind me of the whole spectacle.
When the feeding frenzy had lessened a lot, after about half an hour, I left and came back to Rhayader to check-in to my digs. I’m only staying here one night. I passed on the narrow passageway to their parking lot, and found a place on the street out front, only a few doors down from Ty Morgans, which is the name of this establishment. I checked in and asked about parking on the street, which is what they had recommended on their website. There are signs saying one hour parking until 8 PM, but they told me that it is not enforced at all, so my car is out on the street. Local rules, I guess. Fingers crossed. I don’t like disobeying the rules in a strange land.
My room is interesting. It is quite large, with a king size bed, a whirlpool tub and a separate shower, and a loft that has a sofa and TV in it. There is a second TV downstairs, too. Only 30 pounds, too, which is quite reasonable, I think. A “full Welsh cooked breakfast” is included. Of course, one of the reasons I booked it is because they have wireless internet access. Unfortunately, reception is very marginal here in my room, and I keep losing the signal and getting it back. It is very sporadic and very annoying. Oh well, internet some of the time is better than no internet, I guess. I have managed to process my photos from the last two days, and I think I have managed to get them uploaded to my website. I will work at it until I can get this up and put in the links to the new Photos09 and Photos10 pages, along with this Ramblings. If worse comes to worst, I’ll go downstairs to the bar and do it from there.
I have had a couple of beers, snacked a little on some cashews, and I’m sipping Scotch now. I might go downstairs and get some dinner – the Steak and Ale Pie sounds good, but I might just eat the rest of my chicken breast and some more cheese and call it dinner. I sure do prefer to have my own kitchen.
Tomorrow I have a couple of choices, and what I choose to do will be dictated by the weather forecast. There is a valley near here that might be worth a couple of hours, to see some birds I probably won’t see anywhere else I am going, and I would like to do that in the morning. Sunday is supposed to be rainy all day, though, and I had planned to visit a place up in north Wales on Sunday, called South Stack, that has some birds I really want to see. One thing I could do is leave here and get up there by noon or 1 PM tomorrow, and visit South Stack then, thus insuring that I see it when the weather is decent. I will look at the forecast in the morning and decide. It has still rained every day I have been here, I think, although I’m not sure about the first day, when I arrived at Heathrow about noon.
There have continued to be rain showers all evening, and it is bucketing down right now. No wonder the countryside here is so green. I was expecting rain, though, and I knew I would miss some birding because of it, and I really have been quite fortunate so far. It has mostly been showery, and I have been able to do my birding between the showers. The only two really rainy days were travel days for me, so it didn’t really affect me.
So, I’m into the traveling part of the trip now. One or two nights in each place, seeing if I can pick up some birds from time to time, and enjoying seeing the country. I enjoy moving around, so that is fine, but I also miss having a cottage or a flat and being able to settle into a place, not to mention having a kitchen. I have three more cottage/flat places booked, though, so that experience is not over yet. I am just in a traveling mode for now. Moving along.
Are you reading this stuff? According to my web hosting service, there are over 30 visits a day to my website, but I am only aware of about ten people who are reading my Ramblings and looking at my Photos. If you are following along with me, and you haven’t sent me an email letting me know, please do so. Just a quick note to say you are watching, at least some of the time. Birder1944@aol.com . I am curious about who is out there.
Life rolls on…