The view through the window this morning is not promising: heavy grey skies and streets shiny with water indicate a day of rain. This does not fit in with our plans but where the weather is concerned you just have to make do with what you are given.
It was spitting with rain when we set out at 8:20. We hurried up the road and breakfasted at the pub, then continued to the station. We are now aboard our train awaiting departure at 9:16. Off we go!
The train took us through some spectacular countryside a varied scenery of hills and valleys, rivers and winding streams. From time to time the clouds opened and the sun broke through but then the grey overcast returned again, dashing any hope of a change for the better.
At around 1 pm we reached Craven Arms and thought to take a look at it, especially as we had had a light breakfast and the thought of a good lunch appealed. The station was deserted: perhaps we should have wondered why.
When you leave the station and follow a path signposted to the town centre you come to a rather unattractive area characterized by a big car park and a supermarket. At the nearby crossroads is a big pub, also called Craven Arms. They had a fairly well stocked menu, including vegetarian options, so we went in for lunch.
After lunch we had a look around in the immediate neighbourhood of the pub. This did not turn out to be a very prepossessing place at all. About the most interesting item was an obelisk with a list of distances to a number of other towns. This, however, is not enough to bring us back another time.
I subsequently discovered a link between this town and London, through the person of the legendary Dick Whittingdon who was born hereabouts. Having made his fortune, he returned here and the Earls of Craven are his descendants.
We did have a look around but there wasn’t much to see. Perhaps we didn’t walk far enough. We returned to the station and there we met a friendly native who was happy to stop for a chat.
The next train out was at 2:36. As we had arrived on platform 1, it seemed reasonable to wait for the train back on platform 2. When the train appeared, it was indeed on our side of the tracks but then – how strange! – it switched tracks and entered platform 1 where, a few minutes before, there had been a train going in the opposite direction!
We hurried over the footbridge but as the train spent a few minutes there, we had no trouble going aboard. That was perhaps the most exciting thing that happened to us in Craven Arms.
The journey south was a repeat of our journey north, though in reverse of course. I had another attack of sleepy sickness and just couldn’t stay awake. Eventually, I went for a walk along the train and that seemed to wake me up. I suspect I am suffering from a tea deficiency!
On a long train journey in Wales, if you get fed up of looking out of the windows, you can study the bilingual signage. Yesterday we bought what describes itself as a Learner’s Dictionary of Welsh. It is not that I have any plans to learn Welsh but languages always interest me and as a result of our visits to Wales, its language is coming to seem a little less impenetrable than it once did.
What attracted me to the dictionary was the section on pronunciation because when all’s said and done, you can’t get very far with a language unless you can pronounce it.
When we arrived back in Swansea just after 6 pm, it began to rain heavily. We hurried across to the Grand Hotel and had coffee in their bar.
The rain eased slightly so we made our way down towards the hotel and stopped off at PizzaExpress for dinner. The meal was fine but the knives were blunt. We asked for sharper knives, suitable for cutting pizza. The waitress said they didn’t provide sharp knives but that she would bring as a pizza cutter. This is safety-consciousness gone mad. We had been given proper knives the evening before at Il Padrino, so why does PizzaExpress act in this silly way?