Richard (Bentegwisc) has provided an excellent start to the tale of our tour of West Wales back in 2000, but when we left St. David’s we did not beat a hasty retreat back to the valleys of the south but carried the gonzo mission further … .
Well the countryside was stunning, the vibes were good, our heads however were gonging like a temple bell. Coffee, orange juice and greasy food were provided and we left the B&B in good grace. We sat in the sun on the same bench in the graveyard that had spun us out the night before; and when the sound of clanging inside our heads had subsided we hit the road.
The sunny smiles of the alert surfers and busy villagers had not yet been lost on our grim, grimy industrial souls and as we drove north listening to Moby and the dull whining in the back of our heads, the joy of life rolled over us.
We smoked endless cigarettes and followed the coastal road; the sea was deep azure with white crested waves and families basking in the sunshine. The road wound through dunes and fields punctuated from time to time with a row of cottages or a village and by the late afternoon we found ourselves parking up in Cardigan and seeking a pub.
Lunch consisted of sole in tarragon sauce with something to wash it down in Y Llew Du (The Black Lion); like most coastal towns the sea food is excellent. Over the meal we studied a map that we’d found on the back of a flyer, “Mwnt” I said pointing “I went there as a kid, its just too lush man”; our next destination was set.
Mwnt is a beach huddled in a deep glacial cleft with a high hill on one side; it’s in the hands of the National Trust, with rare plant life it attracts porpoises, seals, families and now we were descending upon it with “Eric the Gardener” on at top volume.
As much as The Fear had gripped us the night before, here in the bright sunshine a fierce joy gripped us deep inside; we decided to camp there.
After pitching the tents, we lay around feeling content and smoking spliffs. We had tinned soup for supper and sat on the hill as the sun set over Cardigan Bay and its dotted islands. The last of the J.D. was finished and all was right with the world.
By 10 o clock we’d gone to bed, it was far too cold to do anything else. Soon the wind picked up whipping my tent back and fore, then the rain came and the wind howled some more; on at least two occasions I thought Bentegwisc’s tent had blown away, but I couldn’t move through cold to check on him.
As the pink dawn shamefacedly crept above us I saw the tear in my single skin tent and as I went out shivering to check on the damage I saw that the other tent had collapsed in the night, but it was breathing so Bentegwisc was alright. We made an early start and drove away from Mwnt with the big boot down and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci blasting; the joy that had enveloped us evaporated, screw the universe let’s get to a pub!
The Mumbles Mile is famed in legend as having a long, Las Vegas style strip. Well not quite, but having 35 drinking establishments on a one mile long stretch of road had certainly given The Mumbles Mile a lot of kudos, this was the natural home of our kind of human animal. Drink, music, women and kebabs beckoned; Mwnt may be heaven on earth, but only for a given value of heaven.
We reached The Gower by midday and got a room in a B&B as soon as the old couple in occupation finally checked out. By 3PM we were leathered, the sun had come out and we were sat in a beer garden loudly singing “Baby Lemonade”; we were asked to leave. No problem, another pub, it hadn’t been the first.
Hazy memories come back of Bentegwisc speaking loudly at a man he’d known in primary school who was trying to leave his wedding reception with his new bride; overenthusiastic dancing to “Babylon” on an otherwise empty dance floor. Whiskeys on top of pints with joints and lots of staggering from bar to bar, shouting and singing and a shashlik at the end of the night.
See now the beast in his natural environment; on this trip we had been gripped by The Fear and also wallowed in a fleeting Joy, but given the choice we had run desperately back to the familiarity of The Fear.
So tired, skint and maybe a little wiser (well we knew ourselves and our demons better at least), we drove slowly back to The Valleys; but even now a decade later those three days stand out so strongly that Bentegwisc and I will still roar with laugh at the absurdity of the little old lady who said “Are You a lifeboat man? I am”. We still raise a glass to the sunset at Mwnt.
Life has changed who we are since then, but we still remember. Life may be short, but some weekends last forever.