One of our highlights of 2012 was our bike ride through Wales from Holyhead to Cardiff. Despite choosing possibly the wettest week of the wettest summer on record to cycle 300 miles, we loved every minute. Well, maybe there were a few challenging moments like Sarah’s saddle shearing off, being lost on muddy mountain bike trails above Cardiff on touring bikes, and our web site being hacked en route, but pretty much it was fab.
Cycling through some of the loveliest scenery in Wales included some stiff climbs through Snowdonia, the Cambrian mountains and Brecon Beacons. We are new to long distance biking so it was tough sometimes but exhilarating too. We’ve definitely caught the bug now.
Thanks to the various mates who joined us for different parts of the trip who did a great job of keeping up morale on those long climbs. Also to the support team of random friends and family who helped out with refreshments, repairs, dog and Graig Wen sitting.
Most importantly, thanks to everyone who sponsored us. A total of £300 was donated to Zanokhanyo Children’s Safety Home in South Africa. It’s not a huge amount of money but it can make a big difference to a small organisation. The money is enough to pay for one of the children to have clothes and an education for a year.
We have decided that it’s time to explore the length and breadth of our little country called Wales. The best way in our opinion to do this is by bike. So on the 26th June Sarah and I will leave Graig Wen in the capable hands of our team and set off from Holyhead in North Wales to head south. Eight days later we should arrive in Cardiff.
The route we are taking is called the Lon Las Cymru or Dragon’s Back, and is a journey of 400km/ 250 miles. We travel from Anglesey down the coast through Snowdonia. And then out and over the remote hills of mid Wales before tackling the Brecon Beacons to finish in the capital city.
Whilst this will be a challenge for us, and some of the friends who will be joining us, we also hope to enjoy it and would like to raise some money for those who face far greater challenges in life.
In the past we have raised money for Cancer Research and we support the Wales Air Ambulance. However whilst talking to Tom, John’s brother in law, about his work with a small children’s home in South Africa, we decided we would like to support them.
Zanokhanyo Children’s Safety Home in Cape Town is run by Nolu and one volunteer. Nolu, an unemployed community worker, founded the home in 2005. She was troubled to see children living on the streets without food, after her parents had died of HIV/AIDS. She opened her heart and took the children into her home and began looking after them. Everyday her life revolves around taking care of the 26 children to the best of her ability.
We know that any money we raise will be go straight to the charity and make a big difference to the kids including helping them get an education. As a small organisation ourselves we know what a big difference a little help can achieve.
If you would like to help you can donate in reception or online via Graig Wen’s Facebook page
You can follow our journey on Twitter at @graigwen1868
Thanks to Mr and Mrs Oliver of LLandudno for these pictures taken from the breakfast table here at The Slate Shed.
Our guests often remark on the variety of colourful birds they enjoy watching over breakfast. A greater spotted woodpecker and nuthatch are regular visitors and I can hear a cuckoo outside this morning.
Pictured below is a house martin nest-building. They return each year and bring up a brood under every eave in the house. Their chirping is a lovely way to wake up in the morning! Apparently it takes 1000 beakfuls of mud to make one nest. That’s a lot of trips to the estuary and back.
Yesterday was one of those days that according to forecasts should have been wet and wild and turned out to be full of sunshine and smiles. Anyhow we decided that a day on the bikes was in order.
After cooking breakfasts for guests we hit the road, the plan was to cycle to Machynlleth and be back by 4pm. Some of you super fit roadies might be able to do this in the five hours we had, however we like to look at views, stop of at interesting churches and lie on grass verges eating our lunch.
The answer to this is to get the train back. You get the best of both worlds. A fantastic cycle ride with the highlight being the quiet lanes and views of the Happy Valley and one of the best train journeys in the UK. There can’t be many railways where you can see such magnificent views and if your lucky, as we where, an osprey sitting on the nest.
Its then a short ride back to Graig Wen.
Top Tip – get on the rear two carriages of the train
Yesterday was the first of what will hopefully become an annual event at Coed y Brennin, and I decided to take part. You could choose a 30k of 50k course, which covered the man made trails, fire roads, tarmac and plenty of mud.
The 30k course was finished in 3hours and 9 mins (according to my bike computer, which also said I had riden 33k!) ,this is what I had wanted to be able to achieve. Putting this in context the first rider completing the 50 k finished in 2 hours and 45 mins.
Low point at 15 k when pushing bike up a wall of mud, balanced by high points of being able to ride some great and challenging trails which are normally of limits and a great pint of ale at the end.
On a damp but bright welsh august weekend, twenty design enthusiasts met to create something ‘in the woods, out of the woods’. Armed with tools, a pile of different local timbers and pockets full of energy, the teams created three beautiful inventions through collaborative design processes.
We could have stayed a month exploring all the material possibilities and interpreting the site through visual and spatial means. However we had little more than 2 days and the outcomes are a testament to our belief that not providing a brief would allow space for genuine creativity to soar unbounded.
3 ideas made it through testing to final pieces. The ‘skybowl’ holds the whole stratosphere in it’s arms, inviting people to star gaze together. ‘Piddle, paddle, plonk’ creates music in time to a stream, thanks to a hand-made water-wheel and xylophone. The third piece located deep in the woods was inspired by the idea that all life comes from death and had as its focus the root ball of a fallen oak tree. The fractal structure, the ‘Bioshroom’ has now now been renamed ‘the Fungidome’ by the children camping at Graig Wen who have come to love the sculptures and care for them in all their fragility and impermanence.
Ewan aged about 11 said that “Fungidome is a combination of wood, tools and a bit of imagination.”
And Charlotte aged 10 said that “Piddle, Paddle, Plonk is the best because it plays music a bit like a xylophone but in the water, although Skybowl is quite good when you lay in it at night watching the stars because there’s nobody there and its relaxing.”
For more photos, press reviews and information please check out the Crafted Space web site
The other day we took delivery of box after box of plastic water bottles that we use in our B and B, we have had them specially printed with the slate shed logo on.
We have done this as we wanted to bring another item to our guests from as local a source as possible. The bottles come from Dwr Cerist, who are located at Dinas Mawddwy no more than ten miles away. They also employ local people with disablities, helping them to achieve a greater sense of independence.
A BIG thankyou to my Dad who has been helping us out on site since he moved to Dolgellau, his title is chief bottle washer (his own words). And an even BIGGER thanks for his very generous gift of our new notice board, we tried to get local celeb Russel Grant to open it but he was otherwise engaged.