30 May 2014

My trip to Y Fenni / Abergavenny.

23rd May. I have the infamous Friday feeling as I step outside of the exam hall for the last time as a second year English undergraduate. All that's on my mind is to celebrate in the only way a student knows how to, and that's to get royally drunk.
But not I, and not today. I have a train to catch down to Abergavenny, South Wales. Those that know me will know that Wales is my favourite place on Earth, but since the passing of my dear grandparents, God bless them, the truth is, I've just neglected visiting. 
So as the train nears the platform, I actually laugh at the sight of it. It's just as small, if not smaller, than the three coaches I'm used to when heading home to Cleethorpes. Not only was the Caerdydd Canolog / Cardiff Central train on the same platform as the Cleethorpes train leaving 10 minutes prior, but I felt humbled by it's shabby exterior. As I struggled onto the 'train' I soon realised that this was most definitely an Arriva Wales train. It was quaint, cramped and very Stone Age! (There weren't even any plug sockets for my phone, never mind asking about wifi and maybe a refreshments trolley to celebrate my finishing second year).
                                (My 3cm table is not the 'table seat' I expected on a train).

Just 40 minutes into my journey I see hundreds of farm life and greenery and I'm beginning to wonder how such beauty can exist just a matter of minutes away from the concrete jungle that is Manchester. I then hear the Welsh accent and can see the signs written in Welsh before English, and I can hardly wait to breathe in the fresh, Welsh air.
I feel reminiscent of my childhood with my sisters and cousins when I spot some Horses, I can hear a childish Raven "oh look at the Gee Gee!" which is for some reason what we called horses. 

When I arrive in Y Fenni / Abergavenny my dad and step mum are there to greet me and we go straight off to meet friends of my fathers at a restaurant. After a catch up, a few Heinekens and a lovely meal to live music we head to The Manor hotel in Crickhowell which is where the wedding reception is the next night; the whole reason for my visit. It's dark when we arrive and the weather is miserable so I don't see where we are properly until the next day.

We were in the mountains and amongst the clouds. It truly was a gorgeous view, and the fresh air was a delightful change to the city smog I'd become accustomed to.

We visited the cemetery later on and then wondered around the handful of shops Merthyr Tydfil had to offer. We then went back to the hotel to get ready for the night ahead. It had been six years since I'd seen some of the family that were at the reception and so we had some 'catching up' to do, basically we had a lot of alcohol to consume. The party was great fun. Being Vegas themed there were ice carvings, a roulette table and a photo booth to embarass yourself with after a twelve too many Sambuca's. (See photos at the end of the post). I was introduced to distant cousins I didn't know I had and I loved spending time with the side of the family I had wrongly neglected over the last few years. 
Next we headed to see my Great Auntie Margret in Rhymney, yet being the busy bee she is, she wasn't in the three times we had called round, and so dad took a detour. To Tan-y-Bryn, the housing estate my Nanna and Grancha used to live on for decades. It was nice to see, I felt a little choked up but I was glad to be reminded of what it looked like. The memories in my head of the wild horses entering their front garden weren't imaginary, they really were there.

Needless to mention what happened next was that I woke up after four hours sleep with a sore head shoved in the toilet basin, regretting every bad decision I made the night before. The Malibu, the Vodka, the J├Ąger Bombs, the Sambuca, the Southern Comfort, yuk!
I seemed to be the joke in the morning and everyone was amused at my expense. But nothing could prepare me for the drive up to York and then to Cleethorpes in just an hours time.
I may regret my silly alcohol consumption when my head was in several service station toilet basins, but I certainly did not regret sacrificing my end-of-second-year night out for the weekend I had.
I loved every part of it and I certainly won't be leaving it another 3 years before I return next time.
(Still not convinced the Welsh language isn't entirely made up by someone influenced by tequila).

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