Friday, 24th September, 2021

[Day 557]

Today is going being to be our last day here in the Brecon Beacons so we decided to make the most of it. We decided to do today perhaps what we should have done on Day 1 and went to visit the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre. So immediately after breakfast we set off to find this just off the main Brecon to Cardiff road and up about a mile long purpose built road. When we got to the centre (smaller than we expected) we got some very clear instructions how to proceed on a local walk and we got underway. The two local peaks in the area are Pen y Fan (886m) which is the highest mountain in southern Britain, followed by Corn Du at 873m and Cribyn at 795m, and each year more than 250,000 visitors make the trek to the summits of these impressive peaks. We set off to climb another of the local hills and walked for about a couple of kilometres up a grassy track which would have led us eventually to an iron age hill fort (Y Gaer Fawr). However, we felt that we had walked enough and did not want to lose our way as the grassy tracks tended to fade and reappear so we turned around and made the journey, downhill all the way, down to the Centre. We were surrounded by a multitude of sheep but saw a couple of ravens (or incredibly large crows), some meadow pippits and some red kites. Also on our walk we disturbed a couple of ground nesting birds (larks?) and there was evidence that there must have been a large rabbit population as well. Upon our return to the Centre, we treated ourselves to some hot drinks and toasted teacakes but there ere only 2-3 couples using the facilities. We got into an interesting conversation with a lady who was there with her 16 year old daughter and year-and-a-half year old son, who happened to be born on lockdown day – as I had started blogging that day, I could tell her exactly her many days old he was. Then we had a ritual tour around the gift shop where we bought one or two little ‘prezzies’ and a few simple guides in case we decide to repeat our trip to the Beacons and can now get off to a flying start. Then we made our way back into Brecon and decided to visit the little cafe with the interesting menu that we discovered only yesterday. The meals that we ordered (a tuna salad and a veggie burger type creation) turned out to be so enormous that neither of us could finish our meals. Nonetheless, we ordered two elderflower pressés as we did yesterday, so we are now 4 bottles to the good of the approximately 27 that we will need to bottle our damson vodka and gin.

After lunch, we made a call to the Market Hall which we had whizzed round and eye-balled a few things last Tuesday. We made a beeline for a hardware store where they were selling heavily discounted goods and bought ourselves a heavy duty skillet pan. As I am now eating a bit more fish (like sea bass) than previously, I hope the skillet pan will come into its own. There are some styles that you do not wash but just keep well-oiled so I will read the manufacturer’s instructions with care. From the same shop, we also bought a really wide yard brush as our recent one, used primarily to remove leaves and berries, is now practically bald after about ten years of use. Finally, we made our way to a stall where we knew that they were selling some special home venison and juniper berries home-made pies. We bought three of these, one of these for our domestic help who I am sure will appreciate it – I must take her tips as to what kind of gravy I should prepare to go alongside it. After we got back to the Guest House and we had a little nap, we started packing up ready for the morning. Actually we have gone as far as we can but a lot of stuff actually has to be left until first thing tomorrow morning.

The lorry driver shortage is causing us a degree of concern – but we also wonder what the government is going to do about it. Only a day ago, the message from No 10 and Whitehall was that it was absolutely out of the question that visa restrictions could be relaxed so that we could recruit some lorry drivers from mainland Europe. Today, though, the message is changing. The latest line is ‘we have to consider every alternative’ and it may well be that the government are forced into a U-turn. Of course this is acutely embarrassing for the avid Brexiteers in the government (i.e. all of them!) as they will be forced to admit that if Brexit had not occurred then the shortages of lorry drivers would be nowhere so acute. Will the Government be forced to eat humble pie?