Ironman Wales (Epilogue)

Posted: October 3, 2012 in Lifestyle
Tags: ,

They say that with every good story there is also an after story.  This is mine.  Likewise, it has been nearly two weeks of recovery, being lazy for a change and eating and drinking everything in sight, so this is also a way then to stop myself from going absolutely stir-crazy in the meantime.

The amazing Caldey coastline.

September 17th, Kingsbridge Guesthouse (8:45am)

I slept the sleep of champions last night.  And not in the figurative way either, if sleeping was in itself a unique discipline of triathlon this is where I’d be making my big move on my competitors.  I’m sure I didn’t even register so much as a heartbeat throughout the night; dead in every sense of the word.  However, overnight it seems like every muscle in my body has decided to rebel against the rest of my body and is now resisting all urges to move.  I’m walking like the Corpse Bride and the stairs here at the guesthouse are definitely not my friend today.  It took just about all my concentration and focused effort to navigate my way three floors down to the breakfast room to eat.

Yet, despite my prevailing soreness, I’m going to keep myself moving today and visit some of the sights we’ve so far missed here at Tenby, including the monastic Island of Caldey.  Yes, a relaxing day of slow scenic walks, shortbread, chocolate and lunch in an authentic tea garden seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered for this new Ironman.

The scenic walking path at the top of Caldey.

September 17th, Kingsbridge Guesthouse (8:30pm)

I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Caldey this afternoon; an island inhabited by an order of Cistern Monks (a branch of the Benedictine Order) since 1906.  Of course, its history goes back to the 6th century following the colonization of South Wales by the Normans.  Caldey is accessible only by boat from the South Beach in Tenby and gives full vantage of the rugged Pembrokeshire coastline I followed on yesterday’s bike ride.

Isle of Caldey.

While there we enjoyed the coastal scenery along the cliff path at the top of the island, ate some amazing fudge from the monks own Chocolate Factory that, truly, is God’s own recipe, and witnessed an actual Benedictine service in action.  Seriously, how many times do you get to see and hear actual Benedictine monks chanting?  It was absolutely gorgeous, even if it meant climbing another set of steep stairs to the balcony.  It was well worth it.  Of course, none of these will be my final or favorite memory of the island itself.  That claim to fame will forever belong to my father.

the view to Tenby from Caldey Island.

As Kelly and I were returning from the cliff path, we happened upon my father down in the small island village where we had arranged to meet him at the tea garden for lunch.  Of course, he wasn’t enjoying tea but instead leaning against a stone wall routing around in his pants like a truffle hog.  What the hell?  As it turns out he was trying to get some of his money from out of his money belt and having a hard go it of so that it was dropping all over the place and being scattered to all corners of the island by the wind.  Good lord help me.  Yes, for whatever reason, even here at a remote Welsh island inhabited by monks who, amongst other things, have taken a vow of poverty, my father still feels compelled to stash all his money in a money belt lest he should be lead into a dark cloister somewhere by some shady monk and rolled for his millions.  The fuck?


As a last order of business for the day, Kelly and I also successfully got Lucille back into her bike box without difficulty after dinner.  It seems that the monks may have brought us some good fortune in this regard.  Time for a celebratory dinner at a local pub somewhere and way too many pints of ale.

September 17th, Kingsbridge Guesthouse (10:45pm)

I am definitely not looking forward to the drive into Woking, Surrey tomorrow given that we barely survived the trip in from Cardiff a few days ago.  Making matters worse is that I made the fateful mistake of asking our guesthouse host for directions.  Now, it must be said that (in my opinion only) the Welsh cannot give directions to save their life.  In fact, no one in the U.K. is very good at it I suspect, and so the Welsh are just upholding their end of that reputation.  Never mind the thick accent that you practically need a translator for, I practically understand none of it.  Everything is simply “straight ahead”, which is rarely the case, given that there are about three zillion roundabouts with multiple exits providing endless opportunities to get lost along the way.  Oh, and everything is just “300 feet”, which could mean 3 miles, 30 miles or 300 miles…or, maybe, if you’re lucky, 300 feet.  Thank God we also have a GPS to assist us along the way and, hopefully, we don’t end up somewhere in No-Mans-Land, Scotland trying to get directions from a herd of sheep.

Not terribly excited about the drive to London.

September 19th, the Garibaldi – Woking, Surrey (11:30am)

Survived the car drive yesterday with little incident.  In fact, it was rather fun.  Eventually you get the hang of driving on the right side of the car and on the left hand side of the road, and even begin how to read the cryptic road signs.  Total winning!  And how does one celebrate such success?  By hitting the booze with reckless abandon for the next 9 hours straight, that’s how.  Hey, it’s not that I’m a regular drinker but being back in an English pub with my old boss from eons ago when I live and worked in a London pub(s) for the better part of a decade, well; let’s just say that some habits have not been killed off completely.  I’m just chalking it up to part of a successful recovery strategy:  eat and drink everything in sight.

I’m walking less like a zombie today and more like someone trying to walk with a pants load today, so my legs are definitely beginning to loosen up a bit.

September 20th, the Garibaldi (12:30pm)

We dropped the car off at the Enterprise dealership yesterday at Heathrow airport yesterday (which was not as much fun as the drive into Woking the day before).  Heathrow is an absolute labyrinth of roadways, roundabouts, intersections, thruways and every other conceivable means of confusing helpless visitors and passers through.  Eventually, we stumbled (quite literally) across the right place and ditched the car for a more reliable means of transport: the London Underground.

That’s not to say, however, that the Underground doesn’t present another whole set of challenges for us, namely, navigating my father who has the mobility and street smarts of a baby deer just learning to walk these days, through the densely packed streets of London proper without him being swallowed by the masses and lost to the annals of time.

Clock Tower, Big Ben, whatever you want to call it…

On his “To Do List” (which, by the way, was like pulling to teeth to get from him) was to see Big Ben, the Parliament buildings, Westminster Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.  All I which I have seen ad nauseum already, of course, but I was excited to share these things with he and Kelly.  Plus, I was curious to see just how I remember about getting around London.

Where Kelly seemed to enjoy herself fine enough, apart from a few pending nervous breakdowns regarding losing my father, my dad seemed to be as impressed with the London sights as passing a wet fart.  It’s so hard to read him.  Upon viewing Big Ben, you might have thought he was perusing the Lost & Found board at the local Sainesbury’s for all the vested interest he showed.  At one point, he sat with his back to the Tower of London failing to have seen it, instead preferring to look at a stone blank wall in front of him simply because it had “Tower of London Café” written on it.  “It’s not very impressive is it?” he remarked casually.  “Umm, dad, turn around”.  Seriously, how does one miss an entire castle?

I guess the highlight came when he asked our Yeoman tour guide where the escalator was to get to the top of the White Tower and then being informed that such “mod cons” weren’t exactly part of William the Conqueror’s blueprints back in 1078.  Good one dad!

September 21st, the Garibaldi (10:00pm)

We dropped my dad off at Heathrow today for his trip home.  We have arranged for someone to assist him upon landing at Schiphol Airport to ensure that he makes his connecting flight and doesn’t end up in Mumbai or something:  “Good day, Meester Nash.  Do you fancy a curry, sir?”

Piccadilly Circus

I enjoyed spending the day with Kelly showing her around my old stomping grounds as well as all the trendy, popular parts of London; all on foot.  On our whirlwind tour of London, we saw: Ealing Broadway (where I used to live and work), Buckingham Palace, St. James Park (where we enjoyed a nice picnic), Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum of History, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Chinatown, Soho (in the rain no less, minus the werewolves and plates of beef Chow Mein), and Oxford Circus.  Where my legs feel much more alive today, my feet are suitably sore from all the walking around on hard stone surfaces.  Geez, you’d think they’d invent soft tiles sooner or later in London, but it’s great to be back and I’m impressed with how much I remember of getting around.

It’s some Chinese take-away from down the street and early to bed tonight; forgetting the ale for a change.

Covent Garden

September 22nd, the Crown – Knaphill, Woking, Surrey (10:00am)

Good news!  My father has arrived at home successfully and not ended up at the latest seat cushion in a remote airport lobby somewhere.  Thank God!

We got treated last night to a proper curry dinner at Asiana here in Woking, courtesy of Debbie (my former boss and current host at the Garibaldi).  In case you didn’t know, curry is the traditional dish of the U.K. (forget about your bangers n’ mash and fish n’ chips, etc.).  Curry is simply the shit here in the U.K.; literally and figuratively.  God knows that after a few pints of Guinness before bed to boot, I’m extremely lucky I didn’t gas Kelly in her sleep last night.  You know, I’m absolutely loving this whole eat/drink recovery strategy!  Pity it has to end eventually.

Windsor Castle

We visited Windsor Castle yesterday as well or, rather, we walked around Windsor Castle without actually going in which was totally fine by me given I’m still moving like my grandmother. Instead we walking along the ‘Long Walk’ for, like, 50m maybe, sampled the local pasty delights at a nearby Bake Sale, toured the St. John the Baptist Parish Church, checked out the local shops along Peascod Street, and stopped for ice cream at the Bachelor’s Acre public park.  We even happened along a local Running Store and Orca warehouse which, for whatever reason, was well hidden in some remote alleyway under an overpass.  I guess fitness and triathlon are not extremely popular in Windsor.

Afterwards, we even navigated our back to Woking via the London train system; without incident even.  We’re totally blending in like locals now, except that I’m still walking like a zombie.  Yup, we’re totally on par with Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, John Cabot or any other famous English explorer…kinda.

Peascod Street, Windsor.

September 23rd, the Garibaldi (12:15am)

Last day in the U.K., and experiencing a typical English weekend; Sunday papers, roast beef at the pub, Sky Sports on the television, and more than enough pints to keep me giddy.  This is about as English as the Queens tits.  Oh, and speaking of tits, it seems that the tabloids have finally run their course with the whole ‘Boobstock’ scandal involving Kate Middleton.  Seriously, I now know more about the future Queen’s jubblies than I ever cared to know about.  What passes here as “news” is shocking and wouldn’t be suitable to line birdcages anywhere else.  Also passing for “news” lately, is Lady Gaga’s cheeky attire at her recent Amsterdam concert, photos of Robbie Williams’ new kid, Liam Gallagher’s 40th birthday celebration, and cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell’s recent displays of “bicycle rage”.  Honestly, how is any of this considered newsworthy?  I’m starving for real information from the outside world, or anything that might resemble itself as global interest.

September 23rd, the Garibaldi (5:30pm)

We’re winding down the last few hours of our vacation before our flight home tomorrow.  By this point, we’re all stocked up on souvenirs to bring home.  What does an Ironman bring home from vacation you ask?  A jar of English mustard, a tube of pickle spread, several huge ass bars of Dairy Milk, Roundtree Pastilles, a package of Hobnob biscuits, two bottles of real ale, and a can of beans.  Real big spenders we are, right?  Booyah!  So there’s nothing left to do now but relax and pour as many last pints of ale down my gullet between now and morning.


September 23rd, the Garibaldi (10:30pm)

Evidently, I am shit at British trivia and a walking shame to my medieval history degree.  Personally, I blame it on the multiple pints of Guinness as it, clearly, does nothing  to enhance one’s brainpower to deduct the logical or work out basic general knowledge questions.  At least Kelly was good at being the ‘Team Secretary’…I just sucked.

September 24th, Heathrow Airport – Flight KL1010, Gate 21 (12:30pm)

All set for our return home.  Lucille has been checked in successfully and apart from a random searching of my carry-on luggage, we’re ready to fly.  It must be said though, that trying to explain why I might be carrying a wetsuit, or “rubber” as their unceremoniously referred to here, is a bit embarrassing.  Once the security agent pulled it out her expression changed from one of inquisitiveness to one of near revulsion as if she just uncovered some dark, perverted secret.  I can only imagine what was going through her head at the time, especially when she pulled out the matching neoprene swimming hood.

“Zonder Augurk, please…”

I’m excited and ready to be home again.  It’s been a wonderful adventure, but I’m ready to get back to the routine that is my life once again; the kid, the cats; the job; our life in Ridgeway.  It was nice to reminisce for a week about old times and visit my old haunts, but I am ready to put this chapter behind me now and march bravely on…happily and contentedly.

September 24th, Schiphol Airport –Gate F3 (12:30pm)

Worshiping at the Temple of Cheese – Schiphol Airport

What a cool airport.  The souvenir stands are either alcohol, chocolate, tulips, or cheese.  How awesome is that?  Likewise, the bathrooms smell amazing.  Yes, I know.  I was shocked too.  Oddly, there is no automatic flush or knob at the urinals in the Men’s room so that once you’re finished you’re leaving a fetish pool of piss behind you in what looks like a huge porcelain soup bowl attached to the wall.  Yet, the place has a fresh, pleasant fragrance and not the high noon at a ball game Porto-potty smell you’d expect to smell.  How fucking clever are the Dutch?  They’ve invented the “Stink Free” bathroom!

We’re delayed in Amsterdam, so we occupied our time sampling flavored Gouda at one of the souvenir kiosks.  Yummo!  If our layover was any longer than it currently is I can see myself leaving with a serious constipation problem.  But so far, I’m very impressed with this place.  Pancakes, free cheese, scented bathrooms, pristinely clean lobbies, gorgeous stewardesses, fuck, I could vacation here!

September 24th, Toronto Pearson Airport (10:30pm)

Our driver is nowhere to be found.  We’re tired, jetlagged and stranded at the airport.  Brilliant.  Regardless, we are happy to be home and we’re determined not to let this hinder our spirits for tonight we will be sleeping in our own bed, with our own cats, and I can dream the dreams of an Ironman.  Mission accomplished!

  1. Doreen says:

    Your blogs have been entertaining reading Terry – congrats again on your mission accomplished.

  2. Saskia says:

    You did it! You’re an Ironman!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s