It’s October half term. In the last couple of weeks the leaves on the trees have turned the most incredible colours. The temperature has dropped and woolly hats and scarves have replaced t-shirts and shorts. Autumn is officially here! What better opportunity to see just how beautiful this country is by squeezing in one last road trip in my Citroen RomahomeHylo aka ‘Mylo the Hylo’. Mylo and I have already had some amazing adventures this year. From breathtaking views and mountain climbs in the Lake District; winding roads and hidden beaches in Cornwall; to glitter, fancy dress and super silliness at a local festival! This time, the picnic rug barbeque and beach towels arereplaced with blankets, thick socks and hot water bottles. I start my trip, like all trips, with a cup of tea, a map and a lonely planet guide on places to visit in the UK. This time, I choose South Wales, specifically the Gower Peninsula. It’s a place I visited a lot as a child but one I haven’t been back to for a long time, despite the fact it’s only a couple of hours down the road from where I live, in Bristol. Not knowing what phone signal will be like once we’re on the road, my friend and I scribble down a couple of directions, the name of a campsite and a phone number. After checking vital supplies (tea bags, toilet roll, music) we’re off! Driving past the docks, the rows of beautiful multi-coloured houses and under the Clifton suspension bridge, I feel proud of the city I live in. Down the motorway, over the Severn Bridge and a couple of hours later, we’re weaving our way through winding Welsh roads. The landscape drops dramatically and suddenly we’re faced with stunning views of rows of tiny old mining cottages nestled into rolling green hills. Huge open beaches fill the background and my friend and I get that all important first glimpse of the sea, we’re nearly there! Or at least…we think we are. We pull out the scrap of an old bill and try to make sense of the directions scrawled on the back. With nothing to see for miles around the: ‘turn right at the post office’ note is pretty useless. Time to turn on Google maps. Half an hour of starring at the ‘screen loading’ icon, watching our precious phone batteries slowly die we resound to the fact, we’re lost. We pull into the next lay-by and look out at the bay. The autumn sun is low and the tide is out. A few dots meander along the beach, leaving tiny footprints as they go. We realise we’re at the opposite end of the bay to the campsite, but with a view like this, who cares? We decide to pop the kettle on and just soak it all up. After another hour of weaving in and out of tiny lanes, we finally climb the hill to reach our campsite. A woman wrapped in a million layers, greets us with a beaming grin,and asks, in a thick Welsh accent, if we’re really planning on camping tonight. We realise that her parting comment of ‘you’re mad!’ is very apt as we turn the corner and nearly get blown back down the hill by a huge gust of freezing wind. Lucky we packed those extra blankets! We pop the roof, get the awning up and crack open a cider as we look out over the sand dunes and onto the beach. Once we’ve caught our breath, we start the all important ‘layering up’ process. Thick socks, woolly jumpers, waterproof coats and with a distinct look of ‘The Michelin Man’ about us, we’re ready to go. As the autumn sun sets on the beach the last few dog walkers ramble along, occasionally throwing the odd stick to their delighted pooch. Toddlers waddle like starfish, rigid in their wet weather gear. A group of friends are making the most of the setting sun, playing a lazy game of cricket. The smell of wood smoke wafts lightly in the air as the few brave campers prepare to settle down for an evening on the beach. We are not so brave! After a little climb up the cliff we reach a run-down looking pub with steamed-up windows. The heat and the smell of beer hits us as we open the door. There’s barely room to get in and as we try and squeeze our way to the bar, desperately peeling off layers as we go, we realise the rugby is on and Wales are minutes away from their World Cup fate. Despite losing the game, the pub remains amazingly friendly and cheerful. My friend and I tuck into our fish and chips and pints of cider, looking out at the moon reflecting on the sea in the bay. We catch snippets of conversations around us, sung in the beautiful soft tones of the Welsh accent and I feel grateful to live in such an incredible place.
– Lucie Trarieux –