Paleology, speleology and steampunk-my birthday jaunt was an absolute delight on all levels.
We drove down to South Wales straight after work on Friday, through the last of the [very] heavy rain. Thanks to the excellent directions, we found our chosen B&B very easily, despite its location up a dirt track…what a gem! Llundain Fach [‘Little London’] is a gorgeous, friendly, uber-comfy delight. Hosts Pam and Glenn made us feel right at home, immediately advised us of the choices for our evening meal, and made us a reservation while we unpacked.
On our return from an absolutely delicious meal of hake [me]and steak [Dawn] we joined Glenn at the kitchen table for a couple of hours of hilarity and large quantities of Armagnac. [An aside- while eating, Dawn exclaimed ‘there’s a bloody kangaroo over there’. It turned out that the restaurant owner has a little menagerie in the back garden, copplete with wallabies, Japanese cranes and a marmoset-most odd. We slept in the most comfortable bed on the planet, and were regaled with an excellent breakfast, including home made bread and jam. Glenn and Dawn then indulged in an impromptu music festival in the breakfast room.
Yup, it turns out that Dawn’s made yet another muso buddy, and Pam and I found a mutual interest in sewing and making stuff…excellent! Pam may even join us on one of our fabric hunts in Brum before long.
We then togged up in our steampunk finery, and headed off for the National Showcaves at Dan-Yr-Ogof, ten minutes up the road. We parked up next to another carload of steampunks, and sauntered up the slope, entering the park between the legs of a couple of huge dinosaurs. Inside, we were met by the ‘base camp’ contingent of the Carmarthenshire Organisation of Genteel Steampunks [COGS]. A delightful bunch of welcoming nutters! We ogled the display of handcrafted goodies, all prizes for the end-of-day raffle.
Yes, that IS a small group of furry-clad hunters in the background. No, I have no idea why…
We chatted for a while, then headed onwards and upwards into the park itself. There are GAZILLIONS [I counted] of huge dinosaur models everywhere you look, some are very realistic and take you by surprise. My kids would have loved this when they were teeny dinosaur enthusiasts! DAwn looked very dapper, layering up her brown clockwork shirt with the purple moleskin one as a jacket- don’t they look good together?
First, we went into the lowest of the three showcave complexes, for a bit of an explore. This was the first time I’ve actually got round to visiting a cave complex. It was FREEZING cold, and pretty wet, so I was very glad of my full explorer rig and warm layers. I was also grateful for my sturdy pith helmet, as I biffed my head on the roof a couple of times.
We emerged into the sunlight, to find that the day had warmed up considerably, so off came the warm jackets, and we meandered SLOWLY up the very, very steep hillside. Dawn pointed at lots of things.
Puffing a bit, we arrived at the second cave complex. We donned an emergency light from the stash outside, and off we went. This cave has a lot of water. Lakes full of it, and is beautifully lit. The reflections and light dazzle the eye as you weave your way through, to emerge in the cathedral cavern, with water sheeting down from far above your head. Dawn found this a bit unnerving, but rallied, and made it to the other side. It turns out that you can actually get married down there- we saw a little wedding arch and platform. The whole time you’re in there, you are regaled with beautiful classical music over the speakers. Very impressive.
We were a bit puffed out by now, but climbed even higher, amongst even more dinosaurs, a ‘volcano’ and a geyser. When we saw that the final cave complex at the top of the climb required hard hats, we went back down. Enough is enough lol.
Back to base camp, ice creams, and a well-earned cream tea. Fortified, we headed back through the carpark, and down to the Shire Horse farm, which also has llamas, goats, pigs and a mini golf course. Dawn insisted we play a round [I’d rather have played around, but hey-ho, you do what you can]
Back to base camp again, and another cuppa [it was getting quite warm!] Then the raffle: Dawn’s tickets got her first pick, and she chose this lovely hat for me! It was made by ‘Lurcher Gallery’ from recycled leather and, joy of joys, has a little green insert under the front lacing. As if made for me…and it fits my giant head, which is amazing!
At this late stage, we found out that the hairy green eggs we’d seen all round the park were actually planted by the gentlefolk of COGS, and we should have been paying more attention as it was a treasure hunt. Doh. Too late, but not to worry. More prizes, much silliness, and a group photo of everyone who was still standing. Some may have been eaten, but we had been given a ‘Get out of death free’ card, valid for one day.
Wonderful, crazy 24 hours. Back to the car, and home for fish and chips, and bed. We’ll be going back to Wales for more shenanigans with this crazy crew very soon, and are already looking forward to further stays at Llundain Fach, and meeting up with the COGS crowd.