Wine, puzzles & saving sheep: a weekend in Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

I’m currently sat in the Waterstone’s cafĂ© with a slice of Bakewell tart and my hair scraggily pulled up into a top knot.

Like am I peak hipster or peak old woman, I dunno.

Anyway, Wales.

A couple of Fridays ago me and the gals (minus one of us – you were missed Ele) headed off on a picturesque drive through the Cotswolds to a cottage in rural Wales aka the Brecon Beacons.

Our drive mostly consisted of Becca alternating between napping or singing, Claire and I discussing weddings (hers) and me eating an excessive amount of Percy pigs. Why are those pig faces so god damn addictive?

After two hours, we hit the narrowest country lanes known to man. Tree branches were hitting the windscreen, we had to pause to allow several hay bale-carrying trucks and/or tractors to pass by and there was a tiny bridge I’m pretty sure was not designed for vehicles to be driving over.

Our designated driver may have sworn a few times.

We eventually came to the gate to our cottage and realised we had to drive through two fields to get to it. I mean there’s ‘remote’ and then there’s just off-roading.

The cottage was adorable. The green hills rolled around us and the only sounds (apart from us) was the occasional ‘baaaa’ from the many sheep. We retrieved the key from the little wood shed and let ourselves in to the cutest little living room, with cheerful bunting and a log fire. There was also crumbling stairs that we agreed should not be navigated after wine (advice we promptly ignored for the rest of the weekend).

After running around and allocating rooms and changing into our ‘casual’ wear which, yes, included socks and sandals, we settled down outside with prosecco and M&S vegetable crisps. We so fancy. We’d had the good sense to have the wine delivered to us before we set off but, after personally experiencing the narrow country lanes, we were very much expecting to receive a phone call from a lost Sainsbury’s driver within the next hour. We had our phones on loud and had already agreed that the best-case scenario was that we’d have to go over the fields back to the lane to collect the food. Worst case scenario: he would never show up and our food would be lost to the sheep of Wales.

And then we heard the sound of an engine.

We looked at each other somewhat bemused, stood up and, no word of a lie, a Sainsbury’s truck was bobbing towards us through a field full of sheep.

Not a sight you see every day.

I jogged over to open the gate and this cheery welsh feller jumps out and is greeted by the disbelief on my face.

“I didn’t think you were going to find us!”

“Oh no, your instructions were peeeeerfect,” he said in the strongest welsh accent and then proceeded to cheerfully carry all our food right into the kitchen.

BIG shout out to you Mr Welsh Sainsbury’s driver, what a gem.

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

Claire played food jenga with the fridge, I realised that I’d probably over-ordered on the cheese and baked goods and Becca assured me that could never be the case.

And then we got cracking with dinner.

The rest of the gals finally arrived (cheers London traffic you dick), we ate, we drank, we whacked out the cheese. Cos cheese is life.

Oh and Claire read us a bedtime story.

Liz and I woke up on Saturday morning to the sound of a crow tapping on the window of our room. Like, I dunno if he thought he was missing out on the party or what.

Becca and I went out to collect eggs cos yup, WE HAD CHICKENS. It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that we do not deal with farmyard animals on a regular basis. There was a lot of laughter and some mild hysteria but Becca emerged from the shed relatively unscathed and with some eggs. And maybe a touch of chicken poo on her hands.

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

After a lazy breakfast, we decided we were going for a country walk cos we’d actually all packed appropriately for this activity. Claire even downloaded the OS map app. This is true grown-up stuff right?

Mind you, despite the fact we had the correct clothing attire and OS map app, we did still seem to just walk straight out the cottage and off into the hills with no real plan.

This resulted in a more – we’ll call it ‘adventurous’ – walk than we originally intended.

For starters, there was the distinct lack of path. Apparently our surrounding hills were not frequently used walking spots and we kept finding ourselves in the middle of fields we weren’t entirely sure we were allowed to be in, or in the middle of fern higher than our heads, or walking past the remains of a long-dead sheep (this happened twice in the space of half an hour).

There was also the matter of the horseflies biting the crap out of us. And we had to climb over barbed wire fences more than once. This was fun when there was a handy tree to climb up and over, slightly more worrying when we just threw a coat over the fence and I wondered if I was about to do some serious damage to areas I may need when I get round to reproducing.

Then, of course, there was the sheep we had to save.  

The poor fella had somehow managed to get his head stuck in a gate made up of criss-crossing bars. We weren’t entirely sure how long he’d been there but it was long enough for his nose to be bleeding, his head to be swelling and his mouth to be frothing. When we first found him, he was clearly panicking and kept bucking his back legs but after a while, he seemed to sense we were trying to help him and went very still, as though patiently waiting for us to sort him out. None of us had the heart to tell him we weren’t farmers and actually spend most of our time sat in an office.

The upshot is, we panicked a bit ourselves, frantically looked for a farmer, gave him some water and eventually accepted that, seeing as we couldn’t leave him to die, we were going to have to get him out ourselves.

Credit to Liz, Becca and Claire on this one; I was poorly attempting to flag down a tractor whilst they stood on the bar of the gate to weigh it down, lifted the sheep’s body up and then twisted his head out of the triangle-shaped hole he’d got it stuck in. When I turned round, he was stumbling towards me as though he’d had one too many glasses of sauvignon blanc. He paused for a moment, looked at us and then trotted off, ‘baaaa-ing’ as he went.

Needless to say, this gave us an enormous sense of well-being.

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

The rest of the afternoon was spent by the fire and dedicated to everything from pimms to hair braiding to baked goods to reading. Oh and the girls started a puzzle that would basically consume their lives for the next two days. Before we knew it, five hours had passed and it was time to crack on the BBQ.

Okay, no, there was no BBQ but we cooked burgers and sausages under the grill and then ran outside so it’s basically the same thing.

At some point we were back in front of the fire with cheese and wine and, well, an awful lot of singing. Who knew I still had every Britney Spears song lyric perfectly stored in my head eh? They’ve just been waiting for the opportune moment to emerge and apparently that moment was 2 in the morning in the middle of the Brecon Beacons.

Pretty sure there was also dancing to 5, 6, 7, 8 by Steps. Don’t ever say we’re not cool.

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

After a particularly divine breakfast of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, avocado and tiger bread on Sunday morning, we actually looked up a real walk (like, with a path and everything) and then hopped in the car to Sugar Loaf mountain for a walk amongst the clouds. We got soaked to the very core but it did a mighty fine job of clearing up the hangover and the views were rather sexy once the clouds shifted.

There was also a bunch of sheep that stared at us for a while but we assumed it was in admiration because they knew of our heroics from the day before.

When we got back, Becca had the divine idea of baking a camembert in a loaf of bread and if that’s not your ideal Sunday afternoon right there, then you need to reassess your life.

The never-ending puzzle continued, Liz plaited both mine and Rosie’s hair this time round and yes, there was more pimms, more wine, more baked good and more singing. Liz also impressed us with the dance moves from our year 8 talent show performance; still stored in her head 12 years later.

And then it was Monday and we had to leave and we were sad. Although we did stop off in Abergavenny on our way home for coffee and/or milkshakes in the sunshine which I can think we can all agree beats the average Monday.

Things to note:

There is something really special being in the middle of nowhere during the night with absolutely no sound and hundreds of stars twinkling above you.

If I drink alcohol constantly for 3 days, I do not feel fresh come day 4.

I am a lucky gal to have a group of friends I still love being around after 16 years.

You can put ‘sheep life saver’ on your CV right?

The puzzle was never finished.

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales


A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

A weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

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