Once (on holiday) I have forgotten Teije's birthday and every year since then I hope he will forget mine, one day. This year it looked very promising, although I had almost forgotten it myself, until I saw the date on an entrance ticket yesterday. I have been gloating over it all day, but als, now I understand why he wanted to have a drink in the pub downstairs on his own (so you see, never trust men who say they just want to have a drink at the pub on their own, he never got his drink!) and after that he supposedly had forgotten things from the car...
At breakfast I notice that the owners of the hotel are included in the conspriracy as well and I get a very nice happy birthday toast on my plate with fried eggs. And even our daugthers make it very clear that they have not forgotten this occasion. Next year I will try it again, but I have not much hope. I should never have forgotten Teije's birthday once...We say goodbye to our hosts and drive to the south. Only to find out 40 minutes later, when we stand before a toll bridge and Teije wants to get money, that we still have to key of our room. We can't turn on the bridge, so we have to pay twice and tell the guard we will be back in an hour and a half. It is an uneasy key, not one we would like to send by mail, so we rather drive the whole way back and deposit it in the mailbox of the hotel since there is nobody there to give it to. A waste of time, but it is a nice area, so who cares... And when we are back at the bridge we have to pay a third time the toll, although I really thought he would let us go this time without paying. This man really had a good day today!
In the meantime it has started to rain and that goes on for the most part of the day. The visibilty is bad and gets worse and the roads are narrow, so not really the kind of weather and circumstances to enjoy the views.
We just drive around through the center of Wales and arrive at Haye-on-Wye around 4. Richard Booth, the eccentric owner of the castle, declared the independance of the village in 1971 and himself as sovereign. One of his objectives was to make the village the capital of second-hand bookshops and he has quite succeeded in that since there are more than 50 bookshops now of which he owns a few.
The rain has stopped and we walk through the village, popping into a bookshop now and then. Teije finally finds a book he has been looking for years now about the English cathedral builders in the Middle Ages, the Pillars of the Earth. He had it once, but never got it back after he had lend it out. I rather read my books in Dutch, so it is a pity that almost all of the books are in English.There are several hotels in the village, but no rooms available. And we thought we were quite on time to arrange a room here, so we could do more book shopping tomorrow morning. So we go to the tourist information and they tell us the nearest available place is 20 kilometers away. There is a a conference of dentists going on, and they have rented all the rooms. The lady who phones for us is sure we are allowed to smoke in the room and we have to pay 2 founds for this help.
On the way to the hotel we pass Arthur's Stone, a prehistoric tomb with several chambers. Not far from here, the remains of a settlement have been found. The tomb got its name from a legend that says that king Arthur fought one of his battles on this spot.When we arrive at the hotel we hear that smoking (naturally...) is not allowed, so we drive on. After another dozen of full and very full hotels and almost two hours later, we go towards Brecon, a somewhat bigger town. We have run out of lpg but after two kilometers driving on petrol, we suddenly see a filling station where they also have lpg. It must be our 'lucky' day since there is also a hotel nearby. So we check it out and yes, they have a room available! It is almost dark now, so we are quite happy to finally have found a place.
In the lounge is a fireplace and it is almost time to light it, so cold it has become outside. Our room is not very large, but rather nice and cozy, a perfect place to stay for one night. But what a pity that it took so long before we found it, really a waste of time. To make reservations before making the trip would be easier, but then we wouldn't have the freedom of going wherever we want and we often change our plans when we are on holiday. And we have never expected it would cost so much trouble to find accommodation, we never had that problem before.