Bike to The Future ’23 Tour – Part 7
After another late night, chatting around the brazier with appreciative locals at Trehale, we were a little slow to get going this morning. But that was fine. Today, we only had around 25 miles to cover. Taking our leave of Adam and Trish, we headed off towards the coast, which we would then follow (a little inland) towards Cardigan for tonight’s gig at The Cellar.
Having wolfed down the provided microwave porridge, we were still in need of fuel for the ride. So, we took a short diversion towards Fishguard, in search of the hallowed all-day breakfast. And, as we reached the first signs of town-centre, there – across a small square – appeared an oasis.
Keeping a lid on our expectations, we neared what turned out to be quite a smart café. The first hurdle was to ascertain it was open. Check. But did they do breakfast? Check. And would they serve breakfast so late in the day? Yes, they would! And did they have a vegetarian option? Yes, they did! Bingo!!
And it was honestly one of the finest breakfasts I’ve had in a long time. Even the coffee was good. The price to pay for this indulgence was a steep climb, back up into the hills. But it was well worth it. And now we had the fuel on board to cope with the extra exertion.
If was a beautiful, clear, sunny day. We enjoyed wide open views, across both land and water. The scenery in this region is simply stunning: rolling hills; fields of cows and sheep, edged with burgeoning hedgerows, abundant in wildlife. And – of course – the magnificent sea. After one particularly lengthy climb on the approach to Cardigan, we found a grassy field, where we took the time to stop and drink it all in. And have a lie down.
And, soon after, we reached Cardigan: a place – it turned out – neither of us had visited before. First impressions were good and we settled at a bar terrace, overlooking the river, for some fluids (no – orange and soda, since you ask). As I returned to my bike, to find the details for tonight’s venue, I glanced up the road and noticed a sign saying ‘Live Music This Evening’. And there we were on the poster. Job done.
Where The Magic Happens
The Cellar is run by a charismatic, larger-than-life character, called Steve. Steve is a natural storyteller and, when he smiles, bears an uncanny likeness to Robert de Nero (he’ll hate me for mentioning that… everyone does). The Cellar itself is an immediately arresting place. Upstairs, there’s a homely, welcoming café. Down below, strangely enough, is the Cellar. And here’s where the magic happens.
Everywhere you look, there are posters, books, vinyl LPs and memorabilia. The furniture is a mixture of old leather sofas, church pews, car seats and goodness knows what. I may have imagined some of that but you get the general picture. Among the signed photos from artists that have appeared here were Robin Williamson, Martin Carthy and John Etheridge. August company indeed!
The venue has a green room, complete (thankfully, for all concerned) with shower, plus some rudimentary sleeping options. We were treated to cold plates of tasty morsels in the cafe before soundcheck. These were accompanied by an impromptu lecture in theology from Steve. Which we really hadn’t seen coming.
Taking to the stage area to set up, we were met with scenes of luxury. A complete P.A. system! With foldback! And all the channels and inputs we could wish for. There was even bottled water waiting for us onstage. We could get used to this.
Come the gig. the audience was, once again, modest but appreciative. Notable among these was an elderly lady in a colourful, sparkly outfit, complete with fringed wig. Steve had told us to expect this individual. Apparently, she attends every gig and always buys a CD.
True to form, this amazing lady (whose name I’ve shamefully forgotten) approached us during the break. She explained she’s always at The Cellar on music nights and – sure enough – asked if she could buy an album. Sadly, for weight-saving reasons, we’d chosen not to bring any ‘merch’ on the tour. We did, however, have some postcards that include a download link. And I promised to send a CD on to Steve, once we returned home from our travels (something – equally shamefully – I’ve yet to do. But I will).
Our dear friend Pat – who, since Lockdown, has lived in the nearby PreseIi Hills – also came to see us. The three of us met as music students in London in the late 80s. Back then, Pat and I played in Rob’s band ‘Rob Whale & The MarIeys’ (one of the finest names for a band I’ve had the pleasure to be part of – and there’s been a few). Later, I performed for many years in Pat’s barn-dance band ‘Cartwheel Ceilidh’.
It was great to catch up with a dear friend and spend down-time with the inimitable Steve. Volunteering at the bar was another interesting character (we’ll call him ‘Phil’). Phil lives off-grid, on otherwise disused land. He’s put together an online map to help others find similar spaces to call home. What a terrific initiative.
All too soon, it was time to call a halt to our nocturnal socializing. In the morning, Rob and I would need to be up early. We wanted to get an early breakfast before crossing the PreseIi Hills in time to catch our train from Haverfordwest back to Bristol.
Originally, we’d have been continuing the tour, cycling to our next gig in Carmarthen. But now it was time for me to make my way over to Germany for Helga‘s funeral.
We’d pick things up again after that.