Llandovery Hope & Glory

'Llandovery, Hope & Glory', part 3 of a Band named Brian's Just Songs tour blog

We may have been backed into a corner (and apparently supporting Darts) but our night at The Whitehall was full of Llandovery hope and glory…

Short but Stunning

Today’s ride, after yesterday’s excesses, was mercifully short. But it was stunning. Seriously, one of the most beautiful rides I can remember. Whereas previously I’ve battled with traffic on the main road along this stretch, our route this time took us up into the hills of the Brecons. Which, of course, took some climbing. But it was well worth the effort for the panoramic views and minimal number of passing vehicles.

At the top of one long ascent, we stopped to take in the scenery. Here, we got talking to a park volunteer, Paul. Who liked to chat. He really liked to chat. He began by telling us about the 75% decline in curlew population over the past 30 years. Then he veered-off into an unfinished story about a wardrobe he’d bought. Which was interrupted by tales of seeing ‘Yes’ in concert; seeing Bruce Springsteen perform; extreme running/walking; a discussion of what bike might be best to take him between these events… and a host of other hanging threads that he never quite managed to tie up.

But he was a lovely bloke. He said he’d come and see us in Llandovery that evening. We’d see.

Confrontation Averted

Descending from the chain of hills, we came across a wonderful café with a lovely garden, popular with cyclists, of which we’d seen many. This was called The International Welsh Rarebit Centre, so it would have been rude not to try some. Delicious. And the friendly staff offered to fill our water bottles without us having to ask.

The atmosphere was convivial and we quickly got talking to a couple at the next table. The lady was an ex-nurse. And she also liked to chat. Fortunately, some cyclists diverted Rob’s attention as she started to say how she thought the NHS should be privatised. Confrontation averted!

Mostly Well Behaved

Refreshed and rested, we assumed we’d now be following the main road along the valley to Llandovery. But no. We crossed this and scaled more, steeper hills the other side. One of which forced us to dismount and push (oh the shame!). The views were, however, still magnificent and it was good to be keeping away from traffic.

Then we did join the main road for a short stretch. Our planned route was to take us up more climbs but we declined. This section was mostly downhill, with lovely sweeping curves. One notable exception aside, the Sunday drivers were mostly well behaved and we enjoyed being able to cover the remaining miles at a good pace.

Welcoming Host

Arriving at The Whitehall, our host – Anne – was very welcoming, offering drinks before showing us to our room and helping us to safely stow the bikes. She also cooked us a hearty dinner, despite the kitchen not being officially open. We offered to go and find something elsewhere but she was insistent.

Magical Moment

And the gig was a triumph. The response was amazing, with a standing ovation at the end and 100% audience participation. And our friend from the Brecons, Paul, did turn up!

One magical moment came when, having introduced ‘Beautiful People’ with tales of the wonderful characters we’d met on our travels, the side door opened and in came Lola (see previous post)! Lola had been on her way to the ‘Fire in The Mountain’ festival near Aberystwyth, following a day’s walking in the Brecons. She’d spotted the chip shop opposite the pub and pulled in to get something to eat. She’d then heard the music and looked in, completely unaware it was us!

Intriguing Characters

We also met the wonderful DJ Brian and his wife Trish, who were particularly taken with our performance. Brian plans to run events in the village and hopes to get us back before long. And both were keen to help promote our upcoming gig in nearby Llangadog.

At the bar, my dear friend and part-time local John got talking to ‘dodgy’ Dave, an intriguing character who claimed he was interested in buying some land from John’s farm up the road. Apparently, this would be to house his aging Mum’s caravan. We’ll see how that pans out.

Vindication of Our Efforts

Anyway, we’d finally got back in front of an audience and the results had been great: uplifting, gratifying and vindication of all our efforts.

Long may it so continue.