Over The Hill

Bike to The Future ’23 Tour – Part 8

This morning, we were up at 8 am, ready for early breakfast and a quick get away. Although we were able to order coffee before the cafe’s official opening time, there were unencouraging sounds emanating from the kitchen. Evidently, one of the hobs had packed up. Disaster. Would we have to set off on empty stomachs?

Community Hub

Of course not. The heroic staff managed to feed us with minimum fuss. And, although the place wasn’t yet actually open, there was already quite a gathering inside. You see, The Cellar is more than simply a cafe and music venue.

Like the Yeoman, The Cellar functions as something of a community hub. And many of those it serves aren’t properly catered for by the local or national administrations. Both the Pembroke Yeoman and The Cellar stand as examples of why we should all celebrate and support independent ‘businesses’. I put that last word in parentheses because, although they obviously need to turn a profit, this is clearly not the driving motive in either case.

Differences in Temperament

So now, grateful for our full bellies, we said farewell to Steve and his team. And set forth for Haverfordwest. This meant – as previously mentioned – crossing the Preselis. Our original plan had been to visit Pat and his wife Verity at their home in the area. But that would have to wait for another time. Now we had a train to catch. And hills to cross.

Not surprisingly. this was a serious climb. It was, however, steady. So, whilst a challenge, the ride was both enjoyable and rewarding. Rob and I have differing approaches to tackling hills, largely due to the differences between our bikes (but partly down to temperament). Rob likes to attack and go at them hard. Whereas, I’m more inclined to pace myself.

Quite Something

This meant that, with the hill rising continuously over a couple of miles, Rob disappeared into the distance, while I plodded along – getting steadily further behind. Which was fine. I knew Rob would wait at the top. So, I took the opportunity, part way up, to stop for a banana and to take in the magnificent views.

At the top, there was a parking area, where Rob was waiting. From here you could see for miles around, with views to the coast, both to the North and South of the headland. A couple came over to commend us on our efforts. We told them about our tour and they pointed out the spot from which – recent research has ascertained – the sarsen stones of Stonehenge were transported. Quite something when you think about it.

Quiet Journey To Bristol

There followed a lovely, long, downhill stretch. After which, there wasn’t far to go until we reached Haverfordwest. Here, we killed some time with coffee and cake at the lovely library cafe by the river, before making our way to the station. This time, mercifully, the train wasn’t overcrowded and we were able to stow our bikes in the allotted space. We settled into our seats and prepared for a quiet journey to Bristol.

Until – that is – a couple of stops later, we were joined by a convivial, very camp and slightly tipsy gentleman. Who was clearly intent on conversation. Up until his arrival, Rob and I had been happy to sit in companionable silence. Which was practically a first for the trip. Rob had taken the opportunity to switch off a little, now that we were no longer under the pressures of touring.

Unwitting Counselor

Our new friend took this to be grumpiness on Rob’s part. So, he probed and provoked until Rob, too, joined our chat. He was actually a sweetheart but going through difficult times. And, although neither Rob nor I really wanted another drink at this stage, we graciously accepted his rather persistent offer to join him in a can of lager.

Hopefully, our counselling was of some help. Our friend was clearly in need of a sympathetic ear. And, although he was facing something of a dilemma in both his professional and private lives, it sounded as though he knew – really – the way forward. As we got off to change trains at Cardiff, we saw – looking back through the window of the carriage – that a new, unwitting counselor had been quickly recruited. Good luck to them both.

A Triumph

At Bristol, a train for Bath was imminent. So we decided to forego the cycle back from there. We both had quite a bit to organise before our respective onward journeys. And there was little to prove in cycling the remaining 18 miles or so back.

So that was that, for the time being. As a first run, cycling and performing together as a duo, it had been a triumph. Musically, socially and logistically, we’d established that we make an excellent team. Though interrupted, this was not the end of the tour. And, once it does end, there will certainly be more to follow.

Cosy Cardigan

Bike to The Future ’23 Tour – Part 7

Bike to The Future '23 Tour - Part 7. The Cellar Cardigan

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.

Bike to The Future '23 Tour - Part 7. The Popty Cafe

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.

Job Done

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.

'Cosy Cardigan' Bike to The Future '23 Tour - Part 7. Having 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!


'Cosy Cardigan' Bike to The Future '23 Tour - Part 7. Green Room

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).

'Cosy Cardigan' Bike to The Future '23 Tour - Part 7. The Cellar Cardigan with dancers

Friends Reunited

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.

Unscheduled Interruption

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.