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.


Bike to The Future ’23 Tour – Part 6

'Barnstorming' - Part 6 of the Bike to The Future '23 tour diary

Naturally, after yesterday’s exertions, we were keen to get our heads down after the gig. No… of course we weren’t. Anyone who performs will be familiar with the need to ‘come down’ afterwards. And our host at the Pembroke Yeoman understood this well. Moreover, she needed her own downtime after a busy evening’s Work.

Precious Times

So, we spent a very pleasant couple of hours with Jess and one or two of her regulars, chatting into the small hours in the cozy bar. These are the precious times. At the end of a long day’s traveling and performing, when strangers are – temporarily – your new best friends. I’ve no idea what we talked about. But that’s as it should be. What remains are fond memories of happy times well spent in good company.

In the morning, we only had a relatively short distance to ride. So we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the sunny courtyard-garden.  Until, eventually, it was time to leave Jess in peace and make our way to the next venue. This was Trehale Farm, a short hop over the hills near the tiny hamlet of Mathry.

Alternative Scene

Part 6 of the Bike to The Future '23 tour diary - Trehale Farm

For some reason, we’d imagined this to be some kind of ‘glamping’ site, populated by middle-class families from over the border in England. How wrong we were. To be fair, we should have known. The booking had been made after I’d seen that punk-poet Attila The Stockbroker had performed here. And several of the Yeoman’s regulars had reported hedonistic times spent at Trehale.

So it should have been no surprise to find a quite alternative scene on our arrival. The main building was rough and ready, with a broken-down, live-in converted bus parked outside. The surrounding yards and fields were strewn with a variety of vehicles, farm equipment and general gubbins.

All of which sounds rather negative. But the overall impression was of a place where stuff happens. And of an environment not overly concerned with established norms or rules. And so it proved.

Very Thoughtful

We were greeted at the door by ‘Trish’, an eccentric, well-spoken lady of mature years but with a youthful twinkle in the eye, who reminded me, somehow, of Miriam Margolyes. Thankfully, Trish was expecting our arrival. She showed us to our digs, a rather lovely B & B-style room, upstairs in the old farmhouse. Here, we found tea-making facilities, weIshcakes, some pastries and pots of microwave porridge. (And a mini microwave.) Very thoughtful.

Thanking Trish for the pastries, she seemed a little taken aback. “Those were for your breakfast” she exclaimed. No matter. There was still the porridge. And time in the morning to find a cafe for ‘proper’ breakfast.

Keeping The Locals Onside

But, before all that, we needed to find the ‘stage’ and make ourselves known to Adam and his crew. Which is where things started to get interesting. It transpired this was to be the first event at Trehale for some time. Evidently, it had all been going very well. People from round about had enjoyed some wild times at the farm. Including the immediate neighbours.

'Barnstorming' - Part 6 of the Bike to The Future '23 tour diary - preparations begin

Until, one day, those neighbours decided they’d had enough. So they’d taken Adam to court. And lost. So now Adam was starting again. Mindful of wanting to keep the locals on side, he’d decided to go for more acoustic entertainment… us! He also thought it a good idea to use minimal PA.

Well, there’s minimal and there’s inadequate. What we were presented with leaned, dangerously toward the latter. Fortunately, Adam runs a club in nearby St. Davids. So, he arranged for something to be fetched from there. Adam was completely honest about his lack of expertise in this area. So, we agreed to be back in good time to help set up. Meanwhile, we had an urgent appointment with a local beach.

Bracing Waters

Part 6 of the Bike to The Future '23 tour diary - down on the beach

Both Trish and Jess had recommended a little bay called Abermawr. We were warned it would be a steep ride down and – more to the point – back up again. Which it was. What we hadn’t been told was it’s about a twenty minute walk from the nearest road once you get there.

Normally, I’d be delighted by this. But it meant there was little opportunity to linger. One of us did, however, brave the bracing waters. Then it was time to get back to the bikes and haul ourselves up the steep lanes to Trehale.

Up and Running

Returning to the barn, we found this had now been transformed into something resembling a stage. In fact, it was looking pretty good. Except for the random assortment of sound equipment. Somehow, from this jumble of cables, speakers, etc. we needed to piece together a workable PA.

Part 6 of the Bike to The Future '23 tour diary  starting to look good

Fortunately, as we grappled with unserviceable power leads and baffling mixing desks, our ‘support’ for the evening – the wonderful Abbie Jebbers – appeared. Being local, Abbie was totally unfazed by the relative chaos that surrounded us. She’d performed here before and was confident all would be well. And, once she’d nipped home to pick up a few missing components, we soon had everything up and running.

Hearty & Wholesome

Part 6 of the Bike to The Future '23 tour diary - food glorious food

Adam’s crew had been hard at work all afternoon restoring the venue – post hibernation – to its former glory. There were now lights, a bar and – more importantly (from a personal point of view) – a food stall in operation. After this afternoon’s cycle/swim, my normal early evening hunger was reaching peak intensity. And although food had been promised, you can never quite know what that means. In this case, it was hearty, wholesome and very much hit the spot. As did the local ale.

A goodly smattering of faithful Trehaleans then appeared. Clearly not holidaymakers and mostly of a more progressive persuasion, they were a rowdy and colourful bunch. So, it looked like we were in for a good evening.

Festy Vibe

Kicking off the entertainment, Abbie Jebbers was magnificent. She has a rich, deep tone that occasionally brought Joni Mitchell to mind. Her extensive vocal range also takes her to some dizzying heights. Abbie’s delivery was charming, understated and pleasantly ego-free. Interspersing some choice covers with her own songs, these were well-received, with one or two apparently familiar to the locals.

'Barnstorming' - Part 6 of the Bike to The Future '23 tour diary - the gig's under way

Then it was our turn. With the brazier blazing (there was a distinct nip in the air), the beer flowing and the skies darkening, there was something of a ‘festy’ vibe about the place. Our set went down a treat. We managed to get everyone singing and a small gaggle even got up to dance at the end. And, once again, we were treated to some post-match (possibly drink-induced) adulation.

Alcohol-fueled or not – we’ll take it!