Today has been a long day – and at the time of writing, we’ve not even finished it yet in terms of performances. Having stayed in Gloucester last night with Clare’s dad, there was a 90 minute drive to our first pier, at Penarth (just south of Cardiff). The Welsh leg of the trip encompasses two days – today and tomorrow – and so it was with some despondency that we noticed heavy rain setting in after we crossed the River Severn. On arrival at Penarth this barely abated, but fortunately for us there were a couple of small sheltered sections on the pier – one opposite a small café operated by a lovely lady, Nicola. We played a couple of tunes while having a morning coffee, much to Nicola’s delight, and had a good look up the delightfully structured pier which was mostly empty except for a large pavilion at the shore end.
We then headed further west, past Swansea – to the Mumbles pier, at the Eastern tip of the Gower peninsula. Not really knowing anything about this in advance, we were completely thrilled to find a beautiful Victorian structure, set by some stunning rocks, which leads out to a lifeboat station (see picture above). The views were great, and if you haven’t been (as we hadn’t before), I can certainly recommend it! Unfortunately, due to the extreme weather (the rain having now been joined by high winds), the majority of the pier was closed for safety reasons. However, this didn’t put us off: the shore end included something for everyone, and they asked us to play in their lovely café area, which we were very happy to do. We were even more delighted that they then offered us our lunch for free: of course this was another portion of fish and chips each, and it didn’t let the side down. We’ll reveal the top ratings for all our lunches at the end of the tour!
Then we had to face the long and winding road to Aberystwyth, some two and a quarter hours away, much of it on smaller roads through the rolling hills and valleys of west Wales (and a fair amount stuck behind a lorry…). When we got to our destination, though, we found that Aberystwyth Royal pier contains a lot of commercial units at the shore end, a snooker hall and bar in the middle, and a smaller outdoor seating area at the sea end. We were joined here by James’s colleague Delyth, and also our old friends from Sheffield, Andrew and Mary, and their friends who live locally whom they are visiting. We played for around half an hour in the outdoor seating area with a wonderful backdrop of cliffs and a gorgeous façade along the curving coastline (just seen behind the Welsh windmill in the picture!). Fortunately by this time the rain had cleared, and the wind was low enough that our pages didn’t get turned over too often…
And so onto this evening. I’m writing this before the final performance of the day, as I’m not sure whether I’ll get a chance afterwards. We’re performing a concert at St Michael’s church at 7.30pm (not sure how much of an audience we’ll get – we’re not expecting a sell-out, that’s for sure!), after which we’re going to go for a pint and a meal with our visiting friends. And then maybe, just maybe, we’ll head down to the nightclub on the pier itself. Its name? Pier Pressure!
Tomorrow starts with another long drive (Aberystwyth is a long way from anywhere else of any size!), and we’ll play at Bangor (11.30), Beaumaris (13.00), Llandudno (15.00) before completing the Welsh leg of the trip at the slightly derelict pier at Colwyn Bay at 16.30.
Weather report: Some real variety in the weather today, but mainly in terms of different levels of wind and rain. The temperatures varied between 19.5 and 22.6 celsius, with humidity between 74.6% and 88.1%.
Quote of the day: “I do think you’re brave.” The café owner at Penarth presumably is confusing the word “brave” with something else, such as “stupid”…
Pier of the day: Mumbles