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Wales, mountain bikes and fry ups…plus a bit of graffiti

Well it’s been a quiet last week on my blog partly because of a trip to Wales for some off-roading and partly because I made another huge batch of tabbouleh so I’ve not really cooked anything to write about since the weekend. I did roast a nice chicken so I could have some with the tabbouleh and to make a nice soup so ill pop that recipe up tomorrow.

So, Wales. After a very long time out of the saddle, almost 5 years, I dusted off my mountain bike for a trip with a few mates to Wales. We went to a place in North West Wales with a lot of L’s and G’s in it. Can’t remember where….lots of hills and rain. Brilliant. My main worry initially was, can I remember how to even ride a bike after 5 years? It turns out that it’s just like riding a bike. You never forget.  Ok, so we rock up at this purpose built trial centre with lots of off road tracks through forests and moors. The tracks are marked out like ski runs.
Blue – novice, Red – advanced and black – expert. “So we’re on the blue runs are we?”
I hopefully ask. Nope, Red all the way. Only 10 miles or so….”ah right, ok cool.” Now, the most physical exercise I’ve done in the past 5 years has been dancing extravagantly to drum n bass…no mean feat I grant you but nothing quite like I was about to experience.

So off we go from the car park. There’s a little random track leading off from the car park that starts with a bank that goes up then down into the forest. Everyone disappears over this bank into the forest. I follow. It turns out immediately you go over this bank it dips down into a 30 foot decent that to me seems almost vertical. Having not checked what was the other side of this before we set off and seeing all my mates going over it as if it was nothing I assumed it was a little drop down onto the track. Because of this I went over this bank at speed and had no choice but to go screaming (literally like a little girl) down this bank. Luckily everyone else had gone off at some pace so no one heard the small girl screaming (me). Having narrowly avoided a tree I continued up as nonchalantly as I could pretending that I meant to tackle this bit like that. The track worked it’s way steadily up hill. It went on and on and on. Kill me now. We finally reached the top….or so I thought. We came out of this forest onto a moor where I see this track working it’s way steadily uphill into the distance. Plus now we were out in the open it turns out that this will all be into a head wind. Shit.

We finally made it to the top, I had a minor heart attack then we continued. After this it was actually quite enjoyable. I did have a few near death moments and a sudden realisation that a 12-year-old bike doesn’t quite have the brakes of a modern bike with disc brakes. The occasional scream down hill was followed by coughing and spluttering uphill. After going back into the forest the tracks get slightly more demanding but some quite fun. Then there’s a general decision made that why don’t we go onto the black runs….. “yeah cool” I hear my self saying. What am I doing? 5 years of no biking, only drum n bass related fitness and rapidly wearing brakes which are getting wetter and wetter. Oh and the more wet these kind of brakes get the less they work. I may as well just use my head on a tree to stop. Well off we go! All was well, I just decided to go for it and only almost died twice. And I’m not exaggerating here. There was one point where I almost went down a ravine narrowly missing a tree with my face! Again, cue small girl screaming technique. Worked a treat. Anyway, I finally made it back to the trial centre. Sat down to a massive cup of tea (like at least a pint) and a bacon and hash brown roll. Hell yeah, best part of the day! I realised two things here. One, I don’t think I’m cut out for this type of mountain biking any more…I’m too old. The down hill bits just don’t out weigh the up hill bits. And two, I blooming love tea and bacon!

I had a third realisation later that day. I don’t like camping in Wales. Too wet and cold. Give me a fire on a beach in Australia any day!

The next day after a truly awful nights sleep we went off for breakfast in a nice cafe. Proper fry up with bread and butter and tea. So good! This got me thinking about fry ups. I’ve spent a lot of time in Australia and I don’t think I ever had a fry up that could match a fry up you’d get in any greasy spoon cafe anywhere in England. I tried so many places in Oz from fancy places to more basic places and none of them quite managed it. I was in Bristol the previous weekend where we went for a fry up at a place down the road from my brother’s place. £3.50 for a full fry up and tea, it was perfect. It was the same story at this place in Wales. I don’t know what it is that makes it better over here. Maybe it’s got to do with being proud of the British fry up or just that I’m so used to it being cooked in a certain way. The fact that it’s very hard to find really good bacon and sausages in Oz might have something to do with it. Obviously my fry up is better than anything you could go out and have 😉 but it’s always nice to have a fry up cooked for you by someone else. This bodes well for a future girlfriend…any takers? 😉 I’ll hopefully be returning to Australia soon so maybe I’ll go on a mission to find the best fry up in Australia and go into a bit more detail to figure out what makes a good fry up.

Oh and to finish my story off, our second day in Wales was supposed to be the main event as it were. A 30km ride over some mountains. Sod that. I waited in the car and listened to the radio and read the paper in the sun with a nice view over the Welsh hills. Nice. Oh and the weekend before in Bristol I saw some amazing graffiti. They shut off a whole block and a maze of streets and invited artists in from all over the world to create some amazing street art and had an exhibition. This all happened about 6 months ago or so. Most of it is still there. Some really cool stuff. Gallery below.

Check back in a few days and I should have a new featured recipe. How to cook the perfect risotto and I might chuck that soup recipe up as well.

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