After months of planning, purchasing and preparing; after much tea, cake and fantastic farewells – my sabbatical has begun!
To kick things off I am journeying in my ancient and long serving Nissan sunny around the UK. An epic road trip to explore some fabulous natural wonders of British Isles, visit family and friends and learn more about my family history. A bit of a”Who do you think you are?” meets “Autumn Watch”
Straight after work and full to the gunnels I hit the road and headed west, aiming for the Pembrokeshire Coast all the while hoping and praying my little car would make it after a very hasty re-wiring job done done by my dad. Days before I was due to set off my bonnet had started smoking. Never a good sign!
I arrived in Broad Haven just before midnight and wandered in to the front room of a property I believed to be my Youth Hostel. After being greeted by a large husky and a dressing gown clad, rather worried looking couple I realised I was in the wrong place, namely their home!
Rapidly apologising, I found my bearings and reached the hostel entrance only to discover I was locked out, with no warden and no phone signal to call my friends who were in an unknown room somewhere inside. Tricky!
Suddenly the front door opened and a fellow guest emerged to puff his last cigarette of the evening. Thankfully he let me in. When inside I rapidly discovered all the bedrooms were locked and everyone I knew was fast asleep. The emergency warden phone got no response. I was exhausted, so I planned to slum it and sleep in the foyer.
The guy having a fag saw my dilemma and said there was one spare bunk in his room of 6. I took up the kind offer and amidst snoring I climbed into my bunk, deciding to sleep fully clothed to avoid any disturbance.
The night passed uneventfully other than a slight clash in the dark when I got up to use the toilet in the room only to discover with a shriek that it was unlocked but occupied.
Next morning I found my friends – a group of conservation volunteers, who were amazed but relieved I had made it. We laughed over the way things had worked out and headed for food. This all changed when I was summoned to the breakfast room to apologise to a very distressed Australian bachelor who had been horrified by the sight a women clad in pink bursting into the toilet of his male-only dorm thereby breaking all YHA rules then disappearing into the night.
Needless to say I attempted, without success to explain my story. I don’t know if the Aussie will ever recover from the nightmare, but it certainly makes a great yarn.
The beleaguered YHA warden, who had to file a long report, looked at me, shook his head and said nothing like this had ever happened in all his 15 years of work!