Aberystwyth Autumn Social 2019

Cardigan Bay

Friday 25 October 2019
More than two dozen of us ventured into the wilds of Wales on one of the wettest days of the year. Several inches of rain fell on the UK during the Friday at the start of our social weekend. The rivers in mid-Wales caused some disruption with roads closed and diversions in place. However, determined that we were, everyone had a great time as the weekend weather brightened up. Our first visit to Aberystwyth, even with its up and downs, proved a success.

'Sparrow' - David Harrison MBE

En-route we visited the Cae Dai Trust 50's Museum, located on the B4501 road to Nantglyn, Denbigh. Run by a very affable chap known as 'Sparrow', David Harrison MBE is a Welsh philanthropist and a lovely eccentric. A mechanic by trade but he has led a very colourful life as the lead singer in a band called Sparrow and the Gossamers.

He later got involved in boxing and ran a nightclub for the Kray twins. He was a friend of Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery in 1963, which no doubt accounts for the exhibit of the getaway truck used in this infamous robbery. Due to his disability in stammering, he co-founded the British Stammering Association in 1978 with his best friend John Peel.

The museum was remarkable, not only in the quality of all the exhibits but also in the changes which have happened over the last 50 years. Of particular note were the changes in our society to smoking, entertainment, pin-ups and social acceptability. It's really a must-visit museum of life in the '50s.

To read a great 'blog' from a previous visitor about the Museum visit:
Sparrow & Cae Dai Museum

There was some speculation on the hotel accommodation that had been booked in Aberystwyth. Trip Advisor reviews were quite negative so it was with lots of trepidation that we all went to our bedrooms. I just can't understand where such reviews had come from. Everyone was very pleased with both the accommodation and the food provided. Indeed I would like to put on record it was the best I've ever stayed in on any previous NOA social weekend that I've been on.

Saturday 26 October 2019
The following morning a large contingent of us watched the Rugby World Cup game between England and New Zealand and after the wonderful win we trundled off to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CATS) in the foothills of South Snowdonia, three miles north of Machynlleth.

It was unfortunate that the rain came down and in particular that the cliff railway was said to be broken. Regrettable as our party had several who could not easily climb the steep hill to the centre. The organisers did transport some up by a car, but for me, the whole experience was not the best to benefit from what they had to say or had to show. Perhaps a re-visit on a much better day will prove the technology inspiring.

We returned to the hotel and after a visit to a hostelry or two, returned for evening dinner followed by entertainment provided by a young singer who, while he was only 21 yrs of age, knew many of the songs from our yesteryears.

Sunday 27 October 2019
A much brighter day to explore Aberystwyth. Although a thriving seaside town in the summer, the historic town of Aberystwyth is better known as a university town and the centre of learning for Wales, as it is also home to the National Library of Wales and boasts the largest Arts Centre in Wales. The town is huddled between three hills and two beaches.

It has a 778 feet long funicular railway (1896), the second-longest in the British Isles and now a Grade II listed structure. The promenade, the pier, shops, beaches and the new and old harbours were all visited.

Then time for lunch before boarding the coach for our journey back. It was great to spot the famous Red Kites soaring in the bright sky along the A44.  After a diversion or two due to the flooding of the Welsh rivers and some road closures, we arrived back at the marina just one hour later than planned. An enjoyable trip and a great social, with others asking what are we going to do next spring. Let's wait and see!

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