A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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Wandering Home From Shell Island

Ride Date - 27 October 2018

By Ren Withnell

Last night was cold. Not perhaps the coldest I've ever endured but cold, yes. The big question on everyone's lips is "Did the hot water bottle help?". Erm. 

Look, OK, yes it is pleasant to have a wobbly warm thing in the sleeping bag with me (quiet at the back). However this warm thing is only small and therefore only warms the parts of myself and the sleeping bag closest to it. Also the warm thing does not stay warm indefinitely. Unless like my fellow camper Andy you get out of bed and boil the water once again then all you have is a cold wobbly thing in the sleeping bag with you.

Hot water bottles help, but they are not the ultimate answer.

2 motorcycles and a tent in the low morning sun at Shell Island's campsite
Sun's up, no sign of Sharon yet. 

I have slept, not the blissful sleep of the guiltless mind yet thankfully sufficient to prevent me from being more grumpy than I usually am. This weekend is the weekend the clocks go back. This will please Sharon as she'll get an extra hour in bed but for me it means I'm up at 0500 as opposed to 0600. Dagnammit. 

Speaking of Sharon the perpetually cold, hates the cold, can't stand the cold, never ever wants to see winter ever again one is fast asleep in her bag. No shivering, no chattering teeth, just a nose stuck out between pillows and the sleeping bag and unicorn hot water bottles and fleecy pyjamas. Dagnammit!

There's no point in rushing this morning. The tide will be over the road until about 1200 so it's not like we can make an early start. I kill time by doing my ablutions and making a brew. By 0800 the rest of the gang are stirring so I give Sharon a nudge. With a stick. From a long distance away. Think of waking Sharon, especially when it's cold, as being akin to poking a giant dragon, you need to plan your exit.

High tide should be around 1000. We all walk down to the road across the marsh to see our exit submerged. Well, sort of. Tides are funny things because it all depends on where the moon is in it's orbit, what the weather is doing, where the sun is and some other stuff. This morning the water has made it to the edge of the road. It's not very impressive.

The sea water is just barely covering the edge of the road from the campsite to the mainland
Oh NO! We're totally cut off. Sort of. Kinda. Maybe. Not.

Our group then takes a walk to the harbour. There's a cold breeze although as the sun climbs higher it is losing its sharp edge. The light from the sun is not the usual light I'm familiar with, it seems crisper, keener. It feels like the sharpen function I use in my image editor, it feels like those expensive TVs. Is it the angle, the sky? I don't know but Wales is looking first class today. Perhaps it's my mood?

A rolling field with a sprinking of campers, behind the bay and the welsh mountains in the autumnal sun
It is a sight to behold, Wales at it's best.

By 1200 most people have drifted off and I'm taking the tent down. The sun is up so the tent goes away dry which is unusual. The bike is loaded and we head off the island at 1300. I reckon a gentle ride back should see us at Sharon's before 1700, before it goes dark. Sorted.

We head north through Maentrog and I spot a sign to Rhyd. Ah Rhyd, a tiny clump of houses nestled in the hills. We make our way through the narrow lanes then back onto the main road for Beddgelert and Capel Curig. 

This sunlight is most peculiar. I've been coming to Wales since childhood and I've always thought it to be a handsome place. Yet today it is looking particularly grand. Like a glamorous granny, she is always well turned out and impressive but today she's off to a big wedding, she's gone that extra mile. 

Trees, the river with rocks and boulders, steep valley sides, contrast and sunlight all in a welsh setting

Is it the light? Is it this season? Could it just be my mood? I don't feel particularly ecstatic but perhaps in my maturity I am actually learning to appreciate my surroundings. I'm over-thinking this aren't I, I'm spoiling this aren't I. Just enjoy the views and the ride. Magnificent.

A steep green hill rises from a flat valley floor with low sunlight enhancing the grandeur
Just lovely.

In spite of my new transcendental hippy earth child appreciation of these hills my addiction to tea is calling. The Moel Siabod Cafe looks like it's a bit modern and trendy for my taste. I'd prefer a quaint cottage cafe or a trucker's greasy spoon but this is here and I am here so this will suffice. 

I'm offended! OK, yes the price is uncomfortable but at least the food is good. No, that's not the problem it's the toilets. Being modern and trendy means mixed toilets, I have no issue with that at all. It's the fact that 2 traps are mixed and 2 traps are ladies only. I have been discriminated against. 

Look, I'm joking OK. No... no stop typing. I'm not here to open a discussion regarding toilets, gender equality, political correctness and LGBTQIA+. Let people be what they want to be. I'm being satirical, sarcastic, just let it lie. 

Back on the road we head north and up to the A55. Time has passed far quicker than it ought to and it's already 1600. As the clocks have gone back it will be dark by 1730 and we've still got a long way to go. Ah, there's a problem and I should have realised it, I should learn from my own mistakes.

It's been half term, I know this. It's been good weather. Yes, of course, most of North West England has, like Sharon and I, been to Wales. Now they and we are all going home. The A55 is busy and the M56 is now essentially a crawling mass. By the time we get back to Sharon's place we are cold, tired and hungry. 

Save for the final part of the ride home this weekend has been a short but sweet cracker. We've had a laugh and we've seen Wales at its best. 

If you'd like to publish your motorcycle related story here on Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Shivering At Shell Island It may be cold but it's a beautiful autumnal day to be riding through North Wales' finest scenery. There's warmth to be found in the evening too.
Wandering Home From Shell Island Do hot water bottles work in sleeping bags? Will the dynamic muppets ever get off the island and back home? No-one really cares.

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