Day 36 – Writing and WiFi: Beach Hut and MorphPOD

No walking, just a day to catch up and seek out new experiences before setting off for a wedding in Sheffield. Starting in the Beach Hut Café at Llanfairfechan and ending up in the MorphPOD at Felindre, near Knighton … back into Offa’s Dyke territory

23rd May 2013

The only WiFi I found at Llanfairfechan is the Beach Hut, open 10am – 5pm every day except Monday … and it does a solid breakfast, and tasty lunch too 🙂

Unfortunately the hours do not fit too well with walking during the day, but when I asked in the local pub, which also does evening meals, "do you have WiFi", they said, without a hint of satire, "we’re not that modern". So, I mainly ate wonderful, spicy takeaway from the Cardamom, and had over a week with no real internet.

While I had expected connectivity to be an issue, I had not realised quite how bad it would be. Mostly I could get some email on my iPhone (O2), but virtually never any Vodafone signal for my Android phone. With a few bars of GSM on the iPhone it was possible to access some internet sites, by clicking, then going off to do something else, and, with luck, the page might have loaded 10 minutes later. I have been shocked at just how bad many specific ‘mobile’ web sites are, fitting to a small screen, but useless at low bandwidth. This included Twitter mobile – come on, how much bandwidth do you need for 140 characters?

Even on WiFi served by BT broadband, it was taking Flickr an hour to upload each day’s photos (already reduced to web resolution), and in my stress at trying to make the most of the short internet time I had, I managed to break my blog 🙁 happily, my wonderful sysadmin, who also happens to be my wife, stepped in and sorted out the mess I’d made.

So, having uploaded some of my photos, I packed up the van and left Platts Farm campsite where I’d been staying since starting the North Wales coast path 11 days before. Platts Farm is right in the middle of the village, just 10 minutes’ walk down the road to the station and the sea. Sam and Alan bought the place three years ago, I think from the NHS hospital next door, as the overgrown walled garden at the bottom end of the site still belongs to the NHS.

The farm complex is in solid grey stone and Sam and Alan are gradually working on it, turning one outbuilding into a bunkhouse, and the yard is the campsite. The campsite part is fully walled, so has some shelter and has a small number of grassed pitches over two areas, one, Afon, close to the stream that runs through the village and the other, Coed, just above the walled garden. The facilities are still basic, but clean, although, sadly, no laundry. Several old open-sided barns have picnic tables underneath, so you can sit outside even if it is raining, and the washing-up area is in another large open-sided lean-to, so it feels like the open air, but is dry.

I had been on my own there most of the weekdays, except for another Alan who was testing out a new tent for a few days before camping in it with his wife on the Isle of Man in June. However, at the weekend there were a couple of large groups, and the layout of the site makes it ideal for extended families or groups of friends.

The evening brought another kind of camping. I drove back down into Offa’s Dyke territory, to Brandy House Farm in Felindre, a few miles west of Knighton, where I would stay in a MorphPOD. The MorphPOD is a small camping pod, part of the move towards ‘glamping’, camping without fully roughing it.

The MorphPOD has an elegant design, with curved sweeping roof, and flexible internal space including beds that fold up into the sloping roof. The MorphPOD designers suggested I stay in one, and I will be seeing them the following morning to find out more of their vision.

So on to a lovely dinner cooked by Richard, in his wonderful kitchen. It is like something from a novel. There is all the miscellaneous clutter of a classic farmhouse kitchen, leather satchel on a nail, an old rusty wide-gauge model railway set in a box by the window, gaffer tape and a glorious framed rainbow, painted by one of the children when they were little. Yet within this, everything to do with cooking is very orderly, from stainless steel pans hung from black iron hooks, to a line of size graded brown teapots on a high shelf, and the biggest electric kettle I have ever seen!

Then bed in the MorphPOD, as I type now, its little LED battery light hanging from the rails that would also support the hung-back beds.