Monday dawned, well spluttered into life all too soon. Dad had big plans for today so Mum and me were skipping our training ride; tomorrow we are all going out on our bikes so it's not a big issue or anything. After yesterdays clear skies and bright sunshine today we were greeted by fog and a distinct chill in the air, according to the news it will get better later, we'll see.
Dad finished the list and for once we seemed to have everything.
“Come on then, load up, times a wasting!” how can he be so damn cheerful?
We trooped out to the car with our bags and Mum supervised the packing.
“You gonna navigate Drew?” Dad enquired.
Like I'm gonna pass up a chance to ride up front?
“Sure, um where are we going?”
“I've marked on the map for you, I think the first stop is called Difrin.”
I settled into my seat and flipped open the OS to check our route while Mum and Jules belted up.
“Ready?” Dad enquired.
“I'll never be ready for this torture.” Goth girl moaned.
“I'll take that as yes then.”
I revelled in the warmth of the heated seat as Dad edged out onto the lane, the headlights cutting a swathe through the fog. We only had to pass one car before we reached a wider road and as we could see their headlights we were already in a passing place when they reached us. Away from Gellifawr the weather did actually look a bit better, up above there was even a snippet of yesterdays blue skies.
It didn't take long to get to the first stop that is actually called Dyffryn. Dad was quite excited but I thought the few bits of stone were pretty boring. At least the weather was picking up and there was even a bit of sunshine before we trooped back towards the car.
Dad checked his list, “Gorse Four.”
In his enthusiasm Dad had circled tons of stuff but I soon found Gors Fawr only about five miles on. I pointed us in the right direction and with a sigh from the back seat we were on our way again, surprisingly it was already after ten.
“The experts reckon the blue stones at Stone Henge come from those hills.” Dad pointed to our left.
“Isn't this like a bit far?” Jules mentioned, “and why bother?”
“It is a fair old trot I suppose.” Dad conceded as we rumbled over a cattle grid.
“According to the map this is a cycle route.” I advised.
“What's that in the road?” Mum asked as we negotiated a right hand bend.
“Looks like a load of kids” Dad replied, sure enough as we got closer it was indeed a load of little munchkins all wearing sort of Welsh costumes and herded along the verge by several teachers (I guess) in watered down versions.
“Aw how cute” Mum cooed as we edged past.
“Must be some special thing going on.” Dad stated.
The last teacher was more into the costume thing, complete with the silly hat and was she ugly! As we passed she turned to give us a wave and I realised why, she was most definitely a he.
“Gross!” my sister opined, I had to agree.
“Jules!” Mum admonished.
“Well it is.”
“I can't remember all the details but I think it's a Welsh fairytale, he's dressed as a Hag.”
“Definitely convincing.” I added my two pennath.
“At least the Welsh are hanging on to their culture unlike the English.” Dad put in.
“Um right at the end.” I directed.
Gors Fawr was a bit more interesting, not a lot but the gorse did provide cover for a toilet stop and it was only a few metres from where we parked the car. A whole day of this – sheesh!
According to the sign, our next stop, Meini Gwyr, was a sort of mini Stonehenge type thing but I think even Dad was disappointed by the couple of stones in an overgrown field that are what you get to see.
“Anyone hungry?” Mum asked as we waited for Dad to finish his David Bailey stuff.
“Not many!” I didn't hesitate in replying.
“I guess.” The Dark One allowed.
Dad rejoined us.
“You ready to eat Dave? There's a café back at the junction.”
“Save the pack up for later? That sounds like a good idea. Race you back to the car Drew.” And he took off. He's always doing this, I get a ten-metre handicap before I get into gear but I nearly always win.
“Men!” I heard Mum mention as I launched after Dad.
He must've been practicing as we were nearly at the car before I caught him up, just getting a hand to the bonnet before him. We both stood panting while we waited for the rest of the family to get there. We piled into the car to make the short trip through Glandy Cross to where Mum had spotted the café.
I'm sure you've been somewhere similar, the café was sort of stuck in a bit of a time warp; the counter was dominated by one of those glass cabinets with plates of buns on the top shelf and bags of crisps filling the bottom. The menu on the wall was one of those pegboard things and they were obviously short of a few letters as three's doubled as E's and eight's as B's. Dad led us to a table by the solitary window, none of your doilies or flower vases here just a plastic tablecloth and a school style cruet and one of those sugar dispenser things.
“Bit quiet today eh?” the middle aged waitress mentioned when she joined us.
“Yes but at least the weather is clearing up.” Mum replied.
“You'd want some drinks?”
“Er tea for four please, are you cooking?” Mum enquired.
“Yes of course, I have everything except the quiche. I'll get your tea.”
I studied the menu; it was all pretty much standard fare for a ‘proper' café, all day breakfast, chips and stuff on toast. Nothing really took my fancy and I was about to settle on egg and chips when I spotted the specials board – lamb dinner.
“So here we go.” Our tea arrived, a large teapot with a cosy and four of those solid white mugs the same as at Beckingham café. The waitress seemed to be the only member of staff, not that there was any need for more at present.
“Ready to order?”
“I'll have the breakfast please.” Dad started.
“Make that two” Mum added.
“Two breakfasts.” She scribbled something on her pad.
“Cheese on toast please” Jules stated.
“And you miss?”
“Lamb dinner with mash please.” I blurted. Hang on what did she just say?
“So that's two breakfasts, a lamb special and one cheese on toast.”
“Thanks.” Dad agreed and she toddled off to the kitchen.
“You'll start growing wool.” Mum mentioned to me.
“I didn't fancy chips.”
“Well you can walk it off this afternoon.” Dad told us.
“Geez I can't wait.” Jules put in.
“I've got a signal!” I exclaimed. It was weak but I quickly found the text I wrote to the gang back at the flat and pressed send. Of course they will all be at school today, I felt a small pang of guilt at my absence but it was small.
“You and that phone.” Jules complained.
“And you never use yours I suppose” I countered.
“Not half as much as you, the rest of your little gang know more about what we do than us.”
“Stop arguing you two.” Dad instructed.
By now there were several other customers, by the looks of them all locals. Further escalation of hostilities was deferred by the arrival of our food.
“So, cheese on toast… breakfast, breakfast and for the pretty girly the lamb dinner.”
“I hope you are going to eat all that.” Mum interrupted my rebuttal.
“Enjoy your food”
“Thanks” Dad offered.
I am not a girl! Nothing I'm wearing is remotely feminine so why does she think I'm a girl? Grrr!
The food was pretty good although the gravy was a bit floury and bland, good enough that I balked at dessert. Only the ‘bye girls' as we left soured the meal, well for me anyway.
“I don't know where you put it.” Mum opined.
“Where are we going next?” I asked.
“The Preseli hills.”
“That sounds sort of uphill.” Jules whined.
“Possibly” Dad allowed keying the door remote.
Once inside Dad looked at the map and showed me where we were headed. Easy enough, straight up the A478 to Crymych then about a mile to the car park. The journey took barely ten minutes and we were soon donning boots and our ruckies for what Dad insisted would be a gentle stroll. Gentle my bum, we set off immediately uphill and soon Mum and Goth girl were lagging behind. The sun had finally broken free so that by the top my bra felt quite damp under my shirt. Yeuk. The top apparently was one of those hillfort things, Foel Drygan.
The views were spectacular, you can see all the way to Cerrig Lladron to the west and the Irish Sea to the north. I sat and waited for the others while Dad explored, I hope my bra doesn't start rubbing being damp.
Mum finally reached my perch.
“I hope there's not too much more like that.”
“I think we are pretty much at the top.”
“This sucks!” Jules stated.
“Please Jules, don't start now.”
“But nothing young lady.”
“Dad's waving to us.” I informed the others.
“Come on then.”
“That's Carnmenyn where the blue stones come from, we'll go over to the next rise, there's some interesting archaeology over there.”
Dad really is in his element looking at this stuff, I've not seen him this animated in a while. Looking at the map it looked like a walk of about two miles to where Dad had pointed, mostly fairly flat. Our clan leader led off and we once again trailed along behind like three blind mice. It was quite pleasant really, not too hot but nicely warm although I kept my hat on as the wind was quite vicious at times. Of course we had to examine the top of Carnmenyn to see where the bits of Stonehenge reputedly come from, Mum told us that this was the only place they could come from, once again you had to ask why they bothered taking rocks from here best part of 200 miles to Salisbury Plain.
Mum and Jules returned to the main track while I joined Dad to look for a burial chamber that we did eventually find in a pile of random stones. By the time we caught up with the others they were at Dads next stop, Bedd Arthur, which looks a bit like a rectangular stone circle if that makes any sense. It was only a short climb then up to Carn Bica which Dad calls a Tor cairn, something about piling stones up to enhance a natural peak.
It seemed like a good place to eat our sarnies so we made ourselves comfortable out of the wind that kept the clouds galloping high above us. I think Mum was feeling it a bit, I know my calves were aching from the extended hike.
“I'm gonna miss doing this.” Dad mentioned as we enjoyed the view eastwards along the Preseli's.
“We're gonna miss you Dad.” Jules of the sable locks mentioned.
“There'll be other days like this, they might be in Germany but we'll do it together.” Mum stated.
I didn't know what to say so I stayed schtum. We sat in silence, the four Bond's, for long minutes each lost to our own thoughts.
“Come on,” Dad stood up, “it's a fair trot back to the car.”
“We're not going to any more rocks are we?” Jules enquired.
“No not today, wouldn't want to do them all too quickly.” Dad quipped.
The return walk had more of a downhill tendency and the four of us ambled back to the car in good humour. Boy was I glad to get my boots off though and I'm sure my bra has rubbed my shoulders raw, I wonder if Mum and Jules are sore too?
“Let's eat at the hotel tonight.” Dad suggested as we unloaded the car.
Well I had no argument with that, I'm sure Mum didn't feel like cooking, I certainly don't. I snuck inside and commandeered the shower while everyone else was still grabbing possessions. I was sort of annoyed that my flayed shoulders weren't actually more than slightly red marks. On one hand I felt cheated of war wounds, on the other I was annoyed that I, a boy, actually had to wear a bra in the first place. I know they aren't big but it is embarrassing, even wearing a baggy shirt that woman in the café earlier must've seen them; she thought I was a girl anyhow. I let the water play on my back a moment longer before Jules indignant requests for access broke my reverie.
“Er hi” I replied as the girl sat herself next to me.
“You're in one of the units with your parents.” She stated.
“Er yeah and my sister.”
“She doesn't look like you.”
“She dyed her hair.”
“That might be it, you look like your Mum tho.”
“I've seen you with the bikes, you ride a lot?”
“A fair bit.” I allowed.
“Too much like hard work round here. You fancy listening to some CD's?”
Well I wasn't exactly doing much, Jules was back in the flat playing with her guitar and the olds were in the bar.
Over the next couple of hours I learnt all about Megan, she lives just down the road from where we are staying, its called Pentrisil, and works part time serving table at the hotel. She goes to school in Fishguard, which is where most of her friends live so it's a bit lonely out here for her.
“I'd best go or my olds will be sending out search parties.”
“So you'll help tomorrow night?”
Oh sorry, Megan asked me to help at the hotel tomorrow night, they have a big dinner thing and they are always short of staff. Never look twenty quid in the face, grab it and run!
“See you tomorrow then Drew.”
You don't appreciate how dark it can be in the countryside until you come somewhere like this with no streetlights and very few houses. I looked up above me, there seems to be so many more stars up there than at home, I know it's not true but that's what it seems like.
“Come on Drew.” Mum exhorted from a few metres in front.
My legs feel like they are about to drop off, must've been all that walking yesterday not that it seems to've affected Mum. Quite the opposite if anything, much more like the Mum of old I've been on the receiving end several times this morning. We have ridden out from Gellifawr this morning and we are just completing a twentyish mile loop around where we went yesterday and we've managed to avoid any serious climbs – until now! It's not like its mega steep just a long drag really but my legs have just about given up the ghost.
It's good to see Mum with a smile on her face; I think today might just be a turning point in her return to fitness. Rather than take the bait and chase after a clearly in control Mum I sat myself back in the saddle and just concentrated in getting up to the top in one piece. Mum was circling in the car park when I got to the summit.
“Yeah.” I allowed pulling my bottle out for a slug of isotonic input.
“Only about five miles to go by my reckoning.”
“I'm ready for breakfast.”
“Me too, I hope your Dad got up, he had more than a couple of beers last night.” Mum informed me as we started to freewheel away from the summit.
“I thought I could hear snoring!”
“Don't be so cheeky.”
It looked like today was going to be fine again and I revelled in the descent, tucking behind Mum as we reached over 70kmh. As a result we were back at the apartment less than twenty minutes after leaving the top of that climb. Dad seemed overly cheerful for someone who'd over indulged the night before; it was Jules who was looking bleary eyed for some reason.
“So what time have you got to be back for this waiting thing Drew?” Dad enquired as we loaded up for the day's excursion.
“Megan said to meet her at five so she can show me the ropes.”
“What about your tea?” Mum asked.
“The hotel feeds us apparently.”
“Wages and food!” Dad snorted.
I think Jules was a bit put out that she hadn't got invited to help, if she hadn't insisted on looking like Morticia she might've had a bit more chance.
“So where are we going?” I enquired.
“I thought we'd head down to Pembroke then maybe pop along the coast before we head back.”
Jules ears pricked up, “are there actually shops and stuff in Pembroke?”
“I imagine so.” Dad allowed.
It took best part of an hour to do the twenty-five miles or so, we bypassed Haverfordwest then crossed the toll bridge across Milford Haven before reaching the county town of Pembroke. It was immediately clear what the attraction was for Dad, a whopping great castle! It ended up with Mum and Jules hitting the shops, I got ‘volunteered' to accompany Dad around the ruins.
I won't bore you with a step by step guide but even after all the castles Dad has dragged me around this one was pretty impressive. You can walk around a lot of the walls and unlike most English castles the Keep is round with a domed roof. I suppose you can't help but pick up some stuff but I can't get as excited as Dad about these places, he takes like hundreds of pictures at every one!
We met up with the others and had lunch in a quaint tearoom cum café in the town before heading towards Tenby. Dad was a bit miffed that Manorbier Castle was closed, the rest of us were quite relieved! We did stop at Tenby though; Dad dragged us around not just the junky castle but the town walls too. It wasn't so bad, it was a nice afternoon and at least we weren't stuck halfway up a mountain.
Time was starting to get on so Dad agreed to take a rain check on any more stops so we headed up through Narberth and headed for Preseli once more. It was only half four when we got back so I had plenty of time to get washed up before going to meet Megan.
“Hey Drew, have a good day?”
“Okay I guess. Dad dragged us around a couple of castles.”
She rolled her eyes, “it could be worse, my da is into old tractors! Anyway lets get you a uniform sorted out.”
I followed Meg to the little room that doubled as staff and locker room.
“Hiya Meg, who's this?” a lad of about nineteen dressed in those check trousers favoured by cooks asked.
“Hi Iain, this is Drew, she's helping me serve table tonight.”
“Well good luck Drew, Meg'll look after you alright, I best get back to the kitchen, just been out for a ciggy.” He left me with Megan once again.
“Iain is my cousin on my mothers side,” she mentioned opening a locker, “here we go, these should fit you. You can change in the lav.”
She passed me the bundle of clothing and prodded me towards the door.
Once inside the toilet I started to strip my t shirt off when I heard more voices outside, Megan mentioned there would be a couple more kids serving table tonight, I guess I'll meet them shortly. I was down to my underwear in short order and shook out my uniform. A white shirt with a clip on bow tie and black trousers.
“Come on Drew, I need to show you round!” Megan called through the door as I finished fumbling with the shirt buttons.
I shook out the trousers. Nooooo! Not trousers, a skirt. Sugar! Bum, Megan thinks I'm a girl.
“I thought it would be trousers.”
“Only for the lads silly, we get skirts of course, now come on.”
What do I do? Cry off at the eleventh hour? Tell her I'm a boy? Shitzen! I pulled the skirt on, it fit well enough but my bare legs were cold.
“Ah there you are, what kept you?”
“I er thought it'd be trousers.” I mentioned again. “My legs are cold.”
“Haven't you got any tights on? No I can see not and you can't wear those trainers. Hang on I've got some tights somewhere in my bag and there's a pair of sandals that Jacqui keeps here, you can borrow them.”
Ten minutes later I was be-hosed and shod in Jacqui's strappy sandals, at least they only had a low heel. Megan put my hair into a French braid and we joined the rest of tonight's team in the kitchen. Thankfully I wasn't going to be serving table, I was on supplies – fetching the food from the kitchen for Megan and the others, Sandra and Emily, to serve up to the customers. Apparently it's a big do for the local W.I. tonight and Jonathon, the hotels owner was glad of an extra pair of hands for twenty quid and a plate of food.
The do was due to sit at seven thirty so we were put to work laying tables and helping out with any other last minute jobs. Well I'd be lying if I told you it was a fun job. It was a pretty much non stop job once the guests were seated, it was a full blow out meal so there were starters, soup, main course, dessert and finally coffee. It was gone nine when Jonathon let us eat, I think we got a better deal than the W.I. even if we only had soup and main course we had more on our plates. By the time we had eaten it was time to clear the tables and clean up, I was well whacked by the time we were done at ten thirty or thereabouts.
“Sandra.” Jonathon gave her an envelope.
“And lastly Drew, thanks for stepping in for us.”
“'S'alright.” I mentioned.
“Well night girls.”
“Night.” We all replied.
Sandra and Emily hurried over to a waiting car and were soon off in a shower of gravel.
“Jason Tudor is such a show off.” Megan stated as we waved them off.
“I'd best get home, I'm whacked.” I informed her, “Are you okay walking home alone?”
“Of course, why ever not?”
“Well what about attackers and that?”
“Around here? Not very likely and besides its only a few yards away. I'll catch up with you tomorrow eh?”
“Er sure, well good night then.”
It was only as the wind tugged at my skirt that I realised I was still wearing the borrowed uniform and stuff. Bum, bum, bum! I turned to head back to the hotel but thought better of it seeing the main building in darkness despite the music and light in the annexe. I sighed heavily; I'll just have to go get my stuff in the morning.
“There you are young…er...lady.” Mum greeted me a couple of minutes later.
“It's a long story.”
“Nice hair do bro” Jules jibed.
“You want some cocoa kiddo?” Dad asked apparently non-plussed by my appearance.
“Enjoy yourself?” Mum enquired as I flopped onto the sofa.
“I guess, tiring though,” I slipped the sandals off and massaged my feet that were quite sore. “I'm knackered.”
“Have your cocoa and get off to bed, we're taking the bikes out tomorrow.”
Dad brought a tray of mugs into the lounge area and I grabbed one and a handful of biscuits and retired for the night.
Tonight was strange, fun but strange. I mean I wasn't exactly planning on ending up in a skirt but its not like that hasn't happened before. No it was the fact that when it's happened in the past I've always been Gaby, tonight I was Drew. I had assumed Megan knew I was a boy but I was wrong again, she thinks I'm a girl, did she see me on Sunday somehow? I don't think I did anything to make her think I'm a girl but she did anyway and everyone else tonight acted like I was a girl.
I rolled over, the pull of the sheets reminding me of my small chest protrubancies.
Do I really look so much like a girl? I know when I'm being Gaby I look pretty convincing but without all the props, breast forms, makeup, girls clothes, do I really look more girl than boy? My boy breasts aren't that big really, David Waldron has proper girl size ones and no one thinks he's a girl. Mind you he is quite tall and he's a bit, no a lot, overweight. I wonder what Dad has planned for tomorrow?
Maddy Bell 24.10.06 © 2006
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