book 4 Gaby Title.jpg

Chapter 33

Race Time


I woke up a bit disorientated; some dream about being a waitress kept playing through my mind. There were some other girls and we were all rushing about with plates and stuff.


‘Wait a minute, I'm coming.'


Keep your knickers on!'

“Drew Bond are you getting up or staying in bed all day?”

Hang on, that sounds like Dad.


“We're leaving in fifteen minutes with or without you.”

Geez what's got into him? A look at my watch answered that – five past nine! I was up and out in seconds.

“Morning” I mentioned as I made a dash for the bathroom.

“Bout time!” Goth Girls voice followed me.


Well it was actually nearly half nine by the time we departed, I had a panic when I couldn't find my jeans, I left them at the hotel last night. Which reminds me, I need to return the waitressing stuff and re-claim my stuff later. Anyway Goth Girl came to the rescue with a pair of her trousers, they're a bit tight but they'll do.

It didn't take long to reach our first stop, the visitor centre at Llys-y-frân Reservoir. Having missed breakfast the smells from the café were doing horrible things to my stomach so on the pretext of a lav call while the others were getting sorted I sneaked in and claimed a bacon and tomato sarnie. I gulped it down and returned to the car park just as Dad was locking up the car.

“Hmmm, that smells good,” Mum mentioned, “anyone fancy a bacon sarnie before we set off?”

“Sounds good to me.” Dad agreed.


“Um, okay.”

Mum gave me a knowing look as we wheeled the bikes over to the building; she knew what I'd been up to. Fortunately Dad went to fetch the food while the rest of us waited with the bikes, the woman in the café would definitely remember me!

I ought to tell you about our bikes, me and Mum have our winter bikes of course, Dad changed the pedals last night to ordinary ones with toe clips so we can walk around and wear more casual stuff. So that's us, Dad has his old Carlton along, apparently they used to make them in Worksop, it doesn't get used that much these days but it does look pretty mint. Jules probably has the most practical bike of the lot one of those hybrid things with a rack and stuff. Dad bought it off one of the neighbours for her a couple of years ago and she used to use to go to badminton but I bet its been out of the garage about twice since last summer!

We finished our, and my second, sandwiches and with Dad in the lead set off to explore some of the lanes.

It's nice to have a change of pace and riding with Dad and Jules is certainly that. Apart from my sisters griping it was quite relaxing, Dad gave us a commentary and was enjoying himself pointing stuff out to us. The weather was being kind again, the bit of mist soon burnt off in the bright if not overly warm sunshine. It was a bit up and down and a couple of times the less fit elements resorted to pushing their steeds up the steeper grades.

It was nearly twelve when Dad swung into a gateway.

“Here we go.”

“What?” Jules enquired.

“The biggest dolmen in Wales.”

“I can't see anything luv.” Mum pointed out.

“Well its collapsed, come on we'll have lunch here.”

“If you say so dear.”

We manhandled the bikes over the kissing gate and wheeled them up the field to a pile of rocks.

“Ta da! Garne Turne.” If you measure happiness by enthusiasm Dad was well chuffed.

“We'll eat over on those other rocks.” Mum directed.

“Yeah okay.” Dad mumbled.

It's one of Dads pet hates, people using the actual archaeology as picnic tables, it stops other visitors seeing stuff and in his eyes, disrespectful of the ancestors or something like that. Lunch was just a basic sandwich, crisps and cake affair with a flask of coffee, I was glad of my double bacon sarnie episode earlier, I'm a growing boy you know. After eating, Dad had to give us the lecture and I must admit the huge cap stone was impressive, even collapsed I could nearly stand underneath it, Dad reckoned it weighs like forty tons or something like that, well it would certainly pancake anyone underneath!

We returned to the lanes and started to loop back towards the car, which didn't actually take that long.

“So what now?” Jules asked as we started to stow the kit.

“Well I thought we could have a look at the coast.” Dad replied.

“Not more riding?” Goth Girl moaned.

“No we'll go in the car.”

“I'm starving.”

“Geez Drew we only had lunch an hour ago.” Mum pointed out.


“Hang on,” she dug in the supplies bag, “here have a couple of these.”

I took the packet, “what are they?”

“Welsh cakes.”

Well it was food; I took a bite, not bad sort of like a flat scone, bit rubbery though.

“They're better buttered.” Dad informed me snagging one himself.

The rest of the afternoon was a bit boring looking at the sea and getting our heads blown off along the cliff path at Strumble Head or as the map says Pen-Caer. We finished up in Fishguard; some retail therapy for Jules was essential! It was just getting dark when we got back to the apartment after a full day, Dad was happy, Mum kept smiling and even my sister wasn't complaining!

I went into my room to change and was reminded sharply of last night – there on the chair was the skirt and blouse. Bum, my jeans and trainers! I scooped everything up; hmm I need to wash the tights out, ah well.

“Back in a bit” I told everyone as I made my escape.

“Dinners in half an hour.” Mum called after me.

I knocked at the kitchen door and waited patiently tapping my foot! I could hear voices but my knocking remained stubbornly unanswered. I stood a couple of minutes more before deciding to try the frontal approach. The reception cum bar was empty so I headed towards the kitchen from where I could hear those voices again.

“Hello?” I poked my head around the door.

“Who's there?” a voice enquired from beyond my view.

“Erm Drew, I was helping last night.”

There was a moment or two of quiet before Iain; Megan's cousin came into view.

“Hi there Drew, what's up?”

“Um is Megan about?”

“‘Fraid not she's not working tonight, Thursday is our quiet night.”

“Oh” I sagged.

“What's the problem?”

“Well I wanted to return the stuff I borrowed last night and I left my jeans and trainers here last night.”

“Easily sorted, hang on a tic.” He disappeared again and I heard a muffled conversation before he returned. “Come on, we'll go get your stuff from the staff room and we can drop that stuff in the laundry on the way.”

Iain seems a nice enough bloke even if his choice of trousers leaves a little to be desired and I was quickly reunited with my kit.

“I'm sure Meg'ud be glad of the company if you give her a bell.”

“Well I have to go get my tea, thanks again Iain.”

“No problem girl.”

Everybody else was already sat at the table when I got back.

“Just in time kiddo, your sister was just about to have yours.” Dad joked.

Well Jules was already gnawing on a drumstick.

Mum had somehow managed to bung together a roast dinner, turkey, roast spuds, peas, carrots, sprouts and Yorkshire pud. There's no way she managed all that in thirty minutes, I guess she started preparations before we went out. I got as far as the ‘scrapping the pattern off' stage as quick as the rest of the diners and then got the job of dishing up the rhubarb crumble while Jules made some custard. Hmmm I can eat like this everyday, I wish!

“Um, would it be okay if I went to Megan's?”

“I don't see why not, but I want you back here a bit earlier than last night.”

“Yes Dad, I'll ring her then.”

Megan seemed thrilled to bits when I suggested walking over and as a result we spent another evening mucking about listening to cd's and stuff. Before I headed back to beat my curfew she knew all about moving to Germany, the gang and goodness knows what else. It felt good to unload to someone a bit more remote from things, she didn't seem to mind and I sort of sorted out my feelings some.

Friday morning found me and Mum repeating our first ride down here, you remember, up to Cardigan and back. Mum's fitness seems to've improved a lot just this week; she actually beat me on one of the sprints! Breakfast was waiting when we got back.

“So where are we off to today?” I enquired between bites of sausage.

“I thought we could go to St David's for the day and then we've got tickets for a do at Castell Henllys tonight.”

“A do?” bum, I wanted to go down to Megan's again tonight.

“When we went at the weekend, Jamie said he'd try to get us tickets and while you were out last night he rang and said we could go.”

“So like what is this do?”

“It's a surprise but make sure you've got some warm kit with you, we aren't coming back here before we go.”

Dad and his little mysteries. When I looked at the OS (sheet 157 if you must know) I could see the attraction for Dad, loads of archaeology without having to go anywhere.

According to my book this is where St David, you know, the Welsh patron saint, came from which I guess is why all the stuff is around here. I navigated us across to St David's, the weather was being good to us again and it was sunshine and blue skies as Dad ushered us from the cathedral to the palace, at least the few shops kept Jules quiet, the dark one has been remarkably reasonable for most of this trip.

We had Welsh rarebit; cheese on toast with relish, before driving out to St Justinian but the ferry to Ramsey Island wasn't running. So we retraced to the town and instead went up to Whitesands Bay. Dad wanted to go look at some burial chamber on the headland and surprisingly Jules volunteered to go with him, I wasn't that bothered so I stayed with Mum.

“Fancy a walk?”

“Where to?”

“Along the beach?” Mum offered.

Well it can be fun and maybe we'll find some shells to take home.

“Okay then.” I agreed.

The others would no doubt be gone for a good hour so we set off in the opposite direction along the sweeping sands. The wind was quite strong and little eddies of sand crossed the flat expanse as we walked along, both of us lost in our own thoughts. The beach ran out at a small headland so we found a rock to sit on for a bit.

“You okay Drew?”

“Yeah I guess, you.”

“I asked first,” Mum almost giggled.

She pulled me in close.

“It's going to be difficult without your Dad around.”

“Hmm” I agreed.

“Are you okay with things now?”

Am I? And which ‘things'?

“I guess so, it's not like we won't be seeing Dad at all.”

“True.” Mum agreed, “what about you, are you okay with ‘things'?”

I guess she means my boobs and that.

“Well wearing a bra is a bitch and everyone thinking I'm a girl is a bummer, just for a change I'd like to be seen as me.”

Mum hugged me close and we sat looking at the surf for a while.

“Come on kiddo, race you back to the car.”

She took off and I gave chase across the sands.

Mum was never a great runner and I easily caught her at which point she decided a game of tag was appropriate. We were still generally headed towards the car despite the antics but Mum was running out of puff.

“Enough Drew” she panted.

I was still a bit giddy and started trotting backwards.


“Why you little…” and the chase was back on.

“Drew look where you are going!”

Too late, I turned in time to trip on the only rock for miles and went sprawling into the sand. Which wouldn't have been too bad except it wasn't just sand but a huge area of wet sand. Oh sugar!

The sand wasn't the problem, my soaked clothing was. Why me? Didn't I already do this once this week in the flippin bog with the horses? By the time we got back to the car the wind had pretty much dried off my jeans and stuff, well the surface so the sand brushed off even if it was still a bit claggy. I did at least have my Rifts to change into so my feet were soon dry and a trip to the lav's at least had me looking a bit tidier by the time Indiana and his sidekick returned. Discretion in these things is always advisable so we kept my latest soaking quiet – at least for now.

It was almost dark when we got to Castell Henllys and the only lighting was restricted to brands placed alongside the pathway. Jamie saw us arrive – oh right, apparently Jamie was at Uni with Dad, they were doing the same course, so we were soon joining him and his girlfriend Talia towards the festivities.

“So you girls wanna join in?” Talia asked.

“Why not, it's gonna be a drag anyway” Jules replied.

“Great! Come with me.” She grabbed both our arms, hey when did I get included? There was no stopping Talia though as she half dragged us to one of the smaller roundhouses.

“Juliette, can you braid your sisters hair?”

“Sure, one or two?” she half giggled.

“Two I think, we'll do yours in a single as it's longer.”

I'd already lost the fight so I let the Dark One do her worst while Talia sorted through a pile of stuff for our costumes.

“There we go sis .” Jules emphasised.

“Gee thanks.” The slight tug of my plaits felt odd especially with the tails brushing my neck.

“Here we go ladies.”

The costumes were not as bad as some I've worn in the last year; they were really nothing too odd even. Apparently we would be reprising my recent waitressing efforts in tonight's festivities wearing long shapeless brown dresses belted at the waist. According to Talia this is the sort of thing women wore two thousand years ago. Ladies maybe but not fourteen-year-old boys!

The night was actually quite cool with everyone sat around a big fire; mind you the frock was a bit draughty. It was supposed to be a sort of Iron Age feast so there was entertainment in the form of storytelling, singing and dancing all done by the staff. Jules and I helped out with serving the food, real food; honey baked pork, stuffed apples and some sort of bread. It was actually pretty good and it wasn't hindered by the mead I kept sneaking from the pitcher in the bake house where the food was prepared.

I dunno what time we left and I barely recall getting back to the apartment.

I was still groggy next morning as we packed the car for the drive home and I climbed into the back seat much to everyone else's surprise, I guess that mead was more potent than I thought. The only bit of the drive home I recall was Dad's attempt at a Welsh joke, I think this is it; well you'll get the gist.

When the Romans were trying to conquer Wales a Centurion gets up to Offa's Dyke (a sort of Hadrian's Wall thing between England and Wales) and is challenged by a Welshman to fight ... The Centurion sends a soldier to fight the Welshman they disappear over the hill and lots of fighting sounds can be heard.... The Welshman re-appears and says ‘i told you you couldn't come in' ... Incensed the Centurion sends a couple more soldiers but the same thing happens. This goes on for most of the day with the Centurion gradually going purple with rage. Eventually one soldier staggers back shouting. "Back, back! It's a trap, there are two of them!"

Well Dad thought it was funny.

Sunday was not a good day, Dad left for Germany, I had to do my homework and Mum was obviously not in a good mood. School tomorrow.

I couldn't believe my luck.

"What do you mean?"

"Well we're not doing anime this year" Mad advised.

That's good; she can't trick me into a dress!

"So what are we doing instead?"

"Romeo and Juliette"


"There's lots of characters and it's different."

Hey I've not got a problem with that, if my memory serves Romeo and his mates are boys, which means I won't be wearing a dress!

"We've already started the costumes, we'll show you at Ally's tonight."


The bell for registration went off and we joined the melee heading inside.

"Hey Drew, you going to the dance next week?" Paul asked as I plonked down next to him.

"Probably, unless something more exciting comes up."

"Clive keeps on about his anniversary."


"You know, of when he first danced with Mad's cousin. Is she coming to the dance do you know?"

"Not as far as I know, I think her school has something on." I hedged.

"He'll be cut up then."

Mr. Pilling chose that moment to start the register so our conversation was halted. I looked around to see if anyone was missing today - nope looks like everyone is in. Clive was busy finishing some homework and Helen was daydreaming. I wonder if she's going to the dance? Hmm, Dad goes to Germany that week to stay, how weird that last year it was Mum, now it's Dad. And he's getting to be a bit of a grouch. My mind strayed to other things, the Easter Hols particularly - we are going over to Gran's for a few days as I've got the first session with the Junior GB squad the first week and I'm racing in the Chester festival that weekend.

Maddy Bell 01.11.06 © 2006 (thanks to Brian for the Welsh joke)

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