Having a certain fondness for Gavin and Stacey, I was not unhappy to journey down to Barry Island in South Wales on a snowy Sunday recently. The primary reason for going was to transport my wife to a Philosophy4Children training session at one of Barry’s schools (such sessions are highly recommended, if you happen to be a head teacher). Normally she would drive herself, but the weather was uncertain – not to say threatening. One of us might have to push the other out of a snowdrift, we thought.
As it happened, a thaw set in, and the roads were easily passable – even more easily than usual, because most people hadn’t got used to the idea of getting their cars out after several days of being snowed in. We drove merrily from Herefordshire into Wales, with picturesque views on all sides and nothing to impede our progress.
Barry itself was something else. There had been heavy snowfalls here, with a lot of thick whitish stuff sticking on to the roads, many of which were effectively single-track. This was also picturesque, but required some determination to handle. Nevertheless, we made it to Gail’s Guest House in good time.
After a meal, and while my wife and her colleague (arriving from Devon) prepared for the following day, I took a stroll round the dark streets, which were pretty much deserted. We were at the high point of Barry, and I was able to get some nice views out across the Channel, all the way to Somerset, with lights reflecting off snow.
The next day I walked round the cliff and on to the shore path back into Jackson’s Bay, helped a driver get out of a snow patch and discovered the small ruins of St Baruc’s Chapel, which were not spectacular. Apparently Barry is named after the saint, who drowned in the bay.
No, it wasn’t very lively, but it was a cold March day. Yes, some parts of the town were run down, but I liked it. I don’t know why.
We drove back to Norwich the next evening, which was probably a mistake. Someone had put some traffic lights on a roundabout on the way up to the M4, and as usual with such an arrangement, it had brought much of the traffic to a standstill. Then it started to rain, and it poured for most of the way home. We should have stayed at Gail’s.
After enduring the madness of a perversely named “smart motorway” (more of which, I understand, is going to affect part of the M6 near Coventry and make life even more difficult for drivers – but hey, who cares about them?), we pulled into Corley Services and received a Kentucky Fried Chicken and chips from a young lad who didn’t really seem to have come to terms with the concept of service, or chicken, or chips.
From there it should have been a smooth run with the rain easing off, but no – someone had decided to resurface part of the A11, which of course meant shutting the road. We were diverted through Shropham, I think it was, following two funereal heavy lorries. Oh joy.
Still, Barry Island was almost worth it. I may go again. Oh, Gavin and Stacey? It’s a television programme. Very funny, too. Sorry you missed it.