The Kindness of Strangers

In just under five hours, we were transported from East Twickenham, a chock-a-block London surburb jammed with people, cars and noise to the sparsely populated Welsh hamlet of Tal-y-Llyn, dotted with sheep, farm equipment and birdsong.

Danny, his wife, Sinead and their young daughters, Eleanor and Hannah greeted us with smiles when we knocked on the door of their 18th century farmhouse named the Dolffanog Fawr. Danny led us to our room, up the stairs to the back of house.  From our window we could see a spacious garden and the majestic Snowdonian Mountains to the north and the rolling Tarren Hills to the south. We were literally enveloped in green!

Dolffanog Fawr in Tal-y-Llyn, Wales

Once we dropped off our bags, we went to inquire about food.  Danny said they’d be happy to cook for us and dinner would be served at 8pm. With a couple of hours to explore, they said the village of Abergynolwyn was close by and gave us directions.

From my journal: February 27, 2009 on vacation in Wales

“Lots of lush pastures, stonewalls, quaint cottages…and sheep!”

On the Dogelleu Trail

Mindful of the time, we started back, but on the way we saw what appeared to be a park entrance. We planned on hiking while there, so we gave it a quick look-see. Drizzle began as we ascended a path. Up we went until we saw a chain link barrier and a posted sign. It read: “No Vehicles.”

This is when Robert should’ve turned the car around.

Just for the record, I distinctly remember saying, “Let’s go back.” And I distinctly remember him saying, “Just a little farther!”

This should’ve, then became a would’ve, if we could’ve because now the road became very steep and narrow. It was getting dark, it was getting late and we were getting stuck… in mud.

When the tires would no longer rotate, we had no choice but to get out and get some help. Robert took out his mobile phone, but there was no service.

I tried to keep my comments to myself but now I was cold, hungry and worried. We kept walking – leaving plenty of space between us. On we plodded until we saw a trail of smoke rising from a chimney on a house on a hill in the distance.  Picking up the pace, within minutes we were at its front door.

A very tall thirty-something woman in flannel answered and when we told her about our situation, she called for her husband then loaded us, some supplies and a huge dog into their pick up truck.

On the way to our car, we learned they had been married for 15 years and had a 12, 9, and 5 year old at home.  She was a yoga instructor and he ran their farm. We also learned that their dog in the back was not a family pet, but a working dog named Luke. They asked us where we were staying and yes, they knew the place, and yes, they knew the owners.

All was quiet as passed the “No Vehicles” sign. Once we spotted our car, Lisa and Ken sprang into action. Down on the wet ground, they laid slats under the Robert’s tires. But the car still wouldn’t budge. Plan B was to attach his car to their truck and pull it out. They asked where the hitch hook was and when Robert shrugged, Ken looked a little dumb founded. He then suggested – ever so kindly –  that Robert take out the car’s manual.  That was easily located and after scouring the car, they found what they were looking for. And soon after that, we were free! 

Saying good-bye to Lisa and Ken, we profusely thanked them. Me, being me, I asked if I could give them a hug of appreciation.  That’s when Ken said, “OK, but not too tight.” Lisa went on to tell us he had been recently kicked by a cow and was healing from broken ribs! At that, we thanked them even more.

We got back to the Dolffanog Fawr with about fifteen minutes to clean up and get to the dining room for dinner.  When we sat down, Danny and Sinead asked about our excursion to town. We talked about the village, how beautiful the scenery was and of our plans to hike the next day. And before we could say more, they smiled and said Lisa and Ken wished us a pleasant stay.  We must’ve looked baffled or embarrassed, maybe both.  They went on to say that Lisa had called to let them know what had happened, not to worry if we were a little late getting back and if so, to please keep our dinner warm.  

Such is the kindness of strangers.

On the trail in Wales

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