Monday, March 03, 2008

More frolics in the Wye Valley, but a lot further down this weekend. Boy 2 was off to a birthday party on Saturday, so I suggested to Boy 1 that we load up the bikes and head out. I'd found a recently opened trail called The Peregrine Way, which is the old railway track between Ross on Wye and Monmouth. The cycle trail has been done so that you can ride next to the river from Monmouth to Symonds Yat and back.
Picnic made, we set off. It was glorious , we were passed by a few other serious cyclists (all dayglo lycra and go faster helmets) and passed the occasional jogger, but most of the time it felt as though everyone had vanished and we were the only people on the planet. It was wonderfully quiet. The river was deeper than at Builth, and faster flowing. We stopped to watch canoeists larking about in the rapids, looked like great fun.
We reached Symonds Yat and the sense of being alone vanished, it was very busy with tourists, but then it is very pretty. Last year, we put an offer in on a cottage overlooking the Wye at Symonds Yat. At the time it seemed to make sense. The village we live in has become crazily expensive for property, and although we love our house, the garden is quite small, and with two growing hooligans we felt the need for more space, so we looked further afield, where we get get get a lot more for our money, and settled on Symonds Yat. In hindsight, I'm glad we didn't get the house. Yes it was in a beautiful spot, but being there on a sunny spring day, made me realise just how busy it would have been. Also, we are very happy where we are, we have lots of good friends, as do the boys, and they go to a great school in the village.
We turned back and found this spot for lunch. (at top, cocked up positioning)
We cycled back stopping at the Biblins foot bridge. I'm not good with heights, and also the bloody thing wobbles like an excited jelly, but over we went. (cocked up again !)
It was a great day out, and I really enjoy spending one to one time with either of the boys.
Earlier in the week, we'd had parents evening. It went as expected, Boy 1 , a joy to teach, well mannered, doing well. Boy 2, hmmm. J is a problem, he has always been exceptionally bright. His elder brother is no fool, but he works very hard as well. J has set himself a mission, and that mission is to be the class clown, and he's succeeding, but succeeding at make himself a royal pain in the arse, disrupting the class and not going forwards himself. It was coming, his behaviour at home is fairly dire. The difficulty is, there's never any malice in what he does, he's a hugely affectionate and tactile little chap, but also a nutter. The thing is, we are strict. I cannot abide badly behaved kids, but J is turning that way. We have defined boundaries, and punishments for overstepping those boundaries, but it seems not to bother him. It causes problems with A and I, as we argue as to the best way forward, so the atmosphere in Gumpher Towers is generally rather frosty at the moment. The whole parent thing is a constant learning curve, and nothing I had done prior to being a father had prepared me for it.


Gledwood said...

The Wye Valley looks gorgeous... just like where I grew up during my teenage years in Wales...
I don't know about "Wye Valley" but I've been to Hay on Wye... during the Festival of Literature where I witnessed the late Arthur Miller in discourse with Fay Weldon and some dreadful bore of an English writer who spouted the most unoriginal tosh like "the English 'love' is nowhere near as poetic as the French 'amour'.." haven't we heard THAT a zillion times...
Lovely post, lovely blog. Excellent stuff! Keep it up!!


Gumpher said...

Hi Gledwood, thanks for the comment.

I love the Wye Valley, people spend a lot of time going overseas to find beauty, and it's right here on our doorsteps.

The drive from Hay to Abergavenny across Hay Bluff is glorious.

She'd obviously never experienced Welsh love !

Brennig said...

Being a good parent is the toughest job around sometimes. It's the irresponsible sods who let their children run rampant and roughshod over the rest of mankind who give parents and children a bad name, and set all the wrong limits for folk like yourself who have behavioural expectations! Stick at it. You will be rewarded (but maybe not until the lads are in their late 20s).

BTW, my baby brother used to be the village copper down the river some at Tintern. Now there's a fantastic little spot.

Gumpher said...

Brennig, you're right, it's a bloody tough one, sometimes I question myself, and think that I set the bar too high.

Tintern is soooooo, pretty.

Vi said...

My boys are well behaved, for now. I'm dreading the day they aren't. I'm sure it will happen one day.

Gumpher said...

Vi, it's odd, it's not what I'd call bad behaviour as such, there's never any malice, he just acts the fool constantly, perhaps it's seeking attention, but it gets a bit wearing

Bob said...

Boys are ... well ... boys, by which I don't mean what's usually meant by the old saying, "Boys will be boys" (that "Boys will be misbehaved"). I mean boys are adventuresome and need a challenge, something to conquer. Expecting boys to be compliant little girls is fighting nature. Boys need action, not mere talk. It seems to me your cycling trip was just the thing. Parenting is indeed hard work, but it's so worthwhile. And it needn't be all drudgery. Do take more bike trips. Overnight camping is also a great way to bond - and be sure to have a few good ghost stories at the ready.

Hula Doula said...

I have recently been informed that my great grandmother on my dad's side was from Wales. This summer we will see it. I can not wait. It looks beautiful.
Bob has been telling me boys are boys. Considering he raised a boat load of them I have to say that he's definately seasoned. Some of the antics of my son make me want to twitch and run crazy through the streets!
My son doesn't have malice on his mind either. He's just creative, silly, funny as heck and very energetic. Hard combo to keep from internally combusting.
Good luck. Parenting is tough. The learning curve is ever changing. Isn't it fun?!

Gumpher said...


Boys are fine, they're a bit like labradors, feed and exercise them regularly, give them loads of affection and they're fine.


You'll love it when you come, some parts of the valleys, particularly the towns can be a bit grey and soul less, but the mountains and the coast are stunning.