Fan Fare

Brecon BeaconsRaising money for charity could be as easy as asking people to donate. But where’s the fun in that?

Brecon Beacons

the top of Corn Ddu

One of our gymnastics friends, Lloyd Bowen, works for Kidney Wales. They support families and people with kidney disease, raise money for research and help out with dialysis machines. Every year, they organise a Walk for Life. This year, our warrior trainer, Si Dwyer, would be leading it. So we knew he wouldn’t do something easy. We were right. It was a 12 mile hike around Pen Y Fan.

Naturally, we signed up. You’d think after falling for his ‘sign up to the Wolf Run’, we would’ve learned our lesson. Apparently, we still trust him when he says things will be fun.

Brecon BeaconsWe did it for one of our best mates, Andrew, who had a kidney transplant last year after suffering kidney failure four years ago. We knew nothing about kidney failure and poor Andrew was grilled about every aspect of it so we could understand what he was going through. So when the walk was suggested to us, we instantly accepted. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for him – we were even planning on harvesting some cheerleaders in the bid for the perfect kidney. But apparently that is ‘illegal’ and ‘morally wrong’. So we did the walk instead.

We had no idea how tough it was going to be.

Brecon BeaconsIt was originally scheduled for July but an electric storm cancelled it and it was moved to November 18th. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t moan about how cold it would be. A week before the walk, we had to buy walking boots, waterproof trousers, a base layer and a hat. Trousers caused an issue what with us being pixies. Apparently, 27″ is ‘short’. *Stares at our 24″ legs* We don’t think so. We insisted on buying Avengers hats in the kids section. No-one would out-hat us! We were all given a list of essential items to pack and suggested items. We packed everything on both lists and wore five layers plus our huge winter coats. We would not die of hypothermia on the Brecon Beacons. Not today.

Brecon Beacons

looking at the top of Pen Y Fan

We showed up with bulging rucksacks filled with all our kit, including first aid kit and ice/heat patches should anyone (ok, us) get injured. And also three skulls bags filled with snacks, ice blocks and drinks. They were heavier than our rucksacks! Brecon BeaconsThe Scouts would’ve been proud of us. As the wonderful philosopher, Fin Sheppard (from Sharknado) says “semper paratus.” Always be prepared. We were prepared for everything. Except bears. No-one expects bears. Especially in a country that doesn’t have them. Everyone else except Si and Bryn, travelled light, their tiny rucksacks looking like they only contained their lunch. It was a 9 a.m. start. We hate mornings. We hate people. There was about 17 in the group. We went and stood by ourselves.

Brecon Beacons

view from Pen y Fan

Then it began. Uphill, from the very start, all the way to Corn Ddu. Dear god that was tough. Thigh burning, breath stealing, chest tightening kind of tough. We regretted packing for the apocalypse. Part way up, our coats came off, but not for long. The higher we climbed, the windier it became. When you only weigh seven stone, being in high winds isn’t particularly safe. We kept getting blown over, even having to put our hands on the mountain to save ourselves. And we weren’t even at the top yet. Never mind dying of hypothermia, the winds threatened to throw us off the mountain to die in a broken heap and get eaten by sheep. That would be a low end for lives that haven’t seen many highs.

Brecon BeaconsWe reached the top and the views were spectacular. Si said this was the hardest part. Thank god. These are not mountain climbing thighs. They used to be – we climbed Pen Y Fan and Snowdon twice each before we were 12. Then we began the walk to Pen Y Fan. That was much easier! Still a bit of a climb to the top but nothing like what we’d just done. Half the group turned around at this point. We had no intention of turning around. Even if we had, Si had probably packed Scorpion’s (Mortal Kombat) Kunai, to drag our escaping arses back. People were having their photos taken by the sign at the top. Everyone crouched by it. We did one of our acro poses and other hikers were impressed. We would’ve done a more impressive one, but it was very cold and windy at the top and we didn’t want to risk being knocked down like a Jenga block. We stayed away from the edge.

Brecon Beacons10 miles left. We descended Jacob’s Ladder, which was very steep, so we took it carefully. Once we were down the bottom, the hike became incredibly easy and we strode along at a blistering pace, pausing only to take photos. We stopped at one bit to let everyone catch up and it was just as well because we were about to turn off. We had lunch at a beautiful reservoir, wishing we had paddleboards with us. It wasn’t windy in the valleys of the mountains and we relished the warmth and easy trekking.

It was about to come to a mountainous end.

Brecon BeaconsWe now had to climb back up. We were expecting the rest of the hike to be easy, like this part had been. We were at the bottom of the Beacons, so we just had to hike to the car park. We were in for a steep awakening. Rocky steps led up the next mountain. They were a bit too high for our tiny legs and we found this bit almost as tough as Corn Ddu. Brecon BeaconsAt the top, it was extremely windy and we had to walk along the ridge of the mountain. We are terrified of heights and the wind made it worse, though luckily, it was blowing us away from the edge. And onto the slight embankment. Si had Bryn stay behind us to look after us. This was definitely the most mentally challenging part for us. We really didn’t like it. But we eventually got to a flatter, grassy part, which was more pleasant to walk on. Though it was a slight incline that never seemed to end.

Brecon BeaconsThis final part we found very tough. We were tired, our shoulders burned from our rucksacks and lunchbags, our feet were sore and it felt like we had been walking for hours. Well, we had. Then we finally began the descent down Pen Y Fan. And that wasn’t easy! Walking downhill is hard on your feet and knees and it seemed to take forever. Near the end, we decided to run, as Si said it was easier. It was. And it meant we got down quicker.

Brecon BeaconsWe finished at around 4 p.m. We had been hiking for 6 and a half hours. Everything hurt. Si gave us all medals and we trudged back to the car park, which was quite far away, stopping to pick up litter other people had dropped. We’d brought a bag with us for this purpose (we do this every dog walk) but the mountain trails were remarkably free of litter and Si kept reminding people to leave the area as we found it.

Brecon Beacons

with the phenomenal Si Dwyer

We got back to the car exhausted, aching but with a sense of achievement. That was one of the toughest physical challenges we’ve ever done (second only to the Wolf Run) and we raised money for a good cause, which you can donate to here. Thank you to Si, Bryn and Lloyd for organising it. We highly recommend hiking around the Brecon Beacons. It’s brutal, but beautiful. And the views are absolutely worth it.

medals!

St. David’s Day

St. David's Day, Soul AsylumHappy St. David’s Day! To celebrate, Soul Asylum is FREE! A gothic novel set in North Wales, by Welsh authors and a Welsh cover designer. There’s so much Welshness sheep are magically appearing everywhere and dragons are perching on rooftops. So get Soul Asylum exclusively from Smashwords here and enjoy a free entry into a Welsh asylum. If that hasn’t enticed you, watch the trailer here done for us by Fireclaw Films. Still not convinced? Join us at the launch in Cathays Cemetery here.

The Saints are coming.

We have a special announcement to make – we’re quitting the writing business and taking up bank robbing. The pay is great and if we fail, we’ll have free board. Only kidding. Though our psychologist has asked us to work on a Plan B if/when the writing fails, and so far, this is our top suggestion. Admittedly, it’s not a great one, but we’ve been too busy to come up with a more workable plan.

On Friday it’s St. David’s Day in Wales and we want to celebrate it. We’re not sure how the other countries in the UK celebrate their patron saints’ day, (apart from St. Patrick’s Day when suddenly everyone is Irish and Guinness is drunk aplenty) but here in Wales, St. David’s Day is huge. There are Eisteddfod’s held all over the country and Cadw allows you free entry into every castle. In school, Eisteddfods are celebrated by dividing the whole school in four ‘houses’, usually red, blue, green and yellow. In primary school, we were in green house, in high school we were in blue. For some reason in primary school, red house had way more members than any other house, so always won. We suspected cheating was afoot. Everyone then does stuff that earns them points for their house, such as winning competitions involving drawing, writing, putting on plays, etc. In high school in year 7, we wrote and put on a comedy sketch involving Cinderella and Daz washing powder. There was also glitter. We don’t think we won. We blame the stuffy establishment. Plus our main competition had girls dressed in skimpy outfits. We never stood a chance. Originality and humour just can’t compete with short skirts and boobs, no matter how boring their performance was.

Anyhoo, so to celebrate St. David’s Day and to keep in with Cadw’s free castle entry scheme, we’re going to give everyone free entry into a Welsh asylum. No, we’re not committing you (we tried, they wouldn’t let us), we’re going to give away Soul Asylum FREE on Smashwords. It’s a book set in Wales, by Welsh authors, with a Welsh cover designer. It couldn’t be more perfect. It will only be free on Smashwords, not Amazon, seeing as when we tried to make Gunning Down Romance free on their site for National Short Story Week, they refused to join in with the festivities. And seeing as the book is hardly flying off the shelves, we might as well give it away. If you already have it, feel free to download it and pass it on to a friend.

So help us celebrate St. David’s Day by supporting poor, talentless Welsh authors before we end up in a Welsh asylum like Phineas Soul. But remember – night is when the screaming starts.