Mrs G and I do like to see the world and a cheeky night away at the last minute is a great way to achieve it. We don’t need too much of an excuse, although with it being my birthday around now, we had one.
Aware of how much walking I need to do this year, she very thoughtfully booked a place in Brecon in South Wales - so not too far to travel to a completely different world.
Here, there is a famous little mountain rage; The Brecon Beacons. It says here “The name refers to the range of Old Red Sandstone peaks which lie to the south of Brecon Town. Sometimes referred to as "the central Beacons" they include South Wales' highest mountain, Pen y Fan” and a most beautiful sight they are.
We’re not going up them this time though. We’re hunting for falls of water. Four of them which makes for good illiteration. So starting at Cwm Porth car park ( https://goo.gl/maps/dbndWbC7BGSq7xcAA ) you can find the spot where the river disappears into the rocks, Porth Yr Ogof (Gateway to the Cave). This is where the cavers go in. There’s quite a large underground expanse to explore. In my youth, through a school trip to Pencelli, I had a go. It’s great fun, if a little terrifying in the really tight gaps. As neither of us had headlamps, and to be honest, there are lots of gaps I wouldn’t fit through in the current state post Christmas chocolates, we stuck to the route that doesn’t go underground.
After a good 25 minutes of dodging mud, clambering over tree trunks and trying not to fall in the river, we happened upon the first of the waterfalls, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn (White Meadow Fall) and very impressive it was too.. You might recognise it from a Batman movie....
Shortly after our stop here however, the rain returned with a vengeance. We got wet. Not damp, wet. Very wet. But there was no stopping us. We battled on through very strong wind and lashings of rain that soaked you through and turned the earth to goo. Luckily we were suitable dressed, and actually didn’t feel the effects too badly... it only took a few hours to dry out afterwards. It was worth the effort.
This might sound like a bit of a whinge about the weather, but lets remember this is the Welsh mountains in January, so fully to be expected and it didn’t disappoint. I’m told such effort is good for both the body and soul. Wearing, but enjoyable... Chilli for lunch in a nice warm pub topped it off just right.
Back in Brecon after hot showers and warm dry clothes, we nipped out to the Brecon Tap for a pie and pint. Great selection of beers and fantastic home made pies of various types... set us up nicely for a trip to the Brecon cinema to see 1917.
..and what more apt of a location to see a film set in the beginning of the 20th century than a cinema built just a couple of years later in 1925 ?...
The Coliseum in Brecon is a little gem. The Art Deco style is still in evidence throughout this tiny little two screen, which has been fitted with up to date projection and sound equipment. Everything from the old world ticket issuing machine to the curtained screen and the usher selling ice-creams in the interval just takes you back. Many of these features still existed in the late 70’s and early 80’s when I first went to the cinema, so it was a great bit of reminiscence and a complete bargain at £8 each (It’s £12 quid in a multiplex nowadays)
As for the film, Sam Mendes (who directed the Daniel Craig bond outings, Skyfall and Spectre, as well as such greats as American Beauty and Road to Perdition) has made an instant classic. The unique selling point is that it appears as a single shot, following our protagonists on a mission from the general. Some great cameos from folks on their odyssey, such as Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Adrian Scarborough and Richard Madden. I tried to find the edits - they’re in there somewhere - but I think I caught about 3 at best. It’s an incredible effect that draws you in to the story and keeps you glued throughout. Mrs G, not one to normally put up with a movie didn’t blink, when she’d usually be asleep, at least for 5 minutes...
There’s an Oscar in this movie, and I think it goes to Roger Deakins for the cinematography. The light is incredible. I can’t figure out how it’s done, but I love it. We’ll have to wait until next month to see if he gets the nod.
Not sure I can wait that long to watch it again though. Someone needs to draw a map of the route the camera takes - it’s mind boggling. On a personal note, a large part was filmed on Salisbury plain, less that 2 miles from where I grew up. I had regular reports from the parents during production, so it’s great to see the results on screen. Go and see it. You won’t be disappointed.
Until next time