The busking goes down an absolute storm, the tricks are plenty fun and keep everyone from grannies to grandchildren awe struck and amazed. There is time to chat with physicists about the link between art, science, black holes, time travel and the moon being made of cheese. Like moths or any other positively phototactic insect to a light bulb, physicists swarm to talk to the Cerbyd group. It all ends with a humongous bang as the Chemists turn up and start pulling the crowds with their explosions. We watch the show and I hear the Physicists grumble ‘typical Chemists always making a scene’. The tricks the Cerbyd group learned and demonstrated were:

Anti-gravity Maltesers

Rabbit Spiral Spin Factor

Cartesian Diver (I sink therefore I am)

The balloon and spike one

Lollistick Kazoos

Vibrating hangers

Cerbyd reconvene for a thoroughly communal lunch. With breads, sandwich fillings, olives, salad and bread spread out over the table we all help ourselves and dig in. Lunch is swallowed and we rejoin the Physicists for a Q&A about life, its’ meaning and everything else.

The group naturally split into smaller groups and make the most of the next couple of hours to look around the Eisteddfod before we depart at 5 pm to head to Brecon to Penpont our next campsite in the middle of a two thousand acre working rural estate on the banks of the River Usk.

After negotiating tight farm roads leading to and through Penpont we arrive at a secluded camp amongst the old rose garden complete with awning.


Tuesday and I rise early. There is a fresh chill despite my close proximity to Brian who snores from within his warm sleeping bag cocoon. At first I tap his shoulder lightly but I can’t help this progressing into a series of index finger jabs to wake him from his slumber. This is no time for sleeping. We make a start on breakfast for the Cerbyd troops. Today’s Breakfast is a choice of cereal or toast with butter and jam accompanied by coffee, tea or juice. Significantly better than a Travel Lodge.

Slowly the group wake and eat. After breakfast, Brian and I begin to repack equipment into the van, the group ready themselves for the day ahead with showers and slowly pack away their tents. The loading and slotting of bags into the gaps of the van, however, is oh so slightly easier this time. Maybe we have found a knack? Maybe all the Tetris I played on the Gameboy as a kid has finally come in useful?

As planned we leave at 8 am to arrive at the Eisteddfod for 10 am. The journey goes by without incident until on a very tight piece of road we come face to face with an oncoming tractor in what can only be described as a very real life game of Cerbyd chicken. The farmer knew exactly how wide his vehicle was, we on the other hand collectively drew breath and squeezed through.

Still alive we arrive at the Eisteddfod site tradesmen’s entrance in Ebbw Vale. Gillian, in true van driver fashion, leans out of the window and tries to converse with the gigantic gatekeeper. The gatekeeper’s flattened face with eyes curiously far apart stared into our van and with a slow considered movement of his long lower jaw mutters in Welsh that our access is denied. Kathryn naturally takes the lead explaining fluently that ‘we are Cerbyd’ and ‘are expected on important duties’. The gatekeeper, having no forehead rolls his eyebrows backwards which triggers his sloping head to shake. The shaking of the head is another no entry sign. I am beginning to sweat as it starts to pour with rain.

Kathryn and I disembark and head down to see Robyn Tomos – the King of Lle Celf at the Eisteddfod. I love the Eisteddfod and enjoy the walk down the Maes despite having to frequently reassure myself that there must be some kind of misunderstanding. I am sure Robyn will be able to grant us safe passage.

Robyn does and we are finally in. Kath and I have a quick gawp at the breathtaking underground bunker of the former steelworks that is the home of this year’s visual art exhibition. It is truly la man-made wonder.

We are to meet Angharad from the Institute of Physics at between 10.45-11am at the front of the science pavillon. We are slightly early so the group split and head off to look around, get coffee, eat cake but stay dry as it continues to drizzle. Refuelled the group reassemble and are introduced to the Institute of Physics team. ‘Science busking’ is the order of the day and the group learn a range of experiments that use simple objects from home, so they can perform them to the public. These some times noisy tricks will challenge visitor’s perceptions and illustrate areas of physics.

Cerbyd are indoctrinated into the IOPW as uniforms and circular stickers are dished out. Cerbyd add the final touches hanging the IOPW bunting and we’re ready to get physic-al! Then it was explained that these are not tricks. This IS Science! I could see Louise foaming at the mouth with excitement.

“Real live scientists!”


We thirteen full stomachs speed out of the campsite on our bright white Charter Van Hire Chariot. We are late and I worry whether our speakers will wait. Will they even turn up? Many anxious questions flood in through my gaping mouth. Is Cerbyd done for before it has even begun? We put our foot down and are destined to find out.

We arrive and park outside National Museum of Wales and I’m off, legging it full pelt to the Owain Glyndwr leaving Briaan to mosey along with the Cerbyd artists. Having reached the Owain I am greeted by the cool breeze of reassurance as all our speakers have already arrived.

The alternative title for tonight’s entertainment will be artists like the funniest things (to what could be seen as an unhealthy, bordering on disturbing, level, if these people weren’t your friends). Of course I am hugely grateful to each of them for kicking off the Cerbyd experience. That line up again:

Gordon Dalton on the man of steel and scars Evel Knievel

Tom Porridge on spinning on your head and tagging walls

Richard Higlett on football’s equivalent to Jesus Christ, Jimmy Hill

Helene Roberts and Tiffany Oben on South Wales’ answer to New York, Newport.

Sean Edwards on rock and roll’s future, the boss, Bruce Springsteen

Not a disappointed human, let alone humanist, in sight. Thank god or Darwin or whoever. It was a great start to the tour with artists speaking openly, passionately and humorously about their chosen subjects.

I work tirelessly. At once acting as compere, cameraman and waiter making sure that our speakers are adequately refreshed. Briaan snaps the night away capturing all of the action. Despite my original concerns the evening went off well, making for a relaxed but focused beginning to the project. The ‘speed dating’ format allowed for the Cerbyd group to mingle and meet with enough direction to keep everything flowing along nicely.

Both Richard and Sean had responded to my call for mix tapes for our trip. Richard had created a quiz like double album. One side made up of day songs and the other of night songs but no titles. We have to guess them while on the journey!

Sean proudly presented the newly converted Springsteen fans with a mixtape of some of the Boss’s best. The unmistakable sound of Springsteen and the E street band fuelled us all the way back to our campsite in Llandow, sleepy but in my head I was punching the air along to ‘Born in the USA’. Cerbyd had started and so far, so good.

List of songs from Sean Edwards’ Springsteen album:

Side A

1) Thunder Road

2) Blinded by the light

3) Promised Land

4) Backstreets

5) Dancing in the Dark

6) 4th July, Aysbury Park (Sandy)

7) Open all night

8) Racing in the street

9) The River

Side B

1) Born in the USA

2) Hungry Heart

3) Lost in the Flood

4) Kingdom of the Days

5) Sinaloa Cowboys

6) Nebraska

7) Born to Run

8) Rosalita (Come out tonight)

9) Jungleland

Unfortunately a list of songs from Richard’s mystery album remain a mystery! Although I am still working on it…