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…


I am breathing a huge internal sigh of relief as my heart plays double time in my chest. It’s time to go. Yes, we may have mounted the curb twice since leaving Charter van hire and scraped the side of a Volkswagen Passat as we pulled into my street but that is all behind us now, Wales and all her wild beauty awaits. Well…as soon as we have packed the considerable luggage the Cerbyd artists have brought with them. Maybe I should have set a weight limit? Has Megan actually brought a whole suitcase of shoes?! I load bag after bag plugging a gap here, slotting a tent into a satisfying space there. Briaan looks up at me, his face caked in sweat as he wrestles with bags fitting them under chairs and into every last nook and cranny.

“It’ll fit” he says

I raise my eyebrows and state firmly

“It has to”

Sean shoves another bag onto the bus and we continue to muscle them in. For a while, we are definitely just moving bags from one place to another then a Eureka moment, relising that we must pack around the artists to free up more space.

First two artists onto the bus please. The bravest of the group Kathryn and Tomoko take their seats. Briaan and I pack around them, building walls of bags to their left and right, obscuring any possible view or chance of light they may have had.

Next please. Ben and Paul follow and before we know it we have Rosa, Charlotte, Louise, Megan, Lucy and Femke. The bus is full to bursting. Everyone takes a deep breath so I can squeeze the last bag in and I take considerable enjoyment from slamming the van door shut, knowing that this is my most successful piece of sculpture to date. I take my seat next to Briaan at the front of the bus and we are on the move at last. The artists seem in good spirits despite their lack of movement, light and oxygen. This bodes extremely well for the rest of the trip.

The bus chugs along the A48 towards our first campsite in Llandow. The plan is to pitch tents, eat a nutritious meal then head back into town to the Tair Pluen for our artist talks at 7.30pm. We arrive at Llandow Caravan Park at 2pm exactly. We don’t make a U-turn but we do stop to let a stowaway bee out of the bus. Entering the campsite, I hop out and confirm our arrival, retrieving the codes for the gates. We are then directed to George. George may be a time lord or gatekeeper or something like that as he knows exactly what direction we must align the tents to benefit the Cerbyd project. The sun is out and I am happy for George to direct us.

We have our spot and within minutes tents spring up. However not all are up. Briaan, Gillian and I struggle under the canvas monster. And Louise, bless her, seems to have brought a circus tent. Her tent is simply massive and would easily fit everybody in. Maybe this was her plan? Louise is not alone for long and the group come to her aid. Hammering in the pegs I think the sun has gone in. I needn’t worry. It is Louise’s tent blocking out the sun.

And now it’s time to cook. On the menu this evening – conchiglie with onions and mushrooms in a tomato + pesto sauce. Briaan and I don our matching approns – I become Michelangelo’s David and Briaan makes an eye catching Botticelli’s Venus. Preparation is shared amongst the group but it is the boiling of the water and softening of the pasta that takes longer than expected. We wait and wait but it is all worth while. We eat, wash up then off on the road again.



Next stop City Road, Roath to pick up Gillian, Cerbyd’s driver and Briaan’s sister. We arrive at Charter Van Hire and within the half-hour, drive away in our 17 seater companion for the coming eight days. Fresh from some light hearted banter with a rather nicely suited car salesmen called Geoff who it seems doesn’t take kindly to jokes made about crashing the van somewhere in North Wales.

It is now bang on 12:00, leaving just under an hour to get across town to my flat in Canton, pack the gear into the van and load up on artists at g39. Last night in my dream around this time I was drinking my second cup of coffee leafing through g2. All was calm. This is standard for my dreams they are always without exception variations of my waking hours but to different timescales and/or with dissimilar outcomes. In real time there are three pairs of hands all moving camping stoves, tents, rucksacks, gas cyclinders, pots, pans, boxes of food onto our bus. Our once tardis like bus that now grows small as we pack her.

In my wisdom at the beginning of the week I asked the combined creative masses of Twitter and Facebook to compile CDs for Cerbyd to listen to, during the trip. I am considering this as I stare at my wall of CDs that take up the corner of the living room. Usually I am extremely anal and annoyingly particular with which CDs to take on a trip. I take into consideration such factors as the time of day and season, route, destination and passengers as inspiration and reasons for choosing certain styles of music or artists and albums. Today we have just finished loading what already looks a relatively full van minus 10 artists so I just grab CDs at random. Luckily or divinely Johnny Cash magicked his way into my grasp and back on the bus in the cold light of day the selection looks a good one. I don’t own bad CDs it’s just some of the artists I like make bad albums from time to time.

Parked up on St Mary’s Street now and the driver needs feeding. Briaan and I get large chips from Caroline Street deposit them back at the van and head on through Wyndham arcade to g39. It is all quite real now but in my dream last night I arrive at g39 and none of the artists have turned up. It is just Sean commiserating and we decide to do the trip anyway, just the four of us.

Back to reality and unless someone is playing a cruel and rather elaborate joke by strewing varying brightly coloured rucksacks across g39’s floors then the artists are here and the waiting is over. No introductions needed, well not yet anyway. I have decided to tell the artists only what I deem necessary or vital. The idea is that their local knowledge of places, roads will inform the rest of the group at different times.


Up at 6am, pick Briaan up at 7.15 and we are at the Cash and Carry, which coincidentally isn’t where we thought it was, by 8am. I walk in through the sliding doors brandishing g39’s Cash and Carry members card. I am expecting all types of things to go wrong, even sensors to go off. Large hooded security guards will take Briaan and I into a small room after our fingerprints don’t match Chris and Anthony’s. There will be two cops. Both of them will be bad. Five minutes into the interrogation Briaan will squeal that I once had a Mohican or some other criminal misdemeanour that I am less than proud of and I will be locked up in the Cash and Carry’s underground cell.

Cerbyd will go ahead without me but there will be a horrific accident and only Briaan will survive to tell me the harrowing tale. Of course, I am over anxious and none of this will happen. Probably.

We swing around the aisles filling our two industrial trolleys to the brim. There is plenty of carbohydrates on offer and that means energy for doing Cerbyd stuff. As we head towards the fresh veg section, I start to worry. I can see only bags of onions. Big bloody bags of onions but sod all else. Cold sweat and panic sets in. I know Briaan doesn’t eat vegetables apart from when I forced him so I could make a film called Briaan doesn’t about 7 years ago. He shrugs his shoulders as if said big bag of onions is substantial enough on the veg front for an eight day camping trip.

We step through what I hope is an Aladdin’s cave chiller area that will contain one of the finest selections of vegetables known to man. It doesn’t. There are spring onions, peppers and a lot of yogurt. It is 9.50am the bus is ready to be picked up for 11.30am. We need to pack the bus and collect the artists at 1pm. There is no time for this. I have never eaten tinned mushrooms or come to think of it any tinned vegetable apart from sweetcorn. Call me a snob but I just haven’t. We grabbed a variety of vegetables in tins and pushed our way toward the checkout. We needn’t have rushed.

The Cash and Carry checkouts have not taken the lead from the express tills of local supermarkets. Our two industrial trolleys full with at least 250 items generates no response from our hapless bar code scanner man. He is bored out of his mind. I don’t blame him I just need to go and buy some vegetables. Real vegetables so our meals don’t taste of brine. Is that so much to ask for?

It seems one of our purchases doesn’t have a barcode. This means 25 minutes of waiting at the checkout and my paranoia is back. I am convinced they have realised we are not the g39 boys and have sent for the cavalry. For those of you who have not visited a Cash and Carry the procedure is that you pay for your goods then take your receipt to a cashier set back from you in a wall behind bullet-proof glass. Cerbyd’s receipt reaches down and tickles the floor.

The shop assistant returns with the missing barcoded iteam. We rejoice. I hand g39’s card and Cerbyd’s receipt to a smart and smiling man in a suit. He reiterates the amount of our bill and I pay with Cerbyd’s card. The addresses on Cerbyd’s card and g39’s card do not match.

Now if I were the man behind the bullet-proof glass, I would be depressing the red button which would in turn be alerting the necessary authorities of our fraudulent status as owners of g39. The smart and smiling man does none of this instead he asks me whether Pentyrch (where my card is registered to) is near Castell Coch. I reply ‘yes’ and he informs me that Castell Coch is his favourite castle in all of Wales. It is mine too. Brian and I split from this Cash and Carry and we get the hell out of dodge.