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!”