Free Petrol at Bontddu!

Another Coach House Cadets tale from Mac Tonks

The night before we were due to set out on the Three Camps Exercise, a pass-out was granted. The group was split into two parties. Several of us walked into Barmouth and decided to visit a local pub where the owner correctly judged our age and we were only allowed soft drinks. So, we did, and for the grand sum of 6d, drank Lime and Soda, played darts and enjoyed ourselves.

We returned to Farchynys, had a warm drink and so to bed.

Waking up early the next day, we were expecting to depart following breakfast, but we were held up and kept all together in the lounge area of The Coach House. A CCF NCO strolled amongst us asking if we had anything to declare or to admit. Lime and Soda and darts – not earth shattering, is it?

Colonel Phil Bull and John Burgess appeared after about an hour with a true hoard including cigarettes, matches, a dead slow worm (courtesy of Mr Do-it-by- the-Book from an earlier tale), and a large number of petrol pump price labels and other garage point of sale materials.

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Before the days of electronic signage, the price at the pump was shown by means of circular price labels stuck onto the relevant pump. The other group had travelled to Bontddu and visited the pub. The owner there was less concerned about underage drinking and had served our colleagues. Unfortunately for them, this was where Phil Bull and John Burgess drank and before leaving Farchynys they always rang ahead to tell the owner they were on their way.  Encouraged to leave by mine host, the boys walked back towards Farchynys and crossed the road to the local petrol station in Bontddu where they relieved the pumps of their price labels: thus, creating -at least temporarily- a petrol price-free zone on the Dolgellau to Barmouth road.

The perpetrators were duly punished, and we all got on with our Three Camp Exercise.

Note: In 1967, petrol was 5s 5d a gallon or 27p in today’s money.    

Malcolm Tonks QM 1962-67

 

 

A Combined Cadet Force Trek into the wilderness, a lesson in Welsh and a hidden café.

Another great tale from Mac Tonks

“We were on the three camp sites CCF trek, and arrived at our first destination without problem. We made camp, walked a couple of miles to the nearest village and had a drink in the pub…. great! We returned to camp as night fell and then into our tents and sleeping bags.

It was freezing, and we had to light our gas stove (no health & safety in those days) to keep warm; next morning we were up like larks but the stream that ran through our camp had, in places, frozen over.

We ate our breakfast rations and had a brew. Mr Do-it-by-the-Book decided he needed the toilet (there’s always one) whilst the rest chose to use proper toilets or wait till we returned to Farchynys. Off he went, entrenching tool over his shoulder and toilet paper in hand, looking a lot like one of Snow White’s helpers.

There, in the corner of the field by a dry stone wall he dug his toilet and proceeded to use the same, when suddenly the farmer, who had decided to visit us, popped his head over the wall, Bore da, he called to the squatting individual.

The farmer continued up to our party and asked if we were okay and then continued on his way. Our colleague returned and told us what had occurred: ‘The farmer said something to me in Welsh, but I do not know what it means –  it was Bore da.’

‘Ah that’s easy,  Bare a**ed’ we said.

I do not know how many Welsh Good Mornings he had before he realised what Bore da actually meant.

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The following day whilst moving on to the next camp, we were walking alongside a large forest when our leader, a great map reader, discovered a track running through the forest which would save us time if we followed it.  Into the forest we went: a dark foreboding place, the only light that fell was on the track we walked.

Around about two miles in, we spotted smoke and as it grew nearer we realised in was from a cabin that looked like something a frontiers-man had built. A closer inspection revealed that it was -of all things- a café. Inside, we all duly went and a middle-aged lady took our order for four breakfasts and four mugs of tea.

Each breakfast was served by a different young lady – all of whom were charming and we spent over a couple of hours chatting to the lady and her four daughters. The food was great, the company good but do you know that no other group ever found that place or even we on subsequent visits. Even the locals who we asked hadn’t a clue what we were talking about.

Did we imagine it?”

Mac Tonks QM 1962-67