Noticing the signposts

posted in: Wales | 1
Jack Denial - a good choice for teetotallers perhaps?
Jack Denial – a good choice for teetotallers perhaps?

My middle daughter’s currently working in Zanzibar. Snail mail takes weeks but fortunately Facebook enables us to keep in touch easily.

When she posted the photograph above it reminded me of the many funny signs and notices that Harri and I have spotted on our travels so, with the weather still decidedly dreadful, I thought I’d amuse myself (and you, dear readers) with some of them.

Unsurprisingly, many signs we see are warnings about animals, typically bulls and dogs. I’m not particularly worried about dogs but the mere mention of a bull fills me with terror. Harri grew up on a dairy farm so he has a good sense of whether a bull is likely to be dangerous or not… apparently, even the meanest of bulls is unlikely to leave his harem if you meander across the bottom of his field though it’s a theory I’d prefer not to test.

The sort of sign that fills me with terror
The sort of sign that fills me with terror

My terror of bulls is so great that Harri’s taken to keeping mum if he spies a bull in the midst of a herd of cows because he knows the minute he even mentions the ‘b’ word, I’ll insist on doing what can often be a massive detour.

Dairy farmers don’t seem to understand how frightening it can be when you’re in the middle of a field and you suddenly spot a bull a few hundred metres away, staring at you and stomping its hoof threateningly. Some even make a joke of it…

There's nothing funny about an encounter with a bull
There’s nothing funny about encounters with bulls

Dog owners love to warn you about their pets for one reason alone: to keep you off their premises. That’s fine, except when a footpath runs through their garden. On the whole the biggest problem we’ve had with dogs is boredom – theirs not ours! A bored dog is more than happy to join anyone who happens to be walking past… I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve had a four-legged companion accompany us for miles but more of that in a future post.

Some dogs inevitably come with a health warning for walkers… though being able to greet them by name as they come bounding towards you baring their teeth might just help!


It always helps to know who is biting your bottom
It always helps to know who is biting your bottom

An alternative approach might be possible for those arriving by car, though it isn’t terribly helpful for we walkers.

Beware walkers in Lower Machen
Walkers in Lower Machen beware

Of course not everyone thinks that allowing dogs to roam country lanes is a great idea; unfortunately, there are still plenty of thoughtless dog owners who allow their pets to do their business on lanes and footpaths without any thought to other users. Worse, some think it’s fine to bag up the poop and hurl it into nearby bushes. Someone in our village was clearly at the end of their tether when they put this notice up.

A plea from the heart
A plea from the heart

Sometimes, it can almost feel as though the signage is directed at the dogs themselves, like this one we spotted next to Cardiff Metropolitan University‘s Llandaff Campus.

Will those dog smokers ever learn? Smoking kills.
Will those dogs never learn that smoking kills?

There are those animal lovers who refuse to accept there is any difference between their four-legged friends and family members. We spotted the banner below outside the church at Llanvihangel Crucorney when we were devising a new long-distance walk around the Black Mountains for the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Animal lovers can forget their little ones aren't human
Was Dr Doolittle doing the sermon?

Not all the amusing signposts we see relate to animals, of course. Sometimes the old man can be far more frustrating than the family pet and tying him to a lamppost just isn’t an option. The owner of the Bridge End Inn in Crickhowell thought they might have a solution.

Aren't they worried you won't return
What, forever?

Some signs are so clearly stating the obvious, you wonder why they bother, like this No Cycling sign on the steps to a small viewing platform on Mumbles Head.

The No Cycling sign at Mumbles Head
The No Cycling sign at Mumbles Head

And just in case you don’t believe me…

Stating the obvious
A cycle ride to nowhere

Some sign writers have wonderful imaginations which lead them to dreaming up all sorts of fascinating actions… which they immediately ban you from doing.

Anyone fancy a bit of crop riding?
Anyone fancy a bit of crop riding?

The signs we pass by on our walks sometimes make us laugh and frequently make us despair; bad spelling and appalling Welsh translation are the worst offenders.

I accept people occasionally confuse temporary and temporarily but come on…

If you can't spell it, do not write it
If you can’t spell it, do not write it

And this one got past the professional sign writer too…

In English not all words are spelt as they sound
In English not all words are spelt as they sound

Harri’s own particular frustration is bad Welsh translation, and that includes unnecessary translation which renders the Welsh completely nonsensical. The sign below was spotted in Raglan, close to the castle which was home to the Somerset family for several centuries. The translator clearly didn’t know this historical fact or they wouldn’t have translated the address to correspond with the English county of Somerset.

Sometimes a little local knowledge might help
Sometimes a little local knowledge might help

But of all the signs we’ve seen over the past few years, the one below remains our favourite. We spotted it in north Devon while we were walking the South West Coast Path (we’re still in Fowey!) and is an apt reminder of the futility of most notices.

Our favourite signpost
Our favourite signpost



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