Monday, 7 May 2018

A Refined Experience at Woody Kiln

We're late this year setting off on our travels, so 2018 will be a somewhat shorter season than we're used to.  It's a whole six months since we've wound the legs down anywhere but home or storage, but there's been very good reason.

Roids bought a house late December whilst Ronnie did the same in March, so between moving them in and helping them get sorted time sort of slipped away.  On top of that Herself decided that the house needed some money spent on it, so we've had it re rendered, new windows and a new kitchen has been fitted. Roids and TF also got engaged.

But the best of all, 4 weeks ago Ronnie's significant other, Yankie Girl, produced a beautiful little granddaughter for us, our first grandchild. Gorgeous she is.

Thursday 3 May

I'm up early, firstly to give Vera a good clean out before Environmental Health slap a notice on her and throw a bucket of water over the stinking paintwork for good measure, and secondly to ensure the drive stays clear as soon as the (ex) captain has shot off to work.

We're hitched up and off by 11am with the tow west being effortless and after just under 1 1/2 hours we're approaching our chosen site.

I'd not let on to Herself where we were heading, other than Pembrokeshire somewhere, but I was getting twitchy as we counted down the last few miles.  Herself snaps "We'd better not be able to see these from the site!" as we cruised past 2 oil refineries at Milford Haven, that were not screened particularly well by the tree line that was supposed to screen them.

The directions from the site were spot on and as we trundled through the farmyard of Woody Kiln CL  a sign told us to enter the paddock and look for a cone with our name on it.  Four of the five pitches were occupied and a cone set out on the remaining empty pitch.

Houston, we have a problem.  The name on the pitch was clearly not ours.  The cheerful owner comes over and says "Hello, you've come a long way!" to which I replied "Not really, only Llanelli, and my name isn't Richards." as I gestured to the cone.

"Oh, were we expecting you?" as I get a sinking feeling deep in my guts "Well, I would hope so as we paid via BACS" as I showed my printed off booking and watched the colour drain from her rosy cheeks.

"Wait there while I go and check."

Herself gives me the evils from the comfort of Vera until Rosy comes back and rips "Richards" from the cone and says "It's my husband's fault, and he's left me to deal with it."  Frankly I was too relieved to care as she said "Lucky for you, you arrived first."

I tried, and made a complete hash of reversing onto the pitch so whilst Herself mocked, I unhitched the van and put the mover to work.  Herself watched me back it in inch perfect and shut down the isolator before saying that she thought the van should be further over ..... oh how I laughed, but moved it anyway.

My single hose won't reach the tap so I get out the reserve length and couple them up ...... only when the tap is turned on we have a water feature that Charlie Dimock would be proud of ..... the connector is faulty (either that or I broke it with my ham fisted attempt to screw it too tight) so will need replacing.

We've a full aquaroll but are struggling to get any sort of water pressure out of the tap, I go outside and clock a waterfall gushing from under the van where our water heater lives.  Half an aquaroll on the floor later I flick the dump switch to the closed position and we're sorted.

It's a bit windy and I'm not looking forward to putting up the canopy.  My fears doubled as when unfurled it caught the wind and filled up kite surfer stylee.  I was careful, and the canopy went up incident free, partly due to me taking extra care to peg it down in a systematic manner and not throwing pegs about, but mainly due to the fact that Herself's knee is knackered and she watched the whole process from the comfort of her recliner at a safe distance with a glass of Prossecco.

Due to Herself being temporarily crippled (and my senior moment related delays), setting up took a little longer than usual, but after a few hours I am able to announce to Facebookville that "We is arrived!"

Herself puts together some ham buttys which are thrown down our necks before pointing Vera towards Wilko in Pembroke Dock where I need a new hose connector which should cost no more than a quid or two.  Herself managed to spend a few purple ones just for good measure before we retrace our tracks back over the Cleddau Bridge towards Refinery Land.

The dogs need a good stretch and we make use of the onsite dog walking field to wear them out.  Tali keeps getting distracted though by the ostriches in the adjacent field.

Chilli chicken is wolfed for tea before we settle down with a few bottled of Lidl's finest cider for company, reflecting on how good a find this site is, despite its proximity to the refineries.

Oh, and it would appear that our electric water heater has packed in.

Friday 4 May

I got up early this morning, not by choice mind, but there was no shifting Gwawr from my spot next to Herself after I'd been for a pee.  The drizzle has cleared, but it's a little grey outside.

The dogs aren't really interested in going out so I de-bone a leg of lamb ready to be thrown in the slow cooker once I can retrieve it from under the bed where it lives, just as soon as Herself can peel herself off the sheets.

After breakfast (and a power nap for me) we make tracks towards St Davids, and as we drop down into Newgale the weather is doing its very best to clear up a little.  the view from the driver's seat as you approach Newgale from the east never fails to impress me.

Parking in St Davids was easy and Herself asks how long we want to pay for ... 3hrs or all day?  I remark that 3 hrs would be enough as we clip the dogs on their leads and walk down the main drag.  The place is almost deserted, and we'd forgotten quite how little there is to see here.  Never mind 3hrs, we were done in under 30 mins.

We take an outside table for lunch at The Grove and sit enjoying the peace and quiet, in between the handyman starting up his strimmer, then his leaf blower, while at the same time traffic roared up and down the road and a Castell Howard refrigerated lorry pulls up directly in front of us and leaves his engine running while he unloads .... the git.

I'd ordered "Posh Fish Finger Sandwiches" off the menu that came with a side of chips. At £7.50 each I'm thinking that they'd better be something special.

They came, and they weren't.  Fish fingers were absent and instead a few cod coujons had been thrown between two semi stale slices of bread.  The side of "Chips" came in a cup and only just made it into the plural category.  Having already upset Herself by standing on Gwawr's paw as we sat down I'm given the look that says don't you dare complain.

You see, Herself does not do complaining at all, well except about me that is, as it causes upset and spoils things.  Being ripped off also upsets me, but I do not have a say in the matter?

As we cross back over the peninsular the weather starts to brighten up, and by the time we've dropped down to Neyland Marina the sun is doing its very best to actually shine.  With the dogs clipped on their extenders we follow the waterside path through the boat yard and happen across a cafe that has wine and cans of beer in the fridge..... result.

A table is taken to rest Herself's knackered knee and we watch the water as nothing very much happens despite the marina being jam packed full of boats.

It was as we walked back to Vera that I excelled myself in topping off a day of marital unrest.  I've not exactly covered myself in glory today, my excuse is that I've left my Metformin at home and my sugars are elevated, but Herself is adamant that I'm just a git.

I shouted at her in St Davids which meant that our meal and journey from there were taken in silence.  I then took um-bridge at something she did in Lidl so the atmosphere inside Vera to Neyland was a tad frosty and I also did similar on exiting the public toilets in Neyland, so by the time we took out table on the quayside Herself is not even communicating with me via Post It notes!

Herself had mellowed by the time the wine had hit her system and during the walk back to Vera progress had been made on the communications front and Herself is no longer spitting at me....... then I did it.

The dogs had been on their extending leads the whole time and I decided it would be nice to let them run for a while before getting back into Vera.  I unclipped one and then the other ...... without warning Herself who was at the clever end of the lead.  Time then slowed down as I watched the metal dog clip gain speed as her lead retracted, until at warp speed it smashed into Herself's shin bone.  Herself yelped and I froze, too scared to say anything as saying anything at all right now would only make things worse.

"You did that on purpose .... just take me back."

By the time we're back on site the sun is shining proper, and the throbbing must have eased a little, so we waste no time in getting the recliners out and blow the froth off a couple of cold ones until the slow cooker has finished doing its magic.

The Morroccan lamb stew was superb and is eaten with flat breads and washed down with some cheap Lidl cider.

Saturday 5 May

Slept late this morning, not stirring until 10.30am.  Breakfast was a wholly inadequate affair of cereal before we Point Vera towards Milford Marina.  I'd seen a brochure for it that promised a vibrant waterside collection of Bistros and shops.

Parking was free, and good job too, as first impressions were not great and if our experience was to include feeding coins into a machine, I doubt we'd have stopped.

We clipped the dogs on their leads and ambled along the walkway.  Herself stopped briefly to window shop outside a few cheap and tatty jewellery shops while I longingly looked through the windows of a few cafes at lucky people tucking into all day breakfasts and bacon buttys. On the whole though it was a very successful shopping expedition as far as I'm concerned ...... not a penny was spent.

The sun is breaking through as we head over the Preseli Hills towards Crymych where Roids is playing this afternoon.  We park up in blazing sunshine and head straight to the beer garden for refreshments before taking up our places to shout from the touchline.

Taking the words from the late great Robin Williams "It's hot, it's damn hot" and I'm glad it was not me running about out there this afternoon.

I am refused permission to buy a burger from their "death van" on the promise that we'll call in a pub for tea on the way back.  i have my doubts though as I can't recall seeing any pubs between here and Narberth.  We are both starving, and are getting fractious as the miles tick over ... publess.

We drive through Milford Haven, and the only pub we saw open and serving food was off the road over looking the haven.  All looked promising and I'm now scouting a parking spot when Herself announces that she's not going there as the beer garden was in the shade!

On we press in the general direction of Dale.   It's now 5.20pm and we slow down outside the Taberna Inn in Herbranston.  All the outside tables are taken and a sign tells us we are too early for food.  Some time later we clock a sign for the The Brook Inn in St Ishmaels.  A considerable diversion is taken until an oasis like mirage appears from between the hedgerows.  The beer garden looks idyllic and is a real suntrap and the banner tells us they start serving in just 20 mins.  I could cope with that.

But no, Herself is not happy as there is nowhere tidy to park up Vera.  We continue, and after yesterdays shenanigans I'm on my best behaviour, even though I'm smiling through gritted teeth. We follow the lanes all the way to Dale where I swing into the car park and jump out to feed coins into the meter before Herself has a chance to change my mind for me.

The few outside tables at The Griffin Inn are already taken and I look longingly inside as the diners inside who are tucking into huge portions of Lasagne or juicy steaks. Gits!

The sun is now going in behind the clouds and the wind is getting up.  It's getting chilly in the shade.  I spy a roof top terrace at the Yatch Club and they have a basic menu pinned to the door.  After checking it was OK to take the dogs up there we are climbing the 3 flights to take our table with a view for dinner.

It's a bit exposed up here and I'm starting to wish I'd put a jacket on.  I had a burger and Herself had haddock.  Both meals were lovely I'm sure, but to be honest we wolfed them down like a pair of savages before they got cold in the wind chill!

From our vantage point we spot a couple from our village who have their boat moored here and have a shouty conversation with them as they pass below., well Herself did as they were too far away for my radar to tune in!

Back on site we walk the dogs before I settle down to watch The Scarlets on TV with a few packs of Lidl's finest for company.  We won, and we won well.

Showers are had and PJs are donned as the sea mist rolls in and the site goes dark.  Good night.

Sunday 6 May

We wake to clear blue skies and the dogs are anxious to get over the field and sniff about the tracks of whatever was roaming there overnight.  From experience I know it's going to be dew soaked this early, and not wanting to get my daps wet flip flops are the footwear of choice.

Off we go with a flip and a flop.  Not too bad until my feet start to get soaked and cold.  Flip flop squelch and squeak ....... Flip flop squelch and squeak ....... Flip flop squelch and squeak ....... and by the time I'm passing the other caravans I've woken them up and they're pulling the curtains to one side to see what's going on.  I look back towards the site and farmhouse and make a mental note to myself that we'll come here again (my opinion on the site is not influenced at all by the very reasonable rate of £12 per night or the fully serviced hard standing pitches or the free wifi) as it's so peaceful ... pitches 2 to 5 may have a different take on the peacefulness of the site though!

We get to the bottom of the field and the ostriches come over to say good morning .. bloody hell mun, they're quite big close up and they are very quick.

We need a few provisions as we have an important visitor coming today, so a trip early doors back into  Milford is required.  After admiring the refinery en route, we join the queue (yes that's right, a queue) outside the cheapskate's favourite waiting for the doors to open at 10am.  When they did, I kid you not, I've seen nothing like it.  The rush through the door with the trolleys would have put Dale Winton to shame and the fight for fresh bread rolls was a sight to behold.

Loaded up with what we need .... oh and a chainsaw (where else can you buy a chainsaw at the same time as semi skimmed?) we make tracks back to site (taking in the sight or the refinery once more through the perimeter fencing) where we waste no time in getting out the recliners for some personal contemplation time.

Lunchtime, and our special visitor arrives.  Our little baby granddaughter, Beastie (Sleeping Beauty), has come down to see Dats and Mims (oh, her parents also came with her) and we waste no time in getting in some serious cwtch time.

We lunch alfresco on warm roast beef rolls before Herself decides that Beastie needs a battery operated baby swing, and she needs it now, not when Amazon can be arsed to deliver it, so one was sourced in Pembroke Dock's Argos.  Ronnie and I take a spin over the Cleddau while the ladies stay at the van talking about lady stuff ... I think.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cwtching Beastie until it was time to set fire to some wood and cremate some chilli beef kebabs for tea.

While clearing up I'd noticed some ash on the bonnet of Ronnie's beamer so set off to fill a watering can to rinse it off.  With a full container I set off from the back of the van to the front,  I didn't see it, and didn't feel it tightening it's grip as it slid further in between my toe and the flip flop.  When the coax cable reached it's limit the result was catastrophic.

I can't say the world slowed down, because it didn't and seemed to speed up.  In an instant I've hit the deck like a sack of shit, and boy did I come down with a thump.  Ronnie was inside the van using the toilet, he heard the thud and felt the earth move, peered out of the window and sneered at me before uttering the immortal words of that scene in Twin Town when Bryn saw Fatty fall off the roof (Google it).  By now they're running out of the farmhouse as they think there's been another explosion at the refinery!

Still, nothing hurt except my pride, but as I type this I know it'll be hurting by the morning.

We wave them off and waste no time in dropping the awning in readiness for our departure early doors tomorrow and then settle down with some cheapo Lidl cider to see out the evening.

It's been a gloriously enjoyable day.

Monday 7 May

Up early this morning, even before the sparrows have started farting, as Herself has to be in work.

We've broken camp and are pulling out of the gate by 8.45am, desperately trying to remember the recommended way out that avoids narrow lanes and low bridges.

It's a glorious BH Monday and traffic is heavy, in both directions, with daytrippers and weekenders hitting the roads before mayhem ensues in Carmarthen.

Never the less, incident free we are pulling up outside "Home is Where You drag It" Towers by 10.30am and the van is inched into its cwtch and unloaded by 11.30am.

It's been a fantastic, if all too brief, long weekend, and we've discovered a little gem of a site, one that we'll certainly be back to.

Until next time ......