Saturday, 23 June 2012

Memories of The Alps 2010

Another copy and paste tastic episode for you.  Taken from my diary of when we travelled to The French Alps in the summer of 2010.

Thursday 19th August

This holiday seems to have been a long time coming.  It was back in the long and dark winter nights of January that it was planned, but being a bit of a worrier I wanted  to plan out trip onto the continent as thoroughly as possible.

We have company this holiday in the form of one of the boy's girlfriend and we are travelling with Mr & Mrs Shag and mini shag.

Late afternoon we are all hitched up and set off to our overnight stop at Blackhorse Farm CC Site in Folkstone.  We know we won't be arriving until after reception has shut, so made arrangements for payment and a late check in before we leave.  After an uneventful 274 mile tow we pulled into the site, retrieved our details from the notice board and set up site.  My review can be read here.

We had a few drinks and a laugh before settling down for the night.  I am unable to explain why, but I could not settle and was on edge, really worried about towing onto the train in the morning.  Unable to sleep at all, I got back up at 3am and wandered the site, talking to people setting off for early morning ferries.

Friday 20th August

By 5.30am it was time to drag everyone out of their pits and head for the tunnel terminal.  Everyone is very excited to see signs for "France This Way" and check in is swift and stress free.

Despite me worrying all night boarding the train is quite simple.  I really do feel like a dick sometimes!

Before we know it we are moving and travelling deep under the sea bed.  I get a bollocking from herself for getting out to nose around, just after the tannoy says to stay in your vehicle.

We really are loaded up for this trip.  Five adults, a roof box, 4 bikes, a kayak, full awning, tent and a 1.5 tonne caravan with all the gubbins!  Fuel consumption figures are making me weep (in public too).  Time is taken to fit the beam benders and sticker for the dash and visor to reminding me to drive on the right.

Before we know it, it's light again outside and we are in Froggyville!  Disembarking is straight forward, no customs and we are straight onto the auto route, on the right hand side, eek!

We have no plans as to where to stop tonight, but have 2 nights before we are due on our site in The Alps.  It strikes us immediately how good the Froggy auto routes are to drive on, good smooth surfaces and virtually traffic free.  Very soon it also strikes us how expensive they are to travel on as we hit our first toll booth!

We are making easy progress eating up the KMs, but I keep losing Mr Shag in my mirrors.  Turns out he was slip streaming me to improve on his already very good mpg figures he's getting out of his A4 - the git.

Gas Oil is quite expensive on the auto routes, but I am relieved that service stations seem to be sites every 15 miles or so along the way.

We stop off at an Aire for lunch.  Mr Shag get a chair out, plonks himself down next to the caravan in the car park and quips "France isn't like I thought it would be mind!" whilst taking in his surroundings.  We are all in stitches and I have a good feeling about this holiday.

We are motoring, and the Shogun has a thirst like a Youth rugby team on a Saturday night.  The float in the tank must have been stuck because all of a sudden the needle drops from just over 1/3 full to empty and the light comes on.  Still. not to worry, I think to myself.  There will be a service station along now in a few miles.

In the distance I see a fuel pump sign, and as we get closer it says 70km.  I shit myself, and ease off the gas.  Mrs Shag phones to remonstrate with me because I have slowed down.

TomTom POIs are loaded up and says fuel can be got in 25 miles.  It's going to be a bloody close call!  We follow the directions, and the needle is now under the empty line.  I am bricking it and things are a little tense.  On exit of the auto route the Shogun is running a bit lumpy and we come across an automated toll payment machine.  I am frightened to switch off in case the car will not start again, and herself is struggling to work out how to use the machine.

My temper is at tipping point and I storm out of the car.  The machine is like something out of the Krypton Factor but we eventually get it sussed.  I run round back to the driver's seat, hop in, but herself is nowhere to be seen.  Herself is walking back down the road to speak to Mr & Mrs Shag.

I ask her where she is going, and she says she was going to explain to Mr & Mrs Shag how to use the machine.  I lost it, and I think I shouted something like "F**k them, get in the f*****g car woman!"

The Shogun is spluttering but after just a mile TomTom cheerfully announces "You have reached your destination."  My heart sinks as I note the chain across the entrance and a Doberman (complete with elastic band round it's willy) sat guarding the place.  We are in the middle of nowhere, with no fuel and I think I'm about to have a coronary.

Desperately trying to reconsult TomTom, typing with fingers like a bunch of bananas, he tells us there is fuel in 2 miles.  Off we trundle (by now everyone in the car is praying) and after a while he tells us to turn left and announces once again  "You have reached your destination."

No fuel station visible! Nothing! Zilch! I rip him off his mount and start to cry.  We are on aback road and I spot the French equivalent of a corner shop with a 1960s pump on the pavement!  Surely not?  We drive up to it and it looks knackered, like it's not been used for decades.  We turn round and are about to head off when this dirty smelly little man runs out to meet us shouting "Gasoil?"

I could have kissed him! In fact he nearly kissed us!  Between me and Mr Shag he took about 220 euros, probably a month's takings.

I made my apologies to everyone and with peace and tranquillity restored we hit the road again.  By late afternoon it was time to search out a campsite.  Phoning ahead we confirmed that a site in Dole had room for us.

Dole is a pretty town.  We saw enough of it while trying to find the campsite!  We book in and pitch up (420 Km today).  BBQ for tea before chilling with some well deserved beers.  We laughed uncontrollably looking back at the day's events.

Saturday 21st August

We are up quite early having decided last night to move on.  We are not really impressed with the site.  It's cramped, a little shabby and despite the crippling heat is a bit muddy underfoot.

We all agreed that we don't really want to be here when The Alps are calling.  We phone our site to check if they could accept us a day early, reserve pitches and hitch up in record speed after breakfast.

With a full tank we hit the auto route and head into the mountains.  Until now, France has been quite flat.  A few inclines but nothing to write home about.  I know we have to start gaining altitude soon, but was not prepared for what confronted us.  As we started to climb I note a sign that warns of a 15% gradient for about 10 miles. I floor the Shogun leaving Mr Shag gasping for air in a cloud of black diesel smoke!

It's every man for himself (throwing women and children behind him) as I hurtle along passing far too many broken down towing vehicles for comfort.  The needle starts to creep up and I can feel the heat of the transmission in the foot well.  The air con gets turned off, the heating goes to full blast and the windows get opened.  The needle drops and we reach the top of the climb into some serious tunnel action!

On entering the first tunnel we left blazing sunshine, a few KMs later we exit into cloudy skies and drizzle.  I just know that Mrs Shag is going to be cursing by now!

The views are spectacular as the auto route threads it's way into the Alps.

227 Km later we are treated to the vista of Lake Annecey and roll up to our campsite on the southern shores called La Lac Bleu.  We check in, get set up and start to chill.  We have arrived.

We are pitched next to each other and Mr Shag came up to me and say "Shag, I think we've hit the jackpot here Shag!"  I cannot agree more, below is the view from our pitch, we are within spitting distance from the shore.

Sunday 22nd August - Wednesday 1st September

This is probably the best camp site we have ever stayed on.  My review can be read here.  It really is superb here and it's difficult to motivate yourself to leave the site.  The weather is hot and long days are spent playing on or in the lake.  The kids are happy, we are happy.  Apart from nipping out for food shopping we stay put just chilling.

Long days spend on site are followed by long nights drinking under the clear alpine skies.  It is during these long evenings that we get to know Joel very well.  Joel is the night security on site.  he started off by giving us warnings not to make any noise after 10pm.  By the end of the holiday he was joining us for a drink!

After about 4 days I start to get itchy feet.  Idyllic as it is, there is really no point in coming all this way and not see anything of the surrounding area, except for the inside of Lidl.

We did get out and about.  A pleasant day was spent touring on the eastern shore of the lake, stopping off in the rather posh resort of Talloirs along the way.

Much of our time on site has been spent watching the para gliders leaping off the nearby mountain.  We took a spin up the twisting mountain road and the views from up there were spectacular with the buildings reminding me of Switzerland. Refreshments were taken in the cafe at the top before being ripped off buying tourist tat from the gift shop.

The lake has been the draw on this site.  It has a great pool complex with a main pool, some lazy rivers and a jacuzzi.  Mid holiday the boys suddenly take an interest in the pool and are spending a lot of time up there.  Out of interest I wander up to see them stretched out, shades on trying their best to impress some euro totty at poolside.

I ruin any chances they may have had by firstly saying hello to them and secondly doing my impression of a harpooned walrus in the water!

Market day in Annecy itself was interesting.  Apart from taking an hour to find a space to park (much of the car parking is underground with restricted head room which is not much good if you're driving a 4x4 with a roof box on). We take in the sights and look round the market before having a relaxing lunch in the lakeside park.

The weather is generally very good, but being quite high up in the mountains it can go from one extreme to another.  One evening we were sat out in shorts and tee shirts enjoying a drink and listening to a storm in the next valley,  then the storm moved behind us and instead of going further away it came straight back at us?

Wow!  Sheets of rain and a spectacular light show with deafening thunder claps.  Being on rock, any water that hits the surface stays on the surface, and our awnings were under 50mm of water in no time.  We were all out with oars digging channels to let trapped rain water escape into the lake.  Believe it or not, it was quite good fun, and the rain stopped as quick as it started.

By mid holiday I am approaching the situation where I am fast running out of pants that do not benefit from a go-faster stripe.  Luckily herself invested in a camping twin tub washing machine before we left, so for one afternoon our awning was converted in to Wishy Washy's Launderette.

It was strangely therapeutic doing the washing in the sun looking over the scantily clad young ladies catching some rays lakeside.

Again we are due a good spin out.  We took some advice from Joel (who is now our best friend and insists on having  a glass to drink his beer out of) on where we could find some summer snow.  He suggests Chamonix, but that is too far and too expensive.  The second suggestion was Cormet de Roselend in the mountains above Albertville.

Mrs Shag is not too well so we all squeeze into the Shogun and armed with a map we set off for the hills.  Stopping in Albertville on the way to firstly look at the Olympic stadium.  It was shut and fenced off! and secondly to take a wander around Decathlon.  What a shop!  They sell crossbows, guns, knives and everything.  Unfortunately herself was with us so we had to make do with buying a few folding shovels in readiness for the next storm.

Moving up into the mountains the scenery was breathtaking with a new vista on every hairpin.  It was hard going doing it driving solo but there was one lunatic towing a caravan and several lunatics on pushbikes doing the trip.  We reached the summit where next stop was Italy, no snow sadly but we got a bit of off roading in!

After a few more days of just chilling on site, and with the end of our stay here fast approaching it's time for one last big trip out.  Mrs Shag is still not well and is suffering, as is Mr Shag (Mrs Shag does not suffer quietly!).

Our new best mate, Joel, fancies himself as a bit of a physio (we think he's a phycho, but the spelling is really close) and explains how he once has a 'paraplegic' dog.  Under the influence of drink, myself and Mr Shag think this qualifies him to have a pop at Mrs Shag's back.  Our awning is turned into a treatment room and Mrs Shag gets Joel's full works treatment.

They stay on site and Mini Shag joins us for the day out.

We head off, not really knowing where we are going to, but we have a picnic so don't care!  We stop off at a place that does archery.  This place is cool though.  You don't just fire at targets, they have little stuffed bambis around the place in between the trees.  Herself is appalled but we all think it's great.

We find a picnic spot high in the  mountains before heading to the alpine resort of La Cluzaz.  Sadly it's too late to use the cable car system but the kids do a bit of ringo jumping and ices skating before heading back to site.

We'd not eaten out this holiday, so that was put right on our last night.  We took a spin into Annecy and had a great meal in a restaurant by the side of the canal, followed by a walk around the old town that was brightly lit up.

Thursday 2nd September

We have 2 days to get back to Calais for our crossing on Saturday. The plan was to do about 300 miles today and the other 250 miles tomorrow.

The Shogun is doing a lot better on fuel today, largely due to the fact that some git nicked our bikes in Annecy.  Well, 3 of them anyway.  They moved mine out of the way to get at the other three.  I don't know what upset me most, the fact that we had 3 bikes nicked or the fact that they left mine behind?

That lead to the youngest saying "That's it Dad, it's official, your bike is too shit to steal!"

We got 350 miles under our belts and me and Mr Shag are , err, how can you put it?  Shagged.  We get the map out and start looking for campsites in the area.  Mrs Shag has other ideas, she is suffering and wants to catch an early crossing tomorrow to get home and see the Doc.

She points to the map and says, "Look it's only that far!" to which I reply "Mrs Shag, it's 200 miles mun.  That's as far as home to London, on top of the 350 miles we've already done, and it's tea time now!"

Mrs Shag is not listening and my head has gone.  We tow through northern France at dangerous speeds and reach our campsite for the next 2 nights at 8.30pm just as they are shutting up shop for the night. We book in at La Bienn Assise and are pitched in no time (no awnings) and go out for a meal before crashing for the night.

Friday 3rd September

We wake fresh after a really good night's kip.  The benefit of our lunatic effort yesterday is that today we have a free day.  Cite de Europe is the destination this morning for some serious retail therapy.

Back on site we chill in the sunshine, larking about playing ball, drinking and eating snails.

Saturday 4th September

Despite the foolish amount of beer we drank last night we are up bright and early and on our way to the tunnel terminal.

The French side is a complete contract to the British side.  It is chaotic!

Somehow we manage to catch our train and are on the motorway heading through Kent and on our final leg homeward.

It strikes us immediately how shit the UK roads are and how much traffic there is on them!

What trip!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Memories of Scotland 2009

I know this blog has only recently been created, but I stumbled upon a few  old holiday diaries that I had on my hard drive, and have done a copy and paste tastic effort to include them as Blog posts on here.

As the kids were growing up we holidayed in Cornwall quite a bit in the summer months.  It has everything we needed.  Big commercial sites to keep the boys entertained, fantastic beaches and many day time tourist attractions, and all within a days towing from where we live in South Wales.

The boys grew older and we became less reliant on all singing and all dancing sites, and we decided to spread our wings a bit and tour a little further afield.

Summer 2009 we set off on a 3 week tour of the north of England and the Highlands of Scotland.

July 18th

It was jnr#1s 16th birthday today.  He had some friends over for a drink in the evening, and we set off on our long journey North just after mid night.  We are really loaded up for this trip and the Shogun’s going to have to work for it’s living to haul 4 adult sized humans, 2 large dogs, a roof box, 2 man canoe, 2 mountain bikes and 1500kg of caravan all the way to The Scottish Highlands and back over the next 3 weeks.

We were not due to set off until the morning, but as always I got itchy feet, so in the pissing down rain we made our way along the M4 through South Wales and up the A449 and M50 into the Midlands and onto the M5.

I am not at my best when night driving, and by around 3am, having gotten past Birmingham we stopped in a services to get some shut eye.

July 19th

By 6am we’d given up in the idea.  The service area was just too busy, so we wound up the legs and moved on.  By 7am the lack of sleep is telling and I am falling asleep at the wheel ……. Not good!

We pull into the next services heading North and doze off in the car. At around 11am we wake up, and the place is in full swing.  What a sight I must have been, on my chin straps and dribbling a waterfall down my tee shirt!

We hit the road and are struck by how dreary the M6 is, that is until you get close to The Lakes where the scenery improves beyond recognition.

As we take the exit at junction 40 my fuel light comes on.  I’ve not worked out the MPG but am please that we have done the 330 miles on one tank, considering the way we are loaded up.

We arrive at our base for the next few days, Troutbeck Head CC Site, get booked in and start setting up on the pitch.  Horror of horrors, we appear to have left behind the awning quick lock pads!  Not good.  I traipse off to reception and ask where the nearest accessory shop is. Turns out it’s 35 bloody miles away!  With no choice, and knackered after the tow, we leave the boys and the dogs at the van and head off.  70 miles later we  return with new quicklock pads, open up the awning bag and herself spots our old quicklock pads hiding themselves in plain view on top of the awning!  Oh how we laughed about that!

We spend the next few days driving around the lakes, over the Hardknott Pass a few times, and sitting in the sunshine lakeside whist the boys do battle in the canoe with all the paddle steamers.

July 23rd

Time to move on.  The lakes are lovely, but we do not really want to be here.  In hind sight we should have just had an overnighter and made our way straight to Scotland.

After reading loads of stuff on Internet forums, I was a bit concerned about being able to cover any sort of distance once off the motorways in Scotland, so have an overnighter booked at Maragowan CC Site to break up the journey some 175 miles away.

Some excitement at crossing the border quickly evaporated as we soon realise that the lower half of Scotland is just miles and miles of nothing.

We pass road signs with names of places we had only seen or heard of on the news, such as Dunblane and Lockerbie.  The latter appears to sit on its own in the middle of miles and miles of open space.  It is quite unbelievable that when that Pan-Am jet was blown out of the sky all those years ago it actually managed to land on a town!

Once past Stirling, the Scotland we were expecting opened up to us.  We towed through a lovely little town called Callander and promised ourselves we would stop off on our way back home.

We'd not been outside the air conditioned comfort of the 4x4 and as it was gone lunch time we looked for somewhere to pull in.  A lay by looked promising, we come to a halt, switch off the engine and get ready to inhale a few lung fulls of clean Scottish air.  We opened the door and the stench of stale urine was somewhat overpowering ........ this must be a regular stop for the logging truckers we see everywhere!

This stop was just a journey breaker, so we did not see much of Killan, picturesque as it is with the river running through the town.  Herself took the opportunity to do some laundry, and a trip to the local co-op was an eye opener.  The accent on the locals was a bit of a shock as were the prices, and there are lots of ginger people around here!

July 24th

Time to hit the road again and tow the short 55 miles to Bunree CC Site on the shores of Loch Linnie in the Scottish Highlands.

In reality we could have done this yesterday, but were glad that we didn’t.  Being fresh, we were able to fully appreciate the scenery as we towed over the mountains and Glencoe.

I sometimes wonder whether people should be towing caravans or even be on the road at all.  The scare stories about towing on narrow Scottish roads once north of the central belt are totally unfounded.  If 2 lane A and B roads frighten you then you should reconsider your mode of transport!

Arriving at Bunree we are knocked out by the vista.

We were here for 9 nights in total and spent our time on the loch, took in a few highland games and did a lot of touring around.

It’s hard to appreciate how big Scotland is.  Going anywhere involves a significant amount of driving.  Spent a fortune on travelling while up there, but do not regret it.

Took a spin over to Loch Ness one day, and was more than a little disappointed.  You cannot get any where near the loch, and the various visitor centres and little more than a rip off.  Still it’s one place to see ticked off the list and the day was not a total loss as we stumbled across the Commando Monument on the way there.

Due to the topography of the land there are many civil engineering wonders to see.  We took in Neptune’s Staircase, which is a series of Locks on the canal. 

The Glenfriddan Viaduct (of Harry Potter fame) was also viewed.  There are a lot of Harry Potter connections up here and we popped over to Glen Nevis which formed the backdrop for the Quiddich scenes in the films.

We also took a lovely day trip out to The Silver Sands of Morar.

As we dropped down towards them (it really is remote out here) we were greeted to a scene more reminiscent of the Med.  White sands and a boat anchored out in the turquoise sea, with families frolicking on the sand.  Any thoughts of the Med were quickly dispensed with on dipping ones pinkies into said turquoise water!  The Atlantic Ocean is very cold this far north.

We took a cable car ride up onto the Nevis Range one day.  Shorts and tee shirts at the bottom, but winter coat weather at the top station. We took a walk over a few ridges and marvelled at the panorama below, watching the weather moving up the Glen towards us, then realising that we were about a mile from shelter!

We got wet and cold.

It rarely gets dark up there in the summer season, and many evenings were taken up with a late night walk (in daylight) up to the local Inchree Falls.

2nd August

Sadly it as time to leave the highlands and head south to our next site, Witches Craig near Stirling (86 miles).

After setting up we head off out to explore.  After spending so much time in a desolate location it was a bit of a culture shock to be so close to civilisation once more.

We spent 2 days taking in the Falkirk Wheel, going Go Karting and getting in some retail therapy, before realising we were missing the Scotland we left behind.

On our last day here we back tracked to Collander and then out into the country side to take in some Lochs.  Herself is more than impressed with an all year round Christmas Shop in the village and buys some trinkets as gifts.

5th August

The time has come to leave Scotland and hit the road to make some serious mileage back down south.  Our destination is the Blackpool south CC Site (213 miles).

After Scotland, Blackpool is completely different.  We were tempted to forget it and head straight home, but were all glad that we didn’t.

We took in a show and spend the day at The Pleasure Beach.  It was a blast and a great way to end our holiday.

8th August
Long tow home today (280 miles).  The traffic is a nightmare all the way down the M6 and M5 until we hit the M50.  A clear run as far as Newport and then welcome to the M4 rush-hour bedlam.

Would we go back to Scotland?  YES
What would we change?  We would tour in with the caravan a bit more.  The roads really aren’t that bad, and with the distances involved it would be more cost effective than day tripping everywhere.

An observation.  There is no hiding from the fact that there are a load if ginger people in Scotland.  I have this theory.  I think it's because of all the Iron Bru they drink up there.  When you go into a shop down south the cold drinks fridges are generally dominated by Fanta and Coke.  Up there it's Iron Bru, shelves upon shelves of the stuff everywhere you look!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Main Summer Breaks

We could not have the same time off in the summer as Mr & Mrs Shag so will not be heading over The Channel with them at the end of the summer (if we have one!)

In any case her self's mam is still not too well, and herself does not want to be too far away if there is a need to come home.  Added to that, the boys no longer want to holiday with us, and while we are comfortable to let them make that decision. the youngest (still only 16) misses us when we are away, so a 14 night or more break is out of the question.

Our summer jaunts in the van will therefore consist of a series of shorter breaks.

First up in early July is a 6 night trip to Fforest Fields in the hills of Mid Wales.  We have stayed on this site before, but that was back in 2005, and then only for two nights.

I spend quite a bit of time driving through Mid Wales for work, and am really looking forward to having the time to spend doing a little exploring.  The Elan Valley is top of my list.

They have done a lot of work at Fforest Fields since our last stay, namely constructing two lakes as well as building a new toilet block.  We are really looking forward to returning as the setting and views of the surrounding hills are superb, as well as there being excellent opportunities to walk the dogs direct from the site.  Herself also has a hospital appointment on the Wednesday morning that we are there, so we can pop back for that (55 miles each way).

After packing up at Fforest Fields we are not heading home.  Our destination will be the Pembrey Country Park where we are attending a weekend rally being hosted by Llangennech RFC Junior Section.  If previous weekends are anything to go by it's going to be fun packed, incident strewn and alcohol fuelled mayhem.

Late July will see us travel to Broad Park Caravan Club Site in South Devon for a 10 night stay.

It's an area we've not stayed in before, so are looking forward to doing a fair bit of exploring.  Just herself and I for the most part, but we are expecting our boys to join us for a few nights in the middle of our stay.

August Bank Holiday weekend will see us staying close to home for a 3 night stay at the Pembrey Caravan Club Site.

So, that's our Summer mapped out for us.  I just hope that @DerekTheWeather plays his part and provides us with some sunshine (actually I'd settle for dry!)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

West is Best

There is something special about West Wales.  The late great Grav was a world wide ambassador for the area and was renowned for his catchphrase 'West is Best'

Friday 1st June

Herself had the day off yesterday so the van was almost packed and ready to go. We were hitched up and on the road just after mid day heading west towards the Caravan Club Site at St Davids.  A splendid site perched on the very edge of rural West Wales (next stop Ireland).

Mandy behaved impeccably throughout the 75 mile tow, even taking the long steep hill up towards Llandewi Belfri in her stride (No we did not see Dafydd - The Only Gay in the Village).  We arrived early afternoon and set up in bright sunshine, hoping against hope that @DerekThe Weather had got it wrong.

Mr and Mrs Shag arrived some time later, having had to work today, and then taken a rather interesting route to get here.  A BBQ in the evening sunshine and a box of strongbow sees us through till about 1am and time to hit the sack.

Saturday 2nd June

We rise to overcast skies, but at least it's not raining! Dependant on where you pitch, the views on this site can be quite breathtaking.  Breakfast was cooked on the Webber, but a it was a bit chilly to sit out so we ate inside.  Not a bad view from the breakfast table though!  How much a night would a hotel with this view from the breakfast table cost you?

It's at this juncture that your scribe has to confess to having a bit of a senior moment.  We have recently has a gas point fitted to the van so that the Webber (have I mentioned that yet?) can be hooked up without using canisters.  Well since we arrived I had been having trouble getting the thing to warm up properly.  Having gone through all the options in my mind like ...... is the van running out of gas? ......... is the connecting tube too long and losing pressure? ......... is it just shit? ....... I come to the conclusion that the hose is too long.  I get my Leatherman out and am about to cut into the hose to chop 2m off it in length.  I go to turn off the grill and notice that I havce had it on the low setting all the time.  The high setting is marked by the gicveaway word 'Hi' on the dial.  I quietly fold away the Leatherman and take myself off to a quiet spot to 'have a word with myself'.

After breakfast Mrs Shag announces she wants to have a look around St Davids.  Having looked around it a few times previously, we are not that interested (read 'not vaugly'), and will head off in a different direction for the day.

Any ideas of doing any sort of walking with the dogs are blasted out of the water when herself takes a tumble on exiting the van.  I was having a swill in the bosh at the time, and as I am hard of hearing I didn't hear a thing.  First I know is when I come out of the washroom all sparkly clean and notice that herself is in a crumpled heap, sobbing, on the awning floor!  I get into trouble for being a little unsypathetic, but it's not as if she's never fallen before!

It is decided that today's mission is to hunt down a new set of steps for the van with wider treads, but via the scenic route.  We guess that there maybe a caravan dealer in Fishguard, and head north (well, south a bit at first) from the site, cove hopping as we go.  We called into the very pretty Porthclais, the not so pretty Abereiddy and the quite smelly Pothgain enjoying the stunning coastal scenery as we went before reaching Lower Fishguard.  We park up near the Harbour and let the dogs out for a paddle in the stream flowing into the harbour.

Even though it's overcast it is quite hot, and as such it's ice creams all round, served by a young girl in the kiosk who, despite living in deepest West Wales where inbreeding and bodily abnormalities are a given, appeared not to have enough fingers to do the sums.  I had to tell her how much my order came to and then how much change she needed to give me (3 ice creams for £1.05 seemed reasonable enough to me!)

Herself does not like ice cream, but gets enjoyment watching me demolish a rum and raisin whilst the dogs have a vanilla each!

I look at my watch and panic!

Wales are playing the Baba's at 2pm (in 10 minutes) and I'm 15 miles from my TV!  Driving like a man possessed gets me back on Site by 2-15pm and me and Mr Shag settle down to watch the game with a slab of Stella for company.  A depleted Wales side just about squeezed past a very talented Baba's line up.

It's still fine, but looking out over the headland, it looks like @DerekTheWeather is right and the weather is closing in. We get our food cooked outside, but by early evening it's blowing a gale and pissing down, so it's another evening sheltering in the awnings.

Sunday 3rd June

It's been a rough night, it's still windy, but the rain has abated.  It's Jubilee Day, and the Site is awash with red, white and blue. I am flying the flag of Owain Glyndwr under a Welsh Dragon windsock in my own little act of defiance, so bollocks to the royals.

The Site has loads planned for today, including a 'Name the Scarecrow' competition.  My entry goes into the box, though I doubt even if it's pulled out I'll be winning any prizes!

Herself is unimpressed, but I thought that 'Phil the Greek' was quite a good suggestion, and quite topical.

Mr and Mrs Shag are off out to visit boating chums, and we are still in the hunt for some steps, so we head off out in different directions for the day.  It's raining on an off but we get some steps after zig zagging across Pembrokshire at All Seasons in St Clears.

They has some steps, with wide treads too.  Two versions were on sale, both manufactured by Royal )a brand we trust).  They had a normal set, and a set that had been 'vagazzled' to include a set of battery operated LED lights operated by remote control.

In my heart of hearts I know deep down that herself will not entertain the idea of purchasing the standard set, but I have to try it on.  I get the look, and we are now the proud owners of a pimped up Vagazzled set of steps to get into our van.

It is now hammering down and we turn back west towards the campsite.  As we approach Newgale, the rain eases off and we take a short detour to Nolton Haven and enjoy some time on the deserted beach with the dogs, before heading back to Site.

Despite the cold, the kids are out in force on site. Don't get me wrong, I like the sound of kids playing, but can't abide little girls that continually scream! And  do we have a screamer here on site, who insists on running round and round our van.  The dogs are not impressed with the screaming and my nerves are in shreds.  Time to take action, and for the second time today the leather pouch is pulled out (in jest only I must add).  Herself calls me back suggesting that going after the little girl with my Leatherman may not be such a good idea!  She's right of course .......  trip wires or snares would be a much better idea.

The rain held off all evening but with high winds it was far too cold to sit out.  Even Mr Shag stayed cwtched up in his van in the warm.  He did have an excuse though, because his knees are ...... err ...... shagged, and the cold damp air was playing havoc with them.  He spends most of his life on them (All day in work as an apprentice carpet fitter and all night at home begging Mrs Shag for you know what!)  and they are showing signs of wear and tear. 

Monday 4th June

We wake to clear blue skies accompanied by bright sunshine, and breakfast is cooked alfresco.

Mr and Mrs Shag are working tomorrow so have to head off.  It's quite hot, my back is in half and my leg a bit tight after a bad case of cramp in the night (herself thought I was having a cardiac arrest the fuss I made) and I make a half hearted effort to help Mr Shag pack away his awning (read put poles in bag).

We wave them off and then head off out for the day and end up at Newport Pembs.  We pay our fee to park on the hard sanded beach and walk the dogs to the sea.  Tali befriends a red setter  and the pair cause mayhem on the beach, whilst Cerys decides to fill in a border collie belonging to a male gay couple.

Having now made ourselves the most popular people in the vicinity we head back south to the van stopping off for provisions and fuel en route.

We spent a lovely late afternoon and evening sat in the sun drinking lager and cooking on the Weber, enjoying the views from outside the caravan whilst the dogs lazed in the sunshine.

The awning is dropped in readiness for leaving tomorrow and we settle down in the van to watch the concert taking place in London in front of Madge's pad.  Half the UK seems to be there to watch it! Now unless you were prepared to camp out on the street for weeks and had a spot close to the front I really didn't see the point. Those at the wrong end of the Mall may just as well be in Norfolk! I'm just glad that I am about as far away to West as you can get in mainland UK away from it!

As Liz lit the beacon outside Chez Buck we notice that a beacon is also being lit on the hilltop over looking the site.  A quite amusing sight to see with dozens of people outside in PJs looking up at a bonfire on top of a hill.  The sense of occasion is not lost on me and I reflect that even though I'm no great fan of the monarchy, London and the UK can't half put on a party!

Tuesday 5th June

It's pack up and go home day today, and true to form we wake to the sound of rain hammering on the caravan roof.  We have had this van since November, this trip being our 5th away in her, and we have yet to pack up in the dry.  Coat and Mongo hat on I get on with the task of doing all the outside jobs whilst herself packs away inside.  We are hitched up and away by 11am but heavy traffic dictates that it takes 2hrs to tow the 75 miles home.  Mandy takes it all in her stride, even the climb up Nant y Caws hill, and I'm quietly beginning to rate her as a towcar.

Home now, and the van stowed away in its hidey hole until next time.  Despite Derek the weatherman's best efforts to ruin the long bank holiday weekend we had a smashing time.  We did a bit of exploring, spent time together and with friends, had a laugh (and a little cry), and all in one of the most stunning locations in the UK.  As Grav used to say, "West is best bois bach", and the great man was not wrong.