This weekend very nearly didn't happen. The plan was a weekend away with Mr & Mrs Shag as well as Mr & Mrs Tatasports. Mrs Shag can't be bothered with site booking so left it up to me. In what I can only put down to a senior moment, I somehow managed to book ourselves onto Gowerton and reserved a pitch for 'The Shags' at Tredegar House, some 60 miles to the east.
Mr TTS thought this to be a very good idea, but with some frantic phone calls I managed to locate 3 pitches at Pitton Cross near Rhossilli on the Gower peninsular.
Herself was working, but by midday I am hitched up and on the road, a text from Mr Shag lets me know he's 20 mins behind me and Mr TTS will be over once they've sorted the grand kids out after school.
Gower roads are bumpy, and it's no surprise at all to see the contents of the lockers strewn all over the floor on arrival. After checking in I am escorted to our pitches by a bloke on a quad. Mucho jealous I am as I've always wanted to work on a campsite just so as I can drive round all day on a quad telling people where to pitch.
He warns me that the ground is soft and asks that I use the mover to get the van onto the pitch so as to save the grass. Happy to oblige I unhitch and fire up the mover. It didn't go well. The jockey wheel sunk into the soft ground and proceeded to plough a trench that I could have planted spuds in.
The van was soon hitched back up to Miranda, and with much revs and much black smoke she dutifully pushed the 1.5t tin shed back onto the pitch, leaving a few ruts in the not now so smooth paddock.
The the van levelled Mr Shag arrives, his van being towed by Mr TTS (Mrs Shag has the car in work). Mr TTS proceeds to reverse onto the pitch. He didn't get far before losing traction with his fwd car spinning wildly on the damp turf. We unhitch, push his car out of the ruts before Mr Shag wins his struggle with the motor mover control and tries to inch his van back onto the pitch, his jockey wheel digs in to plough another trench.
In an effort to reduce the nose weight Mr Shag sits on the toilet in the back of the van while I operate the mover in a rather erratic fashion and Mr TTS sparodically lifts the jockey wheel out of the trench. It did work and Mr Shag comes out of his van and says "Bloody hell mun, it's like having a poop on the big dipper in Porthcawl!"
Mr TTS heads back home leaving us to set up. It didn't take Mr Shag long as he'd forgotten to bring his awning with him. And with little to occupy his mind it didn't take long before thoughts turned to starting to empty the contents of his cool box.
Mrs Shag turns up and before any efforts are made to put up their awning I am instructed to stay put and watch a video of her horse. I was impressed, he ran round in circles and everything. He even managed not to fall over, which is a lot more than he ever achieved in his career as a racehorse!
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not a horsey person, but, and I'll never tell this to Mrs Shag to her face mind, he does look like a handsome beast and she's worked wonders with him since his retirement from racing.
I start to help them set up the awning, and get as far as emptying the pole bag before coming to the conclusion that I can't really be arsed.
Mt TTS rolls up, and from experience we know it's not worth him either trying to reverse onto the pitch nor is it worth trying to use the mover. We hitch up his van to Miranda, and again and with much revs and much black smoke she dutifully pushed the 1.5t tin shed back onto the pitch, leaving a few more ruts in the not now so smooth paddock.
Mr Shag announces he's lighting his BBQ. We gather round in chairs to witness the grand event and I am warned that any wise cracks involving Bear Grylls and his fire lighting prowess will result in my good self being doused in lighter fluid.
He did get it going eventually, but half of the Catholic population in the western world now think we have a new pope. I take the dogs for a long walk through the fields down towards Mewslade while they eat before returning to the van to resume the task of emptying my coolbox.
Both the 'Shags' and the "TTS's" have been having problems with their electrics and it would appear that the site owner is getting rather fed up with requests to reset the boxes.
It's all rock 'n' roll this caravanning lark, and at some point I fall asleep in front of the halogen fire and proceeded to dribble a reservoir onto my chest. I'm awoken by the arrival of herself at 10pm, Roids empties our fridge before departing again, Mr & Mrs TTS have an early night, and while their caravan rocks on its steadies Mr & Mrs Shag come round to ours where we stay up till 1.30am putting the world to rights and having a good old catch up.
Saturday 3rd May
After last night's events I didn't rise very early this morning. I woke at 10.30am with Cerys whining pitifully by my side with her eyes watering. My mouth feels like a herd of elephants have taken a dump in it, but I trow on some clothes and take the dogs out for a walk over the fields. It's quite cool and a bit grey, but I suppose there are worse places to wipe the sleep from your eyes.
Tali discovers mole hills and runs round the field from mole hill to mole hill digging furiously. I have to pick up far too much dog shit that is good for me as both of them decide it's time for me to do my morning stretching exercises using little black bags as props.
I am happy to report that Herself has got her act together and a full cooked breakfast awaits me on my return. There was no mug of tea though, but I'll allow her that slight oversight, just this once.
After breakfast I have an urgent need to replenish the coolbox, so with Mr Shag riding shotgun we head off to Scurlage to empty their shelves of Bow. That is as far as we went today; Mr & Mrs Shag took a spin over to Worms Head and got ripped off for the sum of £3 for the privilege to park up for an hour.
They are back by 3pm and it's Bow O Clock, and boy did the Bow take a hammering! The site is coming back to life as people return from a day out and light up their BBQs. Mr Shag is on a mission because of all the piss taking and his BBQ is at full heat in no time at all. We have half a cow's arse each with some potatoes roasted in garlic and herbs before the bowathon resumes.
The highlight of the evening (for everyone else and not me I might add) was when I managed to find myself in the centre of a dog fight. Why always me? No blood was drawn, but a £30 pair of cargo trow are now consigned to the bin.
Roids rocks up with TF and ask if they can stop the night. By now I am in such a state that I have a pool of dribble on the front of my tee shirt, so herself does all the organsising sorting some booze out for them. I've no idea where they got it from, but there is no doubt it involved £20 notes leaving the secure environment of my wallet.
I think we had a great night, retreating to the relative warmth of the awning by 10pm, putting the world to rights and generally talking shit. By the time midnight arrives both Mr Shag and I can hardly stand. For some reason this causes much hilarity to Herself and Mrs Shag.
I am far too long in the tooth to count how many drinks I've had. If I want a drink I'll have a drink. But it's not too difficult to work out how much I've drunk tonight. I didn't bring any Strongbow with me and this afternoon I bought 16 x 500ml cans in the shop. I now have just the one left!
Sunday 4th May
Ouch my head!
I get up out of bed at 7.30 and am still pissed and having a little trouble standing. I go back to bed but the burning sensation in my guts becomes quite urgent by 9am. Our bog is full to overflowing so I have little choice. I bump into Mr Shag outside who has the same dilema! What a sorry sight we must have looked up at the bogs.
A lazy morning was had, with Herself knocking up some bacon butties for breakfast. By the afternoon I feel I ought to do something, so while Herself is having a powernap I take it upon myself to go out for a walk with the dogs.
Not one of my brightest moves. I didn't tell herself I was going, nor did I leave her a note. I also didn't take any water with me for the dogs or me (very foolish considering my dehydrated state after last night). Never the less off we set making our way through the fields from the site towards the coast.
Right at the very start of the walk there is a notice board telling you which arrows to follow for a different destination. I ignored it. All was fine for a while as we ambled from one field to another following the arrows and taking care to open and close the gates as we went.
Then when we got about 8 or 9 gates into our walk we had a bit of a dliema. The path split with a blue arrow pointing one way and a red one pointing the other. I look at Tali in a futile hope of getting some inspiration but in the end spun a stick in the air.
The dogs are on the extended leads as there are numerous signs enforcing the matter owing to livestock being in some of the fields. Six or seven gates later and we hit a problem. The next barrier is a stile. Tali darts through a gap leaving me and the fatter Cerys on the other side.
Picture the scene. Tali is the other side of the stile straining on his lead, I am attempting to lift Cerys up and climb the stile at the same time. I some how manage to straddle it and gently lower Cerys to the ground. Well, that's what I told Herself. What actually happened was Tali got bored, went for it, pulled me off balance and I dropped Cerys.
It was with some relief that I looked around and noted that there was no one within the vicinity with the RSPCA on speed dial that had witnessed this act of cruelty. While Cerys re composed herself I went to steady myself at the top of the stile and grabbed a length of 4x2. It was loose. That's funny I thought as I looked down to note that it was a liftable rail, that when lifted cleverly creates a dog gate at ground level. How I laughed.
The path now narrows and I have no idea whatsoever where I am. The dogs are panting and the inside of my mouth feels like Gandhi's flip flop. The walk is very pretty though, gone are the distant sea views and we are walking between some very high hedgerows. Tali is going apeshit because he can smell sheep on the other side.
The path opens out onto a farmyard away from the humid and claustrophobic path. My relief is shortlived however as we are set upon by the farm dog. He was a viscous git, but while I was pirouetting as my leaded dogs circled me I managed to land a foot straight on his chops. This sent him scurrying and we hurried ourselves along before he regained his composure and came after us for a Rocky style comeback!
A short while later we came across a house with a fridge outside with various goodies like quail's eggs, fruit and WATER in it with an honesty box by it's side.
I must admit to getting a bit excited at this point as I reached into my back pocket for my wallet, then I reached into the other back pocket before checking my front pockets. Houston we have a problem!
I clock the CCTV camera and dismiss any foolish notions I have of taking a water and returning later on the pay for it and continue on up the hill. We come to a T junction and the road is busy, with no footpath. There is no way I can walk the two dogs back safely, and there is also no way that I am turning round to deal with the rather irate farm dog who by now will be frothing at the mouth and will have had time to gather up some of his mates to deal with the fat bloke and two pampered collies that jumped him earlier on!
I reach for my phone. Thank god I had the sense to pick that up, and ring Herself to come and rescue us.
"Can you come and fetch us please?"
"Suppose so, where are you?"
"I don't know."
"How can you not know?"
"Well if you exit the site and turn left, we will be along that road somewhere ....... I think."
"Well we came through some fields, and a farm dog attacked Tali....."
"I'm on my way ......... BEEEEP"
Miranda comes around the corner some 15 mins later on two wheels and skids to a halt. Herself gives me a disapproving look as she makes a bee line for Tali, before realising that I may have over cooked the Tali being attacked bit.
We get back to the van and I fall asleep in the chair outside in the sun. This does some serious damage to my solar panel and I just know that a shower later on is going to smart a bit.
Ronnie shows up and we feast on home made burgers before I fall asleep again, only to be woken by Herself when it's time to go to bed.
Monday 5th May
I am woken by Herself at 9am, and after some deliberation we decide to go home today as planned and not stop another night. Breaking camp is swift and we are on the road by 10am. It's very windy and we could really feel it as we climbed to the top of Cefn Bryn.
It's usual at this point that I tell you that the tow home was uneventful. Not so today. As we crested the summit I became aware of some fool behind flashing his lights at us wildly. I assume that it's because he's a little peeved at being stuck behind Miranda inhaling litre after litre of deisil soot, so I go into ignore mode.
This continues for a few miles before he starts tooting and as we turn a corner Herself says that the occupants of the car appear to be having a fit and are pointing to the roof of the caravan. Herself checked everything was locked before we left, but now one of the roof vents is wide open! Must have been the roof vent fairy, because a conversation in Miranda during the next 10 mins firmly established that it was not Herself's fault.
Home now, and happy to give my liver a rest.