Tuesday, 26 August 2014

There's Injuns in them there hills.

This is a specially shortened version of my blog.........

We hitched up the van, towed it to site, set up, had a nice time, packed away and went home.

What is this about you may ask?  Well, there is a member of Club Together, who thinks my blogs are far too long and tedious to bother reading as they do not have the time or the inclination.  That said, they do have the time to apply a word count to my blogs and then to complain about how many words I have actually written, and they do also  have the time to repeatedly report my blogs to the powers that be for inappropriate content.  They also vehemently object to any reference to dog shit.

So there it is, the especially edited and shortened version, just for you. Call it a postcard if you like!

Anyways, now that's off my chest.............

Thursday 21 August

August BH weekend is upon us, and as per usual the sun is high in the sky and a light south westerly breeze is providing some natural cooling.  Hah!!!! @DerekTheWeather is waxing lyrical about cooling winds from the north west providing some horrible concoction with heavy showers coming in off the Atlantic.

I had though that once Bertha had cleared off our nice summer would have returned, but it looks like I was a bit off the mark with that one.  @DerekTheWeather is promising a nice September, but what good is that to me?  My caravan will be in for repair then!

Herself and I have both booked this afternoon, tomorrow and Tuesday off work so as to extend our weekend away.

We were both home by 1pm and wasted no time in inching the van out of it's cwtch, and by 1.30pm we are on our way.  Llandeilo was surprisingly easy and I bullied my way through that bottleneck with remarkable ease.

It was after this that I made my first mistake of the weekend.  Instead of continuing on the A40 as far as Llanwrda and then taking the A482, I took the more direct route by immediately forking left on the B4302.  The road starts to narrow quite soon and I admit to herself that I may have had a lapse of judgement.  The van is somewhat wider than Miranda, and passing oncoming traffic involves a considerable amount of breathing in.

I am cursing as I visualise the hedgerows etching new patterns on the perspex caravan windows.  Herself is getting more tense with every mile and I doubt that Miranda's dash will recover for a few days!  We are on pins, and are riding our luck.  About 5 miles from Llandeilo I'm thinking to myself that we may have got away with this, when it happened.

Lady luck must have gone for a tea break and forgot to arrange adequate office cover.  We round a bend and come face to face with a tractor.  This is no ordinary tractor though, as he has lots of spiky metal bits attached to it, sticking out at all angles to the side.  We come to a halt.  Herself is close to tears, and my nipit muscle is working overtime.

I manoeuvre Miranda and the van into the hedge and sit tight waiting for farmer boy to work his magic.  At least if I'm stationary any damage caused is technically his fault!  Unperturbed, he starts to climb into the hedge on the other side of the road with the tractor and inches his way past with spike dangling tantalisingly close to my caravan paintwork.  We make it, and I turn to Herself and proclaim "See, I said it would be OK, I don't know what you are worrying about."

The sideways clout I got dislodged much of the moisture from my sweating brow and had me seeing star bursts for the next mile and a half.

Without any further incident we are pulling onto the drive of the Dolaucothi Estate caravan site.  And what a pleasant entrance it is!  I pull up outside reception and watch as the rabbits dart across the lawns and the blue tits feed within a few feet of my window.

Herself takes an extraordinary length of time to book us in, and when she comes out I can tell she's not letting on.  Something strange happened in that cabin.  I can tell.

We level the van on the pitch and get out our new awning to erect for the first time.  It's a lot bigger than our previous lightweight awning with a lot more poles.  The heavens opened as we are trying to put it up, and during the erection process we had a few "Hamlet" moments which could have been avoided if I'd looked at the instructions - not that Herself didn't frequently remind me of this!

With the van set up we head off for a walk in the nearby woodland.  Through the gate we turn left and within 50 yards we are at the picnic area adjacent to the site entrance. About turn and we head off in the direction that Herself wanted to go in the first place - don't worry, she did take the opportunity to remind me of this!

We walk as far as the river and realise that we do not have appropriate footwear to continue, so head back to site.  I knew that Herself was keeping something from me.  As we approached the warden's hut, out popped Pocahontas to have a chat.  I looked at Herself and Herself looked at me daring me not to see anything.  As we walked away I received a quick kick in the shins for asking why herself had not let on we'd been booked in by a Native American!

With the dogs walked we set about tidying ourselves up a bit before heading out for an evening meal.  Pocahontas' hubby has tried to drop a few hints but we didn't pick up on them.  I also should have trusted my instincts as we polled up outside the Brwynant Arms in Ciao, but I didn't.

I also should have turned around as we opened the door, but I didn't.  I asked for a menu and was told they didn't have one.  They were serving just 4 meals and they were on the black board behind me.  Herself was starving however and would not be moved, we were staying.

It was specials night, 2 courses for £8.95 and the locals, complete with screaming kids were out in force.  Through gritted teeth I ordered my burger and a lasagna for Herself and we sat down to wait.  The place has too many tables with not enough room.  Herself and I had to sit next to each other instead of opposite, and we were about 3 foot away from another table where a coloured gentleman (who continually read a guidebook throughout his meal) sat with his mixed race "Blue Peter" family looking up from his book only to ask each one of them in turn if they were enjoying their holiday.

Our food arrived, just as 2 of the local families finished their meals.  The toddlers were released and allowed to run riot.  After spending some time playing racing cars around and under our table it was time to have a jumping competition ........ on the steps immediately adjacent to our table, with Dadci shouting encouragement from the safety of his table a few meters away .....

"there's good jumping ..........
there's good jumping .......... 
there's good jumping .......... 
there's good jumping .......... 
there's good jumping .......... 
there's good jumping .......... 
there's good jumping .......... 
there's good jumping .......... "

The jumping Olympics came to a rather abrupt end as my right foot accidentally found it's way from under our table and one of the athletes tripped over it on landing.  Herself was less than impressed, but it saved my indigestion!

Trip Adviser waxes lyrical about this place, and one contributor talks about a long conversation he had with the chef about how they go to great trouble to source all their ingredients from local produce.

To be fair the food was nice, and once the ankle biters and their handlers had made their rather noisy exit we were able to enjoy the rest of our meal.  I asked the person who was in charge about the cheese that topped my burger, as it was very nice, and very strong.

The answer tells me that the Trip Adviser review is complete fantasy ............. "Oh, I don't know, it's just normal cheese, I think it's strong and it may be Welsh.  It's just what they has in the cash and carry when we went earlier.!"

We left Blue Peter Dad to his guidebook and returned to site for an early night.

Friday 22 August

We'd had a drop of rain overnight, but by the time I stirred at 9.30am the skies were clear.  Once I'd sorted my self out I put the dogs on their extenders and headed off down to the river bank while Herself sorted the van out and lit a flame under the kettle.

We've got no food in so a lazy morning is out of the question.  The nearest shops are in Lampeter, over 8 miles away, and as we enter the town we follow the signs to a farmer's market that is taking place today.  I'll not dwell on it, but you'd think that a Farmers Market would consist of a bit more than 5 stalls selling scented candles and flowers!

Herself however was consoled by the fact that we'd parked in Sainsbury's car park, and had eagerly pulled a trolley out of the bay before I could protest "Have you seen how much they charge for stuff in there?"

Suffice to say the next half an hour was a very painful experience for me.

Back on site we fill our ruck sacks with stuff, don our walking boots, and make our way to the gate on site that leads to so many walks through the estate.

We were stopped my Mr & Mrs Pocahontas as we passed their hut.  Pocahontas beckons Herself inside while Mr Pocahontas tells me that he tried to tell me about our choice of eatery last night.  He also tells me that he thought we were out a long time as we left at 6pm and did not return until 9pm, and that we were the last car back last night before lock down.

Herself emerges from the hut, thankfully not smoking a pipe of peace, but clutching a laminated OS map showing a circular walk through the extensive estate.

We walked down to the Cothi and followed it for a while before crossing open farmland to a footpath that skirts the estate taking in the sights of the grotto, the oldest oak tree on the estate, the glades that would be full of blue bells in the spring and the sewerage treatment plant so thoughtfully placed here by Dwr Cymru.

We'd been looking forward to a few pints of cider, but somehow arrived back at the site before stumbling across the Dolaucothi Arms. Herself remonstrates with me that I should have looked more carefully at the map, and my protestations that I am no Bear Grylls does nothing to placate her.

With insults ringing in my ears we turn around and retrace our steps until we find the beer garden at the aforementioned establishment.  Ham sandwiches and ciders are ordered before harmony is restored once more, and herself can speak to me without spraying spittle in my general direction.

Back on site we kick off our boots and kick back for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying the sun as it bursts through the tress and watching wildlife.

With the risk of falling asleep by 9pm very real we decided to take a trip up the coast to Aberaeron.  It was very bracing on the sea front and Herself was in 'see the world from the heated comfort of Miranda' mode and refused to join me and the dogs for a stroll around the harbour and onto the pebble beach.

On our way back to site I wasn't sparing the horses and Herself asked what the rush was.  I explained that it was getting dark, and Mr & Mrs Pocahontas would only worry if we were out after dark!

Saturday 23 August

We wake to blue skies and spend the morning sat out in the sun guzzling tea, watching the world go by and the squirrels hop from branch to branch high above us.

Roids has a game of rugby today and Herself informs me that we are going home to watch it.  I have no choice in this, and accept it as fact.  She also informs me that after the game Roids, The Fridge and Ronnie are coming back with us for tea and to spend the evening on site.

We do not have enough food in, so it is necessary to call into CKs in Llandeilo en route.

After handing over a king's ransom to the grinning cashier we arrive at the field of dreams just in time, and watch Llangennech trounce Glyncorrwg in the sunshine.

Roids says he's going up the club so they don't know if they'll be coming back with us.  I've just spent £30 on food and drink for them, and I think my disappointment was evident.  They say they'll let us know as we part company.  True to form, as we are pulling up to the van a text lets us know they are coming and to fire up the Weber.

They don't stay too late though as Ronnie is on an open in work in the morning, so we walk them to their car.  The dogs are on their extenders, and Tali is taking an interest in all the rabbits running around on site.  I wasn't paying attention as one caught his eye and he took off after it.

I've had a frozen shoulder for a few weeks now, and as he reached the full extent of his extender he was in full flight.  I shrieked, before doubling over in a crumpled sobbing mess.  The pain was excruciating , but did I have any sympathy? No, not an ounce.  Herself laughed, the kids stopped to wind down the windows and laugh and then Mr & Mrs Pocahontas came out with some torches as they thought someone had been hit by a car or something on the site roads.

Clear skies mean it's going to be bloody cold tonight.

Sunday 24 August

It is dry as we wake, but no time to laze around this morning.  We have stuff to.  The van has to be cleaned from top to bottom and we have to dart into Lampeter to get in some provisions.  Sometimes it's so inconvenient when the nearest shop is over 8 miles away.

Why the fuss you ask?  Well we are expecting royalty today.  Just as we pull up in the Co-op car park my phone rings.  It's Nanna Creaky announcing that they are leaving.  Grandpa Grumbles does not hang around, so we have to get our skates on.

We dash around the shop and race back to site, arriving just before Nanna Coupons and the other two olds pull up with the savage straining on his leash.  It was a rather awkward start to the day's proceedings because just as we all settle down into our chairs the savage cocks his leg on my brand new awning and then on one of my camping chairs.  It took some time for me to remove my big toe from his arse!!

I've mentioned before that Nanna Creaky has a coffee habit and believe you me, it's not getting any better.  A procession of cups were handed down the steps to her before we sat around the van table to a Sunday Lunch of roasted leg of lamb (cooked on the Weber).

With dishes cleared away Grandpa Grumbles and I took the dogs for a stretch down to the river, Herself wheeled Nanna Creaky around the site to watch the blue tits feeding, and Nana Coupons took the opportunity to rest her gout ridden big toe and sleep off lunch in the awning.

On our return the procession of coffee mugs continued until tea time when the olds were fed on belly pork sandwiches before being dispatched home.

Herself and I collapsed onto the front benches with wine and gin for company, content after a very busy day.

Monday 25 August

It started to rain as we waved off the olds last night and it continued to rain all night.  The skies were still emptying as I stirred in my pit but the dogs needed a stretch.  In my PJs, I loaded them into the back of Miranda and went off in search of somewhere to leave them have a run.

I turned off the road and took a dirt track that climbed high into the hills on the Dolaucothi estate.  I will admit to having a whale of a time as Miranda's permanent 4x4 system ploughed on relentlessly until I found a nice desolate spot to sit on the tailgate in my PJs and flip flops while the rain hammered down around me.

Miranda was in a sorry state by the time I got back to site, and Ronnie will have his work cut out cleaning her when we get home.

With the rain continuing to fall we make up a packed lunch, don our walking boots and pile into Miranda for a day out.  We cross country through the narrow lanes to the Llyn Brianne reservoir, where we both risk typhoid by using the toilets before following the road that skirts the reservoir.

Very scenic it is too, and I got in a fair bit of off roading in by leaving the tarmac and following a few of the tracks through the forestry.  In my element I was.  Herself less so as we bounced over the potted surface and ploughed through the deep puddles.

Stopping for lunch in a remote spot we sat on Miranda's tailgate taking in the view while the dogs romped through the long grass.  The wind was howling up the valley towards us driving the drizzle straight into our faces.  Herself was not enjoying.  She was cold, and getting colder by the second. The wind picks up and catches all our litter, blowing it onto the soggy bog adjacent to out parking spot.  I chase after it and sink to my ankles in the smelly subsoil, falling flat on my face in a fruitless effort to catch a crisp packet.

Returning to the car I can see that an additional two coats have done noting to alleviate Herself's frostbite, but I placate her with the promise of a cup of steaming coffee.

Poured, I offer the cup to her but note the lack of steam rising from the boiling liquid, unlike my cup of tea that is letting off steam like a Giza.  It's cold she barks, putting her fingers into the cup to emphasise the point!

With the heating set to furnace mode we continued on the tracks northwards towards Tregaron before making our way back south along the Abergwesyn Pass towards Llanwrtyd Wells.

We pulled into a car park on the banks of the river Irfon, put on our coats, put the coats on the dogs and set off for an explore as the heavens continued to empty.

Knackered and soaking wet we return to the car to make tracks back to site, stopping briefly in Llandovery for provisions before returning to site.

There is nothing quite like going for a walk in the Welsh Hills, getting soaked, but returning to a nice cosy caravan and indulging yourself in some winter comfort food.  But those pleasures should be reserved for October, not August bank Holiday!

With the rain continuing to fall we settled down in the van for the evening again with wine and gin for company.

Tuesday 26 August

After a disturbed night's sleep we wake at 9am and note that it has stopped raining at last.  All our kit however is soaked so much drying off will be necessary as we pack away.

We are pulling off site by 11am, but the awning is thrown into the van still wet, to be dried off at home later on.

The A482 down to Llanwrda proves to be a far easier tow, and we were motoring along the A40 tidy, until we come across this numpty.

He pulls out in front of me at a junction, causing me to brake sharply, and then proceeds to toddle along at no more than 30mph all the way to Llandeilo.  I am growing an ever impatient tail of traffic that all think that the caravan is the cause of the tail back.

Not once did the pleb consider pulling off into one of the many lay-byes to let traffic pass.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Serendipity or a blunder? You decide.

Friday 1 August

@DerekTheWeather is not promising great things for this weekend. In fact he is spreading his doom and gloom in predicting heavy and continuous rain from Friday through to Sunday.

Herself and I were on the verge of calling off our weekend away in the van, but looking out of my office window at noon, I could plainly see that once again our Derek was on the verge of doing a Michael Fish once again.  Except that when Derek gets it wrong no one complains because it turns out better than the tripe that he pedals.

By 12.30 I am  leaving skid marks outside the gates at work as I make my way west to hitch up the van.  While I inch it out of it's hidey hole, Herself shoots to Tesco to get in some provisions before we set off.

All was well as we made our way along the B4295 from Penclawdd westwards until we drew up behind an old git in a new Kia.  20 mph was his max, and we soon grew a very impatient tail.  Not being able to see past the van, the aforementioned tail must have assumed it was another caravanner holding them up.

The arsehole in a Ford Focus immediately behind me started to lose patients, flashing his lights, leaning on his horn and gesticulating through his open window as he shouted obscenities in my general direction.

How I laughed when he wound up the elastic bands a bit on his 1.4L and had a go at overtaking.  He was chancing it a bit by trying to pass me, but as he drew level and clocked the Kia in front it dawned on him that he was soon to become a feature on the front grill of the oncoming transit van.

He slammed on and fell into place neatly behind me where he belonged. Herself though it a little childish of me to slow down to give the Kia a little space in front!!

The approach to our site for the weekend was far from simple.  the B4295 is tight in places, but is like an American freeway in comparison to the last 4 miles to site.  The unnamed road that takes you over Kennexstone Moor into Llanmadoc and beyond is single track for the most part.

I've got a 1500kg white box following me, so I'm reversing for no one.  The front of Miranda is lit up like a Christmas tree as we cruise the lanes and Herself has her eyes closed and her fingers are making an imprint on the dash.

We make it as far as Llanmadoc without incident, pass the Britannia Inn and fork left by the church.  it was at this point that the wheels came off the chariot so to speak.

The lane is narrow, and the caravan sides are becoming rather familiar with the over grown hedges either side, we meet a young girl driving a little Peugeot, and I have grown a tail.  She has to reverse, only she's not that good at reversing.  I can see over her roof and she's only got 25m to go to a passing place, but even that looks a bit tight.

After 3 attempts she eventually gets going in a straightish line and I follow.  Just before she gets to the passing place, some clever git in a Focus (what is it with them today?) skids into the passing place leaving the young girl to reverse further back down the lane.  By now I can see she's close to tears and feel sorry for her.  I take the opportunity to gesture at the arsehole in the Focus as we crawl past and also the time to wind down my window to thank the young girl, who by now is a quivering wreck sat in the entrance bay to Whitford Sands holiday park.

With relief I spot the entrance to our site and with overcast, but dry skies we are pulling up the slope into Phillistone Farm at 4pm.  This is a first for us as we've never stayed on a site with no facilities before.  We've got a hook up point for the electric, a tap for fresh water and a milk churn lid to lift off a flower pot with no base over a hole to empty our bog into.  However, we do have stunning views over Broughton Bay included in the price.

The site only has 5 pitches, and they are massive.  I'd been told earlier that we were on pitch 3, so without a welcoming committee we go about setting up.  herself is worried about paying, but I tell her that "it's the Gower, and we are on a site owned by a Gower farmer, they;'ll be here soon enough for their money!"

True to form, as soon as I've wound down the legs and plugged in the electric he rolls up in his 4x4 holding out his palm in anticipation of a few purple ones being thrown his way.

It's not sunny, but it certainly isn't cold, so we sit out for a while taking in the view, and I spend some time reminiscing about happy times spent on the BIG dune over the other side of the bay when I was a kid.

Herself has invested in some curries from Tesco to warm in the Popdy Ping for tea, and no sooner they are ready than it starts to rain, and boy did it rain! All night!

Saturday 2 August

It rained last night, and it must have been heavy because it even woke me at one point.  I was out for the count, when at 9am I got a text from my brawd, who has a static van at Broughton,commenting on the weather and how unexpected it was!

I peeled myself off the sheets, flung the door open and shouted to herself .... "@DerekTheWeather has ballsed it up again love!"

Herself did the shop yesterday, and I am horrified to note that we have no bacon, we also have no sausage, nor do we have any eggs.  I am presented with a bowl of cereal and told to dig in.

There is only one other van on site, they have an 8 year old collie with them, and we both agree that if the dogs get on it will be OK to leave them untethered as the sheep are well fenced off in the adjacent fields.  We spend a lovely morning playing with the dogs on site.  Tali wants to play with Bobby, Bobby wants to play with Cerys, and Cerys just wants to fill Bobby in!

Herself had an accident last night.  She accidentally drank her weekend's supply on wine in one evening, so an emergency trip for provisions is required.

We take a spin to Penclawdd, and CKs to replenish stocks and while there a few pasties and rissoles were thrown into the trolley for lunch.  Back on site we have a lazy afternoon, and think about taking a walk down to the beach.  It got no further than thinking.

With teas out of the way, Herself has a power nap inside and I play with the dogs for a while before falling asleep in a chair with the strong evening sun warming my chops nicely.  Sometimes it's nice when @DerekTheWeather gets it wrong.

Both of us admit that we could go to bed there and then (8pm) but think better of it and head off out for a spin.  First off we make our way back to Burry Green and then past the heaving King Arthur in Reynoldston before climbing up onto the top of Cefn Bryn to take in the view.

We some times forget what a beautiful part of the world we live in!  The pervert's glasses get dusted down and we look over towards the promised land, picking out the pink tent on Y Maes and then  following the coast to the North Dock and the Machynys Bay with the spectacular back drop of The Morfa!

The dogs need a stretch, so I put on a hoodie and get out. Herself is not moving and says she's cold.  There are no flies on her and there's a reason why she is staying put.  I am making my way from the parking area towards the edge of the escarpment, when only 75m on both dogs start to squat and shake!  herself had given them a massive tea, consisting of 1/2 chicken each, and it was obviously starting to press a little.

Herself knows I'm no good at this, and is now in stitches as she watched me retching in front of startled hikers as I bend down to pick up, what was in total 5 bags of dog shit!

With my eyes streaming I can see her doubled up trying to catch her breath back in Miranda.  She knew, she bloody knew!

From there we made our way to Oxwich Bay for a nose before returning to the van and settling down for the evening.

Sunday 3 August

Up and at em this morning.  As soon as we woke it was straight at it to break camp.  we're in no rush to get home, but want to be clear of the lanes before any normal people take to the road.  With everything on Miranda's front end switched on to full we are pulling out of the site at 9.30am just after the sparrows have finished farting!

Our plan worked and we met nothing in the lanes.

If you listened to the weather men you'd never go anywhere!