Monday, 31 August 2015

Stopping at Llanmadoc in a Public Convenience

Was a bit of a strange and traumatic build up to this weekend away.

The bank holiday weekend at the end of August is traditionally a washout, particular in the western reaches of mainland UK.  Since our last trip out to the Favela of Pembrey it has not stopped raining much in our part of the world, still at least it keeps the dust down eh!!  @DerekTheWeather is predicting his usual doom and gloom so it looks like much of the weekend will be spent under my "Mongo" hat.

Mr and Mrs Shag have been having a little trouble with their caravan, and Mr shag informs me that the guys in the workshop have spent more time in it this year than he has, so opportunities to caravan together have been limited (non existent), so it was with some excitement that we booked a few nights away together on a non facility site on the Gower, Where if the worst comes to the worst we shall spend much time getting corned beef legs in front of the halogen.

I picked Herself up straight from work on Thursday and we went shopping for grub and shant.  We get home with it and go to load it straight into the van.  We sense something is wrong and on opening the door it would appear that someone had forced entry and had spent a few nights dossing in it!!

Not content with doing that, it soon became evident that they had also taken the time to urinate all over our soft furnishings and drop in carpets!! Animals!!

The police are involved and have a pair of ear rings with the intruder's DNA all over them, next door also have CCTV which has been downloaded onto a disc, so we might just get to know who our uninvited guests have been.

Quips from people I used to consider as friends are currently filling my time line.  I might find them funny in time, but for the meanwhile I may have to consider demoting these very people to mere acquaintances.

Friday 29 August

I have the day off but Herself has to work, so after dropping her off I go out to the van to start loading her back up just as the rozzers turn up.  Juliet Bravo confirms that the van no longer stinks of pee after our clean up operation last night and £150 worth of new bedding and throws from Argos.

I'm hitched up and ready for the off by midday, and set off in bright sunshine. Cruising the north Gower road with Madness blasting out of the speakers I've not a care in the world until I get past Lanzarhidian and the roads start to narrow somewhat.  The main beam gets turned on as I cross Kennexstone Moor and the road turns to single track as I pass The Britannia.

Once past the church the road is a very tight single track where the van touches both sides, and my heart sinks as I spot an oncoming caravan roof over the hedge.

Luckily we meet exactly at the entrance to Whitford Sands and we can squeeze past each other!!

I pull onto a deserted site, reverse onto our allocated pitch and set about setting up.  It takes me a little longer than usual as we've purchased a new porch awning, one of these inflatable ones.  It goes up really easily, just 22 pumps, and once familiar with it I estimate that it will be just a 5 min job to put up.

You know when at the back of your mind you've got a nagging doubt about something.  Well I'd had that since I left home, and only now when unpacking it hit me like a tome of bricks.  The BBQ, I can now picture it sat in our shed back home.

Not too bad really though as I have to go back that way to collect Herself from work later.  I take a phone call from someone who wants to buy our old awning and arrange to meet them by B&Q in Trostre where the deed is done.

Herself gets into the car and informs me that Roids and TF are at the van waiting for us.  We meet them back at site and sit around for a bit until Mr & Mrs Shag rock up at around 6.30.  We all pitch in to help them get pitched up before a simple evening meal of burgers and hot dogs off the BBQ.

After waving off Roids and TF the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur, but involved flinging copious amounts of Stella and Gin down my neck whilst putting the world to rights.  I have little recollection of much. but am assured that Herself and Mrs Shag took themselves off to bed at around 1am.  My next memory is Mr Shag stood outside my awning door at 4am in his boxers trying to wake me to tell me to go to bed!

Saturday 29 August

Contrary to @DerekTheWeather's forecast we wake to bright skies. I'm feeling none too good though, even after taking the dogs for a walk, a bacon sandwich and several mugs of tea!

Mr & Mrs Shag take off to the beach with their dogs and I set out our chairs in the sun to embark on some serious personal contemplation.

You know how all these models are posting pictures all over Twitter of their sun tanned legs while sunbathing in some far flung exotic place?

Well, this is my effort below, unfortunately not quite the same with my short stumpy legs and gnarled toes!!

As I'm sitting there I think I spot something, but put it down to my hangover.  But no, I get up to investigate.  My BBQ is burning flat out and is almost red hot to touch.  I'd only gone and left it on last night! After giving myself a good kicking I go check on the gas bottle that was brand new for this trip ....... running on empty. Gutted I was, gutted.

Mr Shag returns and it looks like the hill back up from the beach has taken it's toll on him, but he's not got long to recover as they have guests for a few nights in the shape of Mrs & Mrs Stobart along with mini Stobart.

The good thing about this site is the space.  Only 5 vans are allowed and we have a large field to ourselves with a big open space for playing ball games.

No sooner have they arrived than Mr SB and mini SB have a wendyball out and are hoofing it around the place having a whale of a time.  I say nothing, but if they are coming again I shall be insisting that only oval balls are allowed.

Having had directions from Mrs Shag the SBs head off to the beach.  They don't get far though as they are stopped in their tracks by the armed sentry on guard at Llanmadoc Farm, who on the expressed instructions of the infamous Mrs Price is to stop anyone from crossing their land who has not paid for the privilege to do so.

Nana Creaky and Grandpa Grumbles have been married 50 years, and Grumbles has taken her to a posh hotel in Cheltenham for a few days to give the bed springs a work out, so we have been Savage sitting.  The afternoon is spent chilling, and getting in some quality personal contemplation time while Tali spends the day stalking Fudge.

We get the phone call that they are back and we head off to meet them in Donksville to hand the savage over before returning to site.

We BBQ in the late evening sunshine before enjoying drinks as the sun sets over the big dune at Broughton.

Mr Shag and I laugh quite a bit as Mr SB gets himself into awkward spot after awkward spot with Mrs SB.  From the comfort of her chair she directs him to take a photo of the sun set for her,  Fair play to him though he's climbing fences and risking life and limb to get the money shot for her.  I just hold my phone above my head and press the shutter button before taking another slug of my Thatchers.  Apparently his photo's were crap and he gets earache for a good ten minutes telling him so.

The air starts to get damp so we retreat to the relative comfort of |Mr Shag's awning to get some warmth off a light bulb (which appears to be the only kind of awning heater he's brought this weekend).

Mrs SB then clocks me massaging Herself's feet.  That isn't right either and Mrs SB then starts to remonstrate with Mr SB because he never pampers her.  Mr SB has had enough and takes himself off outside for an hour pretending he's got trapped wind.

A lovely evening was had by all, and with only 3 occupied vans on site (the third also hosting a birthday get together) making a noise was also not an issue.

Herself and I leave them to it at midnight.

Sunday 30 August

I wake up fresh as a daisy at 9am and leave Herself in bed while I head off out with the dogs.  Left out of the gates I turned and took off down the lane towards Mrs Price' place.  Sure enough a sign a has been erected threatening to shoot anyone who has not paid.

I look longingly over the hedge before I turn around, determined to find a way down to the beach.  Back up past the site I slog before spying a sign adjacent to the entrance to the Whitford static site.  A lovely path takes us down the hill and through the dunes, passing the row of quads and 4 x 4s lined up waiting to tow boats onto the beach.

Through the dunes the wide open space of Broughton Bay opens up and the dogs enjoy the wide open space.

The slog back up to site has Cerys whinging, though as we rejoin the lane to the Christian Camp I'm happy to stop for a spell myself!

Nearly 3 1/2 miles mind! Do I get some sort of medal?  Still never mind eh, it's been a good workout and I'd been gone nearly 2 hours so Herself is bound to be up by now and got breakfast sorted.

I'm climbing the hill back into the site and my heart sinks as I clock our van with blackout blinds still shut.  herself has obviously been enjoying some extended personal contemplation!

As I'm cooking breakfast Mr & Mrs Shag, Mr & Mrs SB and mini SB head off for the beach via the new route that does not entail crawling on your belly under razor wire at the Price's gaff.

With breakfast out of the way Herself and I jump in Miranda for a bit of a spin.  We make tracks towards Rhossilli in heavy showers, and it appears nearly all of south West wales has too.  The place is rammed so a stroll along the cliffs to Worms Head is quickly ruled out.  The heavens opened as we are leaving so the rest of the afternoon is spent within the confines of Miranda until we get to CKs and take the opportunity to stock up.

It's still raining when we get back.  The occupants of pitch 2 are huddled around a table playing Newmarket.  I stay and watch for a while but find it difficult to follow as they're not playing it right and appear to making up the rules as they go along!

Roids and TF rock up at 5.30 for feeding and it's still hammering down.  After clearing away the dishes they settle down to watch some TV and I lay on the bed to read for a bit before joining Mr Shag and the others in their awning.  It didn't get that far.  I fell asleep and woke up briefly at 9.30pm just as Roids was leaving.  I stayed awake long enough to eat a Mars and drink a coke before going back to a nice cosy bed proper.

Monday 31 August

I wake at 9am and it's stopped raining.  herself has already started to break camp.  No time for pleasantries today though as we have to pack up, get home, put the van away before Herself had to be in work.

We're pulling off site by 10am with the front end of Miranda lit up like a Xmas tree for the 10 min sprint though the lanes.  One of the charming things about Llanmadoc is that farm animals are allowed to roam the moor and lanes, and whilst this is very endearing, all the sheep tend to leave rather a lot of deposits on the road surface which in turn Miranda's back wheels throw up onto the front of the van without hesitation.

Back on the drive the front end looks like it's been dragged through a farm yard at speed.  Here's hoping that a weekend soaking in the bath has been enough to slavage our drop in carpets.

Until next time .... Da bo!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Weather Warnings and Incompetence in the Favela of Pembrey

I've developed a habit of leaving the office for my lunch break.  I find that having some fresh air at dinner time leaves me a little more prepared for that afternoon's dross.

On Tuesday, in bright sunshine I was sharing my company with a horse when my mind wandered towards the weekend and trying to steal a few days away with Herself and the dogs.

Having confirmed it was Ok I set about booking us a few nights at Pembrey Country park, not the Caravan Club site as that was fully booked, but the park's own campsite run by the council set within the park itself.

Booking was rather laborious and I'm sure MI5 would have asked less questions of me if I grew a beard and moved into a mosque!  First off I had trouble securing a discount, you see as Herself works for the council she is entitled to a 10% discount off site fees, this has been confirmed in an e mail to all staff.  The halfwit on the other end of the phone comes back after a 10 minute conflab with his boss and confirms that we are entitled to claim the mahoosive £4 off our pitch fees for the weekend, but to do this I must pay for the pitch now and provide him with Herself's payroll number immediately!!

Not to be outdone I got herself on the mobile blower immediately and was able to provide the halfwit with the required 8 digits.  But that wasn't the end of the matter, Oh no, now he was insisting on us providing a copy of Herself's MOST RECENT payslip on arrival, as well as Herself providing some sort of photo ID on checking in!! All for £4 mind!

Right, I say, problem 1 is that Herself does not get a payslip anymore as the council have gone all electronic on us. "Well, can't she print one off then?" the Halfwit asks.  I reply "That defeats the object of it somewhat!"

I didn't dare tell him that Herself may not be with me on arrival at the site!

There then followed a rather tedious 20 mins where he took my details to fill in some sort of booking form.  Now I'm used to spelling out my address to people from the other side of the bridge, but to a local?

I was starting to lose the will to live, but never the less, an electric pitch was secured and we now had plans for the weekend with the Halfwit promising to e mail our confirmation in an hour or so.

I got someone to make me a brew while I calmed down after dealing with said Halfwit. and started to do some surfing until the IT police shut down the internet connection at the cessation of the lunch break.

Joy of joys, the Met Office have issued a weather warning for Friday!!

Tuesday afternoon came and went with no e mail confirmation, as did Wednesday morning, so I rang them up.  the Halfwit answered and said that they were running behind but I should have a confirmation number within the hour.

That hour came and went so I sent them an e mail asking for my confirmation, it took them until Thursday morning to say that I would have the email either today or tomorrow morning!

Friday 14 August

I'm driving into work on Friday morning, still no e mail and it look like for once @DerekTheWeather may have got it right with his doom and gloom.

Lunchtime comes and I've given up hope of receiving any e mail booking confirmation as I speed out of work's car park and down the M4 towards junction 48 and the promised land.  Derek's doom and gloom came to nothing and the sun is out as I'm hitching up to make the short journey to Pembrey.

I am now in holiday mode without a care in the world as I cruise up to the entrance barrier armed with a payslip from Herself and her work photo ID (I'd chanced leaving her passport and driving licence at home but would offer that she do a DNA test later on).

The bloke sticks his head out of the window and the conversation goes something like this

"Hello, I've booked onto the camp site."
"Do you have a booking reference number?"
"No, they haven't sent me one."
"They send everyone one."
"Well not to me, I've been nagging them since Tuesday."
"Are you sure?"


"Yes, I think so.  If I had a number I'd give it to you instead of sitting her arguing the point mun."
"I'll have to find you on my list then."
"If you must!"

He then scanned about 10 pages of A4 until he found my name and directed me towards the visitor's centre to actually check in!

I park up and head in to deal with the Halfwits or one of his mates armed with payslips, photo ID and character references from Tony Blair.

The young girl behind the desk smiles at me and the conversation went something like this

"Hello, I've booked onto the camp site."
"Do you have a booking reference number?"
"No, You haven't sent me one."
"We send everyone one."
"Well not to me, I've been nagging you since Tuesday, and you even sent me an e mail personally telling me that my confirmation would follow"
"That's strange""


She starts to thumb her way through a pile of A4 booking sheets that was so high it should really have had planning permission, and eventually found my booking.  She cockily tells me that they did send the email but it bounced back.  My eyes divert towards the form and I note that despite me spelling out the email address 4 or 5 times to the halfwit, he had copied it down wrongly!  As he had done with our postal address, and as he had done with my mobile phone number!

She didn't ask for any ID, but stung me for a £20 deposit for a pass card to get through the barrier out of hours, before directing me to the campsite to find the wardens.

I follow her to our spot and she directs me inch perfect into our place for the weekend
 are only 2.5m from the adjacent awning and I ask her if she's sure and get a look as if I've got two heads for my trouble before she sprays some dirt in my face as she speeds off.

First impressions are not great.  There are many seasonal outfits here, most with grass 2ft high around them with a vast array of cheap weather beaten windbreaks to claim their own little section of the ghetto.

With only a canopy to erect I'm set up in no time and head off to collect Herself from work.

Herself starts to rant at me as we pull into our cul de sac of the Favela.  After my day though I'm on the offensive straight away and it is explained in no uncertain terms that we are parked as directed.

We've decided that this weekend we shall not be cooking, so as is tradition when we camp in these parts we go out to Burry Port d pick up a chinese from the excellent and rather imaginatively named Burry Port Chinese takeaway! It did not disappoint.

Full as gyppo's handbags and at risk of falling asleep, we lead the dogs and head off out into the parkland for a late evening walk as the sun sets.

Back in the van we waste no time in making a dent in our cider and wine stash before being lulled to sleep by the sound of families arguing, loud music, people riding quad bikes to the toilets and kids screaming.  All the time our caravan interior being lit up with flashing orange lights from security's pick up as they patrol the ghetto.

Nos da

Saturday 15 August

I'm deaf, so once I'd taken my radar out of my lug hole I didn't hear a sound all night.  Herself did though, and was not in the best frame of minds first thing.  I wouldn't know as I didn't stir until 11am!

We had big plans for today.  We were to pack our day sacks with food and drink and head off into the forestry on a 6 mile jaunt with the dogs. I'd even planned the route in the week online.

It didn't happen for a number of reasons.  Cerys is getting on, and the mile or so we walked her last night was more than enough, I also didn't get out of my pit in time and Roids has a game today which Herself has declared that she wants to watch.

Herself also had an accident last night, she accidentally drank her weekend's supply of wine in one sitting.  We dash over to the Co op in Kidwelly for supplies, dash back to site to put said supplies in the fridge to cool down and then make  a dash back to llangennech for the match.

Llan are taking on Bynea in a pre season friendly and we spend a lovely afternoon watching the game in bright sunshine as Roids sweats his gonads off spending too much time scrummaging than he would have liked in the heat.

Herself is starving as we head back to site so we go about finding somewhere to eat.  No mean feat at 5pm, but we happen across the Dhaka 2 Bombay that is just opening.

The food was Ok, not great, just OK, but quite expensive.  I forbid Herself to leave a tip, and instruction she promptly ignores by sprinkling the last of our pound coins in the direction the waiter.
I vow to have words later.

AS we're approaching the site I ask Herself to pass me the barrier card that I parted with 20 notes yesterday.  We cruise up to the box, I flash the card and .... nothing.  I swipe it again ... nothing.  I try cleaning it .... nothing.

The gits have sold me a dud!  I now have a tail behind me and have to get out to ask them to back up and am treated to a flurry of insults.  We are now faced with paying to get into the park to our caravan and I ask herself for some change.  I am now not in the most relaxed of moods.  herself tells me that she gave the last of our change to the rather charming Asian fellow back in Dhaka 2 Bombay!!

How I laughed.

I make one last futile effort to use the card and press the intercom button that is supposed to be answered in emergencies.  it was not.  So we now have to drive to Burry Port to buy some chewing gum to get change to put in the poxy machine.

AS we roll into the site I stop briefly to mouth off at the Wardens about the card fiasco before returning to our section of the ghetto.  I start to calm as I do some of the outside jobs and start looking forward to a few cold cans of Strongbow Cloudy.

I delve into the fridge and can't seem to find any.  herself has gone quiet.  It transpires that not only did she drink her stash of wine last night, but she also helped herself to mine too!  Apparently my suggesting that she might have said something when we were shopping earlier was a little unreasonable.

We put my one remaining can and some of hers into a bag and make our way up to the viewpoint in the park.  The view is breathtaking over towards the Gower and we look down enviously at the Dyfed Centre rally on the grassland below, which is far removed from our ghetto!

We settle in for the night, content that it's just one more night until we can escape.

Sunday 16 August

We're up at 9am, I've walked the dogs through the forest, and we're packed and ready to leave by 10.30am.  We say goodbye to our near neighbors, and I remarked that I'd counted 54 baked beans on his plate this morning, but yesterday he'd only had 40 (we were that close) before we set off.

During last night's barrier fiasco, in an attempt to placate me, the wardens had said that we just had to present our gate ticket at the visitor centre in order to get a refund. ........ Well .....

I march into reception and am relieved that I am not greeted by Halfwit, nor the bimbo that I had to deal with on Friday.

I announce that I'd like my deposit back on the card and I'd also like a refund of £2 which I had to pay to get in after fiorst driving back to Burry Port to get change, because the  card that they gave me wouldn't work.

She stares blankly at me and says .... Oh.

She gives me my £20 but informs me that she cannot give me the £2 as they are not allowed to do it, but she will sign the receipt for me and I am to stop at the box and ask the attendant to refund me the £2.  Back in Miranda I inform Herself of proceedings.

We pull up adjacent to the box and tap the window.  Both attendants look at me as if I've got two heads before sliding open the sash.  I explain and their reply was "Who told you that?"  I blow a gasket as they tell me they are not allowed to refund any money, it is the visitor centre that does that.

I blew a gasket, and though I cannot be certain I am sure that more than one expletive passed my lips.  before too long a very frightened bloke was handing over £2 while at the same time gibbering an SOS into his walkie talkie.

I learnt two things this weekend .... firstly, never ever take any notice of a weather warning when making plans.  We were supposed to have a month's rain in two hours and had next to nothing.  And secondly, Caravan Club sites are great.  People moan about the rules and regulations, but in my opinion those same rules set an order to ensure everyone has good time.

Till next time .... da bo