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

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