This trip wasn't long in the planning.
Herself was due to work the weekend but has a few days off before. I’d booked the days off so that we could do some walking but on Tuesday evening it was suggested that we drag the van out for a cheeky few nights away.
After some extensive arm twisting, I agreed and a few finger swipes later a pitch is reserved at the Caravan Club site located at Pembrey. Some clothes are thrown into the van before I've received the confirmation e mail from the Craavan Club and we are set to go.
Wednesday 20 April
We're both in work today, but I work flexitime and am able to take an extended lunch break. 11.30am sees me screaming out of the gates and breaking the land speed record between junctions 42 and 48 of the M4, The van is hitched up and I make my way straight to Pembrey.
The van is sited. I'm changed back into my suit and I am again risking a fistful of penalty points between 42 and 48 in the opposite direction before smashing down the car park barrier bang on 2pm and back to my desk.
When I get home after work Herself is stood on the doorstep foot tapping. Vera is dropped off at PC for a service and the dogs are loaded up into Herself’s passion wagon. We've no food at the van so stop off at the new CK in Burry Port for provisions.
There's nothing quite like being fleeced for the thick end of 50 notes at CK for a few odds and ends to get you into the holiday spirit!
It's a lovely evening, so it is decided that we shall take the dogs for a walk in the country park before sorting out our evening meal. I promise Herself that if we do a loop of about 2 miles we can call at the Sidan Lounge for a pint before returning to the van.
We wind through the pines and past the ski slope, through a few tunnels and over the pitch and putt.
We've both worked up a thirst and I can already feel the ice cold Amstel hitting the back of my throat as Herself stops in her tracks and announces that the place is closed. Apparently it only opens 11am to 3pm out of season.
Back at the van we go about preparing our feast of ready cooked chicken and microwave rice. It wasn't good – and neither was the Luke warm lager hat washed it down.
I've not had a drink since I was diagnosed T2, and didn't really have a good one over Xmas or in the Autumn due to not feeling that great with sky high sugar levels. This has been troubling me somewhat. Not because I feel the need for a drink or anything, it's just that next weekend we are in the company of Mr & Mrs Shag, and he can pot a few. I need some practice to make sure I can still engage sump mode if I need to. Some internet research suggests that Coors is the least bad for me so a pack of 10 has been purchased for me to get some practice in.
I've also splashed out £1.79 on a set of 4 flexible LED strips to fit in the awning light, so while herself settles down to watch some shit on TV, I go about the business of fitting them with a pliers and screwdriver. In no time at all I'm done and joining Herself to watch some assorted crap.
Only the TV is playing up, and despite me consulting the Freeview App on my phone and trying to tune into three separate transmitters, the screen is barely watchable. No matter though, I fish out my iPad and leave Herself squinting at the pixelated mess.
Still, the sunset out of the window was worth watching!
Thursday 21 April
We wake and the sun has gone into hiding and it’s decidedly gloomy out there. We breakfast on cereal and an omelette before loading up my rucksack with spare jackets, drinks and food to set off on a hike.
Leaving the site I feel like a soldier on selection with the weight on my back, but all is forgotten as we meander through the tracks that criss-cross the forestry down here. All too soon we are lost. I try to bluff my way out of it but Herself sees straight through it. We haven't a scooby where we are.
Herself now starts to have a go at me because I've been threatening to buy a Garmin GPS but never got round to it. We carry on until we hit the dunes and find a picnic table that's miles from anywhere. Pausing in a clearing for a drink we soak up the tranquillity and count our blessings. Until that is the dogs get spooked and start growling and barking. Then we hear chopping and grunting coming from the thick forestry.
I shoulder my rucksack before Herself could say “Do you remember that horror films in the 80s?” And we're kicking up sand as we plough through the dunes back towards civilisation and safety! The next people we see are a couple that are pitched behind us on site and chat with them as we walk until we take a different tunnel to them in search of a picnic table.
We pause for lunch in an isolated spot before setting off back to site. Cerys is getting on for 13 now and is starting to flag a little, I glance at my smart phone and the GPS tracker tells me we've covered just short of 5 miles.
If someone had asked me 3 months ago to walk 5 miles I would have punched their lights out without question.
Back on site we set the chairs up sheltered behind the wind break and settle down for a few hours of personal contemplation. I'm pretty sure I was snoring big time, as when I stirred with a pool of dribble down me tee shirt our nearest neighbour has their stereo playing at full volume …… Some people have no consideration for others!
I get a phone call from PC to say that Vera is ready so we head off to collect her, stopping off at Lidl for provisions on the way back to site, an all more pleasant experience for my wallet than yesterday’s jaunt to CKs!
We relax outside for a few hours before Herself gets into Nigella mode and throws together a steak and jacket for our tea.Much nicer than my effort last night.
Apparently it’s Liz’ 90th birthday today, you’d never have guessed as there's been virtually no media coverage of it anywhere! As the light fades we make our way up to the viewing point at Pembrey in the light rain and spend a while watching the beacon that's been lit on the top of Cefn Bryn over the water on the Gower.
It reminded me a bit of the stories the old gits used to tell in the pub of times during the war when they used to climb to a vantage point to watch Swansea burn as the Luftwaffe gave the Jacks the good news!
Back at the van I attempt to tune in the TV once more, first pointing towards Kilvey, then Precelli before turning towards Carmel and then back to Kilvey with the strongest signal. Nowt but a pixelated mess!
Still, not to worry as I pull out the iPad and get in some more practice for a weekend away with Mr Shag (gawd knows what this is dong to my BG readings) before it’s lights out at 11pm.
Friday 22 April
After a great night’s kip we wake to the pitter patter of light rain on the roof. It would appear that @DerekTheWeather has dropped a bit of a boo boo, as this rain was not due to come in until this evening. A peek outside the door reveals that the sun isn't exactly burning the grass this morning , and Herself makes the bed just in time for the dogs to make themselves comfortable.
We fuel up on bacon rolls and mugs of tea before packing the rucksack to head off back out into the forestry. The saying goes that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, so we don our weather proof coats .......
No, actually we didn't, because they were still hanging in the porch at home!! Of course this is my fault and I'm informed of this in no uncertain terms as Herself makes a show of putting about 15 layers on to protect her from the elements.
Shouldering the weight, we head out of the site in the opposite direction to which we headed yesterday. Luckily the rain is light enough not to spoil things too much and we thread our way through the forestry in a generally clockwise loop.
The country park is on the site of an old munitions factory and the paths follow the old railway lines linking a series of tunnels and underground stations.
2 miles in and we are at the same clearing as yesterday and we stop for a bite to eat. Only today it's not quite as peaceful due to a race event ongoing at the nearby race circuit. We're quite relaxed, chatting with the background hum of screaming V8s ............ until the race stopped .......... then out of the silence comes chop, chop, chop, chop.
Now I'm not easily spooked ......... well, I tell a lie, I am quite easily spooked, and right now I am not at my most comfortable. I check with Herself just in case my hearing is playing tricks with me, and as she's confirming what I can hear the chopping starts to be accompanied by some grunting!!
We are already trotting down the track as I'm strapping the rucksack to my back!
Soaking wet we trudge back into the site some 4.5 miles after setting off and collapse into our chairs under the canopy. It's a good 30 mins before we make a move to towel the dogs down and climb the steps into the van.
After an hours recovery time we decide to head off back out with the intention of getting in some provisions. I want some LED replacement bulbs to fit instead of the halogen ones we have and also want a single gang socket with USB charging points built in.
B&Q, Screwfix and a local electrical retailer are of no help, but we bump into Roids and TF on the way to getting a meal at the local Beefeater. Ronnie is in work so misses out on a feed.
It is still raining as we get back to site, but take the dogs into the country park for a run about before returning to site for the evening. It has filled up a bit today and I note that my blog has had a bit of traffic which can only be attributed to the transfers I have on the front and back of the van.
Herself enviously looks at all the other vans with a perfect TV picture while I attempt yet again to tune ours in. I can't work it out, and while there is a tree close by, it's nowhere near big or thick enough to cause us problems.
I spin the status through a few 360 degree turns, swear a bit and throw stuff around before settling down with my iPad whilst Herself squints at the screen trying to follow what's going on, before producing 2 DVDs that she'd slipped into the shopping basket earlier on.
Saturday 23 April
Today was supposed to be breaking camp day, but during the rain of yesterday I'd consulted @DerekTheWeather 's work of fiction and the weekend is promised to be good. Taking his word for it we'd extended for a night and will now go home on Sunday.
I wake on my own in bed. Herself had to be in work by 7am and had crept out without disturbing me. I gave the inside of the van a bit of a clean up and cooked up myself a treat of a few bacon rolls.
Or Derek has come up trumps today and the sun is high in the clear blue skies. In shorts for the first time this year I set off into the forestry with the dogs - women and children running and hiding from my translucent legs!
I'd promised herself that I wouldn't do a 5 miler without her today so limited myself to a somewhat shorter circuit.
Back at the van I take the opportunity to catch some rays before it's time to make tracks for Loughor, where Roids has a match.
They won and Herself joined me at half time after work We stop off at CKs for a few provisions before taking the dogs for a walk on the beach in the evening sunshine.
Sometimes you have to remind yourself what a wonderful part of the world we live in.
Back at the van we sit out for a bit with the sun on our chops before we retreat indoors to feast on steak and sautee potatoes.
Still no joy with the TV, then all of a sudden it was like a switch had been flicked. This trip, in addition to the TV not working we;'ve also been having issues with the stereo turning itself on intermittently. Both the Status and the stereo are within 1ft of my newly installed LED lights!
They are ripped out without delay and hey presto ....... perfect TV picture! Oh how I laughed.
Ronnie, Roids and Tf rock up at 9pm for a chat and we go to bed knackered before Ronnie's exhaust has warmed up after waving them off.
Sunday 24 April
Again I wake on my own with Herself departed some hours earlier, and set about breaking camp in the sunshine. I call in on Coupons on the way home to catch up on any news, scanning the local papers for any news of possible axe murders in the Pembrey Forestry!
A nice unexpected few days away, and not long to go until out next trip out, which is next weekend with Mt & Mrs Shag.