Sunday, 15 May 2016

Bog Trotting Through a Minefield

Friday 13 May

I wake in bed at home and it's evident that the sun is making an appearance. I fire up my Samsung and it tells me that @DerekTheWeather is predicting a nice day and weekend.

Herself and I head off to work with the intention of jumping in the hot tub with a case of Stella for company when we get home.  After a rather frantic morning in the office I have a meeting on site booked for the afternoon.

In the heat I wait and wait, but to no avail. I've been stood up. The decision is made to take flexi leave and head for home to enjoy the sun. I'm approaching J44 and I ring herself.  The cogs are turning and I broach the subject of a cheeky few nights away.

Herself agrees without hesitation. Well that's a lie. She didn't say no, so I took it as a yes and booked a pitch at Phillistone Farm on the end of the Gower.

Vera is parked up out front for just long enough to inch the van out and hitch up. My suit is tossed onto the kitchen table and a tee shirt, shorts and daps thrown on in haste.

Time is getting on though. Herself has an appointment to have her hair done at 5pm so I tow to site, set up and return to pick herself up from work.

With all the rushing I am sweating like a Paedophile in a crèche, but it's worth it just to spend the Weekend with a view like this.

We have no clothes in the van so we briefly stop off at home to throw some items onto the back seat before racing to Swansea, dropping herself off to be pampered, fighting my way round Tesco for provisions, collecting a freshly manicured Herself, returning home to collect the dogs, heading back to site, stopping off in Gowerton to pick up a Chinese to satisfy Herself's hunger pangs (I sat in the car as Herself waited inside and was treated to the rather entertaining spectacle of the woman parked behind sqeezing her blackheads for the duration).

It's gone 8pm by the time I've got my beer bucket full and chilling and we site out in our chairs looking over Broughton Bay towards the promised land as the sun sets over Carmarthen Bay.

I'm getting worried about this evening though. We have no phone signal at all, so 3G is out of the question, no wifi within range of site either. I'm in serious danger of having to talk to Herself tonight, God forbid, we may even have a conversation!

Saturday 14 May

We both slept like logs last night and it was 9:30 before we peeked out of the blinds to a distinctly overcast view. I curse at @DerekTheWeather before lighting a flame under the kettle and throwing a few slices of bread under the grill.

After breakfast we pack a picnic in our rucksacks, put on our walking boots and head off out for a walk.  We exit the site, turn right to avoid the armed sentry posted at Mrs Price’s gate, and then hang a left towards the Young Christian’s Camp – no I've not gone all God botherer on you – and then a left at the private land sign through the dunes.

It's not long before the expanse of the beach at Broughton Bay opened up before us and Tali and Gwawr are running their legs off.  I’d planned to head towards Blue Pool but the tide was too far in, so we turned right and followed the water line towards Whitford Sands.

Herself asks me where we are going, so I pick out a landmark in the distance as we walk the length of the beach looking over the estuary towards the golden sands of Pembrey.

My lamps are not what they used to be and as we progress and the landmark that we are heading for becomes clearer through the haze it also becomes clearer that would not be able to go all the way to it, not because it was too far, but because it would appear that the landmark I had picked out was a lighthouse sited in the middle of the estuary, and reaching it would have involved swimming.

Time to make a decision, and I fire up my newly acquired etrex20x GPS gadget.  After pressing some buttons, squinting at the small screen and pressing a few more buttons I confidently announce “We need to go that way” in true Del Boy fashion.  Herself did not share my confidence.

First we needed to cross a tidal lagoon that appeared to be dried up, there were some marsh ponies grazing on it, so we leaded the dogs to pass them. It soon starts to get rather moist under foot, and the lagoon is not as dried up as I’d presumed.  Pretty soon I'm up to my ankles in rancid water but have passed the point of no return.  I plough on like a squaddie on patrol, and eventually get to the sandy path on the other side with minimal damage to my pride.

I turn around and immediately realise that our day out is going to go downhill rapidly from here on in.  Herself is stranded.  Her walking boots and not as high around the ankle as mine, neither are they as water tight either.  She's got 20m to go but will not attempt it.  She turns around calling me everything under the sun.

What I should have done is cross back over and find an alternative dry route for both of us, but I selected to stay put and shout useless directions whilst pointing randomly.

Things got fraught and immediately work out that any chances of cashing in my conjugal rights coupons this weekend have long since disappeared. Conversation for the next 10 or 15 minutes revolved mainly about how wet Herself’s feet actually were, how much Herself’s boots were now going to rub and how smelly Herself jeans were from the swamp water.

We head towards the tree line, and it’s a good half a mile before I attempt speaking.  We walk through the nature reserve under the tree canopy and out of the sun that has now decided to make an appearance.  The sandy paths are drying out our boots and Herself realises that her feet are not as wet as she thought.  She starts talking to me again as we pause by the sign telling us about the nature reserve that we are traipsing through.

Harmony resorted once again, and all is well with the world as we set about finding somewhere to sit down for lunch. As we are about to join the coastal path Herself spots a sign and asks where on earth I have just brought them to!

We follow the coastal path for a while, lose some layers in the heat, and revel in our surrounding.  Remember that sign we just passed? Well we crest a bit of a rise and all hell lets loose.  Bang, bang, bang bang ..... we think we've started to cross a minefield.  The dogs go ape shite.  Herself thinks we have stumbled into a war zone and I am once again in her firing line.

Turns out this is where “Gower Clay Pigeon Shooting” bring the city types down to let off some steam Loads of bangs but I didn’t see one single clay shattered mid air!  We skirt the very poorly fenced off firing range (I’d love to see the risk assessment)and brace ourselves for what is to come.    Facing us is a 100ft climb up a sandy path st at about 60 degrees!

I suppose one good thing about the climb was that Herself was conserving her breath, so having a go at me about swamps and firing ranges was put on the back burner!  When we got to the top we were in desperate need of some water, so we parked our butts on the grass and soaked up the view.

I suppose there are worse places to stop for lunch.

Refreshed, we set off again with our caravan in sight on the hill.  We skirt the back of the God Botherers place and drop down the dune before climbing back up on the path that follows the fence of Whitford Holiday village.

Back at the van we rest briefly before we have to get our butts back into gear and prepare tea. Just as we are about to make a move Grumbles car comes over the cattle grid and he appears to have come over on his own.  It's only when he pulls up that we can see that Creaky is with him, but is slouched so low in the seat she is below the dash line!

We spend a very pleasant few hours sat out in the sun, cooking food on the Weber and making our way through a few bottles of Prossecco, a case of Wife Beater and enough coffee for Creaky to keep a branch of Costa going for a week!

We wave them off and set our chairs up facing the sun, still high in the sky over Carmarthen Bay.  A few hours passed by a the cold breeze wakes us from our period of personal contemplation.  Herself looks at means says “I hope I'm not as red as you!”  The shower will sting tonight!

Sunday 15 May

That's the trouble with weekends away, they just aren't long enough.  We enjoy a lie in bed for as long as the dogs will allow before getting up and start the business of breaking camp.

The sun may be out, but this part of the world suffers badly with dew, and the canopy is still soaking as I pull it through the rail.

It gets bundled loosely on the bed and will dry our in a few days.  Everything else squared away, and we're pulling out of the gates to chance our arm on the north Gower lanes.  Save one incident with a guy in a VW van that could not reverse, the journey home was uneventful .. just as you7 want it to be with a tonne and a half lassoed to the back of the car.

Till next time ...

Monday, 2 May 2016

Raking Over Old Coals at Pembrey

Just a few short days ago we put the van away after our impromptu trip out last week, but the May Day BH weekend is upon us. I was a bit slow getting my arse into gear booking the BH weekends away this year, so Mrs Shag took the lead.  So, a bit like raking over old coals, the CC site at Pembrey beckons once again.

Friday 29 April

I usually try to book the Friday off for BH weekends, this one being no exception.  Herself also seems to manufacture it so that she has to be in work and cannot possibly have the day off this one also being no exception. She did however have the good grace to load the van up with clean clothes last night.

I was up at 7am, in Morrissons giving Vera the good news in the car wash by 7.30am and checking out, having done the weekend food shop, at 9am.  With the van now fully loaded I get it out and hitched up to Vera in readiness for the off.

It is still only 10am, but Mrs Shag, who arrived on site yesterday, posts a picture on Facebook of her attempt at reserving a pitch for us.

I am not allowed on site until noon, and as it’s a BH weekend I’m expecting there to be a rush of new arrivals.  By 10.30am I’m chomping at the bit and can wait no more.

The dogs are thrown into Vera and we head off. Even with the van on the back it’s only 30 mins at the most to Pembrey from home, and even I wouldn’t have the nerve to try and pull onto site at 11am.

We pass the site entrance and cruise past the goon on security into the Country Park, slowing down enough to flash my season ticket at him.  I park the outfit on a bit of a tump to take a picture of it Practical Caravan stylee, before letting the dogs out for a run.

I got distracted with my phone and Facebook for what I thought was a few moments, before looking up to watch the dogs running freely in the open park land ……… Scratch that ……. The dogs were nowhere to be seen!  Some frantic but aimless running around ensued shouting Cerys, Tali and Gwawr’s names repeatedly.

Some relief comes as Tali bounds round a corner and into Vera’s open boot.  Still no sign of the other two though.  Cerys is 13, and I think Herself may forgive me losing her, but Gwawr, her baby, forget it!

I wander around for what seems like an eternity and am now having cold sweats.  Cerys comes into view, but still no sign of the precious one!  I’m panicking now, and Herself’s harsh words are already playing through my head.  Do I fess up, or do I do the decent thing and drive the car straight into the docks?

Thankfully Gwarwr rocks up,as if nothing is wrong and cheerfully skips into Vera’s boot, looking rather confused at the gibbering,emotional mess in a crumpled heap.

11.45am arrives and I feel confident enough to chance an early entry onto the site.  I am not the first though as I join the queue of 3 outfits t check in.

Checking in was straight forward, except that is for the dramatic hike in the pitch fees from last weekend! Over 30 spondoolies a night mind, just for 2 adults!

I am on the pitch and set up in very little time before setting about another BH tradition.  Mr Shag has once again manufactured it is that he is working today, and will be working late too.  Even though he brought Mrs Shag down last night, he appears to have just dropped her off before darting home quickly to tune into Babestation in an empty house, and omitted to put up their awning.

It’s a good job for him that he has good acquaintances that will put it up for him!

The sun is shining as Herself rocks up from work, and the site is filling up fast. Mrs Shag then lets it slip that Mr Shag will not be BBQing his food this weekend as he has invested in some new fangled electric frying pan. I vow to question his sexuality when he eventually shows up later this evening.

I cremate some pork loin steaks on the Weber for tea which we have with some Jersey Royals and a salad on the side for show.

Mr Shag rocks up at 9.30pm and we sit in our awning freezing whilst blowing the froth off a couple of cold ones before turning in at just after midnight.

Saturday 30 April

We wake to blue skies through the skylight, throw open the van door and step out into the oven like awning.  The early morning sun is doing the business, admirably assisted by our fan heater that we had forgotten to switch off last night – I’ve always thought that we could do with another hole in our ozone layer!

I throw some bacon on the Weber and we start the day in the best possible way – sat outside in the sunshine with a bacon butty and a steaming mug of tea watching the site come to life.

Herself exchanges text messages with TF and it would appear that we have  company for our walk today. I don't know if TF has run this past Roids yet as he is still carrying a foot injury from his match last weekend.

Mr Shag surfaced just in time to be presented with a full Welsh breakfast cooked by Mrs Shag.  Now I know Mr Shag can put away a breakfast but there was enough food on his plate to feed an African village for a few days!

Our rucksacks are loaded with food and drinks and we set off into the country park thankful of the cooling wind. It is noticeable how there are more people about this weekend as we pass the ski slope, through some tunnels and then over the dunes deeper into the forestry.  We arrive at the isolated picnic area and am relieved to note that we can hear no chopping.  However we are not alone and some inconsiderate gits are sat at OUR table!!  We picnic in the lovely sunshine before shouldering our significantly lighter rucksacks to continue on the walk.

It takes all sorts, I know this, but every now and then you come across some bewts.  I mean, who would take their 3 dogs for a walk in the forestry and also take a push chair so that the dogs in turn can have a ride? (Look closely)

We exit the forestry into the Favella which is rammed. It’s a wonderful sight to see so many people out walking, families playing games and ice cream vans ripping people off for 2 quid a cone!

The Sidan is very busy and we have to clear a table before we can take our seats outside.  The next half hour is blissful and we devour ice creams and lolly pops while watching  kids burn off energy on the adjacent bouncy castle, older kids pretend they can play chess with the giant outdoor set on a chequered patio, dogs let to run free and use the boules pitch as a toilet, middle aged men too old and fat but wearing skin tight Lycra (what ever happened to the days when you were allowed to ride a bike in normal clothes?) and a fashion show from Blaenymaes’ finest showing off Sports Direct’s entire summer range.

Back on site my smartphone tells me we covered just over 4 miles.  Roids must have a higher pain threshold than me though and I admire his determination after watching him grimace for the last 3 ½ miles!

I settle down for a few hours of serious personal contemplation on my recliner and am woken by Roids at 5pm to watch the Scarlets play in their “Judgement Day” fixture in Cardiff.  He laughs as he lets me in on the good news that my folickally challenged bonse has taken some real punishment from the sun while I was snoring the rest of the afternoon away.

The awning is pressed into service as a rugby viewing room as chairs are crammed in for us to watch the second game being played today.

The Coors are thrown down my neck like it’s going out of fashion while we watch the Scarlets put the upstarts from Gwent back in their box for another season.  The Weber gets pressed into action to produce tea, a simple affair of burgers and shish kebabs.

Once they’ve been fed, and with full bellies Roids and TF bid us farewell and they escape before being asked to wash up with the excuse of not wanting to be late for the cinema!  With everything cleared away turn the fan heater on full blast and settle down on the awning with a slab of Coors for company.  Mr Shag joins me a little while later and we spend the evening talking about anyone and everyone until we call it a day quite early at 11.30pm.

Sunday 1 May

Herself had an early night last night and slept the clock around. She had got up to let the dogs out to splash their boots and the whistle of a boiling kettle stops my snoring. It would also appear that my snoring has been accompanied by much dribbling, and my pillow is that wet I am Surprised I didn't drown in the night.

@DerekTheWeather has been spreading his doom and gloom about today, and once I’ve got my hearing aid in I can hear the rain hitting the roof.

Two mugs of tea later and I feel the need to freshen up.  I’ve 3 days growth on my chops that needs hacking off and I'm in need of a shower – badly.  Regular readers will note that we no longer have water issues in the van resulting in aborted shower.  You see, we, no I tell a lie, Herself invested in one of those water saving shower heads when we were up at the NEC in February.  I had baulked at the price but Herself ignored my protestations and went ahead with the purchase.

I have to say though, it is good, very good.  the two of us can now shower and have enough water in the 40 L Aquaroll for the day.  Once freshened up I put on a jacket and my Mongo hat and head off outside with a fistful of bacon to throw on the Weber.

It is due to clear up later so we resolve to do nothing until it does – bliss.  The morning is spent doing nothing much at all except looking out at the rain while guzzling tea and pretending that I'm not T2!

It would appear that our Derek is somewhat off the mark with his work of fiction for today, as the predicted clear up in the skies did not materialise.  By early afternoon the dogs are getting cabin fever so we throw on our walking boots and wet weather coats (we remembered to bring them this week) and set off on a hike into the forestry.

I really ought to bite the bullet and buy an etrex or something because after 15 mins of yomping with our heads down in the rain we have no idea where we are again.  We ploughed on into the wilderness of the forestry, and I swear at one point Bear Grylls come onto us to ask for directions!

It wasn't a very enjoyable walk, but then it never is in the rain, but it served a purpose.

With a decent distance under our belts we returned to site where I stop off at Mr and Mrs Shag's caravan to ask if Mr Shag is allowed out to play.  By the time I've set the TV up in the awning once more he's unzipping the door flap with a carrier bag full of lager to be supped while watching the WRU Cup Finals being played out in Cardiff.

I sit down in my chair, pull open a can am am greeted to the sight of a colleague of mine being interviewed on TV in his role as Chairman of one of the finalists.

Herself set about cooking our tea of roast lamb and timed it to perfection, carving the slices off just as The Drovers were lifting the cup!

With everything cleared away Mr and Mrs Shag join us once more in the awning for a wee drinkies (I am dreading testing my BG when I get home tomorrow) and we call it a day at just before midnight.

Monday 2 May

We wake at 7.30am and note that we can no longer hear rain hitting the roof, what's more a peak our of the blinds reveals that the awning has dried out over night, but with rather ominous looking skies it's not going to stay dry for that much longer.

We quickly get dressed and set about the task of breaking camp, flat out until everything was packed away.  We timed it just right as the heavens opened as we hitched up the van to Vera and waved goodbye to Mr & Mrs Shag.

Cracking weekend, even if paying a visit to Pembrey is a bit like raking over old coals.  Weather not so great though and it's about time @DerelTheWeather got his act together and gave us some shorts and flip flops weather for our expeditions.