With Coupons on an even keel and @DerekTheWeather promising a half tidy weekend, we've decided to chance a few cheeky nights away to try out our new awning.
We love Pembrey Country Park, and with it being only 10.5 miles from home and just 30 mins in the car we are regular users and have had a season ticket for years, in fact we visited the park 3 times last week!
We also regularly stop at the Caravan Club (sorry, Caravan and Motorhome Club) site at Pembrey, as when we are there we could be anywhere, and with it being so close to home I can easily pop back to check on coupons.
Thursday 06 April
I manage to wangle an early finish in work and am leaving traffic in clouds of deisil soot on the M4 heading west by midday.
We have a shared drive at home, so last night I'd popped round next door to let them know that I'd like to get our caravan out this afternoon, and ask if they'd be around to move their car out of the way.
Much to my annoyance when I got home, they were not and our van was blocked in. Much heel kicking ensued until she showed up to hand over the keys. Turned out that she'd tried to leave a set with us, but Roids and TF were still in bed and didn't hear the extra loud door bell going, the dogs going beserk or her shouting in the house! They'd sleep through a tornado that pair!
Never mind though, The time was not wasted, I popped up to check in on coupons instead of coming back tonight while we waited.
Eventually the drive is cleared and the van edged out and hitched up to Vera. After giving the van the good news with £6 worth of Morrisons' jet wash and foam brush we are cruising the A484 in bright sunshine by mid to late afternoon.
I bought a new toy this week. A cheap (I assume Chinese) knock off of a Gopro action camera.
I have a dash cam hard wired into Vera, but wanted something to do a bit of adhoc filming as well. The equivalent Gopro is exactly the same size and looks exactly the same, it is somewhat heavier though so I'd imagine longevity to be an issue, but coming in at over £200 cheaper I'll take the chance.
Ronnie and his mates often remark that Vera resembles an unmarked cop car, and now with more mounts to her windscreen than an actual cop car, she's looking more the part.
Some imaginary friends of mine off the internet have a YouTube channel dedicated to "Site Arrival Videos" and I find them to be an invaluable source of information - so much easier to suss out the route to site than using Google.
Anyway, we recorded the approach to the site ready for upload when we get a 4G signal next.
Herself checks in as I've not replaced my expired membership card in my wallet yet, and we settle on an elevated grass pitch in a quiet part of the site. From the looks we were getting from Mrs Snooty in a motorhome (the only other occupant of our part of the site) it would appear that our arrival is unwelcome, and she would have preferred us to pitch elsewhere!
The caravan is leveled and connected up in no time, and then our brand new, and as yet unopened awning is thrown out onto the grass for unpacking.
Now earlier this week I'd been doing some research and found a retailer's video showing our awning being erected from scratch in 15 mins (the young lad didn't even break into a sweat) so I had high hopes.
To quote Jim Royle "15 mins my arse!"
I'm a sweating mess by the time we've finished, but we are well pleased with it. It's the first time we've spent decent money on an awning, and to be honest, you can feel the quality in it.
We are both starving, so after taking Gwawr and Tali for a stretch in the adjacent country park we head off into Burry Port to collect a (traditional when we stop here) Chinese takeaway for our first evening meal.
It didn't touch the sides.
After the rather stressful last 5 weeks we are both on our chinstraps and didn't move for the remainder of the evening, in fact fighting sleep off until 10pm before going to bed.
This new awning is big though and we've not got much in the way of furniture in it just for the weekend, so our two recliners look lost out there!
By the way, Grumbles and Creakey bought me a Sabre light for Xmas, as yet unused. To say I'm impressed with the light it gives off is an understatement.
Friday 7 April
I stir in my pit and through bleary eyes I look at my FB timeline that is filled with everyone to the north, west and east of us posting pictures on gloriously sunny mornings. With high hopes I fling open the blind and half close my eyes to protect them from the anticipated blazing sunlight.
I needn't have bothered though as Pembrey is shrouded in mist. The dogs need walking though so I make my way up to the viewpoint with them as the mist begins to clear. I love it up here, and the view over towards the Gower and Worms Head is breathtaking.
Back at the van Herself has been busying herself and I am presented with a plate of bacon butties and a mug of steaming tea.
Over breakfast she announces that Grumbles is pouring Creaky into the car as we speak before making their way down to us for feeding. This necessitates a spin to a supermarket before we can sit in our chairs enjoying the sunshine.
By the time they arrive the sky has turned this weird blue colour and there is this strange yellow ball up there too. I vaguely remember it for one day about 3 years ago, but can;'t be sure.
My personal contemplation time is rudely interrupted by Mr Warden who thinks that now would be a good time to get out his leaf blower, turn it up to full turbo setting and blast some of the dust off the site roads.
Thoughts of sugar in petrol tanks did cross my mind at one point.
The evening was all planned out. I was to pop and see Coupons, Herself was to walk the dogs and we would reconvene at sunset behind the caravan in our recliners, Herself sipping on some fizz and me guzzling G&T.
So, with Grumbles' exhaust not yet warm I set off to spend an hour or so with Coupons. Making my way back to site after I was somewhat pleased with myself at having the forethought to stop of at McDonalds to pick up some food to ding later on.
In I went, mastered the new do it yourself machines before collecting my order and returning to Vera.
This readers is where my plans for the evening went tits up. Vera refused to start. Much faffing about ensued involving trying to reset the immobilizer several times, even with a different key that Ronnie brought down to me.
The man from Greenflag arrived, and unlike any of the others I've met who immediately get out the SnapOn diagnostic tool or a laptop to plug in, this bloke strides across the car park waving a bloody great lump hammer.
He was a little too cheery for me as he went about smashing the hammer against different parts of Vera's fuel system that he thought may have jammed. Friends who'd arrived had to stop he hitting him at one point and if he'd thought about swinging the hammer once more I'd have snatched it off him and caved in his skull with it.
It got to the point where I was relieved when he announced that he could do no more!!
He dropped me off at home to collect Herself's car before heading off into the darkness with Vera strapped to his flatbed.
By the time I get back to site (in darkness) all plans of watching the sun set had vanished. Herself was hungry, but our food was on Vera's back seat some 30 miles away! Herself had also consumed 2 bottles of fizzy stuff waiting for my return and was not in the best of moods.
I poured myself a pint of G&T, necked it and took myself off to bed out of the way - worrying myself to sleep about Vera's state of health.
Saturday 8 April
Last night Herself had decided that we would leave a day earlier than planned. I didn't have the will to debate the issue last night, so I got on the blower to May Day at 9 am to arrange for the caravan to be taken home.
I booked my time slot with them for 11.30 to 12.30 and set about taking down the dew soaked awning.
At 10.30 am my phone is ringing. It's the recovery lorry asking what pitch we're on as he's arrived. I am now in trouble with the wardens as I'd not informed them of the situation and for the lorry to access the site.
I'm also rushing to loosly bundle the wet awning onto the bed to dry out while Herself is frantically running around unplugging things and emptying the bog tank!
We get ourselves sorted, just, and the caravan is hitched to the back of the flat bed.
Houston, we have a problem! I'd let May Day know that the van is 13 pin electrics and needs a feed for the ATC and was assured that this was in order. I checked the light and it was not illuminated. The next 10 mins are spent trying to explain to the driver what ATC is, to which his only reply is "It'll be OK!"
I now proceeded to unhitch the caravan telling him that it's going nowhere yet. He gets on the blower to his boss who is also flummoxed. I get on my blower to Leisure Medic who assures me that it'll be OK so long as the system has not been activated at all.
I re hitch myself, double checking the electrics myself before my eyes are drawn to a whirl of green and burgundy approaching us checking the blades of grass for damage from the recovery lorry!
My word! The ride in those is poor. It was bad enough last night with Vera on the back, but today with a van hitched it's chronic.
Several slipped discs later, he is dropping me and the van off at home when my phone rings. It's the Volvo specialist, and he's telling me that Vera had started at the first touch of the button, had been starting ever since, been on a test drive to warm her up and started again and even been plugged in to his computer and been given a clean bill of health.
It's a mystery, but he's guessing that maybe there are some electronics close to where I parked up at McD that were interfering with Vera's electronics.
I drag Herself out of her bath to take me to Swansea to collect Vera, throw a few purple ones in the direction of PG for his troubles before heading back west in glorious sunshine.
Whilst I'm relieved that there were no big garage bills, I am also more than a little miffed. Regular readers will note that we have little luck with the weather when away in the van, so on the one weekend where wall to wall sunshine is promised by @DerekTheWeather, Vera has a bloody wobble and wrecks everything.
My mood is not lightened either when I open up Facebook. You see, there's a steam Fair taking place in the adjacent country park this weekend, and a few of the exhibitors had taken a diversion onto the CMC site on a mini parade.