We've an extended break booked for this coming week, taking in the spring bank holiday weekend. I'm in work today, but a nice e mail to the Ayatollah bags me an early finish.
By 12.00 hrs I'm breaking the land speed record heading west on the M4, stopping briefly to give Vera a drink, before hitching the van up to head off. By 2pm we are cruising the north Gower roads in bright, hot sunshine with clear blue skies.
The final few miles to our chosen site are never easy, mostly being very narrow single track efforts. The experience is made none the less stressful by the appearance of a coach full of school kids on a blind bend.
The drama of that episode fades quickly though as we pull rattle over the cattle grid into Phillistone Farm in Llanmadoc. It's a wonderful site, with views directly over Broughton Bay looking straight over Carmarthen Bay towards Tenby and Saundersfoot.
My solar panel takes an absolute hammering during the setting up process, and I'm a bit hot and bothered. Our new Vango Kalari awning seems to be going up better too, until we can't seem to get any pressure in one of the Air Beams. Herself can hear a hissing sound, but I'm puzzled as we've only used it once and it was fine last time out.
I unzip the bladder and connect it once more to the pump, and it appears there's a split in the end seam. I apply a patch and leave it set while I throw a few pasties down my neck washed down with a few cans of Coke Zero.
I dare not inflate it to full pressure so adjust the gauge and give it just 2 Psi (enough for it to hold its shape) and continue the setting up process. Hopefully it will last the week as a replacement will take some time to arrive!
The rest of the afternoon is taken up with some personal contemplation time in the recliners. Well it would have been if our neighbours had not produced a 10 week old puppy for Herself to fawn over and the owner not turned up demanding a fist full of folding for us to abandon our caravan in his field for a week!
It gets to 18.30 hrs and rumbling bellies occupy our thoughts. neither of us can be bothered to cook, so a takeaway curry is decided upon. We're out in the sticks here though, so a spin back to Donksville is required.
With the meal ordered and a 20 min delay we decide to take the dogs over to the estuary for a cooling dip. It would appear that the rest of the world has the same idea as the banks of the Loughor estuary are packed. We walk to a quiet spot and let them slash around until it's time to collect our grub.
Back at the van it's devoured before we set up the recliners one last time today looking west towards Saundersfoot as the sun sets.
We retreat to the awning as the damp air descends and sit up chatting until bed time. I've been struggling to get my internet up and running, so Herself seizes the opportunity and we talk for hours, probably the most we've talked in quite some time.
Saturday 27 May
To quote the 1980s advert for Carling Black Label .........
" I’ve never known a night like it … and I ain’t looking forward to the journey home neither!"
What a night!
I was awoken at 03.00 hrs by what seemed to be a strobe light going off. It was the start of one of the longest storms I have known. Herself does not like thunder and lightening one bit and she woke up really edgy. The dogs were fine, until she convinced them that there was something to be worried about!
The torrential rain hammered on the roof in between the claps of thunder while the van it lit up by strobes! We the started to get wet as the rain found its way under the roof vents. They were shut tight and we spent the next 2 hours storm watching as God put on a first class light show.
The pitter patter of rain continued for the rest of the night and we were in no rush to get out of bed this morning.
Anyway, the awning survived the night but the semi inflated beam is deflecting somewhat in the stiff breeze. I give it another psi and cross my fingers.
A very lazy morning was had, punctuated briefly by poached eggs. Cabin fever started to close in by 14.00 hrs and we decided we needed a spin out. First off we stop by at Mike Davies Leisure at Killay so we can pick up a puncture repair outfit for our new awning - I've not yet fessed up to you readers about how I need one for our brand new £1000 awning as it is still far too painful to regurgitate for your amusement. Suffice to say that Herself thinks I should be in the Crayola Class in school, and has missed no opportunity to remind me of such at every opportunity!
We spin around and follow the south Gower road all the way to Port Eynon. Even though it's not long stopped raining when we arrive the place is rammed. Part of the beach is sectioned off her for dogs, so our two enjoy a run around on the sand and an explore of the rock pools.
This dog walking is thirsty work, so after being turned away from The Smugglers because they don't serve beer without food, and they'd stopped serving food, we joined the rest of the village crammed into the Ship and its beer garden and enjoyed a pint of Lighthouse Ale while the live band warmed up.
Time is getting on though, and we make tracks back to the van and my TV, you see The Scarlets are playing in the Pro12 final this evening out in Dublin, and I've a coolbox full of Amstel to keep me company and calm my nerves.
The sun makes a late appearance and Herself settles down outside on a recliner listening to me shout at Nigel Owens from a safe distance.
We won, and we won well. In fact it was a proper old fashioned prison shaming for the boys from SW Ireland.
After last night's disturbed night we took off to bed at 10:00 hrs and were out cold in a matter on minutes.
Sunday 28 May
After a superb night's kip we don't stir until 09.30 hrs. Herself looks outside and the weather is half tidy - certainly better that what @DerekTheWeather had promised.
We get on the blower to The Olds and invite them over for the afternoon. We need supplies to feed them though, so while Herself takes a shower I pop off to CKs to hand over far too much folding for a few bag fulls of food and drink.
It's getting quite warm and my own personal solar panel is taking a hammering - it'll sting in the shower later!
Herself had said for them to come over at 13.00 hrs, and sure enough, bang on time Grumbles' passion wagon is rumbling over the cattle grid with Creaky and Coupons on board.
I cremate some pork loins on the BBQ to go with some new potatoes and salad, and we sit out all afternoon, eating and drinking and having a good old chat.
Creaky has had enough by 17:00 hrs and is anxious to return home in loads of time for her carer - that's her story, but I'm convinced that despite being plied with a continual supply of coffee she was having QVC cold turkey.
Grumbles' exhaust had barely time to warm up by the time we'd squared away and piled into Vera heading back to Port Eynon. The weather turns a little and it's raining lightly and we walk along the beach with the dogs. Herself had wanted bag of chips, but both outlets in the village had queues out of the door, so we settled for a pizza and a pint at The Smugglers before heading back to site.
A quiet evening was had. Herself watched some assorted crap on TV while I sat out in the awning tapping some keys as the sun set through my plastic windows over Carmarthen bay.
The airbeam survived the day, so there is hope yet!
Monday 29 May
I was rather foolish last night. I consumed nearly a full bag of wine gums while sat out in the awning, and wine gums and T2 diabetes do not really go well hand in hand. This resulted in me needing to make frequent toilet visits in the night while my body worked overtime to rid itself of the sugar in my bloodstream.
Not immediately life threatening in itself, but I was in danger of being throttled by Herself as I clambered over her every two hours to get to the toilet. At 04.00 hrs the air was blue, and a flow of obscenities were hurled in my direction. I didn't know that Herself's swearing vocabulary was so extensive!
We swapped sides to avoid any bloodshed.
The morning dawned a bit grey and cool and a very lazy morning was had guzzling tea and reading yesterday's papers in the awning. We did nothing else except rustle together a proper tidy Welsh cooked breakfast.
Saute Pembrokeshire news, local back bacon, local sausage, Burry Inlet cockles, Penclawdd lavabread and an egg from Reynoldston. Cowin lush it was too!
Herself remarked that the van carpets were getting a little thick underfoot, and looking down revealed a horrid mess of matted dog hair. It would seem that the B&M Bargains effort that I splashed out a whole £20 on last year just wasn't cutting it.
By the time I've scraped a few day's growth off my chops and showered, Herself has washed up and is sitting in Vera looking at her watch and tutting. Within an hour we've driven to Swansea, had a demo in the shop from a rep, bought a Shark hand held cleaning device and are back on the Gower letting the dogs run off some steam in Reynoldston.
We pick up some fresh eggs from a roadside stall en-route back to site. We've crossed Kennexstone Moor and are dropping down into Llanmadoc when Herself suggests stopping off at The Brit for a swift half. I needed no further persuading!
Back on site I put together Herself's new toy and let her have a go. I'm embarrassed to say that despite me only giving the van the once over before we'd left with B&M's finest, the new Shark handheld picked up a whole cylinder full of dust, grit and hair! The van rugs have never looked so good!
Tea is best left not mentioning. A disaster it was and ended up in the dogs after Herself pushed it around her plate for 10 minutes. By 18.30 hrs a good old Cornish type mizzle has the site enveloped, and we can't see Broughton and the big dune, let alone Saundersfoot on the other side of Carmarthen Bay.
From the comfort of the awning I watch the single mother on the adjacent pitch try to keep her son amused by playing badminton outside in the rain and the God Botherers on the other side come back to freshen up before heading back out to the nearby camp.
Sounds are emanating from inside the van and you do not have to be a rocket scientist to work out that Herself is enjoying some personal contemplation time. I grasp the opportunity and settle down to re watch The Scarlets win on Saturday (smart TVs are great aren't they)
Hope this weather lifts tomorrow.
The air beam is holding it's own and I'm wondering if we were a little hasty in slashing out £30 for a replacement.
Tuesday 30 May
I slept soundly last night, but am awake by 05.45 hrs. It's still grey outside and consulting @DerekTheWeather on my Samsung does nothing to lift the gloom. The next bit of sunshine is not expected until Saturday, by which time we will be home! It has cleared a bit though and I can at least see Broughton this morning.even if the sun isn't exactly burning the grass.
We like this site, we like the quietness and we like the freedom the dogs have not having to be tethered. What I do miss though is the buzz of a larger site as it comes to life in the morning and the opportunity to people watch. Herself says I'm nosey, but I much prefer the terms alert and observant.
It started to brighten up after breakfast, and while I was freshening up ready to go out it struck me how good the view was from our washroom window.
We took the short hop over towards Rhossilli with the intention of walking out towards Worms Head, but on arrival it was apparent that everyone else had too, so we spun around in the car park and retraced our tracks for a mile or so before abandoning Vera in a farmer's field.
£3 he was asking mind, and the fee was payable in an honesty box. Herself did the deed as it would have spoiled my day. The walk down towards Mewslade Bay was easy going, but I was acutely aware that coming back up would be a different matter.
I hadn't bargained for the high tide, so on arrival there was no beach. We perched ourselves over looking where the beach would be and watched the waves crash into the access crevice.
I was right, the climb back to the car park was a little more strenuous and a break was required half way pretending to take in the view.
Time now for a late lunch so we head back towards Llanmadoc and The Britania Inn.
Very nice it was too, and quite reasonably priced. Back on site we see that the woman next door had carefully placed a rope on the floor shadowing the outline of her camper before she went out so that her drive away awning would fit on her return.
The devil in me was so tempted to move it a foot, but Herself threatens to call the rozzers herself if I go within 5ft of it!
No rest for the wicked as Herself needs some paperwork from home to take to an appointment tomorrow. Roids works not far from here, so we arrange for him to bring it over and we'll meet him at his workplace.
With that done we make tracks towards Port Eynon, where we enjoy a bag of chips for tea sat on a bench overlooking the beach.
Back on site the sun makes a late appearance. Herself loses it and pokes her head out of the awning flap shouting obscenities at the gods - something about it being a bit late to be any good or something.
Wednesday 31 May
I wake to the sound of rain hammering on the roof, Herself informs me that it rained for most of the night, but once I take out my hearing aid and stuff my head into some rolled up pillows I hear nothing all night.
I get up at 09.30 hrs and peak out of the blinds. The camper van on the next pitch is rolling up her soaking wet awning in the pouring rain. I though briefly about going out to help her, only briefly mind, before jumping back into the nice dry and warm bed next to Herself.
A nearby small holding is selling fresh eggs, and we've breakfasted on them every day. This morning we have them poached (again) before scrubbing up and heading off out just as it stops raining.
Herself has an appointment to keep in Carmarthen and is also dressed for the occasion. We get as far as Old Walls and her phone rings with news to follow that the appointment is cancelled. We continue as far as CKs in Donksville where we are robbed once again for some provisions before we park up on the banks of the Loughor letting the dogs have a run about while we look over the water towards The Promised Land.
The sun starts to peak through the cloud cover and Herself wants out of her civvies so we make straight for the van, wasting no time in getting out the recliners and indulging in a few hours of personal contemplation under the sun.
The sun goes back into hiding and we retreat into the awning, the dogs have other ideas though, and want a ball chucking for them.
Ronnie is coming over for tea, bringing his new girlfriend (Yankie Girl - YG) with him, so once I get the phone call that they are on their way I set fire to some charred wood in readiness to cremate some burgers.
We spend a lovely evening eating, drinking and chatting in the awning, and it's getting dark by the time they leave, with Ronnie's exhaust disturbing half of North Gower as he accelerates through the lanes.
Thursday 01 June
We had a late night (for us - no scratch that, for me) last night and it was gone midnight by the time we dived into our pit.
It was 09.45 hrs by the time we stirred this morning and the sun was shining through the roof vent. @DerekTheWeather is promising good things for today, and if it turns out that his work of fiction is reasonably accurate the we have plans to do very little today.
Gwawr goes outside on her own to play for a bit while we get our wake up caffeine fix.
Before long it's warming up lovely outside, so it's time to get my athletic like frame covered in used chip fat in readiness to soak up some rays.
Herself goes back inside to busy herself in the kitchen, and brunch is taken outside overlooking Broughton Bay.
More personal contemplation time is planned for the afternoon, but not until I've sorted out our front locker. It is a mammoth task and took far longer than expected. I'm not quite done when Herself calls to me from the comfort of the longer, I stick my sweat soaked head around the corner and she just points to the awning before closing her eyes once more.
The repair on the air beam appears to have failed and my erection is somewhat limp! The bladder gets unzipped and after having the previously repaired area dipped in water it would appear that is the problem area once more.
I apply another patch and zip it back up, hoping for the best going back to finishing off the locker before daring to inflate it.
30 mins go by and I decide to chance it and push some air into it before settling down to catch some more rays.
I didn't have chance to dose off before Herself once more beckons me. My erection is far from erect.
The bladder gets unzipped tested in water (to no avail) and put back in and inflated - I assume that I had not closed the valve properly.
I'm just dozing off and I get nudged - it's gone down again. I smile meekly, and get up in silence to attend to the matter. If you believe that you'll believe anything!
It gets unzipped again, and falls limply on the table. I rip off the newly applied patch and apply a different big patch. the instructions say wait 30 mins before inflating, so I did before putting in 2 psi and hoping for the best.
An hour later we're heading out and it's still up. B&M bargains benefits from our presence as the dogs are clean out of chews, and that just won't do! 180 degrees and we're re tracing our steps back to north Gower and The Britannia Inn when were call in for our tea.
The lamb tagine was superb!
Any plans we had to sit out by a camp fire evaporated as we rattled over the cattle grid to see our awning in all it's collapsed splendour. I cussed and I cursed as I once more unzipped the bladder and examined the end. I now know what the problem is, the seam rip is spreading out underneath the patches.
Some superglue is pumped into the hole hoping to halt the spread and two new patches applied.
Friday 02 June
My lobster red sun burnt torso did not make for a very comfortable night, waking at 07.30 hrs I found that the sheets were stuck to me.
By the way, it went down, so flip flops were donned and 6 pumps were given to re inflate the defective tube!
It's rather moist out there this morning and I'm glad that we've extended our stay for a few nights, as packing up the awning in this would not have been pleasant.
Herself's rearranged appointment in Carmarthen is today, so we've no plans to do anything until after that. It clears up as we swing through the gated entrance of St Davids, so after dropping Herself off at the appropriate building I take to dogs for a walk around the grounds.
The weather improves beyond recognition from this morning so lunch is a McDs on the move as we head back to site to enjoy the weather. The owner pops over for a chat and I also take the opportunity to give Vera the once over with a waterless wash.
Soon though the pressing issue of our evening meal occupies our minds and it is decides that an Indian takeaway will hit the spot. Like last Friday we hotfoot it (well as fast as you can hotfoot it through a 40 mph average speed camera zone) towards Donksville and the excellent Paprika.
Loaded up with a divine smelling takeout and booze from CKs we return to site to enjoy a feast as the sun streams through our vinyl windows. We're half way through the starter when Herself starts taking a funny shape, reminding me much of Quasimodo. The air beam has deflated once more and is resting neatly on her right shoulder.
I break from filling my face to give it a few pumps, relieving the pressure on Herself. Did I get a medal?
Dishes are squared away and our chairs taken back outside to sit facing the evening sun as it sets over Saundersfoot chucking a ball for Tali to wear him and Gwawr out.
The remainder of the evening is spent catching up with some TV and what Amanda Holden is NOT wearing for BGT.
Saturday 03 June
Another decent night's kip is had and I open the blinds to check if @DerekTheWeather has been telling fibs or not.
It looks nice out there, which is good news as we plan to drop the awning today. After throwing on a pair of shorts I fling open the van door. Guess what? It's gone done again! It gets enough air to regain it's shape and I set about packing away, slowly and methodically.
Only a caravanner will truly understand the joy that can be had from being able to pack away a bone dry awning after a week of mixed weather. Herself gets a call from the Vango retailer saying that our new inner tube will be with us by Tuesday, I could have done with it last Tuesday, but never mind eh!
It's funny, but we've been here over a week now, but with the awning attached our view was restricted to peeking over the hedgerow, but now with that gone we can see straight over to Broughton Bay from our caravan door.
With most of our camp broken and packed away Herself suggests a brunch. Yay! We need eggs though. Boo!
While she busies herself with a frying pan I hurtle through the lanes looking for an egg stall. Mission accomplished and I pause briefly to admire the view up the Loughor Estuary. Splendid it is, and I just wish it had been this sunny when I filmed the site arrival video a few days ago!
She did us proud fair play, almost blinding herself in the process with spitting oil.
The afternoon consisted of doing not much at all. The recliners are set up and in between blowing the froth off a few cold ones I throw a ball for the dogs to chase.
We eventually motivate ourselves enough to scrub up and head towards The Brit once more for an evening meal. We spot Ronnie's wheels on the way and bell him with the offer of a free meal if he'd care to join us.
We've only just chosen an outside table and we can hear his twin exhausts closing in on us. the food was once again superb, people complain it's a little pricey, but I don't mind paying for quality.
Back on site we settle to an evening of TV and note that for the first time this week Amanda Holden has not turned up having stolen her dress from a stripper!
Sunday 04 June
We wake at 09.00 hrs to light rain. No time to hang around this morning though as we want to be hitched up and out of the Llanmadoc lanes before the rest of the world decides they need to go out for a paper.
We're rattling over the cattle grid by 10.00 hrs and lady luck is with us as we hit roads with a white line without meeting any oncoming traffic.
It's been a great extended week away, and we've not really done that much except chill out. You don't always have to be far to be away, and despite the frustration with the awning we have both returned home fully chilled.