Making the most of time

The season is drawing to a close for us. We have only seven weeks left of work. It’s been a very busy season with good weather, a few dramas but nothing we can’t handle.

The selection for next year came out and we filled the necessary forms in and waited to see where we would be sent. As well as being a busy and hot season here we have not really seen a lot of the area, or not as much as we wanted to. In some peaples eyes we have done a lot but I would have liked to do and see more. But you can’t do everything.

One of our weekends off recently we decided to head to Pembrey for the weekend, give the camper a run and get off site. It’s only a half hour drive but it’s a nice site and near the beach. We got there on the Friday evening and chilled in the sun with a cold beer and wine.

The next day we had a walk down to the beach and back through the sand dunes. Found some driftwood art on the beach and as we approached the small gauge railway the guys running it were testing the trains ready for the weekend when it runs. All was not going to plan but they were laughing so much. We stopped and chatted to one of the guys who told us all about the trains etc.

Driftwood beach art
Hang on guys

The rest of the weekend was spent chilling and of course I went out on my bike around the forest roads behind the site. Then it’s time to go back to base and work. Work really does get in the way of our life.

Another weekend off just gone and again we headed out in the camper to Pandy. Again another site we have stayed on this year. We know the managers there and it’s always good to catch up with them and of course just around the corner from the site is a downhill bike park which I happen to like.

This was our third visit here this season and every time we have been here the weather has been fantastic. Apart from me going to the bike park to play we don’t do a lot here, just chill in the sun and we have been known to have a beer or wine while chilling out. It’s just nice to recharge the body’s batteries.

While there on the Saturday evening a huge balloon came up over the trees. I love seeing hot air balloons and have always wanted to go in one. They must have taken off not far away because they were so low when they came over us. Another followed the first one and again on Sunday morning two came over.

Watch out below

The weekend was over to soon again and we travelled back on the Monday morning, the day of the queens funeral so all the roads were empty because of it being a bank holiday, but not for us we had to go to work in the afternoon but it was a very low key day, no machinery so no noise. The site was very quiet as everyone was watching the tv.

So today is Nikki’s birthday, it’s her day. We had planned to go out for a meal tonight. We don’t drive anywhere when we’re drinking so need to walk. We checked the weather this morning and it gave rain all afternoon and evening. Now we’re not made of sugar but we don’t want to get soaked before we get in the pub. When we leave the pub we don’t care what the weather is doing, to be honest we probably would not even notice.

So we had a plan B. I said it’s your day Nikki so you say what’s happens. Nikki wanted to go to Port Eynon a few weeks back so she said she would like to go there and have lunch out. That sounds good to me so a plan was hatched. Go to Port Eynon, walk on the beach, lunch in a pub and then home. Well nearly a good plan as on the way home we would need shopping which meant as I was in the car I would go shopping also. It’s Nikki’s day so I agreed.

The rain was due mid afternoon so we headed off mid morning to Port Eynon. It’s only half an hours drive, or should have been but our route hit a road closed diversion so we had to re route. Not a problem we get to see more of the loverly Gower country side. And the cows and sheep that seem to like to walk all over the road and slow the traffic up. Not a bad thing.

We got to Port Eynon parked up and payed. At one end of the beach is a old salt works building from the 16th century. Not that there’s much left of it now but I like derelict buildings so we wandered over to the end of the beach to have a look.

Old salt house

After the walk we were hungry so a pub lunch was the order of the day. We walked up to the pub, looked at the menu outside while licking our lips and deciding what we were going to have. Our minds made up and heading for the pub door while dribbling at the thought of lunch only to be greeted by the landlord. Hello are you just after a drink, no we are after some lunch and a drink. Sorry no food my chefs have not turned up. I felt like saying don’t they know it’s Nikki’s birthday but we just turned and walked out.

Now Port Eynon is only small so our choice now for lunch was an ice cream, or the choice of two chip shops. So we sat on a bench eating our chips and supping our can of drink.

Back to the car and off to get some shopping on the way home. And that’s where we are this evening, as I write this blog Nikki is in the kitchen doing the tea while she has a glass of wine and I have a cold beer. We know how to live.

Going back to the selection for next year. We will be working in a place called Chirk, it’s right on the wales/ English border in between Oswestry and Wrexham. We have been there before and love the area so we are looking forward to going there. We are even doing winter work next year so our season will start on the 3rd January until November. We don’t normally do winter work but could do with the money so we can have some beans on our toast for tea next year. That means we will only have six weeks off in the winter which will seem strange after having four months of for the last few winters. But we will survive.

Misty morning over the salt marshes

Hot and Busy

Wow what a summer we are having, to be honest it’s been a good year for weather here in the U.K.

Very unusual conditions that we are just not used to. Now peaple are complaining it’s to hot. I must admit it’s been to hot to work as normal so plenty of breaks and drinking plenty of water.

The weather has changed now but it’s still not bad. With the bank holiday coming up let’s hope it’s a good one. The nights are drawing in, the leaves are falling off the trees so all this only means one thing. Yes winter is on its way and so is the end of our work season.

Back in the middle of July we had a ten day break. It was not really a break but we had to go back down to Devon to sort Mi Mi’s flat out as Sadly she will not be going back to it.

Not a nice ten days really as it was so hot, and Nikki had got Covid two days before we went and obviously she was very upset. We got through everything though.

While there I went for a walk on the coast path while Nikki was seeing her mum.. only a small walk and then I was going to meet Nikki at a small cafe we knew for lunch.

The walk started from Yelland and did a small loop around to Instow. It was so peaceful and after days of grafting in the hot conditions a real relieve to get out on my own and not see anybody and be surrounded by nature.

At one point on the estuary there are a couple of old wrecked boats which have been graffitied. Now some peaple will say it’s vandalised where others will say it’s art. I actually like good graffiti.

I wanted to get some photos of these old wrecks and as I approached them I could see a bunch of young lads hanging around them. As I got closer I could see they had rucksacks and a load of spray paints. These were the artists or vandals. Expecting a confrontation I started taking some photos and then said hello to one of the guys who was a bit surprised that I was talking to him.

I started to ask him about the graffiti and he got really interested that I wanted to know about it etc. The other lads then all joined in. I asked about the reaction they get from peaple passing like myself. Some like it, some hate it he said. They have permission from the boat owner who has said it will never go in the water again and is happy for them to spray it. The lads offered to move there ladder so I could get my photos. I wished them luck and really wanted to see it when finished with its new coat of art but never had time to go back.

Colourful boat wreck
Art or Not

After leaving the artists I carried on around the coast path and on to Instow and then back to Yelland to meet Niki for lunch. A small cafe we knew which was busy but we luckily got a table. After a little wait our order was taken and we waited for our food while drinking our drinks and we waited some more and some more. We watched peaple come and go while we waited for our food.

Nikki went and asked if we had been forgotten. Yes we had, really sorry. Our food soon arrived and it was very nice. To be honest by then we were so hungry we could have ate anything. When we went to pay the owner said the food is free you should not have had to wait so long for our mistake. Thank you we said and just payed for our drinks.

Soon it was time to head back to the Gower to work. The motorway was busy and so was work when we got back as now the kids have broke up from school. I got bitten by a dog on site, only a small bite but it drew blood. Luckily I walked away so the dog is still alive.

We had another weekend in Pandy on our next weekend off and managed to get to the pub on the Friday night after arriving at 7.15pm. A chill out day on Saturday and I went up the bike park on Sunday. All in glorious sunshine the whole weekend.

Yesterday we went out for a drive to Rhossili beach on the Gower. The weather was supposed to be raining and it certainly looked like it was going to but we are British so we packed our coats and still went ahead with our plans. The skys were dark and being a Sunday it would normally be packed in August. But we were early and while everyone else was in bed and the ones that did get up looked out the window and saw the dark clouds they must have gone back to bed.

Rhossili has a huge big carpark owned by the national trust. There is a hotel, a church and three cafes. A lot of peaple go there for the beach and for the walk to Worms Head. A walk you can only do when the tide is out and you have to make sure you get back before getting cut of by the tide.

Worms Head

We parked up and decided to walk to the coastguard lookout cottage. Or I decided and pointed out the coastguard cottage in the distance to Nikki and she said we will see. On the way I knew somewhere there was fields of sunflowers but was not sure where. Then I see a small sign and we were on the right track.

The sunflowers were not at there best but were still impressive. You could walk a pathway through them at a cost of £3 each so we decided to do the walk. I never knew there were so many varieties of sunflower and wished we had come to see them about a month earlier. The bees were busy collecting the pollen. I managed to get some photos and it made a nice detour from the coat path.

Busy Bee
A different sunflower

After the walk amongst the sunflowers we were given some seeds which we will plant next year wherever we are. We then continued onto the coastguards cottage which is manned by a couple of guys looking out for peaple who think they can go out on worms head and get back in ten minutes.

All the time we were walking the skys were looking like it was going to rain but it never did. We walked back to the cafe called the look out and had lunch which was very nice.

The house in the middle of the beach amongst the dunes is where I would like to live, unfortunately it’s owned by the national trust and is a holiday let. I can but dream.

Rhossili beach
Here I sat eating my ice cream dreaming

Tenby and Pembrey

Tenby and Pembrey rolls off the tongue, that’s why this blog is titled that. But it is also a fact we have been to them both in the last month.

Nikki wanted to go to Tenby for the day on one of our days off, we have both been before but a long time ago so it was decided a trip to Tenby was in order before the main school holidays. As you know if you follow the blog I don’t like built up areas much but I wanted to go to the beach area and the old part of Tenby.

Our weekend off came around, the weather was a bit of everything for the Saturday and Sunday but we are British, we’re not going to let a bit of rain put us off, we’re not made of sugar.

Saturday morning the weather looked ok so we decided to go. I had looked on google earth and found a carpark I wanted to get to and that would have been a nice walk along the seafront to the old town. Perfect or not in this case.

We arrived at the carpark no problem, found a space no problem then joined the que to pay and here it all went wrong, machine out of order please pay by phone. Ok we have done this before. Please download the app and follow instructions. We can’t download app as no phone signal. We were not alone, there must have been about twenty peaple trying to download app and get a signal. Back in the car and off to find another carpark.

We eventually found a multi-storey carpark and went round and round and up and up and eventually came out at the top and parked up and the machine worked and because we were on top of the world we had a signal just in case we had to download an app.

By now my stomach was growling so first Job was to find something to eat. Out of the carpark and there was a chip shop so I dived in there and ordered some chips to keep us going. They had only just opened so there was a que and the staff were busy getting everything cooked and up to temperature. I apologised to the others in the que for my rumbling stomach.

Large chips went the cry out and I stepped forward licking my lips and dribbling as I grabbed them and went outside to find Nikki. We found a seat nearby and sat down to feast on our lunch. With the seagulls not far away hoping for a quick snack, not a chance here.

A walk through the town was crowded. Normally me and Nikki would part at this point, she would roam around the shops and I would go to the beach or quieter parts and then we would ring each other and meet up. This was a problem today as Nikki had forgot her phone so I had to drag along to the shops.

We were going in the right direction though towards the old part of town and harbour. And the crowds were getting less and less. Up on the headland was a old bandstand overlooking the sea with only one couple sat there gazing out to sea and so peaceful.

Tenby bandstand

We walked all around the old part, looking at the old canons on the hill left from when they were used to protect the harbour. We walked back towards the town through the old part and passed a loverly old pub with a micro brewery in one of the old lanes. Now I could have gone in there and stayed in there all afternoon.

Loverly old pub and tea room

Nikki now wants a coffee so we are on the hunt for a little tea room, we don’t want to sit indoors on a loverly day and we don’t want crowds. We pass several places and nothing appeals to us. Then just when you think your lucks run out we pass a tea room which looks like a small takeaway and ask if they have any seating upstairs, no sorry we don’t but we have a small area out the back, come this way.

Imagining we will be sat out the back amongst the bins and boxes like tramps we follow the lady through the back door. WOW is all we can say. A small courtyard with a couple of tables within a walled garden and the sun was shining on the whole yard and best of all we had it all to ourselves.

Secret garden

After our coffee, Hot-chocolate and a slice of cake each we left and not without telling them what a wonderful place it was. Heading back to the car I needed a pit stop. We found a public toilet but you had to pay, 40p and you could pay by contactless. 40p for a wee how times have changed.

A few days later we had another day off, we do work some days you know but you don’t want me to blog about them. Niki was going shopping etc so I decided to go out on my bike along the old railway line towards the coast and then along the cycle way to Swansea. But not into the big city bright lights area, I was going to stay on the outside where the marina and dock lands areas are. Urban biking can be fun, not as much fun as bike parks but if it’s quiet and empty can be fun.

Urban biking

As I biked around the marinas and old buildings looking at some old trawlers and some multi pound boats bobbing around in the harbours I thought how peaceful it was then relized it was only 9 am so good time ing on my part, get up early and get out and about before the commuters are on there way to work.

Old trawler

Another weekend off and we are of to Pembrey in the camper. We had this planned months ago, it gives the camper a run and gets us off site. Pembrey is a site we have stayed at before and like and this time we had friends who were going to be there so it was a great time to catch up with them.

We would finish work at 5pm, shower and on the road. Arriving on a site on a Friday which our always busy after 5 is pain because your choice of pitches is limited and Pembrey was fully booked this weekend. We arrived and checked in and were shown a map with the remaing six pitches on. Looking at the map the pitch we were on before when we came here was vacant so we said we would take that one as we knew we would fit on it. So off we went to get set up and would you believe it as we pulled up to get on the pitch our friends were right opposite. How bizarre is that.

We had a quick catch up and arranged to catch up again the next day. The next day we got together and walked down the beach from site about a fifteen minute walk. The weather was fantastic and hot so we had to stop for an ice cream on the way back.

Was so good to catch up with them and the plan for Sunday was to go out in there car to another beach, a pub stop on the way back and then a BBQ back at our pitch. What a great plan.

The beach we headed for was Llansteffan beach which is part of the estuary but so nice.

Llansteffan beach

Free parking at the beach which is very rare, a kiosk to get some chips and another stroll on another beach oh and an ice cream before we left. A pub stop on the way back in a proper old pub in a small village called Llansaint where we sat outside and had a couple of pints of real ale and cold glasses of wine no chips though.

After leaving the pub we went back to base and got all set up for a BBQ and of course some more beer and wine and chatter. A great evening with great company. The next day it was back to work.

Faces in the flowers

Brecon & Pandy

Time is flying away with us or so it seems. Only a month ago we were in Pendine at the Hot Rod meet. Our next weekend planned event was to take the camper out somewhere. I don’t like it just sat there for long and it had been sat for three months because of being so busy and bank holidays etc.

So we decided we would go to a site in Brecon, just over an hours drive. It gives the camper a run out and gets us off site for the weekend. We have been to Brecon a very long time ago so could not remember much about it so the plan was hatched.

The site we chose was just outside Brecon, about a 20 minute walk along the canal path. We got to the site about 5.15 pm booked in pitched up, chairs out and cold beer and wine in hand and slumped in the chairs and watched the world go by. The sun was out and life was good.

Lazy morning the next day, just chilling and deciding what time to walk into Brecon. The plan was to walk into Brecon, stroll around and then find a nice pub to treat ourselves to a meal out. Like all good plans it didn’t go to plan.

Where you start the walk from the site you have to navigate across to busy roads on a roundabout to get to the canal path. This was fun in its own right as the cars just don’t seem to want to stop and let two elderly peaple cross the road. Eventually we got across the two roads and onto the safety of the canal path.

I must admit I like canal towpaths, it’s so peaceful and life slows down, everyone on the canal boats waves and shouts good morning or on this day good afternoon.

Reflecting on life

Some of the boats or barges as they’re called are lived in, some are rented out for cruises up and down the canal while others seem to be a bit neglected which is a real shame. Twenty minutes of walking and we were at the Brecon basin which is where the canal ends. A loverly row of cottages and a few barges moored up. And the start of the town of Brecon.

Brecon Basin
Another view

Off into the town we went. We had been told about a number of pubs to look out for while we were strolling around. Brecon itself was to me just like any other town. I don’t really like shops etc. But it was ok apart from the fact we could not find a pub we liked the look off. Most of them were sports bars which means they would have big TV’s on showing football etc. That’s the last thing I want when I am having a meal and a bite to eat. It was such a nice day and we wanted to sit outside in a pub garden but none of the pubs had gardens.

It was early afternoon and we were planning on going to a pub at about 5ish so there was a huge big time difference. We had walked around Brecon, not found a pub we liked so it was decision time. Thinking we were going to end up starving and not wanting to just roam about Brecon for hours I suggested we go to the local butcher buy some BBQ food go back to the camper and have a BBQ in the sun. Great plan says Nikki so that’s what we did.

A great selection of food and on our way back to the camper. As we strolled along, me with the thought of all that loverly BBQ food and cold beer in my mind, Nikki with the taste of the wine in her mind. All of a sudden we heard our names being called out, and turned around to see some friends who were also out walking their dog along the canal path. So we walked and talked and then said our goodbyes at the canal bridge. Was good to see them. Then we had to navigate the two roads again carefully. The last thing we wanted was to be run over with all that BBQ food, can you imagine the mess that would make and how confusing it would be for the paramedics etc trying to decide which piece was human and which piece was from a animal.

We survived and lived to eat our food and drink our cool drinks in the outside with no noisy TV’s, watching the sun go down. A good time was had by all.

Our pitch

Sunday morning I got up early and decided I was going to go back on the canal path but on my bike while Nikki was happy to just chill out. See you in a hour I said as I peddled of to navigate the dreaded road again, but it was early and I was on my bike so all went well. I went the opposite way to we walked the day before and as the canal wound it’s way along I kept saying to myself I will just go around that bend and then another bend appeared so on and on I went.

I then thought I better turn around and go back so my hour that I was going to be out for turned into nearly three hours and 28 miles. Nikki had thought I had fallen in the canal but she was not worried as she knows I can swim. Monday morning it was time to start the camper up and head back to work for 1pm We had enjoyed our little weekend break.

Two weeks later on our weekend off we started the camper up and headed for Pandy in Monmouthshire. This is about an hour and a half away but there was good reason to go here. One of the reasons to go here was some friends run the site so it would be good to catch up with them and they had promised us they would cook us a meal. The other reason was less than two miles from the site is a downhill bike park called Black mountain bike park which I was very keen to get to.

We got to the site at about 6.15pm and pitched up and then went to find our friends and enjoy a nice chilli and a beer or two with them. The next day we just chilled out in the sun again. Well I did go out on my bike for a short spin just to check out where the bike park was for Sunday. And we went for a stroll around the site and a short river walk.

Old railway bridge

The Bike park opened at 10am so Sunday I am all prepared, booked online and signed the waiver and off I go with Nikki shouting take it easy. It was a hot day, the conditions were perfect, the trails were bone dry and very very fast. To anyone that doesn’t know about bike parks this is what happens. This particular one being a downhill park. They have a uplift service which is a tractor with a huge big bike rack on the trailer behind that takes you up to the top of the mountain where the trails begin or you can peddle up or walk up. It cost more for the uplift service so I just went for the day ticket to pedal/ walk up.

Two miles after leaving the campsite I got booked in they give me a brief and I was off, pedalling up the track to the top of the mountain. At the top you have the choice of various trails, all graded Blue, red Black or pro line. And the idea is you just go off on which one you want and get to bottom of the mountain. The trails include jumps, berms, rocks, trees etc. you come down quicker than you go up that’s for sure.

My first run I took it easy not knowing the trails. I managed about 7 runs before I was knackered from going up and down the mountain which was about 14 miles and 3000ft of elevation. It’s actually quite hard coming down because you have to concentrate so much and you are thinking all the time and watching the lines of the trails. I must admit I nearly lost it a couple of times on one of the jumps but I survived and rode back to the camper with a big grin from ear to ear. I slept well Sunday evening .

So that’s us up to date, the weather is still good, long may it last.

Happy place

Hot Rod Holiday

Not really a holiday but a weekend away, so I suppose you could call it a little holiday. Although for the price of it we could have had a proper holiday.

Our weekend away was in Pendine in Carmarthenshire South Wales. Pendine is famous for its beach which was used for racing cars and bikes over the years. Malcolm Campbell being the most famous who in 1924 had a top speed of 146.16 MPH and then in 1927 beat his record doing 174.88 MPH.

For the last few years the VHRA =Vintage Hot Rod Association has held a event there. I have always wanted to go to it but with it being on a weekend we are normally working and in some other part of the country.

Until this year that was when all the planets lined up for us. When we found out we were going to be working on the Gower in South Wales a hint of excitement crept into my head, but soon disappeared thinking we never get weekends of.

When we arrived on site back at the beginning of March and got our rota for the season you can imagine the excitement of not only getting every other weekend of but the most important one being the weekend of the Hot Rod event fell on our weekend off.

So the search was on to find somewhere to stay for the weekend. There was a campsite where we could have stayed with our camper but to be honest it looked a bit rough so we gave that a miss. Finding some accommodation was proving difficult or way to expensive.

Nikki was doing lots of searching, static caravans, B&B’s, apartments, houses, pubs, etc. Nothing was coming up within our price range. We decided we would drive out to the event as it’s only an hour away.

Then Nikki found a pub with rooms and one was vacant. Half an hours walk from the pub to the beach, the good thing we never had to pay a deposit and could cancel up to five days before going if we wanted. She booked it, we had somewhere to stay.

Then we started thinking, a pub, nice because we could eat in the pub but on the down side it’s going to be noisy while we are there but at least we will be there for the event. A week went past and then Nikki says, what about this apartment and reads the list out, a gatehouse to a manor, a large apartment with sea views, decking and a hot tub. HOW MUCH was my answer.

Then we thought about it. The pub would have been a noisy room and we would have ate in the pub in the evening and had to find lunch out in the day so more expense. The apartment has it all plus some and Nikki would have somewhere to go to from the beach on her own because when I get in amongst the hot rods I tend to stay there for a long time.

Just book it I said, it’s not very often we treat ourselves to staying somewhere else other than being in the camper. Nikki’s face was a very happy one. She pointed out that on balance it would cost the same as the pub and eating out as she would take food with us and cook in the evenings and we could take sandwich’s down to the beach with us. And most important she had somewhere to retreat to.

So all booked up and the pub cancelled, just count the days down now. Our managers even let us go a couple of early on the Friday which was really nice of them.

On the Friday we left work at 3pm and we were on the road heading for Pendine by 3.15. Nikki got the food ready while I had a shower and we were off with big grins from ear to ear. And those big grins go bigger the nearer we got when we started seeing some Hot Rods on the road.

At 4.25 pm we pulled up outside the apartment and by 4.35 I was sat on the balcony with a nice cold beer gazing out to sea watching Hot Rods going down the road below us. I was in heaven. Nikki was wandering around the apartment thinking how much space she had but she soon came and joined me on the balcony with her wine.

Life’s good

The Hot Rod event is a real low key event, no trade stands, no beer tent etc just a bunch of real hot rodders doing what they do. All the cars are pre 1949 and in different classes, they race down the beach against the clock over a mile. some come over from Europe. The atmosphere is fantastic with all the cars driving around, the noise of the V8’s and the clatter of the smaller engines. It’s very well organised with plenty of parking for visitors and all safely fenced of for the racing.

They have between 10am and 4 pm to race because of the tides and then they have to get all the fencing in etc. score the tide claims it. Like I said it’s very well organised. The weather sunny all weekend which was a bonus and only rained on the Monday morning when we were leaving.

I took 175 photos, walked miles, drank beer and my cheeks still ache now from all that grinning. I really need another Hot Rod in my life. Nikki never took any photos, she never walked as far as me, she grinned a lot, drank wine, relaxed in the hot tub and wishes she had an apartment in her life.

I will not show you all the photos but here our some for you to enjoy.

Woodland walks

Here we are on yet another bank holiday and it’s the beginning of May already. The last week has been very busy leading up to the weekend and we were lucky to get the weekend off, well the Saturday and Sunday at least.

Our days off seem to fly by, we have so many things to do but at the same time just want to chill out so it’s finding a happy balance. We really need to retire but that’s not going to happen unfortunately.

Last week I managed to get out on my bike for a 32 mile ride which took me all along the estuary from Gowerton to Pembrey and back. I much preferred the bike park type of riding but my fitness is not up to that yet so these ride outs are getting me there.

The route is made up of a small piece of road and then a cycle track called the millennium way, mostly flat with only small uphill sections. The scenery is great because you’re along side the estuary for most of it.

Got there, just got to get back now

Going towards Pembrey was loverly with the slight wind behind me but when it was time to come back the wind was against me, only a slight wind but it slowed me up and as I had already ridden 16 miles to get there the ride back was slower but I survived, although my legs would tell you different at the time.

Being our day off yesterday we decided to get out and about. We don’t like going out and about on a bank holiday because everyone else is out and about but we don’t like to stay on site all day either. Today was forecast rain and yes they got that right.

So decided to go to Penllergare valley woods for a walk. it’s just off the M4 at junction 47. It’s an old Victorian estate, home of the late John Dillwyn LLewegyn. It comprises of over 100 hectares of mixed woodland trees, two lakes and seven miles of woodland walks.

It’s run by mostly volunteers with a small team of full time staff. The land was slowly getting eaten up with development etc until a trust was set up to save it. It’s free to walk around but you can make a donation if you wish which all goes to help maintain and support this fantastic place. You pay for parking which is only £2 for the day. There is a small cafe again run by the volunteers. They serve hot drinks and some very nice cake. After our walk we had to sample some, just so we could tell other people how good it was.

Viewing point

We parked up and started our walk with no plan of direction. The part we started on was called the carriageway and you could just imagine the old horse and carriage bouncing along this route. Off to the left and right were smaller trails but we resisted these for a while until we just had to turn off and find out where one went.

Bluebell wood

As we rounded the corner we saw a huge big carpet of Bluebells, we had reached a part called Bluebell wood. I must say that by this point we had been walking for about half an hour and not seen a soul which made it even nicer. All you could hear was birds singing and the occasional bee looking to pollenate some flowers.

Nobody around

We came across a loverly old stone bridge and again you could imagine the old horse and carriage going across it. And to think this would all be someone’s garden.

Loverly old stone bridge

We then found a small little track and decided to find out where we would be taken if we followed it. We were not disappointed when we came to the end of it with a view over the lake and again nobody around so we sat down and enjoyed the view and peace and quiet. We saw fish jump out the water and heard a green woodpecker in the distance and a lonely duck came to see if we had any food and then realised we didn’t have any so he went off looking for other people with food.

Lake view

We could have sat there all day if we had some food but we were getting hungry or should I say I was getting hungry so it was time to carry on down the next trail we found which led us to a loverly waterfall. Not a lot of water coming down it but enough to make it look nice. As we left we saw another couple going the other way towards the waterfall.

Another peaceful moment

We got lost after leaving the waterfall, well not really lost we just went a different way looking for the cafe. Only a small detour and we found the carpark and cafe. We had only walked about two miles but it was so nice and peaceful, you would never think you were so close to the M4 motorway. A hot chocolate and carrot cake for me and for Nikki a coffee and lemon cake. Not a crumb left on the plates.

We left there and had to go to Tesco (other supermarkets are available) on the way back to base to get some more food. A chill out evening with a beer or two sat in our garden and a nice steak.

Nature and Nurture

Sunsets & Trees

Here we are six weeks into our season, still a long way to go though and things have not slowed down. The site has been busy and now Easter is upon us it’s gone mad. Add to that school holidays and you get a full site with loverly little children……not.

To be fair some of them are great but others are not but it’s not their fault it’s the parents. Luckily we are off this weekend but they will still be there when we go back tomorrow.

We had a nice drive out to Whiteford beach the other Sunday on our day off. Whiteford beach is big open beach at the end of the estuary. There’s not a big carpark by it so a lot of peaple don’t go there. Instead there’s a bit of a farmers field with an honesty box for payment for parking.

To get to the carpark you drive down some small roads and then down a dead end road and the carpark is near the end. After parking up you walk down the dead end road past a couple of old cottages and onto a footpath which takes you to the beach or through the woods to the beach and the views are fantastic.

Whiteford beach through the trees

The beach was empty apart from a few distant figures. At the far end at the entrance to the estuary is a old cast iron lighthouse which is on my list of things to get photos of. You can get right up close to it but you have to do it at low tide and you only have a small timescale because when the tide turns it comes in very quick. From the carpark and back it’s about a 6/7 mile hike so it’s one thing I will be doing in my own when it’s a nice day and the tides are right.

As you come back through the trees towards the carpark you pass a little old cottage with a tin roof which is owned by the national trust and is a holiday let. What a fantastic place to holiday. All on your own with a beach only a stones throw from your garden.

Holiday cottage

Another great thing about this season is the location for us and seeing sunsets. Because we have a wide open view facing west we get the most fantastic sunsets, when its sunny of course and being in wales those days are limited. But saying that we have had more good days than bad so far.

As this blog goes on this season you will be getting a lot of sunset photos because every one is different. I don’t have a favourite because they are all so different and nice in their own way.

Gower sunset
Another one

Yesterday we had our first BBQ of the season. A simple meal of good burgers, peppers, mushrooms and pork ribs with flavourings all washed down with Guinness and wine. After a day of sun, food and beer it was an early night and a sleep of about 11 hours.

The end of the day

So it’s back to work tomorrow. The days off seem to go quicker than the days we work. We have lots of other days out planned including a Hot Rod meeting at Pendine sands which I have wanted to go to for years but work and distance have been against us. It’s all pre 1949 cars and they race on the beach. We have not been to a Hot Rod meeting for ages so we are really looking forward to this and it’s only an hour away from here. We are spoiling ourselves with this one as we are renting an apartment overlooking the sea with a hot tub, and about a 15 minute walk to the beach. More on this to follow.

CHEERS

Getting used to work again.

After surviving the three storms in Minehead we packed up and headed out on the highway towards Gowerton on the Gower South Wales. Our place of work for the season.

The weather was dry and sunny as we went over the Severn bridge and I thought for a moment we must be somewhere else other than Wales because the weather was so nice. Even the sheep were smiling and chilling in the sun.

First stop was a site on the edge of Newport at Tredegar to pick up some stuff up which we had left there for the winter. We only stayed there for three days and then packed up again and headed out on the M4 to Gowerton. Nikki zoomed pass me on the motorway so she got there first .

Part of the route involves a low bridge which looks really low on google earth but I knew the height of the camper and knew I could get under it. There is a alternative route if bigger. I still have a roof so it does fit. By the time I got to site I see Nikki in the office with a cup of coffee. Went in in and met our new managers for this season, Martin and Fiona who are from Cardiff.

After a quick chat we got into our compound and got set up. It’s a great compound with a bathroom and a garage, no overhead trees to drop stuff on the roof of the camper and a view looking straight down the estuary which will have some amazing sunsets as it faces west and that’s where the sun goes down.

All set up

The land the campsite is on is reclaimed land and used to be all marsh land so on a big spring tide and with a strong westerly wind the tide pushes right up to the campsite gates. I have my wetsuit on standby hanging up in the garage in case I need to start swimming and also my snorkelling gear in case it gets really deep.

No high tide today

There was so much to do on site with a lot of storm damage including six huge big trees down and lots of branches and twigs all over the grass. We had a week to get the site ready for opening. We all worked so hard and even managed to cut all the grass, and there is a lot. The weather was with us luckily. Cutting all the grass meant sitting on a ride on mower for five hours and that was just me.

We had a day off so decided to go exploring. No plan just get in the car and head for the beach and see where we ended up. We drove on the main road and then turned off down some smaller roads and ended up in the middle of Rhossili beach, a huge big beach. We then turned around and headed for the Mumbles.

Parked up and had a walk around. Not impressed with the town, all looked run down but it is winter and I expect if the sun was out and into the season it would have looked better…..well maybe a little bit. The beach area and small bays by the lifeboat station were nicer.

The gates to the campsite opened on the 11th March and we had about twelve in. Was nice to see the site looking so much nicer than when we had arrived on the 1st March. There has been a steady flow of peaple arriving daily since opening. Think it’s going to be a busy year.

This weekend was our weekend off. We haven’t really done a lot, just caught up on things that needed doing. We both feel really knackered to be honest but will be fine when we get back in the swing of things. I went out on my bike for an eighteen mile ride just along a coast path so nice and flat and a good start to getting my fitness back ready to go to the bike park.

Mumbles pier and lifeboat station

It’s back to work this afternoon and even better it’s payday this week. So although we are knackered it’s great to be back to work, that is if you have to work which unfortunately we do. Lots of plans for the season and lots to see and do.

As the sun goes down the moon comes up

Two storms in a Tin Can

We have survived the two storms of Dudley and Eunice. No damage to us or the camper unlike a lot of other unfortunate peaple around the country. Hope your all sorted soon.

We are still at Minehead and the site we are on is an old quarry. We are on the southern side of the site so have a huge big quarry face in front of us which give us a bit of protection yesterday from the 65/70 mph gusts.

The site has been full most of the time we have been here with lots of caravans and campers coming and going. It started getting less busy two days ago when news of the storm was on the news. Some peaple left early and I expect a lot cancelled their weekend trip because yesterday no one arrived.

I really wanted to go down to the sea yesterday morning but stayed with the camper in case I had to move it or anything happened so it was a day of staring out the window at the rain and we even had a couple of hailstorms and watching the trees blowing about, and when the big gusts came through making sure I wasn’t just about to take a sip of my beer. I don’t like to spill any.

As the day went on the gusts became less and not as strong and the red warning went to amber so Nikki could start to breath again. This morning it’s like a different world, all calm but rain is forecast for this morning.

What else have we been doing. Nikki has been going to see Mi Mi, I have been watching the rugby after getting to grips with how the tv works and I had to get my other ear micro suctioned out. Walking down to the beach, out on my bike up the woods. Making the most of our last few days of freedom before starting work.

Sunlight through the trees

We had another day out last week when we went to Porlock. Only about six miles away by car. It’s a small little village by the sea, very pretty and very busy in the summer but ok at this time of year. Most of it is closed up.

Down by the harbour is my favourite bit with three cottages right on the sea and when the tides in the sea surrounds them on three sides because of the harbour. I should think yesterday in the storms got a bit scary with the high tides forecast also.

The beach is a pebble beach with great views either way and the sound as the sea rolls up them and back is fantastic. I actually surfed here a long time ago. As the tide comes in it funnels through a small inlet under a small bridge and into the harbour. It all happens quite quickly when it starts to come in because this is part of the Bristol Channel with a huge tidal range.

The inlet

Once you walk over the small bridge and past the cottages you’re on the beach where the first thing you see is an old war bunker. It’s on a bit of an angle now after being battered by the waves over all the years but it still has a smile on its face. Probably smiling that the war is over. Some peaple may not even notice the smiley face.

Smiley war bunker

The plan was to have lunch out this day so after the beach we went up into the village/ small town and looked for somewhere to have lunch. That didn’t go very well, closed, closed and the small cafe that was open didn’t look very inviting. Nikki went in a clothes shop to have a look around while I stood outside thinking, why go in there there’s no food just clothes. Ten minutes later she came out with a bag. I quickly asked her what she had bought hoping she had found some food for us but it was only another dress, in the sale of course.

But she had been recommended a place for lunch by the owner of the clothes shop so that was good. It was a pub just down the road which was open and serving food. We walked off to it and the wood burner was roaring away and was a really nice cosy proper old pub. And a very nice lunch was had.

So that’s up to date. We move on next Thursday crossing over the Severn bridge and back into wales. Staying on a site on the edge of Newport. We need to pick up some storage boxes which we left there last year. We will stay there for five days and then on March 1st we will head on to the Gower and settle in ready to start work on the 3rd March. Stay safe everybody.

Porlock Pebble Tower

New season = New destination

As the days go by, and I must say they are going past very fast we are into our last month of freedom. And another plus is that means it’s only now 7 weeks until our next payday. The bank manager will be pleased.

With a new season brings a new destination. We were going to St David’s in Pembrokeshire which we were looking forward to. But it’s all change, we are now going to Gowerton on the Gower coast of South Wales. Another nice area and to be honest much better for us this year as Mi Mi is still not well and back in hospital.

Being at Gowerton puts us 3 hours away from Barnstaple in North Devon rather than 5 hours away from St David’s and from Gowerton were straight on the motorway. So all in all better for us this year.

So I have been doing some research in the area of the Gower and it all looks good with at least four bike parks less than an hour away, and some great walks, Nikki has some shops nearby and there are plenty of nice beaches on the Gower. so on our days off we will have lots to do.

Last week I went out on my bike up in the woods just going here there and everywhere because there were so many bridal paths and some very nice downhill runs. All in all covered 18 miles of fun. The pic below shows a sign, at this point there were four choices of route. Can you guess which one I took.

Correct the one with the red writing.

After getting to the bottom of a very steep and winding hill I took another small road which took me to the Tall Tree trail. And guess what there were loads of tall trees including the tallest tree in England, well it was the tallest in 2009 so the sign says. Your not allowed to bike on the walking trails but luckily the biggest tree was at the beginning of the trail.

Tall trees

The whole area was planted in the 1870’s and most of the trees are Douglas firs, the tallest being 197 ft tall that’s just over 60 metres and they say the trunk weighs 50 tons. I never saw any scales around though.

Another hike, a couple of days later took me along the coast path to Dunster beach. I was only going to go to the sea front at Minehead but got a bit carried away walking along with the wind behind me, that’s the wind as in weather not the wind from me. So as I walked along past the end of the promenade, pass the golf course, and in the distance I could see the row of beach huts that face the sea at Dunster beach and thought that will be my turning point.

Dunster beach huts

A fantastic location to have a beach hut on a nice day if you can afford one. After passing all the huts I took a road which headed back to Minehead. Another six mile hike done. With that and the bike ride a couple of days earlier I have had a couple of nothing days with my body aching a bit.

That was until this morning when I decided I can’t just sit still and do nothing for more than a day. So on with my walking boots and a gentle stroll down to the harbour area and back. Only three miles in total but it stretched the legs.

Minehead harbour

It was a bit gloomy down at the harbour and even started to rain while I was done there but it still looked good with the tide in and the small boats bobbing about. There was even an old canon overlooking the harbour left over from days when it would have been used to protect the harbour from invaders.

I am home alone for a week now as Nikki has gone to see Mi Mi and then to see her sister and the boys and grandkids. I have food in the fridge and takeaways down the road so I will be fine. And on Saturday the Six nations rugby starts which I love to watch. Nikki has left me instructions on how to put the tele on and find the rugby. It’s all so complicated now, two remotes, do this do that, press this press that, plug that in unplug that. I am giving myself half an hour before the game starts and if all fails that gives me enough time to get to the pub to watch it all afternoon.

Shelter from the rain