Three weeks in

We left Minehead on the 2nd of January heading for our new base for the season in Chirk. Right on the welsh / English border between Oswestry and Wrexham. About 210 miles away. About a four and half hour drive in the camper.

Nikki was in the car and just before the services on the M5 she overtook me and slowed up in front of me. This means she was going in the services and was hoping I was going to follow. We pulled into the service area and had a comfort break. Nikki was concerned about a light in the dashboard that said low tyre pressure. I assured her not to worry and we continued on our way.

We had agreed to stop at another service area not far from where we were going because I like to top up the fuel so it’s all ready to go out next time. We both arrived within 5 minutes of each other. A quick sandwich and a fuel top up and onwards for the last ten miles.

We arrived on site and got ourselves set up in the compound. Then a quick cup of tea with Simon and Becky the managers and an early night as we had to go to work the next day. The only sound from outside was the owls hooting which we love anyway.

The next morning there was a great sunrise with the sun coming up behind the bare trees.

Morning sunrise

Off to work and get the feel for the site. There is a pheasant on site which takes a shine to peaple. As they walk by he follows them and will follow them for a fair way. It is funny but when pheasants do this they can be a bit scary as they tent to attack sometimes. So far no humans have been hurt by Freddy the pheasant and I think the more peaple on site and dogs the less he will be around.

A day off so we went for a little walk up the lanes and around the Chirk castle grounds. The castle is a national trust property which we plan to visit on another day off.

Chirk castle

This area has so much going for it and I have a huge list of things we want to do and see but we’re here for ten months so hopefully the list will be completed by the end of the season.

We had friends come and stay on site so it was only natural to show them the local pub and how nice the beer and food was. They agreed it was all very nice even though we had to walk home in the rain.

Another day off and a trip out to Llangollen which is about seven miles away. Llangollen has a steam railway line, a canal with horse drawn barges, a river running through the town and lots of small shops and cafes and of course a pub or two.

It’s rained a lot since we have been here so the river at Llangollen was in full flow. We found a small cafe overlooking the river to have lunch which was nice.

River Dee in full flow

The picture shows the river in full flow, the cafe on the left is where we had lunch and on the right is the steam railway station. No trains running at the moment. Not because they are on strike but because it’s a seasonal attraction.

Another day out was to visit the bike park at Llandegla just to get my bearings where it is check out the cafe there and I needed some new elbow and knee pads. Nikki came with me because there was a cafe involved. It’s only half an hour away and this will be my playground on some of my days off.

When we left the bike park I decided to come back a different way over the horseshoe pass. This a famous road which goes up the mountain and is shaped like a horseshoe. The views are fantastic and up the top is a cafe called the ponderosa which is used by a lot of bikers, that’s motor-bikers. It’s used by walkers, road bikers and everyone really. We will be returning to walk from there because the views are so nice.

I went out the other day for a quick blast on my mountain bike, just around the back roads and along the canal path. It was very cold and icy but so peaceful on the canal. All the narrow boats moored up had their wood burners going. Such a nice way to live and the pace of life just slows down.

Shropshire Union canal
Mawr viaduct

Houston we have a problem. In the coldest snap for a long time our heating is playing up. We called a mobile engineer out and he came to the conclusion that the controller or the PCB was knackered. Now the trouble is getting hold of these bits but he has managed to get the bits at a hiked up price because of the shortage of bits in the country. But needs must so we just had to bite the bullet and say yes get the bits please and come and fix it. In the mean time we had to go out and buy a small portable electric heater to keep us warm. The heating is being fixed in two days time thankfully.

That’s us up to date, it’s payday next week thankfully as our heating repair is not going to be cheap. The cold snap is over after tomorrow and we are heading in the right direction for spring.

The final countdown

The final countdown has started. No not the song from the 80’s by the band Europe. The final countdown for our winter break being over and going back to work in five days time.

Before we got to Minehead we had a bit of a plan while we were here. A trip to Worthing to visit my dad, a visit to a couple of our favourite pubs, a big hike from Minehead to Porlock , that was me not Nikki and lots of biking up the woods. That was also me alone.

Well like all good plans all the above mentioned have not been completed. The trip to see my dad was done and it was great to see him and his wife. We had a loverly couple of days with them. A long drive both ways and very tiring. The weather was not the best while we were there but we got out for a coffee and I went to see the sea by the pier.

Worthing pier

I did manage to get out on my bike a couple of times and even found some snow up on the hills 1000ft above sea level. Coming back down one of the trails I had to stop quickly because there right where I wanted to be going was an Exmoor pony just stood in the way staring at me. I like horses but I prefer a fence between me and them. So there we are both staring at each other, he was proberly thinking the same as me and wishing there was a fence between him and the mad biker.

I started to get my camera out because it was a great photo opportunity and he started to walk towards me. What do I do, take a quick photo and turn around and pedal away as quick as possible bearing in mind it was all uphill back the way I had come from and I new although he wasn’t going to win the grand national he could run quicker than I could pedal.

So I stood my ground and put my camera away, he also stopped. I edged forward, he stood still so I edged forward a bit more and he turned and run off into the heather and gorse. I had won the day and carried on down the hill.

What you looking at

We saw a nice old Hymer motorhome come on to site and then about an hour later I was going to the shower block and bumped into the owners. A couple I have known for at least 35 years but not seen for the last four years. We arranged to go for a meal and a few bears with them the next evening. A good excuse to get another to do item ticked of the list. We went to a local pub and had a great evening. The pub even had a musician on that night who was very good.

The hike to Porlock has been postponed for this year due to bad weather and aching limbs. Although the weather is looking good the day before we leave here I don’t want to go out on a ten mile hike and be aching so much the next day I can’t drive up to north wales.

But we did go to Porlock a couple of days ago before the rain came in. Porlock is such a great place in the winter without the crowds. There were a couple of peaple swimming in the sea in the harbour area. The three cottages were looking so nice in the bit of sunlight that was creeping up over the hill. I love the old wood at the harbour and the sound of the waves lapping on the pebbles.

Porlock
Loverly cottages

In Porlock is a cloths shop that Nikki loves and she has to go in there every time we go to Porlock. Luckily we don’t go very often. To get to the beach we have to drive through the town and this particular morning as we drove through the shop was closed. Ah that’s a shame I said, that’s the trouble with Xmas everyone wants a holiday.

So after being at the beach we had to drive back through the town and guess what. The shop was open so a quick diversion to a car park and Nikki got to go in the shop. Another thing she can tick of her to do list.

Yesterday the weather was forecast to rain all day. I can’t just sit in the camper all day so we decided to go to Dunster castle, at least it’s a well built castle with a roof. It’s a national trust property. We have just joined the national trust so our entry fee and parking were free. We plan on visiting more of their properties so it’s good value.

The castle grounds could wait for another day when the sun was out. The castle is a Motte and Bailey and later became a fortified Manor House and a country house. Built in red sandstone. The interior is fantastic and so much history in those walls.

Dunster castle

So that’s us up to date and Xmas is over for another year. Five days to go before we are back at work. I wish you all a happy new year and I will be back on here in the new year with a new list of things to do in our work season on our days off. I wonder how many I will tick off. I can guarantee that the ones involving a beer and food will get done. Happy new year.

It’s over turn the light off.

Freezing

Our time at South Molton was a contrast of Blue skys and grey skys, of warm weather to bloody freezing weather. The first weekend was so nice, almost like a summers day with blue skys.

We went out for a walk at Croyde to Baggy point which is a headland jutting out to sea. On one side is Croyde bay and the other side is Putsbourgh beach which is part of a three mile beach, the other end being Woolacombe.

For many years this area has been home, surfing, mountain biking, hiking. It’s a popular destination for surfers and on its day is a world class wave. You get a lot of wanna be surfers with their Audi’s, BMW’s etc all loaded up with boards. They talk a good surf and I am sure when they get back to the office on Monday they are telling all their workmates how big the waves were and how good they were. In reality they are known as all the gear no idea brigade.

The amount of buildings that have changed over the years is amazing. Again not locals but city folk buying up the properties and rebuilding them. One in particular on the point between Croyde and Saunton is up for sale at Ten million pounds I don’t think a local will be buying that.

We parked up in the national trust carpark and headed out for Baggy point. It’s not a long walk but really nice with views across the bay. And with blue skys it could have been a summers day. The only down side was that a huge section of the gorse bushes were black because of a fire at the end of August caused by a disposable bbq. So inconsiderate and I doubt it was a local.

A view from the coast path

We sat on a bench at Baggy point and just took in the view and silence and the unspoilt spot which I hope never changes. Good memories.

The second weekend on the site in South Molton could not have been so different. We knew some cold weather was coming in and if there is any snow about South Molton will get it and it’s always colder there. I kept saying to Nikki it’s going to snow. No it’s not was her reply. Well I won that one.

On the Friday night while we were all tucked up in bed in the warm it snowed so Saturday morning we awoke to a covering of snow and below freezing temps. The heating was doing overtime. I got up and had to go out to take some photos while Nikki stayed wrapped up in bed. She always is so sensible.

Part of the site before the snow
A Devon lane after the snow

So now I was checking the forecast daily because we were supposed to be leaving on the Monday. The conditions got worse because although we never had any more snow it was starting to thaw then would freeze again making all the roads on the site like a skating rink. It was bad enough trying to walk around but the thought of getting our 30ft five ton camper down the roads and round the bends was going to be a challenge.

We booked an extra night to play it safe and as we were only going to Minehead from there we could leave late morning. I checked out a second route to get out and with Nikki stood in the lane to make sure nothing was coming down the lane I drove across the lane turned around and headed of down hill. No stopping me now I was committed. Not only going down hill but on a narrow lane and no turning space until the end.

Made it and got to the main road and headed off to Minehead. The main road A361 was clear and looked loverly with all the trees covered in frozen snow at the side and all the fields covered in a blanket of snow. As I reached the M5 the snow was disappearing and the rest of the journey was fine.

So now we are at Minehead. The site is really quite which we like. We will be here until the new year before heading up to North wales to start work. That’s if we don’t get more snow. Fingers crossed. Plans while we are here is to bike up the woods, hike some coast path, that’s my plans while Nikki will join me in other activities like checking out the pubs and small walks.

Our first full day here yesterday so we headed out for a short walk to the beach in a very cold north easterly wind. To warm up a bit we headed for a pub right down by the harbour. A nice hot chocolate and a coffee with a piece of chocolate brownie and cheese cake on the side went down well.

Nikki was glad to get back to the camper after the walk back being cold. But on the way back we diverted a different way. Last year we saw a real old school barbers in Minehead. All the staff had black trousers, white shirts and black bow ties on. It just looked like a proper old barbers. Now I don’t need a haircut because every week I shave my head but I did need my beard trimmed so I decided to go in and have a chat.

Take a seat sir. A couple of minutes later the owner a guy in his seventies came out and said what can I do for you. He could see I didn’t need a hair cut and we joked about it. He started telling me about that he used to have a huge beard and a Harley Davison and then started to show me photos. I said I often get asked what motorbike I have and although I don’t have one I would love one. I told him about my Hot Rod that I used to own and he wanted to see the photos. It was so good in there, just proper old school. And my beard was trimmed really well. Nikki was impressed.

So that was a good day. Today it’s -3 out there but I am going out on my bike. Nikki is catching up on washing, phone calls etc. so the last two weeks have gone from Shorts and T-shirt in the sun to shorts and Tshirt in the snow. Like I said Nikki is the sensible one.

Blue skys and calm ponds

The Great Escape

The countdown was on until our leaving day. The site had hardly anyone coming to stay, the rain was persistent so I could not get any final grass cutting done.

The days were short in daylight, but still full of laughs. Everything was done on site that could be done for close down. We had a couple of days to pack the camper and car up and catch up on washing etc and then the morning of the 12th November we were off.

Were we glad to be driving out the gate, yes and no. The site was nice, the area was nice it’s just the season was not really a good one compared to others. I will leave it at that.

We were not travelling far, only about an hour away to another site on the edge of Newport in South Wales. Again a site we have used many times but it got us on our winter journey. The weather by now had cheered up and the sun was out and it was really mild for this time of year. The trees looked fantastic in their autumn colours against the blue sky.

Autumn colours

We only spent two nights at Tredegar then headed out on to the M4 and over the Severn bridge into England to Cirencester. Yet another site we have been to before and worked on.

Cirencester is a loverly old town and the walk through the Bathurst estate to get to the town is so nice on a sunny day. We were going to be here for two weeks. A week of that Nikki was going to see her sister and her boys and the grandchildren leaving me at home to look after myself. Nikki dropped me off in town as she left so I could get my Covid booster jab and while I was there they offered me my flu jab so I had one in each arm and then walked back through the park to the camper.

The fridge was stocked up with beer and food, easy to cook food that is. I knew where all the best food pubs were just in case and the takeaways. The weather was a bit of a mixture but I had a chilled out time on my own and Nikki had a hectic time visiting.

Bathurst lake

One of my walks was around the Abby grounds, some thing I had never done before even though we had spent months in Cirencester. It’s only a small walk but you can do a full loop around the lake and through the park. I spotted a Heron and lots of other ducks, swans and smaller birds. From one side of the lake you can see the church in the town and a swan was in the perfect place for me to include him in a picture apart from he was busy cleaning himself. So I got ready to take a photo and waited for him to look up and strike a pose and then click, the moment was caught on camera.

The posing swan

Further around the park was a couple of wooded statues of monks who would have been around years ago in the Abbey. Well not the wooden ones but actual peaple. In fact all around the grounds where a tree had fallen they had carved it into a seat or something to show off the area. One tree trunk had birds, otter, snake, hares, fish all carved into it. So much nicer than just leaving a old tree to rot away.

Wooden sculptures

No sooner had Nikki gone she was back. The fridge was empty but she managed to cook up a meal for us both. The next day there was a big market on in the centre of Cirencester with over a hundred stalls. Of course we had to go and have a look. We were planing in going back into town in the evening to listen to the music, watch the silent fireworks etc but the weather was turning into rain so we stayed in and played our own music.

Time to pack up and head off down the M4 again and the M5 towards Barnstaple. South molton to be precise and yet again another site we know well. From here it’s a half hour drive to see Nikki’s mum. The camper and the car are booked in for there mot and servicing, we are booked in the dentist and doctors for our annual check up.

We have to get up early to get the camper to the garage so they can start on it early and we avoid all the traffic. The mot was ok just a couple of advisories which can wait until next year. The rear brake discs need doing this year so that was all planned to be done and the annual service. I drove out from the garage with my credit card screaming to losing £1100. At least that’s the camper done.

The next day the car was booked in to another garage for its mot and service. Again we have to get up early and get it there. I had a moment and said I would take it in and Nikki could stay at home.

So on a frosty morning at 6.45am I left the campsite and headed into Barnstaple while Nikki was tucked up in bed in the warm. At 7.20am I was outside the garage changed into my hiking boots and ready for a long day. It was still dark as I dropped the keys to Barry the owner and headed out for a walk.

The garage is near the river Taw so a great way to start the day by walking along the Tarka trail. The sun was coming up as I strolled into town which for me was the best time to be in a town with all the shops closed. Hunting down a place for breakfast I came across a small sandwich shop and they did a nice bacon sarni.

The trouble is with dropping the car off early I then had a lot of time to kill. Luckily the weather was good and I like walking. I had to go up the dentist at midday and that was a two mile walk each way plus all the other walking. It was so peaceful besides the river and a photo opportunity was right in front of me. The photo below is one of my favourite photos I have ever taken. Right place right time as they say.

Right place right time

The town was starting to come to life by now so I stayed on the outside by the river and eventually started to walk the smaller roads up to the dentist. Got there early but they had a cancellation so I could get in early. Perfect timing as just after leaving there I got a call from the garage to say the car was ready.

Got to the car, hiking boots off, coat off, bill payed and away I drove with my legs aching a bit. I had walked just under eight miles in total. I slept well last night. Only the doctors to go now for our checkups and that’s next week. Then me, Nikki, the camper, the car are all done for another year.

We are here for another ten days and then we head for Minehead for three weeks and then the winter trip will be over as we start back at work the first week in January. Must be mad but the camper, car and dentist bill have got to be payed.

River Taw looking towards Barnstaple

One Missing

Back in May I was searching the internet to see what concerts were on at Swansea arena. To my surprise a tribute band called The Australian Pink Floyd were playing there in October.

Pink Floyd are one of my favourite bands who I have seen many moons ago at Wembley stadium and they were fantastic. I have also seen a tribute band called Think floyd who were great, I have actually seen them twice. The Australian pink floyd I had always wanted to see so here was my opportunity with Swansea being only twenty minutes drive away and our evening off. Tickets were bought.

We finished work early that day and headed into Swansea at about 3pm. We were going to have a walk around and have tea in a pub and then go on to the concert which started at 7.30pm. A plan was made.

I also wanted to get some photos of the Copr bay bridge. The bridge is part of a big building project to join part of Swansea with the Swansea bay. It looks like honycombe and I though would make nice photos.

We park up just a couple of minutes away from the arena and go and check out where we need to go etc when we come back for the show. We then find out the show starts at 8pm. It’s going to be a late night I think. Nikki said she might fall asleep. I then remind her that the tickets cost £50 each and she will watch it all and even sing a long. 😁

Copr bridge
Copr bridge at dusk

The Copr bridge is right outside the arena and I was lucky enough to get some photos with no one around. I love the way the sunlight comes through the cutouts. I would have loved to get some pics when it was dark but at the end of the concert this bridge would have been flooded with peaple going home.

We went for a walk around the edge of town and I was dragged around a couple of shops but not too many thankfully. We decided on having tea in a pub down on the marina. The Pumphouse was chosen, I love the use of old buildings used as pubs. Whether spoons are very good for this. So after a walk around the marina and a look at the sea in the bay of Swansea we went for food.

Swansea marina

Plenty of space in the pub even though it was a Friday but we were early. Seated and ordered all on line with a App. Nikki does that bit, I think if I tried it it would be a lucky dip what we would get. The main decision and the hardest was what soft drink to have. Do pubs do soft drinks. I was driving and I have a very strict no alcohol if driving policy. I value my licence. Nikki said she didn’t want a drink because she didn’t want to be that annoying person always getting up for the loo while the show was on. So there we were sat in a pub with our meals and a soft drink each. There is a first for everything.

Still early we decide to go to the arena and find our seats and just chill. And now the fun began. We go in through the scanners, I buy a T shirt, we go and get some bottled water as it’s going to be a long night. The band play for about two and half hours.

We walk into the arena and our seats are on the circle in the middle. We get to our seats and I am so excited and I turn to Nikki and she is shaking and starting to cry. Wow I never thought you would be that excited are you ok. NO I can’t stay here. Let me explain Nikki has a fear of heights, bridges, ledges etc anywhere that is high and she could fall.

I have had to hold her tight and walk her across a bridge before now. So with her legs going to jelly and with her feeling sick we go out to the bar area and talk about our choices. One of the staff said she could possibly swap seats with one of the disabled on the edge with a barrier in front but it was a sell out so the chance was slim.

Nikki decided she was going to go home. I said take the car but she said no, how would I get home. There was more chance of her catching a bus early than me getting one later. I wanted her to get a taxi so she would go from door to door. I was not worried about the cost I just wanted her to get home safely in the dark and on a Friday night because she still had a walk from where the bus drops her off to home.

So off she went and yes she caught the bus after promising me she would message me when she got home. I went back to my seat and watched the arena slowly fill up. The arena holds 3500 peaple and it was a sell out but there was One Missing, out of all the 3500 sold tickets there was one seat empty and that seat was next to me.

The show was fantastic and I really enjoyed it, the music the light show etc. The Audience was a lot of older peaple like myself who have been Floyd fans for years. Not many youngsters in the Audience. They don’t appreciate good music.

Australian Pink Floyd
Australian Pink Floyd

I left the arena at 22.45 and headed for the car. I don’t like driving at night because all the lights make my eyes go funny and after looking at all the laser lights from the concert it was going to be worse and I was tired. So a slow drive home and with aching eyes and buzzing ears I fell into bed and slept like a log and no alcohol was involved.

As it was our weekend off the next day we decided on a beach day. So in between the showers we headed for Caswell bay. A loverly bay on a loverly day on the Gower. We had a stroll along the beach, a look into the rock pools and Nikki even had a paddle but she did have her wellies on.

Caswell bay
Caswell bay

Back to work on the Monday after a great weekend. The site being really quiet. And now the gates are closed, the site is empty, we have shut down the site. We have reached the chequered flag. A couple of days now to get the camper loaded up, all the washing etc to do and then head out in the highway. First stop Tredegar only just over an hour away. There for the weekend and then off to Cirencester.

North, South, East.

A weekend off, another one I hear you all cry. Yes another one. In fact as I write this we only have one more weekend off before our work season is over.

So our weekend away up North, not too far North but far enough for a weekend. As you know we will be working in North wales next year, in fact it’s right on the Welsh, English border in a place called Chirk.

The site has been having a huge big refurb this year so we decided to go up to see it and see the managers. We have been to the site before so it would be nice to see how they are getting on and we love the area.

Hotel booked for two nights and no cooking for Nikki for the weekend. How I spoil her. We know the hotel (Hand Hotel) from being in the area before. We have never stayed in it before but have been in once or twice for a beer and to eat. It’s a really old hotel, one of the oldest hotels in wales but they all say that.

The drive up was really nice going straight up the middle of wales through the valleys and over the mountains and round the bends, and as a added bonus the sun was out. We needed a pit stop so we stopped at Builth wells in a car park right by the river.

Builth wells

A quick pit stop and on our way again. Now we were getting hungry and the plan was to just pull over and eat our sandwiches which Nikki had made that morning. We wanted a nice spot to pull over though, with a view. We’re not fussy really I just didn’t want to be parked right on the edge of the road eating my sandwich with cars and lorry’s whizzing past my ear.

So what we got was a lay-by but set back off the road but with no view. Beggars can’t be choosers. The sandwich was nice though. Onward to Chirk, we arrived in good time although it was a long drive, to meet Simon and Becky.

We had a guided tour of the site with all the new facilities etc which were all very nice, and then had a coffee with them and they invited us back later for a BBQ. What could we say apart from yes please. we left them and went and checked in the hotel and had a chill out and then they even came and picked us up.

The hotel room was basic. We don’t do hotels so nothing to compare it with really but it didn’t cost a lot so you get what you pay for. After Simon picking us up we had a BBQ cooked outside but ate inside as the evening was chilling down and getting dark early now but a good evening was had by all. We walked from there back to the hotel. As we left them it was pitch black on the road but luckily we had torches on our phones to light the way. Only a ten minute walk back to the basic hotel room but full of beer and food what does it matter after a long day. We both slept like logs.

Sunday morning we went down for a breakfast. ( extra cost) I had a full welsh breakfast which is the same as a full English breakfast and Nikki had beans on toast which was also the same as English beans on toast.

We then had a stroll around Chirk which does not take long as it’s only a small town. We decided to eat out Sunday night but could not decide where. In the Hotel, or next door in the wine bar, or down the road in a another pub or get a takeaway. The choice was a hard decision to make but Nikki said she would like to go to the wine bar. So that’s where we decided to go.

The walk around Chirk included a stop at a small cafe near the canal which did the most amazing chocolate and orange cake. A place I will be going back to next year for sure. On our way back to the hotel for a chill out I noticed a mural on the wall of the Castle Bistro where we were going to eat that evening. I really liked it showing the aqueduct that’s just down the road.

Local mural

We both felt really tired in the day on Sunday and both had a little nap. Is it the sign of getting old or was it just the day before catching up with us. I vote for the day before catching up with us, age is only a number. It’s just a shame some numbers are bigger than others.

Awake and showered and off out for evening, well late afternoon and early evening to the Castle Bistro. Took us all of a minute to get there as it’s only next door to the hotel. The place has a inside area, a covered outside area and an outside area. As the sun was still shining we opted for the outside area in the sun.

Cheers

How much…. Those two drinks in the photo £13 Well you only live once so we had some more drinks and a meal each all which I will say were very very nice with a total bill of £72. Bargain. I needed a lay down after paying that so it was back to the hotel and to bed. Breakfast the again the next morning and then on our way back South to base and work. Another weekend over.

The site is very quiet at the moment and we are winding down after a busy season. But the sunsets are still amazing from the site entrance.

Another sunset

The weekend just gone we had off and had planned to go and see some friends in Bridgend which is east from here. They actually live on the edge of Bridgend. Bill and June are friends we met in Spain about 7/8 years ago and have kept in touch with and managed to meet up with every year since.

They invited us to go and stay with them when they knew were were going to be working so close to them for the season. The first date we arranged was cancelled because they had Covid, the second date was cancelled because we were going up North so the third time lucky we got to see each other.

Only a 45 minute drive to their house, a very large 4 bedroom house in a very quiet cul de sac. They have two small dogs which their life revolves around. So soon after getting there we were off in the car a short distance to Porthcawl to walk the dogs. We nearly got blown away on the sea front so we sheltered and then headed for a cafe for a hot drink. Bill and June love going out for coffee.

A great evening with them catching up and a loverly meal and a drink or two. The next morning the plan was to take the dogs for a walk to a country park just down the road and then we were going out for lunch to a pub they have used before.

The Bryngarn country park was really nice with a cafe and another coffee stop. The walks through the woods and by the small river were littered with the colours of autumn and all looking so nice in the sun.

Bryngarn country park

The pub lunch was nice and another chilled out evening catching up and then Monday morning time to head back to base. We decided to stop at Porthcawl on the way back as we had time. Nikki wanted to look around the town and ended up finding a shoe shop with a nice pair of boots in that she wanted, so that was her birthday present sorted.

We left the town and drove a mile up the road to Rest bay which is where we had lunch in a loverly cafe we have used before overlooking the sea and then we had a stroll on the beach. All too soon it was time to head back to work. Still, only three weeks to go.

Rest bay cafe

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