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

Hike and Bike

When we decided to come to Minehead I did a lot of looking at google maps to see if there were any biking trails and good walks. Staying on the coast of course you have the south west coastal path which runs for hundreds of miles.

Over the years I have done bits and pieces of it here and there. It’s so nice hiking by the sea, the sound, the smells and of course the views are fantastic. When the path turns inland you get the contrast of open fields and woods etc.

Yesterday I did a Seven mile hike, leaving the campsite and heading for the seafront and then turning right and walking along the seafront past the harbour and to the start of the coast path. You pass a loverly sculpture of some hands holding a map so you know you’re going the right way.

Start of the coast path

You also pass some old cottages which have stood there for years and years and have been battered by winter storms, high tides etc but are still standing after all these years. They don’t build them like this now that’s for sure. In between two of the cottages is a small little cottage which looks like it’s a pit building which it may have been at one stage but is now a small cottage.

Who lives in a house like that

My hike started off nice and level beside the sea and then soon reached a point where I was going up through the woods, and when I say up it was up and up some more. My legs were burning, my heart was thumping but I felt good. Must admit my hips and legs are a bit sore this morning after the just over seven miles and and just over 900 ft of climbing yesterday.

Another thing on my to do list while here was to hike to Dunster and hike up to the Conygar tower on the hill in Dunster. This was just over five miles and only just over 500ft of elevation but the sun was out and it was a beautiful day.

The Conygar tower was built in the 17th century, it’s a circular three story folly tower of red sandstone. Stands 18 metres tall and there is no evidence of it ever having a roof or floors.

Conygar Tower

The tower looked great in the sunlight and also made some great photos with the shadows and sunlight. I was up there all alone with this tower and nature, apart from the birds singing. You will see from the photos I like to take arty farty photos also.

Sunlight and shadows
Looking up from the middle inside

After dragging myself away and walking down into Dunster which is a loverly old village with just a few shops, cafes and of course a couple of pubs. The roads are narrow and at one point you have to navigate your way around a structure called the Yarn market. This building was built in 1609 when Dunster was a cloth trading place. The building is octagonal and when stood inside you can just imaging all the traders that would have traded in the building over all those years.

Sunlight coming through the window of the yarn market

A bike ride was also done this week to Watchet. About 16 miles and 800ft elevation. Again going along the coast as much as possible and then the back roads. And a couple of days later another bike ride up to Bossington hill and back down through the woods on the bridle paths. This ride also included a stop at St Michaels church, no not because I have gone all religious or that it’s named after me, not the saint bit. Just because I wanted to get a photo of the old steps that lead up to it through the cottages. It was built in the 15th century.

St Michaels church and steps

Now it was Nikki’s turn to come out with me, she’s not a biker or hiker. She has been away because of MiMi being back in hospital so Nikki has been staying at her flat and visiting her. She came back and I said we were having a day out.

Again I had been looking at google maps and discovered a beach I wanted to visit. Nikki was up for it so we headed out in the car to East Quantoxhead beach. You park in a little sleepy village, no pub in this one just a few old cottages, church and farm buildings and as it’s a proper old village a duck pond. You park on a bit of wasteland and there is a honesty box for your carpark money £1.50 for all day. I love things like that and hope it doesn’t get abused by peaple that think life is a free ride. The money goes towards maintaining the church.

While I was putting my boots on Nikki went and paid and then I heard her voice over the stone wall..I need another £3.50 Bloody hell I thought the church had fallen down and needed a complete rebuild so the parking fees had gone up. No on the other side of the wall was a little wooden structure with apples and bottles of apple and ginger drink, homemade by someone in the village so she had to have some. I think she thought it was wine.

It’s about a twenty minute to the beach from the carpark across the fields and then you get to the beach. It’s not a sandy beach but a beach with the most amazing rock formations and it’s also known to have a lot of fossils. Well there were two extra fossils today looking for others.

Rock formations

The little red dot at the end of that rock face is Nikki searching for fossils. And yes we did find some, not huge big fantastic ones but we did find some. I was just blown away with the rock formations with so many different kinds from the ones in the picture above to smooth rock and even some that looked like block paving. So many different kinds in such a small area.

Rusty old steps to the beach

After we left the beach we called into Watchet so Nikki could see it and I even treated her to lunch in the pub. All in all a great day out.

Dunster castle in the mist with the road highlighted by the sun

Minehead

Here we are at Minehead in Somerset. I can’t help thinking it was named after a German, it’s just the word Minehead. Every time I hear it said I hear it in a German accent.

Minehead is an old seaside town which has been added to over the years much like a lot of seaside towns. The old part is loverly with old cottages and thatched cottages on the hillside. Butlins came here in 1962 and brings in thousands of people to Minehead in the summer. The town part I don’t like, it’s to much bucket and spade brigade for me.

I would never come here in the summer, that’s when it fills up with lots of blokes wearing football shirts and mums shouting at the kids to come here. All heading for the amusement arcades to spend all their dole money then to the nearest pub to drink as much lager as they can before falling over while mum is still shouting for little Leroy to come back.

I nearly forgot. Happy new year to you all. I was planning on a dry January, no beer and no chocolate or crisps for a month. How did it go I hear you cry. I lasted three days before giving in, don’t know why I bother saying I am going to do it really. But I am getting off my arse and out on my bike and hiking after having a lazy can’t be bothered two months.

Minehead has a old railway station and the old steam trains are running in the summer months. At the moment all the carriages are parked up at the station waiting for the better weather and all them little Leroys.

All lined up
Old water tower

While here we had to go back to Barnstaple for the dentist and to see Mi Mi. The drive from here is not a good one and takes over an hour on some not so good roads at this time of year. Dentist robbed us of £360 pounds, why can’t I earn that sort of money for an hours work. I know why because I never went to school enough.

By the time we left the dentist and Mi Mi it was getting towards dusk and the country roads around Exmoor were looking nice. We saw a huge herd of deer, a couple of hawks and right next to us on a fence post as we drove past a barn owl .

After talking like we were drunk because of the anaesthetic from the dentist all the way home and spilling my drink of water where my mouth was not working like it should. All was well though by the time Nikki had cooked tea. There’s not a lot will get between me and my food.

The next day I went out on my bike up Bossington hill which has some great views overlooking Porlock bay although it was a bit murky due to the low cloud but at least it was a 15 mile bike ride done with a nice downhill section at 44 mph.

Bossington hill view

All around Minehead are little peaple made from scrap by a local guy who was unemployed. He started cleaning up Minehead to keep himself busy and then started making these little characters for the local businesses and they can be seen in so many places. Really brings a smile to faces when you spot them.

Happy peaple

Y M C A

We are here for a few weeks yet, so lots of exploring to do on foot and on bike and some trips out in the car planned. Lots of photo opportunities and maybe a pub or two. Maybe next year I can aim for 4 days of New Years resolutions before I give in. Stay safe everyone.

The train is leaving in March