Near Tenby, Pembrokeshire 2

The next day we went into Tenby.  We went past a car park with a large hand written sign saying no camper vans and found a much bigger one much which was closer to the beach.

South Beach TenbyThe beach was absolutely lovely and so was the weather.  We peeled ourselves away from the beach reluctantly to go and look around the town.  When we got there we saw lots of interesting little shops though unfortunately a lot of them were closing.  We then wandered around towards the harbour and found some more beaches.

Tenby3 Tenby4 Tenby5We left thinking there was a whole lot more to explore in Tenby and thinking we would come back tomorrow.

When we got back to the camp site the wind and rain picked up and I tried to pick up the weather app on my phone.  The bad signal meant I got it after quite a lot of refreshing and it informed me of winds at 35kph which would get worse until about 1 in the morning at which point they would be 47kph if I remember rightly.  I sat there listening to the wind and rain and of course I needed the toilet at about 12 o’clock.  I had woken my son up so then we  sat talking and decided to have a midnight feast.  My daughter was amazed that I was waking her up for a midnight feast, but I was excited that I would be in bad weather and the tent wouldn’t blow off.

I did wonder how the roof would manage with the wind as it got worse and the van rocked a bit.  In the end I pulled the roof down for about an hour.  I stuck it back up again once the wind died back a bit but I really didn’t need to.  I did wonder whether I should have moved Edna round a specific way but the wind seemed to be coming mostly from the side.  I was really pleased with how she coped and though I didn’t sleep well that night I now know I’ll sleep better next time.  Does that make sense?  I was the same with the tent.  Once you’ve been through a bit of bad weather you know what it’ll take.

How have the more experienced campers of you coped with the wind?

The next day looked cold, wet, windy and miserable so we headed home, glad that we’d got a couple of decent day’s weather.  Saturday was indeed full of the predicted bad weather though they seemed to have got Thursday and Friday wrong.  We will certainly be back to visit Tenby again though and we have got into a real routine with Edna.

 

Near Tenby, Pembrokeshire

We turned around with big smiles on our faces.

Kelpies Camp SiteThis was our view from the bottom of the field looking up.  There was one other set of people there in a tent and they left the following morning so then we had the place to ourselves.  It’s amazing what a bit of green space does for you.  I suppose that’s why people like camping.  There was a static site next door and one of the days we heard the dustmen emptying the bins with a lorry that issued warnings but apart from that it was lovely and quiet.  The lane we were next to had the occasional car, walker, jogger and horse go by but it was very quiet.  In the distance was a series of crows nests along the tops of trees and we could hear them which shows how quiet it must be.  The down side of course to the space and peace and quiet were the facilities.

There were two portaloos and a porta shower.  The portaloos were kept nice and clean but they were portaloos and the shower had nice hot water, but the problem was there was only one hook to hang your clothes so it was tricky not to get your things wet.

Kelpies 2The recycling facilities were behind the portaloos and as you can see from the picture, they were all near the entrance.  The washing up sink was on the opposite side.  There were plenty of water taps and hook ups all the way around the field.  We didn’t hook up, but there definitely wasn’t a shortage.

A chair with a viewA chair with a view.  The owners lived in a cottage at the top of the sloping field.  They had only just bought the camp site off someone else so their weren’t any hens yet.  The owner had just bought some chicks so there will be eggs for sale in the future.

Bad weather on the way

Nice view shame about the weather

The weather had been absolutely vile on the way, but as we got there it seemed to settle for a bit.  We had our fingers crossed as the weather forecast had said bad weather and storms on the Saturday which was possibly our last day.So after making tea and stretching out we retired for the night.  The next day we explored the area.  We were in a village called Manorbier and we walked down into the village past the castle and to the National Trust beach which was lovely.  It was a mix of pebbles, sand and rocks and was part of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.  There was a few people there but it wasn’t too packed.  There were some people sea canoeing and the sun was busy trying to shine.

ManorbierManorbier pile of rocks Afterwards we went to get some supplies from the little shop in the village including ice cream for the kids.

When we had arrived the owner had helpfully given us a sheet with local information on it and we decided that we might eat out.  Having perused the sheet we decided to go for the restaurant with a view and got directions from the owners who told us what time they opened.  We couldn’t ring them as the Orange/T-mobile mast just outside the village had been damaged by a storm and there was a very limited intermittent signal.  The owner told us that most people in the area had an Orange/T-mobile/EE phone as there was usually a good signal.

We got there fifteen minutes after they opened and they immediately asked if we’d booked.  The place was empty.  The member of staff turned their back on me and another member of staff gruffly mentioned a table number.  We were seated the furthest away from the window and the view and they forgot to explain the menus or the specials.  When we left there were still three empty tables.  Having worked in restaurants I know that even if you have nine o’clock bookings or even eight o’clock you can easily turn those over once before then.  The food was nice but disappointingly the service was a bit brusque.  Sorry to get on my high horse but I do find poor service in restaurants disappointing and I love good food and friendly service.

So we returned to Edna and I had a glass of wine whilst we played Go Fish which is beginning to be a camper van tradition and hoped the weather would hold for the next day.

(to be continued)

Pembrokeshire

The next county in Wales we decided to go to was Pembrokeshire.  We have been to the top part a couple of times before and visited St Davids.  Last year we stayed in the Camping and Caravanning Club Site near there.  We visited the cathedral in Britain’s smallest city.

St David's cathedralIt looks like another bench with a view there.  I seem to like those.  It was a bit of a murky day as you can see.

The Caravanning and Camping Club Site is a little way out from St Davids.  We visited a very popular beach which we had to queue to park in and then when we got there they were three deep on the beach.  Everyone had little pop up shelters, windbreaks, wetsuits and lots of gear.  It was like a little camping village on the beach.  As we were camping we had micro fibre towels,  a bottle of water, a packed lunch and one bucket and spade to share.  We felt like we had to lie down like a starfish and spread out in order to preserve our space.  It was a very nice beach, but very busy.  I can’t remember the name of it.

The next day we decided to walk to a quieter beach nearby.

Beach near St DavidsIt didn’t have the sparkling yellow sands of the previous day.  It was a little more grey but it was a lot more peaceful with a mix of rock and sand.  We watched the sun set and walked home.  The only problem was the amount of slugs we encountered on the walk back.  Yeuch!  Whilst we were at the campsite I met a man with a camper van and two boys.  They had driven down to the beach and eaten their breakfast there and I remember thinking I would like to do that.  So that’s something else on my wish list of things to do.  Breakfast next to a beach.

 

We decided we would like to go to the South of Pembrokeshire this time to an area we hadn’t been to.  I had heard a lot about Tenby so I had a look for campsites near there.  They seemed to fall into two camps, all singing and dancing campsites often with a lot of statics and club houses or more basic sites.  So this time in contrast to Fforest Fields we chose a Certificated Site which is owned by the Camping and Caravanning Club but only allows five caravans and a small number of tents.  We went for a site with a good location over facilities this time and the site claimed it was walking distance to the beach, but it had portaloos and an outside washing up sink.  It had very good reviews.

It’s at this point when you’re travelling there that you remember how far away Pembrokeshire is and therefore why it’s nice and quiet compared to some other parts of the UK.  It is probably the County in Wales the furthest away from England.  I say probably it obviously depends where you’re coming from and where you’re going to.  We arrived a bit later than anticipated and heart in the mouth turned the corner hoping for a good spot.

Now, I’m afraid I’m going to be a tease and keep you in suspense until tomorrow.  Was it a good site?  I’ll let you know.

Camping Trip – Fforest Fields near Bulith Wells, Powys

Another view of Fforest Fields

Fforest Fields camp site and the boating lake behind it.

We headed off last weekend for our first trip on our every county in Wales challenge.  Well, we’re only challenging ourselves.  We decided to do Powys which is a huge county and has lots of choice.  It is also one of the few counties in Wales which doesn’t have a coastline.  We had already been on a couple of trips to Lake Vyrnmy which is in Powys, so we decided to go a bit further South.

We decided on Fforest Fields which is near Bulith Wells and comes highly recommended on http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/  It was our first time on hardstanding as last time we had been put on the grass, so it seemed a bit, well concretey at first and took a few moments to adjust.  I do like a bit of grass.  We found a hardstanding with some grass next to it so we could put up our tent and settled in.  We found the site okay despite realising that we had left our maps at home.  They were involved in an accident in which they had got soaking wet and we had taken them out of the van to dry, but I had forgotten to put them back.  We were okay with the Satnav app on my phone and the directions from the website, west of Hundred House village.  I knew it was Welshpool, Newtown and then either Bulith Wells or Llandridnod Wells.

After playing with the tent and cooking dinner we settled in for the night.  I organised the bedding differently.  Everyone had one bag with their sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner and sheet for the bed.  So just three bags out from under the seat.  One up the top in the roof and two for downstairs.  It was much quicker and the new sleeping bags were much better than the old ones, very toasty and a lot less messing about than trying to add blankets and things on top.  In fact, one of the nights we were all pretty warm and were unzipping in order to keep cool.

Our first full day we decided to go to Hay-on-Wye the book town.  We were a little bit worried it wouldn’t live upto expectations.  We had been to Wigtown, the Scottish book town before and found it to be a lot smaller and less books than we had expected but Hay-on-Wye was brilliant, once we got there.

We had a bit of a dilemma with the SatNav.  First of all, I put in Ross-on-Wye and wondered why the journey time was so long.  Then we had a bit of a problem with directions.  I was driving and the phone won’t sit on the dashboard with the sucker thing like it did in the car, so my daughter is in charge of it.  She is usually in charge of directions as though my son is older he can’t read a map or directions whilst we’re driving.  It makes him car sick.  None of that phases my youngest and she likes maps and is pretty good with them.  Anyway for some reason or other we went badly wrong.( It could have been a right hand turn instead of left out of the campsite.)  We went onto a B road which was two lanes, then onto a smaller road which was smaller with passing places and then we ended up a small track with no passing places until the SatNav told me to do a U turn as I was in a farmer’s drive.  The SatNav then refused to get a signal even though it had one all the way up there.  I just retraced all the roads backwards then until I got back onto the main road and drove up the A road looking for signs.  It took us a bit longer than using any minor roads but at least I could relax and breathe properly.  We then decided to buy a map Hay-on-Wye.  My son said that Edna wanted a bit of an adventure and was obviously trying to do some Free Running or Parkour.  That became a bit of a saying then for the rest of the trip.  “Is Edna going to do any Parkour?”

The next day we explored the site.  There are lots of walks which can be done from the site which is a big plus point, but we had to wait for one of the maps to be downloaded as they had run out when we arrived.  The day we left, we realised there were about 5 sheets with useful information and walks on them.  It was a real shame we hadn’t had them earlier as we may have done another walk.  We walked into the woods above the campsite and zigzagged around and up.  There was a big cycle race which we accidentally got caught up with and had to mind out of the way (leap into the verge).  It was okay going up hill as we were faster than them but when it got to a downhill part they were going pretty fast and we had to be very vigilant until we could find an alternative route.  There were some great views.

View from above Fforest Fields

A bench with a view

A bench with a view

View of the campsite and the fishing lake in the foreground and the boating lake further back.

Views of Fforest Fields 3

Our Pitch

Our pitch

Then after some more eating and relaxing and discussing where to go the next day we ended up going to sleep.  A relaxing day.

The next day we went to Brecon which was lovely and particularly the canal.  We ate our lunch by the side of it listening and watching people in hire boats trying to work out what they were doing.  Next time we will definitely get there earlier and hire one of the little boats for a few hours.

Brecon canal Brecon canal 2

After that we headed for an ice cream parlour which according to the leaflet was in an area just outside of Brecon.  I got the impression it was in a neighbouring village, but we found it a couple of minutes out of the town centre.  The ice cream was fabulous.  We had two flavours each but they included Turkish Delight, Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake, another cheesecake flavour, Coffee and Walnut, Mango and Chocolate Orange.  We decided the Turkish Delight flavour was the best.

Ice Cream parlourThe following day we looked at even more sheep and their lambs which the children loved.  We walked around the boating and swimming lake and found the fishing lake which we had originally missed as it was over a hummock.  The weather was so nice that we caught the sun even though the children had their jumpers on and we had to slather sun cream on after that.

We came back feeling like we had sort of cracked things, unlike the last trip where everything went wrong.  We just need to make sure Edna doesn’t decide to do anymore Parkour.

Bell Tent

So we popped the 3 metre bell tent up in the garden.

test bell tent

We had to attach the guy ropes.  We couldn’t pull them straight out as we ran out of garden, but we sort of got the idea.  Then we put it up again when we went away.  I say we put it up, but my son put most of it up and my daughter helped peg it out.

bell tent

And here’s a closer shot of the inside.

Inside of the bell tent

As you can see, it has plenty of room to sleep in.  We could easily fit three sleeping mats in.  We only need it for one or two.  The headroom isn’t brilliant.  You can stand up in the middle and can probably fit two people in chairs quite close to the centre, but we don’t really need too much headroom.  We didn’t use it much as there was only the three of us and the weather was fair.  We need it more when there are four of us or when it’s wetter.

It rained for a little while and seemed fine and though we didn’t get it back in the bag with the poles the first time, we did manage to get it back in the bag with the poles the second time.

Okay, so the not so positive bits.  Putting the three poles in is obviously trickier than the one, though it leaves more room in the tent.  Unfortunately, you need to get in the tent, which is a bit like going under a blanket and what I hadn’t thought about was that I don’t like enclosed spaces much.  So, I kind of need to grit my teeth before going in and ask someone to hold up the entrance so I can still see out.  I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time especially with my children’s help.  It just wasn’t something I thought about before I bought it.  On our old tent the poles were on the outside.

I’ll report back on what it’s like once we’ve used it a bit more in a variety of weathers and got used to putting it up and down.

We did see some other campers with a five metre bell tent which looked enormous.  From what I could see they had an inner taking up half the tent and it had two doors to it so it looked like they could fit four people in half the tent an it obviously had a lot more headroom too.  Far too big for use with a camper van though.  The mini bell fits nicely in the back and we’ve started to work out where we’ll pack everything in the camper van.

I’ll tell you more about our trip over the next week.

More A-Z posts and a quick update

Thank you to all those people who are reading my story.  All the A-Z posts link together and tell a part of the story from a different persons perspective.  The links for the latest parts are here

Evan  https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge/a-z-blogging-challenge-e-is-for-evan/

Fiona   https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge/a-z-blogging-challenge-f-is-for-fiona/

Gloria   https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge/a-z-blogging-challenge-g-is-for-gloria/

Hilary  https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge/a-z-blogging-challenge-h-is-for-hilary/

I have a particular fondness for Gloria.  I loved writing about her.  Is there anyone in my story you particularly like or like to hate?  I would love to hear.

Now I’m off on a trip in Edna very soon and I’m not very sure about my internet connection.  I know I’m one post behind on the A-Z posts at the moment, so I will try to do some extra before I go.  If I lack internet access I will still write the posts in my notebook and give you a glut of them when I come back.  I hope you will bear with me on this one.  I should have thought about going away before I started the challenge really, but I jumped in head first.

We have booked a camp site and the little tent has come.  We have tried putting it up in the garden and I attached the guy ropes.  I also took some pictures.  We will try out the new sleeping bags too.   I’m very excited.  So, lots to report on very shortly and I promise to take plenty of pictures.

 

 

 

 

Tent or Awning?

I have managed to copy my A-Z blog posts and put them under the A-Z page which you can find at the top of my blog.  They are supposed to be posted every day except Sundays during April.  I forgot to do Saturday’s so I did it today.  They won’t be sent automatically any more as they are posted as pages rather than posts.  This was the only way I could keep them separate from the rest of my blog and in the correct order so they can be followed easily.  There’s a link here too  https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge/  Please keep looking I’ve been encouraged by the number of people who have found them interesting.

Now Edna hasn’t been out on much in the way of adventures recently.  The weather hasn’t been great and the children have had birthday parties to attend, but we’re planning two trips during their Easter holiday.  One at the beginning and one after the Bank Holiday hopefully.  The night time temperatures seem colder than last time we went away, but hopefully the new sleeping bags will save the day or night.

I mentioned before that Edna sleeps 4 people, but with a boy and a girl that gets a bit awkward as they don’t particularly want to share.  The solution is an awning or tent to go with the van.  I have been looking around at camp sites for a couple of years now and the awnings seem to be either small and porch like for a table and chairs and extra storage or massive.  Coming from a camping background I have always fancied a bell tent, so I thought that if I have to get a tent or awning why not get one I really want.  The big down side of a bell tent is drying the canvas, but if I use it with the camper van I can just get it out when it’s warmer or when we need extra space with the four of us.

I was hovering between the 4 metre and the 3 metre, but then I saw the new 3 metre without a centre pole from belltent http://www.belltent.co.uk/bell_tents/3_metre_ultimate_bell_tent   It seems big enough to sleep a couple of people or even 3 on a hot night.  I’ve gone for a zipped in ground sheet so I have the option of rolling the sides up if it’s warm or zipping the bottom off if it gets muddy.  I’ve dithered quite a lot about this decision and I’m hoping I’ve made the right one.  I think only time will tell.  Maybe I’ll regret not having an awning that physically attaches to the van, but I just had this vision of me driving off without unattaching it properly, or not being able to park in exactly the same spot when I came back from the day out.  What about anyone else?  Any thoughts on awnings and tents?  Hopefully it will come some time this week.

 

 

Edna’s First Camping Trip (day 2 and 3)

Delamere Forest 0314

So after our square sausages we set off to explore the woods which led off from the campsite.  We went for a bit of a walk and had a look at the Go Ape course, but then we decided to find the bike hire place in case we ended up walking where we were going to cycle later.  My daughter had been really looking forward to hiring bikes as she hasn’t had much practise riding and her bike is now too small for her.  We found the bike hire place and I found out I had to pay an adult price for my son as he is tall enough for an adult bike now.  We were fitted for bikes and helmets and shown our gears, thumb for easier and finger for harder.  Back brake, front brake, always use your back brake and never your front brake.

So, off we went.  My daughter was a bit wobbily at first and needed a lot of reassurance to keep going.  She gritted her teeth though and kept at it.  She’s very determined when she wants to be.  She struggled a bit with the hills though and had to get off and walk up a fairly big one.  I’ll be honest so did I.  The smaller slopes were okay , but this was a bit steeper.  Anyway, we got to the top and decided to go down the hill and look for a path a bit flatter.

We went in the order we had been in all morning, my son first, then my daughter and me at the rear, so I could see if my daughter was struggling.  I reminded my daughter as I had all morning, “back brake, back brake, use your back brake.”  So we came down the hill using our brakes, and my daughter panicked and used the front brake too and flew off her bike.  There’s that horrible moment when you see something like that happen but you can’t stop it or get there quick enough.  She landed with a right whack on her arm.  A lovely couple with their two small children were nearby and came to see if we were alright.  My little girl was really shaken up and we decided to return the bikes.  She held her arm in a funny way all the way back and the nice lady wheeled her bike for us.  They were staying at the same campsite as us.  She was very pale and still in a lot of pain.  I asked the other lady’s opinion and she said it was better to check it out and I agreed.  She asked the bike hire place if someone could give us a lift back to the campsite and they did.  I then went to reception at the campsite and confirmed the nearest A and E was at the hospital in Chester.

We spent three hours at A and E where they told us that fortunately her arm wasn’t broken and suggested Calpol or Nurofen for the next 24 hours.  Relieved, but hungry, she had hurt her arm at 12:00 and we were told not to let her eat or drink until she had been seen, so at nearly 4:00pm we raided Edna’s fridge in the car park and made our way back to the campsite.  The children were determined that we were going to carry on and not go home.

We got back to the campsite and went to pop Edna’s roof up but it wouldn’t go up.  The left side did but the right side wouldn’t unclick.  I tried several times and by this stage was feeling pretty exhausted and emotional.  I eventually made the decision that it wasn’t going to go up so we had two options, to go home or try to sleep without the bed in the roof.  Did I mention that my kids didn’t want to give up?  So my son cooked pasta for tea with chopped tomatoes and one of those big smoked sausage type things chopped up in it.  My daughter didn’t want to try and sleep across the front seats and I thought her arm might still be hurting her so my son offered to try and sleep across the front seats.  He managed it for a couple of hours and then joined us in the double bed.  It was fairly cosy, but we were all so exhausted that we slept soundly until morning and were pretty warm too.  There was a fair bit of condensation though.

Morning was bacon sandwiches time and after a lot slower morning than the previous day, we were all feeling refreshed after some much needed sleep and ready for a better day.  We left and headed for the Anderton Boat Lift.  http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/Anderton-boat-lift  We had a brilliant day out.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it said the boat trips weren’t running yet on the information leaflet, yet when we got there they were running them early, though we couldn’t go on the actual lift just up and down the River Weaver.  The gentleman who did the commentary was brilliant.  He lived and breathed the local area and was extremely knowledgeable.  The lift has an exhibition and it joins the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal.  It was originally built to help carry salt from the area and was a hydraulic lift but it became electric later.  It was falling apart and then a short while back they decided that instead of letting it fall apart they would restore it.  It’s a great bit of industrial engineering.  In the area is also a country park and the canal has a marina a short walk along.  There’s plenty to see another time so we have decided to return another day when the lift is open and explore the country park and canal a little bit more.  They also had a nice gift shop with a good assortment of books and gifts which didn’t all cost a small fortune.  We were home by 4:30pm ready to see their Dad and tell him about their weekend.

Anderton Boat Lift

So that was our first camping trip in Edna.  A suspected broken arm and the roof didn’t work.  As my Dad once said to me, “it’s not about the mess you get into, but how you handle it when you’re in it and how you get out of it.”  I think we managed quite well.  I’m glad we went to the hospital because otherwise I would have worried that she had broken her arm and we were a lot warmer without the roof popped up.  It was a memorable first outing.  The best view was of the boat lift.  Would I do it again?  Of course.  Just give me a bit of time to recover but I’m planning the next adventure already.

Plans

I was thinking about plans for the warmer weather and I had been wondering about a theme. When the kids were younger we did a Castles week which was nice and we talked about doing a Waterfalls week which we haven’t yet done. But then I read an article in Camping Magazine here http://campingmagazine.wordpress.com/ about the gentleman camping at least one night in every county in England. This sounds very ambitious in a tent. So then I wondered about Wales and I think I will try in the better weather to camp in every county in Wales. Maybe it’s not as ambitious as every county in England but it sounds like an interesting idea. The North of Wales is our usual stomping ground, though we do actually live in England, so it will make us explore a little further South. We have actually only lived in this area for six years so we’re still exploring.  I hope to do lots of exploring in these counties too.

Edna

So, Edna is the name of the new camper van.  She is currently being serviced, diesel heating fitted and the water container moved to the back of the vehicle with a couple of extra shelves being put under the sink.

She has a pull out rock and roll bed and a double bench seat which turns around so she can seat five for travelling and four around a table to eat.  The roof can fit two adults when it pops up unlike a lot of other beds we saw which were only really for children.  The diesel heating sounds great too as it is attached outside the vehicle and piped in so it’s not too noisy and there’s no need for an electric hook up in order to get some heat.

The gentleman who did the conversion ( it’s a new conversion on an old vehicle) used to be a kitchen cabinet maker so all of the cupboards inside the vehicle are made of real wood which is lovely.

We also have the option later on to return and add things on or change things of course.  My husband would like different seat fabric and we have suckered on blinds at the moment rather than curtains, but there is so much money you could spend on these things and only so much money in the pot so we’ll live with it for a bit and see what we need and what we can live with.

We should be picking her up on Wednesday, fingers crossed.  It’s half term the week beginning the 17th so we’re hoping for some halfway decent weather.  Yesterday there were winds of up to 60 miles an hour with lashing rain/sleet here.  We went to the library and the new sweet shop and it was pretty bitter weather.

The children have seen Edna and have given their seal of approval.  They agree with the name too.  She will probably be Ed or Eddie for short, but I hope she then doesn’t get confused between whether she’s a boy or a girl.

We’re hoping for a big tour of Scotland in the summer, depending on my husband’s holiday and how much time he can get off.  Hopefully if she’s ready by next weekend we can try going for a walk and coming back to a cup of tea or some hot chocolate and testing how warm the heater is.