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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Camping and Forgetting Things

So after some set backs earlier in the week I found another camp site and booked it.  Since then we’ve had these foggy colder mornings, so I’m hoping it’s not going to be too cold.  It’s a bit of the unknown though.  I’m not sure how warm the camper van will be and I keep writing check lists in the hope that I don’t forget anything.  I probably will, but most things you can get around.  I think I’m just a bit worried it won’t be as great as I hoped.  I just have to remember that I loved it when we rented the camper van and I’ve forgotten a lot of things before whilst I’ve been camping but it’s never been a failure because of that. 

I quite often forget night clothes when I go away and have to transform some tracksuit bottoms into pyjamas or a t-shirt into a nightie.  I usually remember to check the children’s though, so it’s only normally me.  We once forgot the tin opener and had to ask some people at another tent to borrow theirs.  They were ever so lovely and actually came past our tent the next morning and asked us if we needed it again for breakfast.  When we first started camping we didn’t have chairs and we just sat on picnic blankets the whole time, and early on I once forgot to pack cups and the children had drinking chocolate out of bowls, very continental.  Have you ever forgotten something really important?

I have never forgotten the tent or the pegs though, or even the sleeping bags or air mattresses/sleeping mats.  I’m just a little bit nervous, but excited too.  Nearly everything is ready and hopefully our new sleeping bags which are a bit thicker will arrive before we go tomorrow.  I ordered them on Monday next day delivery and they didn’t arrive on Tuesday.  So I rang them up on Wednesday and they said they were out of stock on one of the additional items I’d ordered.  I asked if I could have the order without that and they said certainly and told me I would have it the next day, Thursday and promised not to charge me for next day delivery.  Nothing arrived today, but on their website it says my order will arrive tomorrow between 06:30 and 19:00.  Well, we’re hoping to leave by 5:00pm so you never know.  We can still use our older sleeping bags and take some extra blankets and things anyway.

So, work tomorrow and school for the children and then we’ll see how quickly we can get away.  It’ll be a proper test because it does take a while to strike camp in a tent so we’ll see how quickly we can get ready in Edna.  I’ll report back next week with some pictures.

First Experience of a Camper Van

Wahoo!   I’ve just bought a camper van.  Well, I’ve put down the deposit and negotiated the deal.  I will pick it up around about the first of February.  I will tell you more about her another day, but first I feel I should tell you about my one and only trip out in a camper van so far in my life.

dscf1016.jpg

This was a photo I took from the van and it’s also currently the background image on my blog.  It seemed only fitting to use it.

I’ve always been a camper as I’ve mentioned before and I started looking at camper vans and liked the idea of being able to make a cup of tea or coffee in the rain.  I also like the idea of being able to go somewhere for just one night.  You really can’t do that in a tent.  By the time you’ve set up camp you feel you don’t want to move for at least three days, well I don’t, though it is getting easier as the kids get older.  Anyway,  a lot of friends seemed to be turning 40 and people were celebrating it in different ways.  There were meals out, spa trips and giant nights out.  I was asked what I was going to do and I started to think about what I really wanted to do.  You know, you don’t always stop and think about what you really want usually you just drift along.  As I get older and time seems to fly quicker I do have to stop sometimes and think, no hang on, what’s really important.

Well, I wanted to hire a camper van and go somewhere with my family.  It was a bit pricey for me, but you only turn 40 once.  My birthday is in April, so it’s usually too cold to camp and too unpredictable weather wise.  I had a bit of a disaster with a tent one Easter which put me off Easter camping – too windy.  But a camper van, that would be ideal.  My husband couldn’t get the time off work so it was me and the children.  I chose a site in Wales on the coast (Cae Du campsite).  You could see the sea from the van and it also allowed camp fires.  There were sheep grazing there and they left rather a lot of muck over the grass to put a tent on, but it was easy to avoid in a van with wellies.  We enjoyed watching the sheep, a small train would occasionally trundle past full of waving occupants and the sea could be watched endlessly.  The site went right down to a pebbly beach.  The facilities were fine but basic but that wasn’t what we paid for.  We were so close to the sea that on the Friday night I even dreamt about the sea.  On Saturday we explored the local area, with bracing walks on Tywyn beach and further down we explored the sand dunes of Aberdyfi and played in the sand enjoying fish and chips too.  Whilst we were there a whole convoy of cars appeared and filled the car park.  They had come along on a big expedition, I think it was from Chepstow, though I could be wrong.

Hired camper van in Aberdyfi

We just stood there grinning from ear to ear.  Our camper van is at the far end.  I think we counted about 47 of these cars in every colour of the rainbow.  After a fabulous day we looked forward to a camp fire.

cropped-dscf1082.jpg

Do you recognise this photo?  Well, actually we couldn’t get the fire lit.  Most of the wood in that great big bundle waiting was too wet.  The great chaps next to us came to help and told us they’d brought wood from home and offered to lend us some.  Campers are always brilliantly friendly and helpful.  I would have said yes, except that in the mean time my little girl was curled up in bed and my son was cold and couldn’t wait to climb in the van so it seemed pointless to spend the next hour building up a great fire for myself.  I admitted defeat and climbed into the van having had only a small fire which had gone out pretty quick.  But I still like the potential of the photo, that sense of expectation.  (To be honest I always struggled with camp fires at Guides)

On Sunday we went home, but just before we left my son raced me over the slopy bit to the entrance and fell over landing badly on his arm. We didn’t think it was broken at first as he could still move it, but we knew it was bad when his sister offered him Haribos and it didn’t cheer him up.  The cast was on for six weeks.  So now the weekend is associated with the time he broke his arm.  Both children still thought the camper van was great.  My son said he will never forget how excited I was the day I picked him up in the camper van after school.

Now it’s time to get excited all over again.

Christmas – A Special Time

I hope you had a great Christmas.  I spent lots of time with my family.  I love Christmas.  It’s a time to make memories.  You close your eyes, breathe it all in and try to remember it all, those feelings around you.

I think that’s why I like camping too.  It’s the memories you make.  I hope that when my children are older they will remember both holidays and Christmases as a family time filled with love and happiness.  I know I do.

Happy New Year

First tent

I have been looking for some photos of my first camp or at least my first tent, but I have been struggling to find any.  I won’t give up yet but here’s a link to some pictures and reviews of the tent I had.  It was an Easycamp San Remo 400.  It was only available for a short while then they improved and upgraded it.

http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/tents/p/Easy-Camp-San-Remo-400/354

Most of the reviewers seem to agree that the bedrooms were a little small.  My son had a good one all on his own but my daughter and I were a little squashed.  It was definitely a good value tent and I don’t think you know exactly what you want from a tent until you actually start camping.  Then, unfortunately you always want something a little different.  The biggest plus for me with this tent was that I could put it up on my own and there was room inside for me and the two children to lie on the floor and talk, read, draw, colour, tell stories and play games if it rained.