Wonderful Wales

Last weekend we had a lovely few days in Pembrokeshire in Wales. We haven’t been there since Hazel was about eight months old, so definitely time for another visit. We prepared for the trip in the usual fashion—we booked a few nights in the local Travelodge, I over-packed clothes and shoes working in every possible weather condition, we packed a lunch and healthy snacks for the weekend, grabbed our National Trust cards and NT book and a map. We crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t have too much rain, as it is Wales!

Friday–so we headed out early enough on a sunny morning and didn’t have any traffic. The kids enjoyed the bridge over the Severn—we don’t often cross large toll bridges. It started to drizzle just after we stopped at a service centre and started to eat our picnic lunch. Luckily enough the kids were hungry enough and ate their salads fairly quickly.

Then we headed to our first stop– Dinefwr Castle and Newton House. It was still drizzling so we decided to go into the house first, especially as that’s where the tea room was. We had a quick chat with the volunteer at the door and he was eager to show the kids a few of the deer in the park. After that we headed to the Tea Room and had some Welsh cakes and Bara-brith bread—very nice. Newton House was very beautiful and the below grounds rooms were open. We got to see the servant’s quarters and to see and use some of the tools the servants would have used. H & K enjoyed this very much—and were able to remember many items they had seen previously at some of the museum visits. I’m really pleased that they are showing a real interest in history and the ‘olden-days’. After a pleasant wander downstairs we explored a few of the grand rooms on the main floor. H & K talked to all of the guides and enjoyed the visit. After that we decided to head up to the castle ruins. It had stopped drizzling, so we had a fine walk up. The kids found a large tree stump along the way and Michael helped them up. When we got to the castle—the views were wonderful. It had fantastic views from the base, and even better ones when we climbed to the upper wall. We walked back down to the house via a different route—one through a field of sheep and cattle. Our two took great delight when one of the sheep decided to relieve herself over the path! When we got to the parking lot and were having an apple before we drove to the hotel, two ponies appeared at the gate. H & K were delighted and thought they came to say hello just to them.

We then headed further inland to the hotel in St. Clears. When we were in the parking lot my two started chatting to an elderly man at his car. Now, these two will basically talk to anyone, unless of course it’s someone we want them to. You could see the man was a bit shocked and a bit delighted with having two strange kids just telling him about their day and why they were at the hotel. He laughed and said it was if they had known him for 40 years. So after meeting our new friend we checked in and headed into the village for dinner. To find there wasn’t much there, so we had to settle for fish and chips.

Saturday—what a lovely day. It really was a gorgeous day—plenty of sunshine and not too hot—a perfect day for the beach. Friends of ours camp in the Gower every year and always rave about it—so I wanted to see it. I wasn’t surprised by the peninsula itself, wasn’t surprised that there was a cliff involved in getting to the beach, but I was just a bit surprised by how beautiful it was. We went to a couple of beaches to see what they were like before settling on Rhossili beach—what a find. It was stunning. The whole visit was great—and you can’t beat only having to pay £2.50 to park the car for as long as you wanted. We started with a walk along the cliff to the Coast Guard hut near the descent to the Worms Head walk. The kids wanted to go down—but I will only do one cliff side a day, so we saved that for the beach. They had a nice chat with the Coast Guard men, and asked them if they spotted any dolphins that day or if they have ever saved anyone. We walked back to the village area and had lunch at the pub on the cliff side. We sat outside and had a lovely view of the beach. After lunch, we headed down to the beach. It was a bit of a hike to get to the beach—but worth it. The kids had a great time splashing in the water, when we finally got to it. They built sandcastles, played with their beach ball and did what kids do on beaches. It was a pleasant day and we enjoyed ourselves. The walk back up wasn’t as bad as I feared—and we had something cool at the top. The kids had their 1st real ice-lollies(popsicles) and enjoyed that.

We then just grabbed a burger from the burger van man and sat on a wall overlooking the bay while we ate. It really was a beautiful spot. We then decided to see if our friends had gotten to their campsite on the Gower and went and paid a quick visit. (They had spent the day driving down from Snowdonia.) When we got to the camp site they were just about done putting up the tent—or should I say small three-bedroom-fold-away home! I heard tents were getting bigger, but I was still surprised. It appeared to be a nice site—but camping just isn’t for me! The kids didn’t know they were all going to see each other and after their initial surprise had a great time wrecking havoc in the tent.

Sunday—was supposed to be a bit greyer, so we decided on one of our driving days. That is, we get in the car and spend the whole day driving around and stopping where and when we want to. So we left St. Clears and drove up to Fishguard, the village where you can get the ferry to Ireland. We had a walk around a little information centre that had a children’s’ interactive question section on sea life. Hazel did really well on the sea life bird questions. We were also lucky enough to see the ferry boat come into port.

We then headed out to Strumble Head. We had a nice wander around and after a mini-snack we walked down the cliff a bit to a sea life bird hide. It was the one featured on Natures Calendar a couple of months ago, and H
azel was very excited to go in. She & Kieran questioned the two old timers in the hide; one was quite happy to answer the kid’s questions and was pleased that they knew what he was doing. So, we didn’t disturb them for too long before heading off.

I had read about this woman who makes preserves etc… and sells them from her house—even if she isn’t home. So of course we had to stop by there. So we went on to Miranda’s Preserves. She has a large selection of jams and chutneys on a wall outside her house. You can just stop by and put the money in a box. Miranda happened to be home so we all had a chat for a bit. We sampled the chutney and jam—all were good, so if you see her stand, stop by!

After that we drove further south along the coast. Due to their late night on Saturday the kids fell asleep soon after leaving Miranda’s. We stopped off in Trevini and let the kids have a ½ hour nap. When we woke them up we went into a tea shop and had sandwiches for a very late lunch. We then continued our rambles down the coast and stopped off at a couple of beaches, one of the beaches had a good area for rock-pooling. The kids and Michael had a great wander round, while I enjoyed the view and taking photos of the three of them. After awhile we headed inland. We finally stopped for dinner in Narberth. We ate in a not-so-great café and then wandered up into the village. We bought a few provisions for the next day and found a beautiful church hidden from the main road. Then we were off to the hotel to pack and for some much needed rest.

Monday—time to head home after a bit of sight-seeing. As the weather wasn’t going to be very good we just planned on one stop along the way. We chose Aberdulais Water Falls—another good choice. It is a small place but well worth the stop. The water wheel was under repair that day, but we were still impressed. H & K were very interested in the mill ruins and the lives of the people who had worked there. They were a bit taken when they learned that an eight year old would have worked there 12 hours a day and then gone to school in the evenings. The information on hand was very good, and though it was easy for the kids to follow—it was not dumbed down. So after a quick tea and last bit of Welsh cakes, we were on our way home

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