Friday, 29 July 2016

Fun not in the sun

One of the bad things about holidays in the British Isles is that generally the weather tends to be crap. You head off to a nice seaside resort dreaming of gorgeous sunny days on beaches, but rarely does it turn out that way. To summarise:

The dream

The reality

Once again, this is how it has turned out this week. Why oh why must the British weather always tempt me in this way? Chuck a 30+ degree heatwave at me a few days before we depart only to replace it with 17c, cloud and rain as soon as we arrive wherever we are going.

Still, it's not all bad. It hasn't been as bad as the picture above to be honest, just not warm enough to spend days on the beach. We did manage an hour or two on Monday afternoon, when the kids enjoyed swimming in one of two natural swimming pools that forms on the south beach when the tide goes out. Tomorrow morning looks cloudy but dry, so we are determined to go down and build a few sandcastles. Timing is everything when it comes to sandcastles - the biggest fun for me has always been building them just below the high tide line and then valiantly trying to defend them as the tide comes in. High tide here tomorrow is just after lunch, so we will be down there building in earnest from mid-morning, providing the BBC weather forecast us accurate for once and the fucking drizzle doesn't descend on us for the umpteenth time this week.

In one of the natural high tide pools. I even had a paddle myself.

To be honest, it hasn't been all that bad, mostly cloudy. Not being able to hang out at the beach has given us the opportunity to visit a few places. On one of the more clement days, we took a boat trip over to Caldey Island, a few miles offshore. What a lovely find this was! The island is owned and lived on by monks, but there is plenty to see and do there. A lighthouse, some ruins that you can actually walk around in and explore without the usual restrictions, and even a chocolate factory! It's a lovely little island, only a mile or so in length but well worth a visit. We walked all around it, and as on a few days this week, I reached 20,000 steps on my Walkmate.

Exploring the ruins on Caldey Island

Yesterday we went to Oakwood Theme Park. This is one of many regional theme parks we have visited around the UK which whilst lacking perhaps the glamour and high speed thrills of the big name Merlin parks, make up for it in other ways.

One of the less exciting rides, but the kids loved it anyway!

These regional parks usually have a good selection of medium sized rides, plus a few larger ones, though not in the same league as Alton Towers, obviously. But that's more than made up for by the more agreeable entry fee and also the fact that you don't have to queue for more than a few minutes to get on anything. We managed to do pretty much everything that was available, and yes, I did get soaked - again. This time I fell off the raft at the bottom of the water slide. It was actually a pretty decent day weather wise - about 18c and a fair bit of sunshine, but I felt more than a little chilly with my whole left side soaked. If you find yourself out in West Wales, I definitely recommend a trip to Oakwood.

We also took a trip to an evening meeting at Ffos Las, one of Britain's newest racecourses and another one to tick off my list in my attempt to visit them all. It's a small course with low grade racing but the Welsh crowd were in high spirits and I had a pretty decent burger off the van in a small window when the rain stopped so we made the most of it. Managed to back a couple of winners too, though they weren't anything to get excited about, price wise.

The only disappointing day was when we went out exploring in the car around some of the other towns in the area. Maybe we just went to the wrong places, but we didn't find anything of note in Pembroke, where we ended up eating our lunch on a dilapidated bench next to a boarded up shop by a roundabout hoping we wouldn't get mugged by some of the rum looking characters hanging about. As for Milford Haven, described by no less than Admiral Lord Nelson as "the finest port in Christendom", all I can say is "what a dump". Perhaps we weren't seeing it at it's best in the inevitable rain, but after a few minutes there we hurried on back to the sanctuary of Tenby.

Overall impressions of the holiday? Tenby? Great - a lovely town. Probably the jewel in the crown of Pembrokeshire. Surrounding area? Not so brilliant. Would I come back? Most definitely, I feel we could easily get another good week out of this place.

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