A Celtic Carry On – Part 1

Forgive me if this blog isn’t down to the usual standard, but I must tell you; I’m feeling a little queer. Oh stop it, no seriously (yeah right). I’m not feeling at all well as just a few moments ago I became another statistic in the ever increasing crime perpetrated by those charged with transporting us from A to B in whatever form. To be precise; daylight robbery.  Yeah, I’m on an Irish Ferry with the Portly Partner, a.k.a Trev on our way from Pembroke to Rosslare to begin our Irish tour. And I’ve just bought two baguettes – sorry, paninis. Now I’m sure you understand. Obviously the continental twist to the name makes ‘em dearer. To be fair, they were quite tasty, although we could have eaten a couple each – and the gold plating proved a bit indigestible. Still, we do have our own coffee, and I mentally stuck two fingers up as I poured it.

Still, Paninigate aside it’s been good so far. We’ve just had a couple of nights at Llwynifam Farm caravan park in Llangennech, South Wales. Another private site that comes under the Tranquil Parks umbrella, and deservedly so too because on top of all the other good points, it was very peaceful.

The trip started, as usual with us heading over to the storage compound early on Saturday morning to pick up our caravan; Patsy. You may have already suspected this if you’d looked at the forecast for the weekend, because, as regular Nonsense! readers will know, whenever we go caravanning it usually starts raining.

To be fair however, the rain was kind enough to hold off – until we got to the compound and started hitching up when the heavens opened. We’re getting pretty quick at this now though and just before 8am we were on the road.

The journey itself – A24, M25 and M4 – was uneventful, which is exactly what you want when towing.  We stopped twice to swap driving duties, and with the rain coming and going were arriving at the site around 1.30pm to be greeted by Cathrin who showed us to our pitch.

And what a pitch too, although in fact all pitches here – just 25 – are blessed with great views over the southern valleys of Carmarthenshire.  I had forgotten too, that I’d booked a serviced pitch, so there was to be no refilling of the water barrel.

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In fact another surprise awaited us too – in the form of dome local beers from fellow caravanner and Twitterer Paul, who lives locally. We had hoped to meet up but Paul had headed off to Cornwall with his family the day before. Rumours that, on hearing we we’re going to be in town he brought forward his holiday are just that. Anyway, it was a nice gesture Paul, and thank you again. They’ve gone down very well indeed.IMAG2261

After a short nap, we availed ourselves of the excellent facilities the site had to offer. The showers are clean and very spacious. Proper personalised hand towels are provided and the loo roll is the softest we have EVER had on a site. A pleasant change from the usual sandpaper found in club sites.

Paul had also provided some pointers on what to see and do and, just as importantly shops and which pubs to use – and which ones to avoid too.Later we had a very nice meal at The Bridge Saturday night, although the only real ale on offer was not, sadly a local Welsh beer but the increasingly popular Doom Bar from Cornwall.

With provisions procured from the Co-Op we retired to Patsy for the usual cheese and biscuits and the pleasure, that only a Englishman could understand, of seeing Uruguay knocked out of the World Cup. Tee hee!

Sunday was to be the only day we had to explore the area and was keen to see as much as possible as we bypassed this area – for no other reason than time – on our last visit to South Wales at the start of our British Isles Tour two and a bit years ago.  So, reasonably early and under a rather foreboding looking sky we stoked up Rosie and headed back along the M4, to Swansea and along the coast road around Swansea Bay to the Mumbles.  Rather a long way around? Well, yes, until I tell you that we had planned to do the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea but weren’t paying attention to the road signs and just happened on the coast road instead.

The road is separated from the beach by a promenade and occasionally by grass and trees too.  We eventually came across  a parking area – and this being a tourist destination of course you have to pay. I had change – a load of Euro’s were in the pockets of my rucksack ready for Ireland but we didn’t have enough GBP to feed the parking meter.  A plan was hatched to procure some scoff from the Co-Op across the road when we realised that you could park outside said Co-Op for an hour completely gratis, and despite the best efforts of a couple of old gits who’d selfishly spaced their cars out, we squeezed Rosie’s bulk in behind them.

The view across the bay – with Swansea to the left and the Mumbles pier out to the right would be truly delightful on a clear bight day, but was slightly less so in the morning gloom, However even as we traversed a portion of the promenade – along with the Sunday morning keep fit crowd, the skies thankfully began to clear.

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There were mercifully, no traffic wardens lurking as we returned to the car somewhat outside of the one hour limit and rejoined the coast road, pausing briefly above the pier before rounding the tip and past the lighthouse at Mumbles Head, then heading west out in to the Gower Peninsular.

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At the western tip is Rhossili bay – and the sight that greats you when you’ve arrived – and paid to park obviously, is stunning. A wide expanse of golden sand that slopes away gradually  to eventually give way to the sea.

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Overlooking the bay from the southern end is the cliffs, the walk on which take you to out towards worms head that is accessible only at low tide. With the sky now largely clear and a gentle breeze taking the edge off it really was beautiful – and  a great spot for a picnic – had we brought one. This is a stunning part of of South Wales and the Gower in particular and is well worth  a visit if you’re down this way. I hope the photo’s do it justice.

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We had vague notions of returning to Swansea and the museum but decided instead to head back to the site, returning this time through some of Swansea’s western suburbs.

The bbq was fired up and I cremated some burgers and sausages. Thankfully there was some beer left to take away the taste but in truth they were rather nice. The  occasional evening sun gave me the chance to get some photo’s of the site, whilst cheese and biscuits and a bottle of Merlot – a gift from a parent of one of the kids on my bus – brought an end to a great day.

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Monday – today – and with the ferry not due to depart until 2.45pm there was no silly o’clock alarm call to be up and ready. At least there wouldn’t have been had I remembered to turn it off. Still, there is immense relief in being woken up, then realising you can just lay in bed for another few hours – and that we did having dispensed appropriate obscenities.

Pembroke Docks are only 60 or so miles from the site, but we left in plenty of time anyway and again the journey was straightforward with Trev doing the honours. Rosie managed 28 mpg on this leg of the trip – just a little more than the journey along the M4 but considerably less than the 58mpg she managed solo on a recent trip up to Cambridge to see HRH.

So, there you go, up to date again. The ferry is spacious and looks clean and tidy, though the rumble of the engines are ever present. We got an excellent deal that expires at the end of June, which is why we didn’t have longer in Wales. Do yourself a favour though if you are heading to Ireland this way. There is a large Tesco’s to the left as you approach the docks, and the car park looks big enough to accommodate a caravan or two. If you don’t fancy being asked to stand and deliver by the canteen staff on the ferry then stop here for your lunch provisions. The money you save can go towards some ‘research’ once you get to the Emerald Isle. Cheers!

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