On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

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Bristol to Wales 23-27 August

Thursday 23rd

We’re back at Orchard Bank – it’s been a while! We did all the tasks that required us to nip back home on Wednesday and made the return journey today, at about 18:30. We drove through the heart of Bristol this time and it was nice to see all the sights. It was also lovely to see our van safe and sound when we arrived. So grateful to the owners of the site for keeping a lookout. And it kind of feels like home, somehow?

We had stopped for a very naughty – and very rare – MacDonalds on the way, so no food was required. Just a quick coffee and then it was lights out for yet another early start.

Friday 24th

We had originally booked to stay at the next site – Llangorse Lake – from the Thursday night and had thus rung and arranged to arrive early today – because we could. It would also help avoid the Bank Hol weekend traffic – or that was the plan. So the alarm was set for 06:00 and we got up and packed the van and hitched up for a last pass through those blooming gates. I’m not really complaining – they are a necessary evil and would make it pretty hard to make a fast get-away. Although, I guess if you’re nicking a caravan, you’re not going to be too scrupulous about closing a couple of gates! But they might be a bit of a deterrent?  It’s a pretty tight exit actually! But soon we were on our way. We have really enjoyed this CL and will definitely stay again, should the need arise. We’d be glad to.

We planned to stop at the first services to grab brekker “on the hoof”, but sadly that plan went awry when we missed the flipping exit. I say we –  but as I wasn’t driving I was reading…. Ah well. The first opportunity (it’s not always easy stopping when your total length is around 12.5 metres!) to stop was thus at Morrisons in Abergavenny. The coffee wasn’t bad but I threw my pastry away half-eaten. Vile.

We pressed on and the traffic was not too bad (phew!) and we arrived at Llangorse at around 09:30. We set up and had a bowl of cereal and I had a bit of a relax while Paul did a bit of work. The skies opened and it poured down. We were under a tree, which makes the  rain sound worse somehow and the sound of large acorns bouncing on the roof only added to the noise! But eventually it cleared up and we set off out.

Llangorse Lake Campsite view

We thought we’d pop to Brecon for a look round but as we arrived it started to heave it down. We bolted into Costa and took refuge in a coffee until it passed again. I wondered if this would be the weather story all weekend. Brecon is a nice little town and we remembered our visit there some years ago with our friends Sue & Paul and our lovely dogs Freddie and Archie, both of whom we miss terribly. It was in August 2007, before we started caravanning, but I remembered that the site was called  Brynich. It seems it is now a Caravan and Motorhome Club site. We had a lot of laughs at that site in our tenting days.

A few views of Brecon:

We had hired a day boat on the Mon and Brec canal with Paul & Sue, and this fact leads me to our next destination – we popped to have a quick look at the canal and were lucky enough to see a boat in the lock. It was the trip boat from Brecon. The canal is an interesting size, being wider than the usual narrow canal lock width (such as on the Oxford Canal) which is 7 feet, but not as wide as the usual wide lock – (such as on the Trent & Mersey Canal) which is 14 feet. The Mon & Brec locks are around 9 feet wide and their wide boats are, of course, built accordingly. So – consider yourself informed!! The canal runs adjacent to the very attractive River Usk, which is crossed by a packhorse bridge nearby, where my Lord and Master is pictured.

We then took a general tour of the area, mainly reservoirs – Talybont, Ponsticill etc and they all looked pretty low on water after our very hot summer. We also had a lunch stop near Torpantau at the Old Barn Tea Rooms. Very pleasant and nice, freshly-made sarnies. After which we looked out for the Brecon Mountain Railway, as we had spotted odd puffs of steam and heard a whistle. We got an all too brief glimpse and, sadly, you’ll have to rely on the pictures on the link above,  but we also saw a very attractive ventilation shaft for a disused tunnel at Pant Station. Sadly it was too late to take a trip but it does look well worth doing.

It took about an hour to get back home to the van and we had time for a quick wash and brush up before going out for dinner. I had booked a table at Hills, just outside Brecon. It’s a burger joint with wonderful views of the Beacons. We had a lovely meal and would definitely return if we were in the area again. We drove home and settled down for the remainder of the evening, although it wouldn’t  be a late night, in view of our recent early rises. Or that was the plan. We were snoozing soundly when we were awoken by our new neighbours arriving back at their moho with their three barking dogs and loud “see you tomorrows” and lots of noisy laughter. Which went on a bit. There are rules on campsites  – usually no noise after 10:30  – which most people (including us) follow religiously. Not them.  I asked them to desist but they carried on regardless. We were not amused.

Saturday 26th

We awoke quite early (must be getting used to it?) and found ourselves moving around and whispering so as not to disturb our neighbours, who had not yet surfaced. I actually felt like making an unholy racket but that would have been childish and we are above that sort of behaviour. Mostly….

Today , we had planned to go boating on the Lake, but the weather looked more than a bit iffy and we didn’t want to take a wet boat home in the car so we abandoned that idea. We were quite late going out but we had a new plan. And a picnic!

The new plan was to go to the Red Kite Feeding station at Llanddeusant. Feeding wasn’t until 15:00 and, although they ask you to arrive early, we still had some time to kill. Time for one of Paul’s delightful misery tours! We drove to Sennybridge – famous for being the home of the quirky X Factor contestant Rhydian (Roberts) back in 2007 –  and thence Trecastle and on to the beautiful Usk reservoir, where I stopped for a chat with a friendly sheep.

Then it was time to drop down onto Llandeusant for Kite feeding. On the way we were stopped by a tractor crossing the road and what followed was a joy!. A procession of tractors – many of them vintage (much like me!) – and we really enjoyed watching them. There is a video of part of the procession here.

We arrived at the Kite Station and settled down to eat our lunch and await the Kite Feeding time. It was a fantastic display of aerobatics from the Kites – who eat on the wing. We were also joined by a couple of Buzzards (BIG!!) who eat on the ground. A great experience and one I’d recommend. We also loved the cat, who loiters with intent to pick up scraps too. So sweet and very friendly.

On the way home, we came across a VERY narrow bridge – with a gauge to check before you attempt to cross. It was pretty close. I wonder how many people have been caught out?

We called in on Brecon on the way back, as we had heard tell of an excellent ice-cream parlour. We were not disappointed. It (Llanfaes Dairy) was very busy indeed and the ice-creams were amazing. And there was very clearly an Italian influence, which is unsurprising as there is a long tradition of Italian emigrants setting up Ice-cream Parlours (and also cafes and fish and chip shops) in Wales. Indeed, the famous Berni inns proprietors emigrated from Italy to Merthyr Tydfil. This article about the diaspora is well worth a read.

There were so many flavours it was all a bit bewildering! I can’t resist Salted Caramel, Cinammon and Rum Raisin. So I had a three scoops and it was delicious. After this, we popped to have a look at the canal basin, which looked very pretty in the lovely sunshine.

We then made our way back to base where we relaxed for a while and – eventually – cooked a delicious meal, (pork with fusilloni and basil) courtesy of the amazing Gousto. Having washed up we watched a bit of TV before retiring – hoping for a quieter night.

Sun 26th

We were not disappointed! A largely unbroken night’s sleep was afforded us. How nice! I say largely because I was occasionally awoken by rain and acorns but – after I put put my ear-plugs in – I snoozed until morning. And awoke refreshed

Today we were off to Kerry, near Newtown to visit my dear Aunty Vera. And as a bonus, my cousin Martin was over from New Zealand and we had a very pleasant afternoon catching up and reminiscing, as one inevitably does when one advances in years. We were also joined by my stepmother – Nanny Lynne and a good time was had by all. It was about an hour’s drive each way and – oddly and annoyingly – we took no photos, so you’ll have to believe that we went!

We filled up ready for our trip home the next day on the way back and then had a quiet evening.

Mon 27th

Home today and thus not much to report. Although Noisy Neighbours reared their ugly heads again. Boo to them! But we had a nice break and we’re away in the van next weekend too. Watch this space!



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Dorset Hideaway Easter Mar/Apr 18

Maundy Thursday  – 29th March

I just can’t get away from the old habit of going away on this day. Dates back to my 40+ years of being a Civil Servant and getting a half day. Not sure why we did? I was happy to take it though, and usually took an additional half day to make the most of it.

We departed at around 10.30. The journey time was estimated at just over 2 hours but we always stop for a coffee and break for Arch and we eventually arrived about 1.30 – just a shade early as our pitch was accessible from 2 p.m. but it was fine. The roads to the site are very narrow and steep, but there are passing places and it’s not too bad. I was relieved when we entered the site though – such a wuss! It was raining, not for the first time this weekend!

Our site – The Dorset Hideaway –  is very rural and it looked like we would have a peaceful few days. Bliss! There is a Spa, with hot tub and you can even hire a chicken and coop for your pitch (not if you have a dog though, sadly). We had a fully-serviced pitch and soon got set up – although we do have the issue of a leaky water barrel that needs resolving. Kettle on, light lunch and a short relax. Paul had a new external 3G/4G antenna to set up and test, so he got on with that. It seemed to work very well even though it was a very quiet rural location  (phones struggling a bit). We managed to stream Netflix with ease.

After a relax and a Google, I found that there was a Caravan Supplies shop very nearby in Charmouth so we set off to buy parts for the water barrel and to get our bearings. The shop – Dorset Leisure Centre was a real find. And the staff are very helpful and knowledgeable – and the stock is VAST! We got what we needed and few other bits to boot and then set off to see the harbour at Charmouth. we then went for a Cream Tea at the very pleasant Annie’s Tea Rooms .  (Facebook link) Highly, highly recommended. Very generous portions and reasonably priced.

Back to the van to discover we had a leak – the source of which seemed to be the shower tap. Wet carpet and a repair job required. Great. Good start. I hate plastic plumbing.

We had the first of our two Gousto meals for dinner, which was delicious. Potato Cakes with baked beans and streaky bacon. we’ve had it before but it’s worth a repeat. Dinner was originally planned to be a fresh Pizza cooked on our Cadac but the rain put paid to that idea!

We spent the rest of the day/night with the water pump off, meaning the joy of a fully serviced pitch was negated. And it rained – all night.

Good Friday – 30th March

I woke up after a very quiet night and – after checking not one, but two time pieces – I decided that, as our shower was US,  it would be a good time to nip over to the very smart shower block. It was a good call. Deserted! I had a lovely hot shower (although it was one of those push-button ones – not my favourite type) in solitary splendour.

Paul (and Arch!) was still snoozing when I got back to the van, so I had to sit quietly. On checking my phone, I noted that the time was actually only 07:20! No wonder I had had the place to myself. What an absolute nana!

Paul eventually arose, we had breakfast and then he started investigating the cause of the leak in more detail. It seemed that the tap had a minute crack. This may or may not have been caused by the recent freezing conditions. It’s hard to say. As we caravan all year round we don’t drain down all the pipework, as many people who put their caravans to bed from October to March do. But in ten years of caravanning, it’s never been a problem. Until now.

Another trip to the caravan shop, £50 and a new tap, pipework and connectors purchased. We then went to Waitrose in Bridport to collect out Click and Collect order. It was raining.

It being nearly lunch time, we decided to go to the Anchor Inn in Seatown.  Delightful location, but a VERY rude waitress/proprietor told us in no uncertain terms that they were full. Her manner was so brusque, we were both left open-mouthed. It was unbelievable.  We shall  certainly never darken their doors again!

We agreed that – as the coast was likely to be busy – we’d head inland and ended up at The Hare and Hounds in the village of Waytown. A  welcome from their lovely Border Terrier, a roaring fire and a plate of Ham, egg and chips improved our mood no end! They said thick cut ham – and boy did they mean it!! It was delicious too, but some of mine went home in a doggy bag – despite the avaricious eyes of the resident BT!! He was hard to resist, though.

We went back to the van – did I mention it was raining? I had a snooze (to make up for the early start, of course). Paul mended the tap – but left everything open – just in case. There was little info on the web about such matters so he wrote a Project page for this blog – a step by step guide –  which can be found here.

And then we spent the evening scanning old photos and watching the box. We watched Conspiracy Theory – an oldish film with Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson. Empire gave it 4 stars otherwise we wouldn’t have bothered and it was not too bad at all. Mel was acting for all he was worth!!

It rained all night!

Easter Saturday – 31st March

Kippers for breakfast. With fresh wholemeal bread. Divine. Been such a long time since I had kippers. Must do it more often.

Sometime during the night the rain had stopped. Great! We set off after brekker and our first port of call was Eypemouth. A delightful spot. We met a young BT and his hoomans, who were very nice and made a fuss of our old chap. I noticed today that his age is starting to show a bit and must admit to shedding a tear at the the thought of him leaving us, as he he will one day. But for the moment he had fun chasing sticks, although it was clear he didn’t like the surface on the beach.


Fans of Broadchurch will recall this place


Eypemouth Beach


Arch – stepping stones



Kay stepping stones


Next we went to West Bay – made famous recently by the gripping series “Broadchurch“, which we loved. It was fun spotting all the familiar locations and we had a nice walk round the harbour, before buying freshly baked pasties from The Cornish Bakery for our lunch. Cheese and Onion for me and Bacon, Leek and Cheese for Sumps.  And – joy of joys – Pastei de Nata. The pasties were nice, but we both wished we had gone “traditional”.  The tarts were delish! Almost as good as mine. Chuckle.


West Bay – River Brit flow


Too muddy!


The famous cliff


Made famous by Broadchurch

We sat and people watched as we had our lunch. By coincidence, we saw the people with the BT again. Stalkers!!

Next was a visit to Burton Bradstock – which my spellchecker very kindly spelt Burton Breadstick, which made me laugh! Thence onward to lovely Lyme Regis, which was – as usual – very busy indeed. We did eventually manage to find a KIA shaped space though. We went for a stroll along the Cobb and decided to complete the west Country triumvirate (Cream Tea, Pasty) with an ice cream. Salted Caramel and Maple Walnut, specifically. And very yummy it was. I had a good poke round the very well stocked hardware store  – Arthur Fordham and Co – and bought some (vital!) pan separators! The link is to their Facebook page, by the way, so will not work for non-users.

We got back to the van and all was well with the tap and the carpet was dry, so Paul put everything back together and stowed everything back in the cupboards. Nice to have the water back on!

As we had lunched well, we had what is known as a “Willowbridge” or “Boat” supper –  which is a selection of cold cuts/cheese/salad/dips etc etc. Always a favourite.

Another evening of scanning and telly ensued. And the rain held off. And, just as we were going to bed, Paul was in the bathroom, cleaning his teeth when he suddenly hollered “Pump off, Pump Off!”. The fix had failed and the carpets and cupboards were once again submitted to a wetting – although not as bad as last time. We put everything to dry again, and retired. Somewhat dejected…….

Easter Sunday – 1st April

This morning saw us making another trip to the Caravan shop where more advice was dispensed and more parts bought. And it’s not raining!

And then we set off to see what delights Axmouth and Seaton had to offer. They are either side of the mouth of the River Axe. Sadly the water was out so it was less picturesque than it might have been at high tide. But we did catch a glimpse of the Seaton Tramway , which goes to Colyton, before stopping for coffee on the esplanade at Seaton. In common with many places in these parts we observed that it must be hellish here in the full season. Too many people going after too few parking spaces. This time of year is just right. Our next visit was to Beer (you will have noticed that we are now in Devon by the way).

Beer is a very pretty town and we stopped for a while on the cliff top, where there are great views.


Estuary at Axmouth





Beer cliff top parking


We made our way home via Colyton (pretty, great church) and Axminster (not so much!) . We had a light, late lunch (cheese and crackers) and then did a bit of packing ready for the off tomorrow. All seemed well with the plumbing. So far so good.

Dinner was the 2nd Gousto meal – Beef and Mushroom Risotto. As always, very tasty.

Oh – and the rain started.

Easter Monday – 2nd April

Rain all night. Heavy rain. Thank goodness for ear plugs. All seemed well with the plumbing, the carpet was dry and everything else likewise, so we repacked everything. Hopefully for the last time!!

We finished packing up and were off site by 10 am. The roads were quite close to flooded and I was again relieved when we joined the main road. Which was also flooded in places. Progress was slow. But we eventually arrived home, after the usual stops at about 2 pm. Not the best break ever, but still a break from routine and some quality time for us and the dog. Roll on the next Bank Holiday, when we are off to Kent.











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New Alresford for the Alresford Show – 1-3 September

Having been to the Alresford Show last year and having thoroughly enjoyed it, we decided we’d make a weekend of it this year. We found a campsite – The Spinney – on the outskirts of the small town of (New) Alresford itself. And it was a great find. Just off the road but tucked away from sight. We chose a pitch and, luckily, we had that entire side of the site to ourselves all weekend. There are no frills here and yet there is everything you need. Hook-up, water and somewhere to dispose of rubbish and waste – of all kinds! It’s a little gem of a site. Just the type we like – relaxed and few rules. The site does not have a full website, but it does have a Facebook page and I have included a link above for those of you who use it.

It was a beautiful evening and after we had set up, we popped out for a drive because we needed some cash. New Alresford is a very pretty little town with an abundance of pubs/restaurants and tea-shops. It’s the sort of place you feel Jane Austen might have felt at home. It has some interesting independent shops and is well worth a visit. It also has a Co-op in case you have forgotten something vital. And don’t get too bogged down by the “New” appellation! It’s been around since around 1200! Famous for the Watercress Festival – which is held in May (the weekend of the 20th in 2018), it’s also home to the terminus of the The Mid Hants Railway aka the Watercress Line. Also worth checking out. Incidentally, it’s called the Watercress Line because Alresford is one of THE places for growing the stuff. The line made it possible to swiftly transport it to London for sale in Covent Garden in the mid-19th Century.

We returned the van to cook our dinner. As we often do in the van, we were using GOUSTO for our evening meals. Fresh ingredients, with everything required to cook a delicious meal with step by step instructions. We love them. And you get the recipe cards to keep and make it using your own ingredients. It’s not cheap, but cheaper than a meal out. We’d definitely recommend. Tonight’s dish was Sticky Hoisin Pork with Cucumber Pickle. Absolutely delish! If anyone wants a voucher to try it, contact me through the blog.

It was a rather lovely sunset (photo does not do it justice) and we had a pleasant evening watching the box, before retiring.

Saturday dawned fair, and we left in good time to join the inevitable queue to the show. The parking is very well organised, though, and we were soon making our way in to the show. First stop – coffee! We watched the stunning heavy horses as we drank our coffee. And then the craft stalls! I bought myself a new bracelet from Boat House Studio, who are based in our home town of Portchester and who are a particular favourite of mine.  I also bought some lavender for a craft project. There is a big lavender nursery (Long Barn) just outside town which has a very pleasant cafe – again well worth a visit.

We then sat and watched the very entertaining Alresford Ukulele Jam play in one of the arenas, and then the novice show jumping, which we really enjoyed. Those tiny little girls being so brave. We had a plan to meet our friends Bob and Barb who were attending for the day with their family and planned to stay in touch by mobiles. The signal wasn’t great but we agreed to meet a little later.

These events always remind me of the John Betjeman poem “Hunter Trials” I think it’s called?:

It’s awfully hard luck on Diana
Her ponies have swallowed their bits
She’s fished down their throats with a spanner
And frightened them all into fits

That’s all I can remember of it but it always makes me smile.

It was on to the livestock. The show is a proper old-school agricutural show and there is plenty to see – three arenas, plus stalls and food and drink outlets. You can even buy a tractor. It’s such a great day out. It had got quite hot so we stopped for a quick G&T. No ordinary G&T though. It was locally brewed Watercress Gin – served garnished with it and grapefruit. By gum it was good! Just what the doctor ordered. I’d happily have spent the remainder of the day there! The company – Winchester Distillery –  brew several great gins – not cheap but good for special occasions rather than guzzling (as we are wont to do  – on occasion!). We saw a great idea for a garden bar at the gin stand.

Rustic bar idea!

Looking a bit sheepish?


We had – just for fun – entered Archie in the “Best Veteran” section of the dog show. Fresh from his 4th place at the Cirencester Show, we thought we’d show him again. There were 16 dogs in the class and they were paraded and the judge chatted to the dogs and their owners. Imagine our surprise and – yes – joy when our old boy (a 15 year old Border terrier) was awarded FIRST PLACE! We were so chuffed for him. A silver cup and 2 rosettes (a First and a Best Veteran) and lots of kudos for him. Just lovely.

We had lunch (very late!) after this – a delish posh fish finger sandwich, which slipped down very well.  And then it was time for a quick meet up with the Shorters. They were there en famille and it was good to meet their daughters and grandchildren of whom we have heard so much over the years. It was late afternoon by then and the heat had taken it’s toll on us but particularly on Arch and we decided to go back to the van for a snooze.

After our snooze and a well-earned cuppa, we popped out for another drive and decided to have dinner out and save our other Gousto meal  (Cheesy Chicken Piccata with Spinach) for the next day.  We rang the nearby Tichborne Arms and they squeezed us in. It’s a really lovely, very dog friendly pub, with a friendly ambience and, tonight,  we had struck lucky!  Steak and Kidney pie was on the menu (which changes often). And it was a great choice. A proper pie with good pastry, tender steak and large chunks of kidney – rather than the tiny slivers you get in a commercial pie. We loved it, and Archie enjoyed the left-overs (it was a big portion, served with plenty of fresh and well-cooked veg).

We returned to the van and it was nice to think that we did not have to rush off the next day. Normally Sunday means that you have to pack up and be off site by midday, which although is not really a rush is sometimes a bit too early. We had spoken to the owners the day before and they said there was no rush at all to leave the site and that any time was good with them. How very civilised!

Arch and his silverware

Sunday was soggy. It rained pretty much from late evening Saturday onward. We had a nice (rare) lie-in, the usual eggy breakfast and then read and dozed and and relaxed until about 3 o’clock. We were home and unpacked by 4.30. A perfect weekend break. Think we might give the Watercress fest a go next May and stay here again.

Looking forward to our next trip which – as I write – is probably not going to be until our trip to Glastonbury for the Carnival in November, staying (again) at the lovely Old Oaks. Unless we can squeeze in another weekend before then, that is? Ever hopeful.






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Pembrokeshire May 2017 – Little Haven and Beyond…….

Thursday 25th May

We set off early  – but not so early that we’d get tangled with rush hour traffic. We aimed for 09:00 and achieved 09:05, which is pretty good for us. We had done all but hooking-up the night before and thus all that needed to be done this morning was make widgies for the journey, hook up and go. Whoop!

It was a beautiful day and we had a very smooth trip up, stopping at Membury for coffee and Swansea for a post lunch drink and comfort break.  Our destination was Hasguard Cross, about seven miles south-west of Haverfordwest, the County town of Sir Benfro (as Pembrokeshire is known, in Welsh). We arrived on site – Redlands Touring Park –  by about 3 o’clock to find that it was pretty much empty. We were offered our pick of pitches and selected one with the best view of the sea. It was gloriously warm and sunny and we set up and got the kettle on in record time. Once we had got ourselves comfy and shipshape, we decided to make the most of the weather and go out for an explore and dinner somewhere.

We set off along the twisty roads that seem to characterise this part of the world to our first port of call – Little Haven. I should explain here, that my Aunty Vera and Uncle Roy had a holiday cottage in Little Haven and I spent many happy times there as a child with them and with my parents. We also came to the area when George was young in the caravan that we had at the time, so we both have lovely memories of the place.

Sand castles on Little Haven beach

Playing Golf by the van at Hasguard Cross

Little Haven – thirsty

Wet play at Little Haven

As we drove down the romantically named Strawberry Hill and on to St Brides Road I felt absurdly excited. It was such a joy to be back and I have to admit to a few tears of happiness as we passed through and up  very the steep turn towards Broad Haven. We hadn’t been back for over 25 years and it hadn’t really changed that much. Sadly the shop where we used to buy shrimping nets and mackerel spinners and ice-cream was gone. Long gone I suspect, but all three pubs seem to be thriving – no mean feat for a village with a population of not much above 1,000 – and that’s combined with the neighbouring village (larger) of Broad Haven! Obviously tourism is the key to their survival. There was a lot of work going on – repairing (or upgrading?) the little sea wall area where George is sitting in the third picture above. Good to see but a little disappointing to look at. There also seems to be work going on at the site of the old shop. Exciting!

We arrived at Broad Haven and this has undergone more change but is still  as charming as ever. By now we had decided to pop in at each of the bays along the coast, calling at Druidstone Haven,  Nolton Haven, Newgale (with its long stretch of beach creating a surfer’s paradise) and culminating in beautiful Solva. It was a beautiful evening for a drive and we relished revisiting all these familiar places.

Newgale sands at low tide

Solva – high tide

We had dinner at the Harbour Inn, which was doing brisk trade on this sunny evening. We both chose steak and mine was great, whilst Paul’s was tough – to Archie’s delight as he got most of it – so we shared. Not sure we’d hurry back  to eat there but the location is unbeatable and it’s very dog friendly.

After dinner and a short walk around the harbour we retraced our steps back along the coast and returned to Redlands. And on the way home we hatched a cunning plan! Solva was the perfect place to launch our little boat and try out the new electric outboard we had bought. It has a slipway and is sheltered – it’s also very lovely.  A check of the tide table showed that the tide would be high at 07:20, so it would mean an early start but the weather was looking good so – game on!

We stopped off at Haroldston Chins (between Broad Haven and Druidstone) for an evening photo opportunity. The car park here allows access for wheelchair users – what a great idea and lovely that everyone can enjoy the stunning views across St Brides Bay.

Cliffs as the sun starts to set


Archie enjoyed his walk

The setting sun.


We had had an early start and tomorrow would be even earlier, so it was no hardship to go to bed early. As the campsite was very quiet and it was hot – we went to sleep with the window and blinds at the foot of our bed open. Such a beautiful sight before we happily nodded off. Coming here was such a great choice.

Friday 26th May

The alarm went off at 06:00 and we sprang out of bed and threw our clothes on, had a quick spot of brekker (cereal) and were out of the door. We had packed everything we needed the night before so we tiptoed out of the site so as not to disturb the few people who were there and set off. Another cracking day and the hedgerows looked their best. Our half-hour journey took a little longer than planned as there was a road closure but we soon arrived at Solva. It was so early, the parking pay booth wasn’t even open. We picked the perfect space right next to the slipway. We use a pump to blow up the boat and it takes about 15 minutes. It buzzes like an angry little bee and we were worried about disturbing people slumbering nearby but it couldn’t be heard even from a very short distance away so it was fine. I blew up the seats manually (orally?) and we soon were ready to attach the outboard. We lifted the boat down to the slipway and popped it in the water. It felt pretty chilly (around 14 degrees actually)!

Early morning shadows

As I said, this was the first proper outing for the outboard. Of course we had tested it all before we left home so we knew it worked – but how good would it be? Nervous anticipation! I got in and Paul handed me Arch who settled down like the good boy he is. Paul joined us and off we went. It was eerily silent – there is a just a barely discernible hum. We were happy to find that it worked very well indeed. In case anyone is interested in a similar set-up, I have put the details of our kit and costs in a note here.

We had such a lovely time pottering around the harbour. Solva has a fascinating history. In the early 20th century, it was a thriving port with over 30 boats and 9 warehouses for cargo and you can still see the remains of the lime-kilns, where imported limestone was burnt. This was used largely as a fertiliser. You could also get a passage to America from Solva – for the princely sum of £4 (in 1840)!

There is quite a small window for the tide as the harbour dries almost completely. We had sought advice from the locals and were told an hour either side of high water should be fine. All too soon we made our way back to the slip way and got the boat out and reversed the process  Such fun though and well worth all the effort!

Lime Kilns

We packed up, paid for our parking as the booth was now open and were back in Broad Haven by about 9.30, where we had 2nd breakfast – a bacon butty. Yum! We then went back to the caravan for showers and to dry out the boat and pack it away properly. Once we were clean and showered we set off exploring again. We wanted to research other potential slipways and made our way along the coast, via Sandy Haven – as recommended by the camp-site owner, who had spotted our boat drying. It was beautiful but not ideal as you could not park at the actual slipway. We had a nice walk along the coastal path and then pressed on towards Dale, where I recalled much boating activity from my time here long ago.

Time had now passed, as it does, and it was now around 2ish. We had a very pleasant lunch at the Griffin Inn. I must admit that this was our second choice. We had tried the Boathouse Cafe as they were promoting a dressed crab lunch which had rather tickled our fancy. We had ordered our food and drinks there but they only took cash and we had need of a cashpoint. Oh calamity! We retreated, rather embarrassed and made our way to the Griffin Inn. It was lovely though, with a sunny upper deck overlooking the bay and dog friendly. We very happily fell upon a shared pint of prawns and some smoked mackerel pate. Delish!

Overlooking Sandy Haven

Dale from above

We made our way back to the van and, after our early morning exertions, a beepy (or siesta) was in order. I fell asleep in a chair initially and then moved to the comfort of the bed. Once refreshed, having awoken and had a restorative cuppa, we set out again for an early evening drive and explore.

Here are pictures of our pitch by the way:


I will go and fetch the water (with apologies to Jungle Book!)

The view towards Little Haven

Setting out the chairs

We called in at St Brides Haven and had a walk on the rocky beach. Loads of people there, all taking advantage of the evening sunshine.  Kayaking, diving and some even swimming. Lovely.  I had a little fantasy moment of living in the cottage in the picture below.

The next port of call was Marloes , where the beach disappears at high tide – beware! And finally Martins Haven, where you can catch a boat to Skomer Island, a haven for puffins and Manx Shearwaters. All aboard the Dale Princess – although not at this time of day. One for another visit, I think?

St Brides Haven

Martins Haven

Then it was back to the van for our supper of Mushroom Stroganoff. We have got into the habit of taking Gousto meals away with is in the caravan. We are big fans.  You get all the fresh ingredients and a  step by step recipe to cook from scratch.All delivered to the house. And they are always delicious! And the beauty is, if you like them, you can buy the ingredients and make them again and again using your own ingredients. We use it to try out new things and introduce new dishes to our weekly routine. Highly recommended.

We had another early night as it had been a long and action-packed day.

Saturday 27th May

The forecast rain started with a vengeance in the early hours of the morning. And it thundered and lightning-ed like it was going out of fashion! Poor Arch was terrified and we did not get a lot of sleep. My back was a bit troublesome too. Eventually the storm passed and we were left with the rain, which had knocked a full 10 degrees off yesterday’s max temperature!  It rained all morning but finally – around lunchtime – it eased off. We had passed the morning relaxing, reading and snoozing but were glad to go out.

We stopped off quickly – well that was the plan – as Paul wanted to get some screws for a quick repair on one of the drawers in the van and I needed some flour for tonight’s sauce (which I had omitted to pack. Tsk). It was gridlocked. We queued to get into the the supermarket car-park and then queued to get out and then we queued to get into B&Q and then we queued to get out. Saturday madness! Arrggghh!

We had decided to go to Angle, following the course of the Cleddau and across it to the Milford Haven side on the “new” bridge, thence to Angle. Well the first part was not too successful as the Cleddau is well hidden from the road, but we eventually arrived in Neyland,  where the Cleddau King plied its trade until the Cleddau Bridge opened in 1975. I remember it well. It could carry 24 cars and 250 passengers and was always a bit of an adventure. The bridge crosses from Neyland to Pembroke Dock. I wonder how much the ferry was? The bridge is now 75p to cross – each way.

The old Trinity House pier

Portsmouth’s own HMS Warrior once used to lie at Pembroke Dock, where she was rather ignominiously used as a floating oil-pontoon and re-christened “Oil Fuel Hulk C77”. She was there for nearly 50 years until she was donated to the Maritime Trust  for restoration in 1979. Lucky Portsmouth. Interesting fact – George was invested into the Sea Scouts aboard HMS Warrior! Sadly she is in a bit of a pickle again and needs funds to ensure her continued survival.

We then made our way to Angle, which I recalled as a lovely beach, and my recollections were correct. We had a very nice cuppa and cake from the smart Wavecrest Cafe before a spot of rock-climbing and rock-pooling on the beach.

Angle Beach from Wavecrest Cafe

Looking towards Chapel Bay Fort.

Not quite a young gazelle?


It was then home. It’s odd how, when you poddle about, calling in here and there, you just don’t notice the time. But straight back took nearly an hour. Tonight’s dinner was another Gousto meal – a smoked fish gratin with champ. The green cabbage was sauteed in butter and garlic rather than boiled. We will definitely be doing that again!! Great work Gousto! And then we had another early night to catch up on our broken sleep from the night before!

Sunday 28th May

The threat of rain seems to have passed us by and the day looks set fair. Today would have been Mum’s 85th birthday and I took some time,  as we drove to our destination for the day, to think about her. I know she loved it down here too. I miss her. We stopped at Newgale for a picture opportunity, as the tide was out. Archie enjoyed drinking the freshwater stream that runs onto the beach!

Overlooking Newgale

Archie the beach bum

We were bound for St Davids – famous for being Britain’s smallest city and a little gem.  It is famous for the Cathedral and the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace – despoiled by one Bishop William Barlow, who sold the lead from the roof to pay for the weddings of his five daughters! That started its decline and by 1678 it was considered as being “beyond economic repair. Well worth a look, though.

St Davids seems to have been overtaken by yarn-bombing as you will see from the pictures below. I approve! We met a 17 year old border terrier whilst wandering around there. He was really showing his age, bless him but he gave us hope. Archie is 15 in July and we do begin to wonder how much longer we shall have him for. 😦

We had a big Sunday roast lunch (to save cooking tonight) at the Grove Hotel. They do a very reasonable Sunday sharing platter for two £21.95
“A trio of roasts including Welsh topside of beef, loin of pork and roast turkey with Yorkshire puddings, sage and onion stuffing, pigs in blankets, goose fat roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and rich gravy”. It was  rather too much, but I luckily had a plastic box in the car and we turned it into a meal for 2 + dog. He loves his veg, does Archie and there was a fair bit of meat left too. Lucky boy!

After lunch, we popped down to Caerfai Bay – just can’t get enough of this truly stunning coastline! It was heaving so we didn’t stay long. Glad we popped in though. There is a caravan site there but I’m not sure I’d fancy going, as it’s a very narrow approach and we had to stop and squeeze past quite a few times. It’s another lovely beach though and very popular.

Caerfai Bay

We turned for home and spotted the sign for the Solva Woollen Mill. We had a lot od Welsh tapestry articles (blankets, handbags, spectacle cases, purses, waistcoats – even a cape) and so I fancied a nose round. We took the turn, which told us it was only one and a half miles. Hmm. I think it may have been a shade further! Or maybe that was just the way it seemed? Anyway we arrived. To find that it was closed on Sundays!! Grrrr. But we did see some lovely alpacas (I want one) on the road back. Photo opportunity!!

Fringe trim anyone?

We stopped off in Broad Haven for an ice-cream and then it was back to the van for the last time before we leave tomorrow. Sadly.

We need an early start again, as it is a long trip, so we spent the evening packing up and preparing to up steadies and set off at a good hour tomorrow.

Monday 29th May 

Up early and at it. Breakfast and final clearing up. Boo. Our preparations yesterday stood us in good stead though, and we were away just after 08:30. A couple of stops and we were home by about 2pm. We have had such a lovely time in this beautiful part of the world. We will definitely be back – hopefully for longer next time and hopefully it won’t be such a long gap. Not sure I actually have another 25 years in me!  We highly recommend  a visit. Great for families. Evie and Lenny would love it. I wonder if we can borrow them for a whole week?

For our next trip,  we are off to the Cotswold for the Cotswolds Show, with our dear friends Bob & Barb. Can’t wait. As usual! I love this caravanning lark.