Saturday simply teemed with rain. We set off for Wales after consulting the Caravan Club handbook, Internet being hard to come by in the Forest of Dean. We wandered around outside until we had a phone signal and were able to book a pitch at the Brecon Beacons site.
The rain did not let up and so we settled onto our pitch as quickly as possible. The site seemed huge to us and is quite the largest site we have sampled to date. Very clean and orderly, with good beech hedges separating the ranks. The very well stocked shop was closed due to staff illness, impeding Mr Snail's search for a waste water trolley thing but the friendly wardens managed to supply me with the detergent that I lacked for my laundry and I was able then to have my first brush with coin-in-the-slot washing. I dashed back and forth between RV and laundry in the rain, feeling thoroughly miserable about the whole process. Mr Snail and Nell, who had gone to try the dog walk, were slightly more enthusiastic but not much.
The only photo opp that presented itself was our new mascot, Ceridwen. Note the rain beyond the window.
I doubt that we would return to the Brecon Beacons site. There is nothing wrong with it but it offered little to charm and entice.
We were heading to Salem, to The Angel Inn, our first Britstop. A very friendly stop it was too. Very nice people and a characterful pub.
The Angel takes up to five vans and normally offers EHU but they had an exciting evening with the local Fire Brigade in attendance on the previous night and were unable to offer us a power supply. We did not mind as we planned to partake of their Sunday Lunch and had no need of the electricity.
There was a bear in the pub.
I did not allow this fact to prevent me from addressing myself to the home-grown lamb. Nor the beer.
After a whopping meal, we walked it off. There were no suitable footpaths and we were restricted to the narrow lanes so it was not ideal for Nell.
There were daffs everywhere. Not difficult to tell that we were in Welsh Wales.
We returned to the van and had a good night's sleep.
Easter Monday was a mistake. We should have cancelled the day and stayed in bed. That said, there were some pleasant moments and the day actually turned out well at the end.
We were heading for another Britstop and eagerly anticipating it as it was an ice-cream farm. Mr Snail is partial to an ice-cream farm. To fill in the day we were going first to Camarthen in search of a waste carrier and then to the coast. On Sunday Mr Snail had phoned a Caravan and Motorhome dealer in town and ascertained that they would be open on Monday. We aimed to be there for what was listed as their opening time of 10 am.
There was a bit of a hiccup when we missed our turning at one point and had to drive seven miles in order to come back at ourselves and return to our route. When we arrived at the dealers, there was nowhere to park or manoeuvre Hank to get him out again. There was a kerfuffle requiring other vehicles to back out and then we parked across the road on a small industrial site and outside ATS. I amused myself by taking photos of a ruinous ivy-covered building.
The Caravan dealer was not yet open. We hung around for a while but nobody came, other than some other potential customers. We hung. We waited. We kicked our heels. After an hour we went shopping at a nearby store, where we picked up some new bedding and other bits and pieces for the van. When we returned the dealer was still not open. Eventually, when they did open around midday, they did not have in stock what we needed.
Told you we should have stopped in bed.
At least the sun was shining. With the idea of ice cream in our heads we set off once more towards our evening sop.
The roads were narrow and awkward and the traffic was heavy, it being Easter Monday (what were we thinking of!) but eventually we reached Pendine - where we found that the car park we had identified as suitable for us was not only largely under water after the recent heavy rain but also carried signs that forbade us entry.
We were tired, we were fretful and we needed to stop for a while, so we ignored the signs and chose the parking space that would impact others the least. We parked in the puddle, with our rear end in the shrubbery and then we took Nell onto the sands... with some trepidation.
It was almost like being at home, apart from the people. There were people! On the beach! Nell was amazed and puzzled but delighted to find that there were balls simply everywhere. She pulled and she tugged and she was perfectly certain that all balls were there for the taking. It was hard work.
When we left in the afternoon, the traffic was heavier even than before. The roads however were no wider nor less twisty. We got into a kerfuffle in Laugharne on a corner of a very narrow road with oncoming cars drivers disinclined to accommodate us. I was in charge of checking our proximity to the stupid woman on our right and was peering bumperwards when there was a horrible scraping sound, very loud, very ominous. The next thing I heard was a stream of profanity from Mr Snail. Eventually we were able to extricate ourselves.
I was sure that we had scraped that car. I was wondering how much damage we had done to our very new, very expensive paintwork.
Luckily we had missed the vehicle. In concentrating so hard to avoid the oncoming vehicles, Mr Snail had made contact with the house on his left. You know the kind of property that fronts straight onto the road, with no forecourt or garden... He had forgotten to allow the extra inches for the awning mounted on Hank's left hand side and tore a strip from the awning material, which was flying like a flag as we drove away down the road.
We had to stop as soon as possible, send Mr Snail up onto the roof and cut free the offending piece.
Now, you might have thought that our day could only get better thereafter.
It did not.
We found the ice-cream farm quite easily but as we approached it on a narrow B-road we realised that the access was impossible, with a sharp right in need of a several point turn to get in. There was a traffic queue behind us and oncoming vehicles too. Mr Snail decided to drive on and turn round to come back at it from a better angle.
We drove and we drove and we drove, finding nowhere to turn around. We drove through Narberth, another nightmare of twisty narrow streets and one-way traffic flow. The road that we planned to take had a motorhome parked on it, leaving insufficient room to pass and so we had to take another option instead and ended up not knowing where we were going.
Further driving around ensued... until I spotted a sign for a caravan site and we turned in on spec. Luckily it had just opened for the season. Mr Snail went to see if they had room for us and was told no, they had nowhere for a vehicle of that size. I tearfully told our tale of woe and how tired and desperate were were and the lovely lady owner took pity on us and found us a place to park for the night - it even had a hookup.
My gratitude to the lovely folks at Wood Office will be eternal.
The site by the way was very good indeed. Very neat and squeaky clean. largely given over to statics and seasonal pitches but with room for tourers. There was nothing fancy about the site - no potted geraniums or fancifications, just neatly kept grass and gravel. The toilet block although new harked back to earlier days perhaps - there was a sharp breeze coming under the shower cubicle door, I know that much, but cleanliness could not be faulted and the water was both hot and plentiful.
We were glad of our bed that night. Not that we slept well. No, we spent hours wondering if we should take Hank back to the dealer and swap back to our friendly Brunhilde. The upshot? Mr Snail said he thought we should do just so. I breathed an enormous sigh of relief.
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Next: More of the Welsh Coast