An On Off On Off week in Pembs with rainy days and dry sunny days alternating. Breezy throughout.
Back home…. a couple of significant new things:
Heavy rain overnight so Tuesday was deemed as day to spend in the van, reading and chatting until cheese on toast lunch. The afternoon held dry spells and we managed the walk around the Southwood Estate picking blackberries and sloes. We stewed the former in anticipation of a crumble on Thursday and froze the latter ready to make sloe gin. Tasty Cashew Nut Curry Risotto for dinner with cheese and biscuits after.
Wednesday was the sunny day of the week so we drove over to Marloes and walked on up to Martin’s Haven and around the headland to Marloes Sands, returning via roads and field footpaths.
Lots of seals and pups in the bays along the way. Lots of photos.
Tea and welsh cakes back at base and bit of relaxing before Maurice arrived and drove us to Nolton Haven for dinner at The Haven Brasserie. My first evening meal out for a long long time.
Back to rain on Thursday – light windswept showers and heavier spells. Leisurely start then into Narberth. A damp and drizzly potter around time with our buzzer from Ultracomida in order to get a place at their tapas table.
Worth the wait for a tasty tapas lunch then tea with Maurice, Outlet & Lidl shopping in H’west and back to base for the evening.
Rain resumed. We tucked into cheese and biscuits followed by blackberry and apple crumble.
A wet start Friday cleared to leave a breezy sunshine-filled day and so it was off to St Davids to walk the Coast Path from Caerfai to White Sands.
A smashing day, blackberry picking, seal watching and with coffee and cake at Porthclais Kiosk.
Steffi took the footpath route back into St Davids which cut down the long road section at the end and brings you into St Davids via the Cathedral and Bishops Palace. Lovely.
By the end we were all glowing from a day of sunshine and fresh air.
Back to the van for tea and a welsh cake then wine and nibbles, Lidl Deluxe pizzas, crumble and creme fraiche.
October started well.
Rain returned in the evening and continued in and off overnight and into Saturday, heavy. Lazy morning featuring bed coffee and a late breakfast, sloe gin production, reading and listening to podcasts. And a fab sunset.
Early rain cleared on Sunday morning and another bright and breezy day lured us down onto the beach for a low tide stroll.
Then it was packing up and off to Mayhem for one of Maurice’s slap up Sunday lunches. Well up to the usual high standard, even if the gathering was significantly smaller than usual. we’d not managed our Everest Trek Get Together as D&G had decided not to come in light of the petrol shortages and weather forecast.
Easy drive home dropping Hazel off at Carmarthen train station en route, returning to find the downstairs walls and skirting painted by Phil and the grass collector bit of the mower fixed by dad and Phil.
Phil managed half of the box of Sunday lunch leftovers I was sent home with…..
Quite a momentous day, Monday:
We collected our new car. It’s a Fiat Panda 4×4, to cater for the icy roads and occasional floods as well as potholes, narrow country lanes and Hereford parking. We did a part-Ex on the Nissan, which made me realise how attached I’d become to it. Sniff.
The wooden flooring was laid in the hall, dining room and lounge.
New car! (But you’ll have to wait to find out what…)
More Chutney. Some Apple Cider Vinegar plus Damson / Wild Plum and Blackberry Gins.
Pembrokeshire with Hazel and Steffi.
Garden-wise we have a bumper crop of wild plums, and stacks of apples – mainly from trees that were quiet last year.
I need to remember to keep more time free at this time of year to make the most of the autumn harvest. Turning the apples etc into useful things takes an age, let along picking and washing them. There is no room left in the freezer now. On top of that, the veg patch is untended and the third bed awaiting my attention.
I’m going to try a few new things this year – Janette sent me the apple cider vinegar recipe she uses. I’ve thought about making it before as a lot of my apple chutney recipes use it, and I tend to just chuck in malt instead because it’s cheaper. I’m eying up a couple of chutney and gin options, working on the basis that our very tart wild plums are equivalent to damsons, and I’m hoping to find time to squeeze in Blackberry Gin making too.
Anyway, Friday was set aside for all that.
Into Hereford on Tuesday morning for shopping and library, Wilko for pop top bottles and Poundland for cheap reading glasses. And General Dogsbody for more peanuts for those greedy garden birds. (We love them really.) Then coffee with dad and Jean at the bungalow, sat out on the patio, and taking receipt of a black chilli plant gifted from Annette and Michael.
After the afternoon at work, we drove to Brecon to look at a new second hand car, and settled a part-ex purchase with collection set for Monday 04 October. I can’t reveal what it is yet because Phil is taking betssolicitingguesses as to what it is.
Up early on Wednesday. Morning dew on the spider webs adorning the front gate.
And enough time to collect windfalls and make apple cider vinegar following Janette’s recipe before work. VWW after.
The Welsh Water engineers didn’t materialise on Thursday to look for the leaks they think we have, and after Family Zoom I headed out to collect blackberries as the light faded and managed to get a jar of blackberry gin underway. Phil is on sugar dissolving shaking duties once I’m in Pembs.
A busy day Friday.
The day’s preserving began with getting three mayo jars of Allotment Garden Damson Gin underway – handy tip to freeze the fruit so that it splits so you avoid the need to prick.
Next up, chutneys, apple and plum / damson:
Holly Jones’ Spiced Apple Chutney (with star anise and mustard seeds, from pickled cucumber vinegar)
Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney (microwave version)
Frugal Feeding Apple Chutney (with jalapeño vinegar)
Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney (her favourite!)
The second batch was left to cool temporarily mid-afternoon as we nipped into Hereford to test drive the Mazda again. Hot and sunny afternoon made for a lovely top down drive (even with the Friday traffic) and I remained tempted, but we reached stalemate on price. Stopped off at Asda on the way home to fill up the car and mower petrol cans – the fuel delivery crisis was starting to stick around in the headlines and lingered for a week or so. There were “Out of….” signs / covers around at Lock’s Garage and The Forge and various petrol stations in Pembs, but we were fine.
Back to base to finish simmering and bottling the chutneys. The overall tally for the day was 29 jars. That should last us a while:
Last job of the day was to clear the lounge and dining hall – all bar the sideboard and table – in anticipation of the new flooring being laid Monday week and for Phil to repaint the walls and skirting boards before then.
After all that, a well-earned evening of pizza and Grand Designs.
Out walking Saturday with the GVWC, on a 12 mile circular route around Kilpeck, Garway and Kentchurch. We arrived at the trig point on the top of Garway Hill in heavy cloud but occasional breaks gave glimpses of the views. A fast pace meant we were enjoying medical rehydration in the beer garden at The Kilpeck Inn by 3.30pm.
Deleted my Tuffmail account under Phil’s supervision then flickered photos and packed for Pembs. In the evening, collected Hazel from Hereford train station and fish and chips from The Old Stables in Ewyas Harold.
Leisurely start Sunday, breakfast in the conservatory and then off to Pembs for a week of walking (and drinking). Not quite Trekking in Nepal, but we should see seals and seal pups (you don’t get those in the mountains), and culminating in an Everest Get Together with D&G at the weekend.
A good drive – no sheep this time – and a late lunch at the van after a miscommunication on rendezvous location meant H and I surprised M and M at Mayhem, while Steffi waited for us at the van. Speedy trip back into H’west to do the food shopping and still time for a windy stroll on the beach before G&Ts and puff pastry tart for dinner.
Monday morning was cloudy but dry, so we drove to Stackpole Quay and, after waiting out a heavy shower, walked along the coast path to Barafundle Bay, Broadhaven South and Bosherton Lily Ponds, with a late lunch at Mrs Weston’s – still not serving cheese on toast.
A couple of showers early on – with a rainbow curving over the coast and into the sea – then a lovely breezy and sunny walk.
Jewel-like flowers, blue, pinks, yellows and purples, heather and gorse stretching over the hillsides. Beautiful. And, in the rocky coves and sheltered inlets opposite Ramsey Island, I spotted first seals, and then seals and their pups, and then a dolphin in Ramsey Sound. Magic.
At Whitesands I treated myself to an ice cream for the final slog along the roads back into St Davids. Back at the van for 4 o’clock tea, sat outside on the decking again, reading more of Underland – although images of pot holing and urban explorers in the catacombs of Paris were hard to conjure up given all the sun, blue skies and occasional very welcome breeze.
Very much wishing I’d brought my swimming costume….
Late afternoon stroll on the beach with P, then Southwood Estate again or Dog Shit Estate as I fear it should be renamed. By the time I got back to the beach the tide was almost in and there was the start of a good sunset, so I nipped back to the van to get Phil, the M&S G&Ts purchased on Saturday plus crisps and peanuts, and we sat on the pebbles watching a glorious sunset, first gold then technicolour pinks and purples.
Late dinner and another instalment of The Hunt for A Killer.
Wednesday morning began with a red sky warning. Phil and I surfaced around 8am and polished off the croissants with OJ and stove top coffee. Having concluded last night that I’d probably just walk south along the coast path until I felt like turning round, the timing and the revised weather forecast combined such that it made perfect sense to get the 9.10am Puffin Shuttle to St Bride’s Haven and to walk back from there.
So I did.
… and saw a seal bobbing in Mill Haven, and a large grey seal with her pup safe on the rocks of the next inlet to the north, steep sided and inaccessible.
I got rained on a bit just after the wooded section en route to lovely Little Haven, but dried off in Broad Haven with (disappointingly weak) posh coffee and a deluxe fruit, nut and choc bar.
Lovely walk, and one we’d not done for a good few years. I’d forgotten it takes you past the dragon islands (aka Stack Rocks) and the stone with the circular hole (aka Howney Stone).
I’d also forgotten how many ups and down there are from Nolton Haven back to Newgale. Mind you, the beach was looking massive – it must have been a low low tide.
I was ready for a shower and late lunch by the time I got back a little after 3pm. Then settled in for a lazy afternoon of iPad and reading. No sign of the afternoon thunderstorms that were in this morning’s forecast.
Thursday – cloud and rain ad hoc throughout the day, so a lazy day reading and listening to more of Boudica. And a quick nip to Morrisons to top up the supplies.
Dad emailed us while we were away to let us know that one of the apple trees in the orchard had fallen over.
Friday was our last full day in Pembs. Cloudy but warm. We drove to St Davids and walked the coast path from St Justinians to Porthclais, looking out for the seals and pups (and dolphins – but there were none) en route. Sadly, one less pup than on Monday – the one on the sloping rocks has gone. To compensate, there was a very determined pup at the west end of the Sound (Porthaflod?), who was very determined to reach the water. I took a lot of photos of that one….
We treated ourselves to a great coffee and dark chocolate flapjack from the Porthclais Kiosk. Five stars.
Should have thought to time to walk to get the Celtic Coaster from St Davids to St Jusinian’s, as that 2 1/4 miles of tarmac is hard going compared to the footpaths. We saw it again at Porthclais.
Back at the van, we did an initial pack and hoover, then iPaded / read / audiobooked until early dinner – mushroom risotto – and another Grand Designs.
Up early on Saturday, breakfast, final pack / clean, then to Steffi and Maurice’s for another coffee and chat before heading back east to Herefordshire. Phil did Carmarthen home. No sheep on the road this time.
We arrived home to an invitation to a birthday BBQ down the lane, so we spent the late afternoon and early evening drinking beers, eating BBQ burgers and salads and chatting with various neighbours. Fab.
The birds are slowly remembering where to find the peanuts and bird seed, and enjoying the washing and drinking facilities. House Martins have been bombing around overhead, gobbling flying things. Large spiders have spawned squads of small spiders (cue Charlotte’s Web) and the autumn crocus and cyclamen have brought lilac hues into the garden.
Spent Sunday morning catching up on computer things – weeknotes, reading, Strava screenshots and photos. Phil’s worked out how to get the videos off my new Sony Cyber-Shot. I’m hoping that if I change the video format I’ll be able to transfer them alongside the .jpg photos via Image Capture.
Lunched outside, which is when I finally realised Richard had been and that more of the hedges had been trimmed.
Spent the afternoon continuing to flickr photos and to finalise weeknotes. Still got a lot of photos to work through…. I was almost as snap happy as on a trek.
Made a double batch of Anglo Indian Apple Chutney before dinner. Blitzed the apples and dates in the Magimix and cooked everything up in the jam pan, which I think may produce a different texture compared to the usual chopping + microwave approach. We’ll see.
Went out for the day with dad and Jean on Monday, visiting Hergest Croft Gardens. Returned with a replacement apple tree / early Christmas present – a Herefordshire Russet. Now I just have to decide where to plant it.
Handyman Sam came round to view the work we want done to the utility room in the afternoon, and we got that booked in for October. Phil and I did a speedy Sainsbury’s + Aldi shop before dinner. No salt & vinegar crisps for love nor money.
Apples, Sugar Loaf and our Pembrokeshire holiday part 1.
Quiet week at work. VWW and Family Zoom Wednesday and Thursday. Felt a bit sluggish – didn’t manage to get out for a walk at all, spending most of Tuesday morning doing last week’s photos and weeknotes. Gloomy weather made for similar spirits.
Dad and Jean came for morning coffee on Tuesday and we had a stroll around the grounds checking out the apples and plums, and on Thursday afternoon we had an unexpected visitor with Su calling round on her way to meet with friends who were spending a couple of nights Up On A Hill.
A good long walk Friday morning, after coffee in the conservatory – our summer (and late spring / early Autumn) lounge. It’s warm enough even on cloudy days. The walk took me to Kerrys Gate, Black Bush to check out the results of the road closure (“tree removal and bridge repairs”), on to Bacton and up to Tremorithic. Low cloud slumped along the top of Hatterall Ridge. Coming down Cwm Hill, I saw the three fields there are up for sale. I wonder why. Through Abbey Dore, turning left to take the footpath along the river to Riverdale, back up to Kerrys Gate and home for lunch. I mapped the route using Strava on B’s old phone and my Fitbit – Distance: 9.84 miles; Elevation Gain: 999 ft; Time: 2h 37m.
Phil and I spent the afternoon picking apples and wild plums, mainly in the orchard where the Golden Delicious apple tree and the wild plum are prolific producers this year. The Worcester Pearmain has a small crop of its beautiful crimson red apples, but the Discovery has hardly any, and the young dwarf Bramley none at all.
Given we’d had the two apple trees down by the (ex) railway track pruned at the start of this year, we weren’t expecting much of a crop from them this year, and although the Laxton’s Superb has hardly any, we did get a half bucketful from the other one (not named on dad’s Tree Map). The wasps had munched a lot already.
Once picked, we washed the apples and left the good ones to dry before settling them carefully in the apple racks, hoping to avoid too many bad apples this year. The ones with bruises, bites or burrowings, and any windfalls or fallers we’d collected, I chopped and either froze ready for crumbles and chutneys or stewed and froze for puddings. No room in the freezers for any more! We shall have to eat up some of the other contents as the Golden Delicious has a lot more fruit left on its branches and we haven’t even tackled the neighbouring apple tree (uh oh) in the orchard or any of the apple trees on the lower path. We did take a quick look, and picked a few apples off the Bramley. The Egremont Russet isn’t quite there yet, and there don’t seem to be that many apples on it.
Saturday was the start of our holiday week and the morning’s plan was Sugar Loaf with the GVWC, Phil coming along too. Whilst I’ve walked up Sugar Loaf from two different directions within recent memory, the GVWC route promised a third alternative, from Fro Car Park. The roads off the A465 signposted Bettws and Forest Coal Pit were easier than the steep single track up to the main Sugar Loaf car park, and we arrived at an empty car park at 9.45.
A much bigger group than on my previous pair of outings and slower pace, plus a small porky pie about the distance meant the 4 mile / 2 hour walk ended up being 5.5 mile / 3 hr 20 min. Normally not a problem, but a pain given we’d planned to have lunch at home to to drive to Pembs in the early-mid afternoon.
Still, I’m glad we went – it’s an easy route and we had much better weather than of late, with the morning cloud burning off to leave a sunny and hot day. Busy at the top, and the views were a bit hazy.
The return section through Parc Lodge woods was particularly lovely, as were the red berried rowan trees and hawthorn bushes amidst the green, green bracken.
A good route for future ref.
Back at base around 1.30pm, Phil rustled up lunch while I packed the car. Passing by on his tractor with a trailer of hay bales, Ray stopped for a chat. A fox took all bar one of their chickens this week.
Finally set off on the drive West, taking the usual Hay – Brecon – Llandovery route. All was going swimmingly until, just outside Sennybridge the traffic came to a standstill, and 6 or so cars ahead we could see why – a sheep trailer had overturned and the occupants had escaped – a flock of (unscathed) sheep were running hither and thither across the A40. We waited for a bit, but there didn’t seem much of a plan for corralling the creatures, so we turned tail and took the back roads to Sennybridge. Thank heavens for mobile maps.
Shopped in Haverfordwest – flagging by then (7pm) – and arrived at the van around 8pm. Lovely and quiet and so, so good to be back by the sea. We both miss it. Unpacked and demolished a speedy posh pasta dinner, with M&S garlic bread plus wine and beer. Well, we are on holiday!
Sunday was a beautiful day, just right for the first proper day of our hols. A slow start, then a stroll on Newgale Beach, end to end. Low tide meant we got all the way to the rocks at the southern end. By the time we were back at the van the skies were clear and the sun was out in splendour. So hot I had to change into a lighter T shirt, and wished I’d brought my swimming costume….
Late afternoon, once the heat had started to wane, I set off to walk the footpaths around the Southwood Estate, and back along the beach, the sun glinting on the gentle waves. Beautiful. I’d not taken my phone so no podcasts to distract me from the scenery, the flowers and the birds – I watched a hawk hovering, diving and being buffeted by a trio of small birds, presumably protecting their young. A little later, pairs of russet breasted birds periodically settled on the gorse and grasses, and I attempted a few photos in the hope that I could work out what they are.
[Having looked at the photos, I’m pretty sure the hovering bird was a kestrel and the russet-breasted birds were stonechats]
Back at base, I persuaded Phil to come back to the beach to see the sunset, and we sat on the stones watching the sun and the waves, the people and the birds, until the sun disappeared into the bank of hazy cloud that’d been hiding the coastline for most of the afternoon. Not quite a sunset, but lovely all the same.
Up early on Monday at 7am (I’ve been sleeping in later at home in recent weeks, not sure why), left P sleeping and settled on the sofa with tea and muesli to start Underland. I’d found I was reluctant to read it, bringing it with me more out of a sense of “I ought to” rather than “I want to”. I’m not sure what was putting me off – perhaps the title and the theme, but as ever with Robert Macfarlane’s writing, it’s drawn me in from page 1.
It turned into another lovely day and, once P was up, we spent the day walking along the coast path to Solva and back.
Guests! Glorious weather. Strimmer lesson and a close encounter with a buzzard. Backed out of the Lakes trip.
Up early on Tuesday for the drive home from Solihull, taking the Worcester South / Malvern / Hereford route so that I could stop off in Hereford to do a big shop in Aldi and Sainsbury’s. Home in time for a mug or two of tea and the Cockyard Direct route before lunch. The bridge by Blackmoor Farm has been repaired.
Usual schedule for the rest of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (work, VWW and Family Zoom).
C and SL arrived for their long weekend at the Abbey Dore Pod on Thursday. Did a chunk of admin first thing Friday morning before heading down to meet them at the Pod. Explored the Abbey then took the footpath round the back of Abbey Dore Court, and along the River Dore to Riverdale and back home via Kerrys Gate. Tour of the grounds then lunch and chat for the rest of the afternoon.
Steffi arrived early on Saturday morning and we drove over to Skirrid. Surprisingly easy parking and fantastic views from the summit. On the drive home we stopped off at Rowlestone Court Farm Ice Cream Parlour – YUM – and later in the evening indulged in a feast of BBQ curated by Phil.
We did the Cat’s Back on Sunday – more superb views out over Herefordshire to the east and the beautiful Olchon Valley and majestic Hatterall Ridge to the west. After tea and brownies on the lawn we headed down to the Pod for dinner on the patio and farewells.
So good having friends to visit. As well as good company, they provide a reminder that we really do now live in a gorgeous part of the world.
Monday was a mixed day. Trying to book train tickets up to the Lakes next week failed at the mandatory seat reservation stage, and I wasn’t keen on driving the now rattling/creaking car there, around and back in the first place. The earliest I could book the car in at the garage was next Wednesday. After a lot of soul searching, to-ing and fro-ing and telephone calls (with my phone finally running out of credit midway through), I decided not to go. I’ve realised I need a bit of time off here to get on top of things and to have a bit of a break.
On the plus side, dad came over late morning and I had my first lesson with the big hand-held strimmer before mowing the “lawn” below the large pond and up on the solarium. As I was doing the area by Barney’s tree a big buzzard landed in the cut grass on the Solarium and we looked at one another for a while. Amazing.
After lunch, drove to Powells and dropped off the strimmer mower and picked up C’s chain saw (Bosch Electric). Got details of a guy who can do a 1 day chainsaw maintenance and basics lesson too…. Back at base, netted the cherry tree, cleared all the grass from inside the greenhouse and transplanted my tomato seedlings into growbags.
We also decided to postpone the garage revamp – too much uncertainty with the price and timescales largely due to scarcity of building materials. So I won’t be getting my Mazda MX-5 just yet….
In bird news, we’ve noticed a lot of juvenile birds out and about by the bird feeders – in particular a young blackbird which is a bit gormless but seems to survive. Still following dad for food!
Taking down the seed feeder has deterred the squirrels, but Phil’s seen at least three mice munching on the peanuts….