Tuesday, 29 September 2009


The news today has been filled with the tragic suicide of a mother and her daughter. Fiona Pilkington set her car on fire with herself and her mentally handicapped daughter inside - a horrific death for them to suffer, but in her eyes better than continuing to face the teenage thugs who were making their lives a misery back home.

The old adage is that an Englishman's home is his castle. That no longer appears to be the case in this country. While at home not only are you in danger of being inundated with junk mail, unwanted telephone calls, having you identity stolen, being scammed online and being burgled, you now have the possibility of being terrorised by your neighbours.

The sense of community has gone for the majority of people now. How many of your neighbours do you know by name? How many of them could you rely on to help you out if you had a problem? Compare this to even one generation ago and it may come as a shock.

The youths that were interviewed on the radio seem to feel no remorse and fail to see that they have done anything wrong. "There's nuffink to do except get pissed and take drugs" said one of them. "Then if we get a bit noisy people get pissed off and call the police. When they do that it's no wonder we get pissed off and have a go at them and do fings" he went on.

Nothing to do? Here we are in an age when kids have FAR more than even children of my generation had, and we didn't feel the need to run riot and make innocent peoples lives a misery! Why can't they play on the X-Box they pestered their parents for? Go on the internet, or, shock horror, READ A BOOK? They might even learn something, like how to speak properly to start with.

As a child, if I had a football to kick around I was happy. If I had mates to play football with, even better. If one of us had a few pence to buy a bottle of pop and crisps we felt like kings. What has happened to the world that has taken away such simple pleasures, such innocence?

The internet is frequently blamed, and yes, it does have a lot to answer for, but it cannot take the full force of the blame. Parents seem to have lost the ability to control their children, teachers and police are no longer allowed the freedom they used to have to instill discipline in the young.

My dad used to say to me "more wants more", and at the time I didn't get it. I do now - the more you have the more you want. Gone are they days that you only had what you NEEDED and could AFFORD. People are too easily bored with their latest gadgets and "must have" possessions.

What has happened to respect? People don't seem to respect one another like in days past. Working in retail I see this more than most.

What of these thugs that terrorise their neighbours then? If you "terrorise" people, by definition you are a "terrorist". Since 9-11 and 7-7 this government has targeted terrorists around the world, but isn't it about time a similar level of commitment was aimed at this other kind of home grown terrorist? These don't pick on people just because of their creed, religion or colour, but simply "just because".

Its time for this to be stopped. We simply don't need people of this type in the gene pool anymore. The majority of them won't amount to anything, won't bring anything useful to this country or the world in general. Enough is enough. We need to stand up to them, and they need to learn what is acceptable and what is not. The authorities need to have their hands untied, law and order needs to be restored to our fair isle before it is too late.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Mac Report - week 2

Week two of owning a Mac. So, how is it going then? Very well thank you for asking!!! The keyboard is an absolute delight to use, and it makes me want to write which is good news, and so far I have been working on quite a few different articles and blogs.

I have got my head around most of the operating system, and while it is different in many ways to Windows, the way it does work is so much more intuitive and obvious – sensible even. The way you can use different numbers of fingers on the track pad to do different things is amazing, you just have to remember how to do them all, but it is becoming more natural with every day.

I have in fact bought a wireless “Mighty Mouse” for it, which is good for when you are using the mouse a lot, it is easier than the trackpad, though not quite as functional in some ways.

I have got more software on it now – Office 2008, Aperture and Photoshop – I really want to keep it at that – it is supposed to be a tool for me not a plaything after all!!

The software seems to be very stable so far as well, and it is certainly a lot faster than a PC in many respects.

So, full marks to Apple so far – I am very impressed and look forward to many more happy hours of Mac’ing in the future!!

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Moon

This year has seen the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings. While there was some media coverage, there was not as much as one might have expected, which is quite surprising for such a major, history changing event.

When President Kennedy announced to the world that America would send a man to the moon and return him safely before the end of the decade, it sent a shockwave through not only the world in general, but NASA in particular. They had no idea that Kennedy was going to make such a rash promise – one that they would have to keep.

At that time they had only had moderate success with their rocket launches, and now, in front of the entire world, it was being promised that they would be able to do something which many of their own staff believed was impossible, and in a ridiculously short time frame.

Sure enough, they did it, landing Apollo 11 on the moon in July 1969. Or did they? Much evidence throws doubt on the validity of their claims. They went from thousands of individual faults on every Apollo rocket to none by the 11th. That is some feat – if only Microsoft could do this with their products!!

Recently, it was discussed about them going back to the moon, to use it as a stepping stone towards a mission to Mars. However, one of the chief NASA designers claimed that it would take 15 years to be ready to go back to the moon. Now this is a little strange – back in the 1960’s with very limited technology and knowledge by today’s standards, they went from not being able to reliably launch an unmanned rocket to walking on the moon in well under 10 years. How come with modern technology and a whole lot more experience it is going to take 50% longer to do it again?

Right from day one, the Van Allen belt was cited as a major problem. This is a belt of intense radiation that surrounds our planet. Here on the ground we are protected from it by the Earths atmosphere, once you get beyond our atmosphere, there is no protection from it, certainly no protection that could be offered by a few millimeters of aluminium skin on a space craft. It would take several FEET of lead to protect man from this deadly radiation, making the space craft so heavy that it would not be able to take off in the first place.

It is a record of fact that since the Space Shuttle missions began, none of these missions have gone beyond the Van Allen belt, most in fact staying well below it. One mission that did get closer to it had the astronauts reporting that they could see “tiny flashing lights” even with their eyes closed – these would be caused by the radiation passing through the skin of the shuttle and the astronauts themselves.

So, if a man had in fact gone to the moon, the severe radiation he would have been subjected to would have killed him. Strange then that most of them are still alive up to 40 years later.

Anyone who has more than a passing interest in photography can easily see the anomalies in the photos from the Apollo missions. The cameras they used were made by the Swedish company Hassleblad, and were just minor modifications of the ones they sold to the public. They had no viewfinder and no exposure meter, and the only addition to them to try to repel radiation was a layer of silver paint inside the body.

It is strange then that every photograph is perfectly framed, perfectly focused and perfectly exposed. Most of us find that hard with a modern auto everything camera! The films suffered no effect whatsoever from either the radiation (try taking your films through a few airport X-Ray machines and see what happens to them!) or the extreme temperature changes. By rights, the films should have been fogged by the radiation, and the sprocket holes torn or at least distorted. (The temperature difference between areas of shade and sunlight on the moon was reported to be 300 degrees!! -100 in the shade to +200 out of the shade) The films should have alternated between being frozen and melted!

Neither Hasselblad or Kodak (who supplied the film) can explain the above – Kodak certainly don’t produce a film that they would claim to be able to withstand such abuse, and never have done.

Then, when you look at some of the photographs and see shadows that run in different directions when the only light source was the sun itself, you have to have doubts. This is impossible without extra lighting. The fact that in certain photos areas are well lit that should be in total shadow throws up more doubts.

Add into the mix that there is a rock in one photo that has a letter seemingly written on it that also crops up in photos from a different mission to a different part of the moon, and the fact that in some photos the cross hairs which were etched into a screen inside the camera go BEHIND objects in the photo, you really do have to start worrying about what is real and what is not.

I could go on about the mysterious deaths of some people involved with the early Apollo missions who voiced doubt about the possible success of the project, and journalists who have tried to investigate the truth. The very odd behaviour of some of the astronauts involved (Armstrong will not even talk about it, and Aldrin broke down in tears and stormed off when asked what it was like to walk on the moon during one interview) but this would become a book rather than a blog entry, and there are already plenty of those on the subject.

Suffice it to say that if you care to Google the subject, or better still, watch some of the You Tube videos, you will begin to have doubts yourself. It is not easy to come to terms with a lie of this enormity, and it is all too easy to dismiss it as rubbish spouted by conspiracy theorists, but the photographic evidence is something that cannot be easily explained away.

Of course governments have to keep some things secret from the general public, maybe even lie a little, but this lie has gone on too long and too far. The moon landings were the biggest single historic event in human existence, and yet they were probably faked. Will we ever know the truth? I doubt it, but one can hope.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Mac Report - Day 1

Day one of owning a Mac, and so far so good! The first thing that hits you is how well made and solid they are, compared to your average PC laptop, the MacBook Pro is a stunning piece of kit. The second thing that you notice is just how quickly it boots up - it is like lightning compared to Windows XP. The third thing that you discover is just how different it is to use - to start with where is everything?!

As with any new OS, whether it be a new mobile phone, video recorder or computer, there is a certain learning curve one has to negotiate before one becomes comfortable with the device. To begin with there is always that feeling of not wanting to click the wrong thing for fear of loosing everything or breaking something. I guess that if you didn’t know another operating system already that Mac OS X would be pretty easy to pick up - it does seem fairly logical even to someone with well over a decade of experience of Windows, which, to be fair, isn’t the most logical of systems, and certainly not the most reliable!

This particular MacBook has version 10.5.7 installed, which i believe is “Leopard”, and although it also came with a CD ROM of “Snow Leopard” which i gather is 10.6, i am rather un-keen to change up to it just yet - i still am only tip toeing my way around this one, and would like to feel a lot more comfortable with it before i go mucking around with things that i don’t really understand.

I have managed to download and install “Bean”, which is a basic word processor - a bit of an upgrade to the text editor that Macs come with, which is basically like notepad on windows. While Bean is not going to worry MS Word, it does most things that us mere mortals need, is fast and compact, which i like.

Even the method of installing software is different - the downloaded file shows up as a disk drive type icon on the desktop, you drag it to the folder of your choice, it is installed and you then “eject” the virtual disk drive. Odd, but blindingly easy and quick.

Of course, one of the main problems with PCs is Windows - the basic architecture of them was never designed to run a graphical user interface (GUI) - oh those good old days of MS DOS, with the command line interface when you had to type the commands in with the correct syntax. Lovely......once you had got your head around it that is. It meant that you really had to want to know how to use a computer, unlike these days when they are designed to be so obvious that even the most idiotic of people can use them without a problem. Which causes problems of its own - surf the internet to see what i mean!!

Microsoft knew that they had to create their own GUI because of the waves the first Apple Macs were creating - there was a machine that was designed from day one to be used with a GUI. Microsoft knew that they had to compete, and that although their best option would be to start from scratch, that this approach would alienate their existing user base - if their current software wouldn’t work on the new machines, they would have to replace them and may as well change to Apple anyway. To avoid this, Microsoft found a way to bolt their new GUI (Windows) onto the existing DOS, and it basically ran as a program that could run others within it.

The next snag was that this needed more memory. Originally, memory was very expensive, and as the text based systems didn’t really need much of it anyway, 640Kb was deemed to be plenty. The system could not officially access any more than this even if it was present, and so a routine had to be written which would “fool” the computer into using the extra memory that was now being fitted.

Imagine if the only car that had ever been created was the Model T Ford. Any updates to it as the decades wore on were just bolted and welded onto it, so that even the latest car was actually a Model T with a body kit - that is basically Windows for you - MS DOS with other bits bolted on. Other bits that have been created by people working in different departments who never actually meet up, meaning that different segments of the system don’t “fit together” perfectly, and have to be cobbled and fooled into working as one. This begins to explain why PCs are so unreliable and crash so often. It’s a miracle they work at all to be honest.

So, now i am using a system that has been created by a small team dedicated to making something that just works. We will have to wait and see if this is the case, i know that i have a lot to learn before i feel comfortable, but i believe that the effort will be worth while. I will get back to you and let you know.....

Mobile match made in heaven?

It has been announced that T Mobile and Orange are to merge to become the largest mobile phone company in the UK. It is being touted that this will enable them to slash their operating costs, and create huge benefits to their customers, albeit with, as yet, unknown numbers of job losses to their staff.

While it is true that merging will enable them to make certain cutbacks, i can’t see that they will be able to make quite the savings that are being predicted. Of course, they will only need one accounts department, one call centre etc, BUT they cannot possibly cut back on the number of masts and transmitters as is being talked about in the media without having a dramatic negative effect to their customers.

Let’s say for argument that they each currently have 5 million users (they both actually have a lot more than this, but these numbers make for easy calculations), so between them they have 10 million users, and currently have enough capacity for them. If they rip down half their masts and transmitters, they will now only have enough capacity for HALF of their users - how does that benefit people? It is also being said that as each company has slightly different coverage, the merger will give users better coverage than they have now - so how can they even be thinking of taking down masts?

Secondly, most masts carry more than one transmitter, with companies sharing the masts/locations, so any of these shared masts cannot be removed without adversely effecting customers of other networks.

Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, the two networks use vastly different frequencies. Orange uses channels of about double the frequency of T Mobile - without wanting to get too technical, they are simply not compatible with one another. This would mean that for the merger to actually benefit all their customers, they would have to decide which of the two sets of frequencies to use - change all the other transmitters to this band ( a VERY expensive exercise, which would also reduce their user capacity) and set up all of the users of the obsolete frequencies with new phones. Utter madness.

Maybe i am missing something, and i certainly don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, but what i do know about the mobile phone system leads me to believe that it really is not going to be a simple matter for the two company to merge and save themselves anything like the sums that are being talked about. I just hope that someone at their head offices has thought this through properly.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Hockey - Blaze old players.

So, here we are once more at the start of another ice hockey season. I never quite know whether to feel glad or sad at this time of the year. Glad because the hockey is back, or sad because it means that the Summer is over and the dark cold nights will soon be with us.

There have been plenty of changes for the Coventry Blaze over the Summer - some welcomed with open arms, and some less so. Firstly, let's have a look at who has gone from the team:-

J F Perras - Poor JF, he really didn't have a great season - not only did it seem as though he was made of rubber (so many pucks bounced off him straight to a forward to tap in), he didn't appear to be able to catch a cold for most of the season, he was obviously low in confidence, and his defenders had little confidence in him. When you look at our final league position in comparison to our performances, it is a bit of a miracle that we finished 2nd. Fourth would have been a far fairer assesment in my opinion. He was always going to find it hard to be as good as Koenig, and in the end, TKs skates proved to be just that bit too big to fill.

Ben O'Connor - I look forward to Edinburgh coming to play at the Skydome this year, to see how the crowd reacts to young Ben. He was a VERY popular player last season, and was arguably our most consistent defender. However, he blew his reputation in Coventry when he walked away from the 2nd year of his contract because the 25% pay rise he had agreed at the start of his contract was not big enough for him. I cannot imagine that the Capitals have been able to pay him what he wanted from the Blaze, so cannot see his logic in the move back North of the Border. It seems from Thommo's comments in the press that he was none too impressed with what happened and the timing of it. Rule number one - never hold a gun to Thommo's head - it will always backfire on you.

Leigh Jamieson - i quite liked him you know, and felt that he was very under-rated for most of the season. Yes, he looked more confident when played as a forward rather than as the defender he spent most of the season as, but i thought he could hold his head high overall.

Blake Forsyth - you have to feel sorry for those who had to fill the role that Blake ended the season filling - our "number 1 import D man". Overall, he filled this role as well as, or indeed better than those who preceeded him during the season:- Cory LeClair for instance. Man could he skate. If the league was decided on the best skater, we would have won by a country mile - Cory would get the full compliment of "6s" from the judges - it was as though he was floating over the ice like an angel. Unfortunately, he couldn't play hockey for toffee, which was a bit of a disadvantage! Like JF, these guys had to replace the irreplaceable - in their case Neal Martin. They were always going to be compared with Neal, and if we are honest, short of a player with loads of NHL experience, that's never going to happen. Blake did a good solid job though, and i wouldn't have been too upset to have seen him back.

Greg Wood - If ever a player was underused by the team it was Woody. On the odd time he got onto the ice he was like an unleashed terrier. Thommo even admitted that he should have used him more than he did - of all the players who left at the end of last season, he is the one i would most like to see come back. I believe he has gone to Manchester this season, and i wish him well there - let's hope we do see him back in a Blaze shirt at some point.

Barrie Moore - Well, Barrie is a slightly different case, as he retired rather than simply left at the end of the season. I can remember his first game for the team - he was jetlagged, scored two goals and skated everyone else off the ice. He then seemed to blow a bit hot and cold for the next few years. Part of the problem is that we, as fans, simply didn't quite understand his role within the team, and see what he brought to the ice. Thank goodness in his last season he did get most people to open their eyes and understand him and his game. Offensively, he often seemed lacking for a forward - apart from that fantastic wrist shot, what did he bring to the team? The answer was his superb defensive skills and his ability to change play from one end to the other with a single pass. He will be missed.

Sylvain Deschatelets - Now, there was a man who had been hit with the ugly stick!! ;-) A much maligned player while he was with Cardiff, and again blew hot and cold for us. On his night he could be breathtaking, and on another night have you pulling your hair out in frustration. Just what did make the guy tick? We never got to find out, and it is questionable as to whether Thommo did either. In fairness, he was the last minute replacement for Cloutier when he got his coaching job back home, and he was never in the same mold as Clouts either in skill or leadership.

Carlyle Lewis - Hmm, our "tough guy" - a man who either could or couldn't be bothered as the mood took him. A man fully capable of getting himself thrown out of a game for no valid reason. Another frustrating player who really didn't bring as much to the team as he could have. The only player that he really seemed to have an understanding with was Danny Stewart, and ultimately, Carlyle didn't really seem to fulfill any of the roles he should have. Despite his undoubted toughness, he didn't seem to instill any fear into the oposition, and the whole team seemed to have a distinct lack of steel about it.

Steve Fone - our back up net minder for the last few seasons - a player that we never got to see enough of, but who never let us down when he was called upon. Good luck to him in his new role as starting netminder for Manchester - he deserves the chance to really prove himself.

Erik Hjalmarsson - Eric the Viking, the man brought in to replace Scott Kelman. (more on him in a minute). Eric came into the squad having had a lot of injury problems, and was clearly not 100% fit. However, he gave his all, and really showed up a lot of the other players with his skill, touch and vision. I would have loved to have seen him stay for longer, and witness a fully fit version of him play.

Scott Kelman - Now, here is a player that could of, and should have, set the league on fire. In his first few games he showed that he had more talent, more skill, more vision than anyone else in the country. So, why oh why couldn't he be bothered to show it every night? He would be invisible for most of a game, and then pop up with a sublime pass before vanishing again for weeks on end. His history shows that he has a problem - first round NHL draft pick, but never stayed anywhere for long - he must have been a coach's nightmare, you know that he can do it, but it all depended on if he could be bothered or not. The player that has most impressed me in his first few games for us. What a shame he didn't keep it up. Aaaarrgghhh!!!

Next time, my impressions on the new players.....

Friday, 4 September 2009

Photos uploaded to Flickr at last!!

Yeah, i'm back!!

After being nagged at by a few people, i have finally gotten around to uploading some of our holiday photos to Flickr.
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/jester42/ if you want to have a look)

I have had to work a lot recently, due to my boss being on holiday, but i now have a few days off, and am relaxing! This is why i finally got the photos done....

I have also had my first article published in Amateur Photographer magazine - don't get too excited it's on a short piece in the "BackChat" column, but it's a start - plus i get paid for it. (though not sure when......) I'm already working on some more - can't quite give up the day job just yet, but you never know what the future will bring. (Yeah, right - back to reality Mike!!)

Friday, 26 June 2009


genius (jean yuss)
1. a person with exceptional ability in a particular subject or activity
2. such ability
3. a person considered as exerting influence of a certain sort

Genius – a word that often gets over-used and on days like today gets bandied around like it is going out of fashion. The death of Michael Jackson is very sad – as it would be no matter who it was who had passed away. Every news bulletin today has referred to him as a “genius”, but just what exactly does constitute genius?

From the above description, taken from an online dictionary, yes, I suppose he was a genius – he had an exceptional musical talent. I have to confess that I was never a fan of his – the music he wrote and performed was simply not to my taste, but I appreciate that I am in the minority in this regard. Millions of fans around the world adored his music, and it would be totally unfair of me to make any negative comments on this because of my personal bias.

I accept that as a songwriter and performer he was superb, transcending a lot of the traditional differences between genres, appealing to a wide musical taste, and giving countless millions pleasure. But, does this make him a “genius”?

Surely, if we are talking musical genius, we have to wait a couple of hundred years and ask the question again? Have there been any musicians since Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Paganini that really deserve the title of “genius”? I love the music of Miles Davis, but was he a “genius”? What about John Coltrane? David Gilmour? Steven Wilson? I would have to say no to all of them as highly as I rate their music.

Another musician not to my taste is Benny Andersson of Abba fame – he wrote or co-wrote some of the most famous, memorable and recognizable pop songs of all time, but would he be being hailed as a genius if he were the one who had passed away? I very much doubt it – certainly the media would not have hyped the whole thing up quite as much. I wonder if Jackson’s “infamy” is much to blame for the media attention. His flaws as a human being are much publicized, and seem to take up as much of each bulletin as the legacy of his music. How much of the rumours and innuendo are true, we will probably never know, and it is probably best kept that way.

The cynic in me can imagine that, somewhere, there is a record company executive rubbing his hands together with glee today. The double album of greatest hits that was no doubt due to be released to coincide with the O2 concerts will now be supplemented with a four or six CD boxed set. Someone, somewhere will see fit to exploit him as much now he has departed as when he was here. Within hours of the announcement of his death, the sick jokes were being passed around – the mobile phone companies making money out of the text messages. One wonders if they have staff thinking up these “jokes” and starting the whole process up themselves. Gosh, I really am getting cynical in my old age!

Anyway, what actually IS genius? If this word, or indeed any such word, is used lightly, surely it becomes de-valued. Purely from the dictionary description of genius, there would be many thousands of people in the world who would qualify for the term, thus rendering it much less potent.

Was Gascoigne’s goal for England against Scotland at Euro 96 genius? Was Ovechkin’s wonder goal for the Washington Capitals a couple of years ago? Was the photography of Bresson, Atget or Capa? The art of Da Vinci and Michelangelo? The books of Dickens, the plays of Shakespeare? Who decides? More importantly, who cares?

Wouldn’t someone who found a cure for cancer or brokered a deal for world peace be a better candidate for the term “genius” - you know, something that really was of major use to mankind. Music can make you laugh, make you cry, make you smile at a memory it conjures up, but let’s be honest, it’s not life or death.

As sad as the passing of Jackson is, should he really be as idolized as he is being? Is his death any more shocking, sad and newsworthy than the deaths of the hundreds of our service men in Iraq and Afghanistan? Should it have the same coverage and column inches?

Maybe my perspective on this whole topic is slightly coloured by my own indifference towards him as a musician, but it always amazes me how lightly the word genius is used these days. I would just like to know what it is that REALLY allows someone to be described as thus…..

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Back home

The sun was shining as we packed away the last of our things. We said farewell to Flo and Ron, the owners of Pencwnc Farm, gave the yurt a last fond look and headed off down the lanes inland.
Fairly quickly the weather turned dull and looked to be threatening rain. We took a slightly different route home, this time going around the south side of the Black Mountains and Brecon. The roads were mostly dual carriageways this time and we made reasonably fast progress, but it still took four and three quarter hours to get home. We did have a brief stop at Raglan Castle to eat our sandwiches. The rain finally did come during the journey, not for too long though, and the heavy showers soon passed.
Back home, we had to fight our way through all the junk mail and free newspapers before we could get the front door open enough to get inside. The first thing we did was have a lovely cup of tea, and rediscover how to use the stairs!
It's strange how unpacking the car seems so much quicker than packing it isn't it, and it wasn't long before some form of normality was arrived at. The washing machine was put on, the camping gear put away in the garage, the sleeping bags aired. It is almost as though the holiday didn't actually happen.
That is until we sat in front of the computer and had a look at the photos. The two evenings watching the sunset have resulted in a huge amount of photos, and it will take a while to go through them and select the best. Once I have edited them into the highlights I will put them onto my Flickr page and let you all know.
One thing that did make us smile, and I had meant to put on here but had forgotten, was the photo of the information board that I had taken at the resevoir we went to on the first Wednesday. You will see from the information that the resevoir is very large, but only holds 10,500ml of water. Now, I'm no mathematical genius, but I make that to be ten and a half litres of water, or five and a bit pop bottles! I can only imagine that it's not as deep as it looked then!!!!
Although the holiday is over, I have to confess that I have quite enjoyed doing this blog - more than you have enjoyed reading it probably - and plan to carry on with it, though not on a daily basis. I would really like to write for a living, and maybe this is a good way to make a start towards that dream?
Thanks for reading, and all your comments and emails while we were away, they were very much appreciated.
Cheers for now. Mike.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, 19 June 2009

Friday 19th June

One thing puzzles me. How come with all the modern technological advances (mobile phones, the internet, satellites, velcro and faking putting a man on the moon) they have never been able to perfect the easy to use zip on sleeping bags?
I can remember as a child, in the days when sleeping bags were all nylon (yuk) and only rolled up into the size of a child, fighting with the zips. They seemed to work fine with you on the outside, but as soon as you got into it, they would be forever sticking and snagging as you tried to do them up, making getting snug and comfy almost impossible.
Now, of course, modern materials mean that these days sleeping bags can pack away into a matchbox, weigh virtually nothing, keep you warm in cold weather, and somehow cool in hot weather. The zips are still a nightmare to use though! You would think that someone somewhere could solve this.
You can probably guess from this, that last night I had to fight with the zip on my bag more than once, and found it very difficult to get comfortable again once I had returned from my visits down the field. Perhaps it was because I was thinking about how our holiday was coming to an end? We have talked at length about what we have enjoyed during the last couple of weeks. I think we both agree that the second week was the better of the two. I have enjoyed the yurt more than the tipi, though have missed the wood burning stove, even though I never really got to grips with keeping it alight.
The toilet blocks at both sites have left a little to be desired, the fact that they are mixed has been a bit strange, but of the two, I probably prefer the second one, if only because it felt like a proper building rather than a hastily nailed together contraption. The breakfasts at Fforest were quite nice, though having screaming kids running around you at that time of the day was a bit off-putting. We met some nice people at Fforest, but also some really ignorant ones too. One family in particular stand out in our memory, the wife being particularly rude and ignorant.
Here at Pencwnc, again we have met quite a few people, and I think without exception, they have all been really nice and friendly - much more like the folk you usually meet when camping.
The views and scenery have also been better I feel here. Fforest did have spectacular vistas, but it really can't be compared to this part of Pembrookshire (or Sir Benfro as we prefer to call it around here!!)
Today, despite it not being as sunny or warm as we had hoped, we went to Broad Haven again. We sat on the beach for a while, but it was quite chilly, so we went to the cafe that had been closed on Tuesday when we originally went there. Here we had lunch, which was probably the best of all the meals out we have had here - very surprising. We wondered around the few shops that are there, treating ourselves to a few mementos of our stay. The sun had come out a bit more now, so we went back to the beach and watched the kite surfers in action. We even went for a brief paddle in the sea, avoiding the odd jellyfish type things on the waters edge.
We are now back at basecamp, having got the majority of our things back in the car to help speed things up tomorrow morning. Dinner was big hearty soup, which has become a firm favourite for me. The evening has turned chilly though the sun is still shining.
We now get ready for bed and try to enjoy the last few hours of our idylic and tranquil break. The view out of the door which greats us each morning will take some beating, and is something we will both miss tremendously.

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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thursday 18th June

We had to get up in the early hours for a visit to the little boys and girls rooms. It was a very clear night and the sky was full of stars. It wasn't quite as impressive as last year in Norfolk, but not far off. It makes you realise just how insignificant our planet is in the grand scheme of things.
We both found it hard to wake up again this morning, and ended up having a lie-in. I think we will both be in need of a holiday by the end of this!!
The day started off dull, and we even had a couple of very brief and very light showers, but they were hardly worth mentioning, so I won't.
Today's main plan was to have a proper look around St.Davids itself. We parked in the carpark at the top of the "city" and wondered down via the visitors centre. This is a modern and interestingly designed building which contains lots of useful information about the area.
The city itself really is as bereft of shops as our initial short wonder around had led us to believe. The few shops that are here are actually quite good and carry fairly extensive ranges of goods. You probably wouldn't come here with the specific intention of shopping, but if you got here and found you had forgotten something vital, you would be in with a bit of a chance of finding it.
We also discovered that there is a fish and chip shop here! You wouldn't know it, as it is down an alley and not labelled as such, but there is a very discrete picture sign which, if you spot it, might lead you to guess what may be down the alley. We tried it out, and were pleasantly surprised.
It was market day in the city, and about half a dozen stalls had squeezed themselves onto the triangular shaped area in the centre of the city. This area is about the same size and shape as the one which contains the clock tower in Kenilworth to give you an idea of scale.
We then moved on to Porthgain, which is a tiny harbour village to the North West of St Davids. There was very little there, but it is one of those quaint little villages that leaves an impression on you. It used to be a major harbour in the supply of slate, bricks and stones, which supplied all of these to most parts of britain for buildings and roads.
We had our first cream tea of the holiday at a little cafe there which was very tasty indeed.
The afternoon and evening were much brighter, though still windy. After a dinner of chilli and rice (yummy) we went on the walk to the clifftop to watch the sunset again. Despite it being very windy and a bit chilly, we stayedv there for best part of an hour watching the spectacular sunset. Sally took lots of photos on the digital camera while I was a bit more selective this time as I was using the two film cameras. Hopefully some of the photos will turn out ok.
The kettle is on now for a bedtime mug of tea, as we look forward to our last full day here tomorrow.....

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Wednesday 17th June

A day of contrasting weather. We were woken by a cacophony of noise. It sounded as though it was lashing it down with rain and that there was a force 8 gale going on. Once you were outside though, it turned out to be gentle but persistent rain in a strong breeze. The yurt seems to amplify the noise, but when you think about it, this is always the case with tents - their construction is akin to that of a drum after all!
As the morning wore on, it did in fact rain heavier, the wind increased to the point that it was almost deafening inside the yurt, and the visibility outside was very low. We had a lie in. Well, I did, Sally still got up fairly early and made me a lovely mug of tea....which went cold because I went back to sleep!
We eventually went out just before lunchtime, and paid a visit to Solva Woollen Mill (quite interesting, good gift shop, and they had a really nice jazz CD playing on their stereo). Then we went to a pottery place (nice things, very expensive), another gift shop (full of interesting things that no one needs and paintings and photos that were mostly overpriced) before making our way to Newgale Sands yet again, and having lunch in the cafe there.
By the time we had finished lunch (about 3pm by now) it had stopped raining and really brightened up. We sat on the seafront for a while watching the waves, before checking out another little cove on the outskirts of St.Davids, and then heading back to camp.
It had now turned into a lovely day, sunny but still windy, and the views were as clear as any other day, maybe even better over towards the oil refinery at Milford Haven!
The evening carried on just as nicely, but the visibility did go a little hazy as the time wore on. I have to say, yet again, what an utterly beautiful place this is. Not only are the views stunning, but it is such a peaceful place to be. It is going to be quite a shock to go home on Saturday.
Thankfully the wind has dropped as we head toward bedtime, which means that we can actually hear the radio now. We haven't missed TV one bit while we have been away, and have the radio on most evenings, usually on Radio 4. The reception of that has been a bit hit and miss, radio 3 being the strongest signal along with BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru which is all in Welsh! Radio 2 has been mostly unavailable, and 5 Live on medium wave has been a joke. I have actually gotten to really like 4 in the evenings, and suspect that it will be a regular companion back home. I usually listen to it late at night and early in the morning back home, but rarely in the evenings.
I'm rambling now, so will sign off for tonight......see you all tomorrow!

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Tuesday 16th June

Today has been a day of highs and lows really. It was another one of those mornings when I found it very hard to wake up, and by the time we got up, ready and out, it was almost 11am. Well, we are on holiday!
We headed out to Newgale Sands again, but this time turned off the main road and went down the narrow lane that follows the coast. This is another of those single track roads that is used as a bus route - we know this as we met it coming the other way. This road takes you through Nolton Haven and Druidston to Broad Haven, which has probably the best beach of the holiday so far. We spent a couple of hours there, and had a paddle in the sea which was actually quite warm. It wasn't quite as hot as it was yesterday, but not far off, the breeze being the thing that made it seem cooler.
As we went through Nolton Haven we came across a line of horses and riders from the stables there - well over a dozen of them plus a few trainers, and they all looked totally miserable! We then met two more horses on the beach, one of which whinnied and then poohed in the sea - Sally was most unimpressed and wondered what we would come across next. According to the map of the area we have, dogs are not allowed on this particular beach (it doesn't mention horses), but we saw plenty of these running around too.
We were going to have lunch at Broad Haven, but discovered that the fish and chip shop is closed on Tuesdays, and although the gift shop has a cafe in it too, we didn't fancy it. The lanes got narrower and even more winding on the other side of Broad Haven, and we ended up giving Little Haven a miss as the road was simply too mad to attempt in a car.
The plan then became to go to Milford Haven, which we both thought would offer the best chance of seaside fair. What a mistake. The roads were still narrow enough and with few signposts, but eventually we came past the huge Murco oil refinery on the outskirts of the town. This turned out to be the highlight of the place as the town centre was a total dump! We drove through it three times on the lookout for somewhere that didn't look inhospitable, but gave up and drove onto Morrisons at Haverfordwest where we bought some treats.
Back at camp we had a late lunch using our purchases from the supermarket, which I'm sure were better than anything we could have found in Milford Haven. I then had another doze, apparantly snoring louder than the noise the tractor and mower made as they cut the grass in the half of the field that is not in use at the moment!
It is going cooler already this evening, and they are forecasting the possibility of rain overnight and early tomorrow. I think we will be glad of the hot soup we are planning to have for dinner in a while.
No major walks today I'm sorry to say. I think we are both recovering from the last couple of days. There has been a comment that I may not need a full seat to myself for next season at this rate. Don't worry, I can re-assure you that I am far from wasting away! I did think that I had lost a bit of weight, but this morning I put on a pair of trousers that I haven't worn since last summer, and I had to let the belt out a bit.....still some way to go before we can share the seat Andy!!! (See the photo of me paddling in the sea for proof of this......)

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Monday, 15 June 2009

Monday 15th June

Another beautiful day weather wise, despite a couple of brief showers, most of the day was sunny and hot.
We went to Haverfordwest today, by far the largest town we have come across on the holiday, but still not brilliant for shopping to be honest. We failed to get Sally some walking boots, but she did find some books she was looking for in the market for very little money. Lunch was some very nice baguettes from a bakers there. If they had any more filling in, I doubt we would have been able to lift them!
We called in very briefly to Whitesands Bay on the way back, and plan to return another day. We were both feeling pretty tired, so we chilled out back at basecamp for a while, and Sally actually fell asleep.
Late in the afternoon we went for a walk, basically the same one we did last night to see the sunset, but we carried on further from there to the lifeboat station a bit further up the coast, and then came back along the clifftop path, which gives spectacular views.
Dinner was salad again, and we are having an early night as we both ache and feel shattered! Must be the sea air.
Sorry it's a boring edition of the blog - we will try harder tomorrow.....
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Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday 14th June

Sorry for such a late update today, but we have been busy!!
Now, we have had a concerned email from a blog watcher, who was worried about our breakfast routine now we are in the yurt. I am sorry to inform you that we have elected to avoid the fry-up option, and have gone down the porridge route instead. Sorry.
The fresh air left us both feeling very tired, and we had a good lie-in this morning. We managed a good nights sleep thanks to the very comfy bed, and the yurt itself is lovely and warm. We like it a LOT. (For sale: 3 bedroomed house in Coventry, would consider part-exchange for yurt, log cabin, old railway carriage or similar)
After our porridge breakfast/brunch, we drove out through St.Davids towards Haverfordwest. We stopped off at Newgale on the way, which is a very odd little place. The main A road twists and turns down into this place which I basically the road with a few shops/cafes on one side, the beach and sea on the other. It comes as rather a surprise, and even more surprising was how quiet it was. It was a gloriously sunny Sunday early afternoon, and there weren't many people there. Put the same place in Dorset or Devon and it would have been packed!
We moved on to the outskirts of Haverfordwest to Morrisons where we bought some provisions to tide us over for the next few days.
Back at the yurt, we decided to go for a walk down to the cove nearby. It is less than a mile across farmers fields, and a gentle slop down to a rocky bay, where there was only 4 other people. Beautifully peaceful, sunny, picturesque and idylic, it was a place I could never tire of.
In your best Welsh accent, say outloud "there's lovely", and you will sum up our opinion on this area. We love it.
After dinner of salad and cheese, we got talking to the people in the tent behind us. They are from Torquay, have been here for a week, and go home tomorrow. Since they have been here, they have not used their car at all. They have done loads of walking, and are both amazingly fit.
He is also a keen photographer, and told me about the sunsets he had seen from the hill beyond the camp. He persuaded us to give it a try, and it was an easy walk as he had promissed. He joined us while we were up there waiting for the sun to go down. We took lots of photos, some good, some less so.
Back at the camp, we all carried on chatting till about half past ten, well passed our usual bed time, but it was very nice to have met some new people and got on so well.
This is my excuse for such a late update to the blog! Sally is asleep now, and I am waiting for the mug of tea to cool down enough to drink, before I doze off too.....

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Saturday, 13 June 2009

Saturday 13th June

We bade farewell to Fforest this morning. It was a little sad, we had only been there for five days, but had grown fond of most aspects of life there. The weather was lovely as we packed up the rest of our things and trundled them down the hill to our car.
The one question that just had to be asked was:- Why is it everytime we have been camping it has rained as we took the tent down, but this time, when we didn't have to take a tent down, it was lovely and sunny? Answers on a postcard please!
The lad at the lodge seemed unsure what he had to do to book us out, and in the end didn't bother to check that we had returned everything. As the inventory said that we had 2 reindeer hides when in fact there were 3 meant that we could have snuck off with one, which was tempting as we had grown very fond of them. BUT, as we are good campers, we left them all in the tipi, and no doubt they will be wondering if they are breeding.
We hit the road, and had to make a one hour journey last 4 and a bit hours. We decided to try out Strumble Head, which ended up being an adventure. I elected to go my way rather than the signposted way. My reasoning was that having been down some of the narrow roads in Goodwick a few days before, and seeing how they narrowed even more as the went out of the village, that the route I chose couldn't be as bad.
How wrong was I? The lanes I had us going down didn't even have tarmac down their centres! They were just about wide enough for our car, were very winding and hilly, and to cap it all turned out to be on a bus route! Yes, we met the Strumble Flier on its way back from the Head as we got near to it ourselves. Poor Sally had to reverse back up the lane for ages until we were able to pull into a farm gate. What on earth was the bus doing going there anyway? All there is is a lovely view of the sea and the lighthouse. I can't imagine many of the locals were going to hop on it to go down to the shops! How odd.
We stayed at the Head for about half an hour, before taking the recommended route back to civilisation - much easier that way than mine and carrying along the main road towards St.Davids. There was surprisingly little traffic about for a Saturday afternoon, we saw hardly any other cars going in either direction.
Arriving in St.Davids itself, we discovered that its claim to be the smallest city in the UK (and 2nd smallest in the world) is no idle claim. It is TINY! It makes Kenilworth look huge and cosmopolitan in comparison. We parked up and had a little wonder around, grabbed a sandwich for lunch from a nice deli, and got a few provisions for the weekend from a small private supermarket.
There was either a very posh wedding taking place at the cathedral or there was a fancy dress party going on, as we saw quite a few people in fancy three piece suits and women in fancy hats. As the bells started up not long later, my bet is on a wedding, but you never know these days do you?
Back at the car, we checked the directions to the farm, and headed down yet more tiny lanes and found Pencwync Farm exactly where they said it would be. There is a small farmhouse where the owners live, a toilet and shower block in what was probably once an outhouse, and three fields, one of which has our yurt proudly standing there. It is made of white canvas, is about 16 feet in diameter, the main walls are vertical to about head height before sloping up into the roof. The hole in the centre of the roof has a clear covering to it, which is good, as this means we won't get wet if it rains!
The views are stunning all around, we can just about see a small strip of the sea, but being less than a mile from the coast means that it is only a short walk to see it properly. First impressions are that the yurt itself is superb, fairly new and very well equiped. The toilet and shower facilities are basic but adequate. There is also a fridge freezer and microwave available in the block for campers to use.
We are sitting in the sun outside the main door of the yurt, there is a gentle breeze, and I already have got a sunburt neck! Trust me - every time I do that - when will I learn?
I will sign off for now, but will leave you with some photos of our new tranquil home.......

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Friday, 12 June 2009

Friday evening

Our last full day at Fforest was a bit of a strange one to begin with. I had a very difficult time waking up, and had a major lie-in. We decided to skip breakfast at the lodge and tidy up some of our remnants for breakfast instead.
The weather was looking very dull indeed, and while it stayed dry, it was cold and windy and didn't look very enticing. We decided to have a chilled out morning, which involved my being asleep more than awake, and even Sally dozed off for a while - virtually unheard of.
Around noon, we came to, and the weather had brightened up a bit. We had decided to take one trolley load of luggage down to the car today to save having to do two on Saturday. We sorted things out into "need" and "don't need", and took the latter down with us to the car and filled the boot up.
Our first port of call today was Cillgerran Castle. Well, that was the plan. It appears that there is no actual car park, and that you are supposed to dump your car in the already crowded village main street. In the end we gave it up as a bad job, and headed out to the Honey Farm near New Quay. This turned out to be a small but well set out operation, and Sally did buy some of their wares.
We then made another attempt at finding New Quay itself. What is not at first apparant, and is certainly not signposted, is that the main hub of activity involves entering the one way system of tiny streets. I only knew this as I had picked up a street map at the Honey Farm!
New Quay has more that its fair share of fish and chip shops, with almost every third shop being one. Why can't they share them out with the rest of the area a bit more?
Today we elected to have a pasty instead, and ate them on the harbour front. The sun had come out by now, and it was very pleasant indeed.
After a short wonder around, we jumped back into the car, and headed down some of the narrowest lanes of the holiday yet, in an attempt to find Llangrannog. Eventually, when we did manage to find it, and trust me, it wasn't easy, it turned out to be well worth the effort, probably being the gem of the week so far. No wonder they keep it so well hidden! It is a tiny village that just happens to have a great beach. It is definately somewhere we would have liked to have spent longer. We ended up on the beach, sitting on a rock watching two dogs playing. The younger of them seemed to have boundless energy, we couldn't believe how he could just keep on and on running about.
On the journey back to camp, it came on to rain quite heavily, though passed quickly. Back at the camp, it seemed that they had not had any rain at all.
We have new neighbours. Two (or three?) Families with kids have appeared, so the peace has been shattered to a degree. We had a brief shower of rain a few minutes ago, but the sun is out again now. I lit the stove when we got back as it was very dull and going chilly. It is now almost too warm in the tipi, though I am sure we will be glad of it later. I was quite cold during the night, and it would be nice to avoid that tonight.....
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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Thursday evening

To begin our trip today we drove back towards Cardigan, with the intention of going to Poppit Sands, which we had been told was nice by a couple at breakfast. By the time we got there it had become quite dull and overcast, so we decided not to pay the £3 parking charge and drove on down incredibly narrow country lanes and through villages that, according to my map, don't actually exist.
It is very much a farming community around here, and it reminded me of some of the lanes around the country areas where we live. But narrower. And with the sea on one side!
We then ended up at Newport Sands, where there was a small carpark just down from the golf club. The car park attendant told us it was £3 for the day, or 60p for an hour, but that there wasn't anything worth seeing. We paid for an hour. He had a point, there wasn't anything worth seeing.......apart from the amazing view! It was right down at beach level looking across to Dinas Head. If it hadn't been so dull, cold and windy, we would have spent some time there on the beach, but as it was, we retreated to the car and read for a while.
Before our time was up, we drove on, and going on one of my hunches from looking at the map, turned off the main road at Dinas Cross, and headed onto the VERY narrow lane on the south side of Dinas Head. This really was a narrow and winding road, which became quite scary in places, before suddenly opening up into a lovely sandy bay, complete with free parking, tea shop and toilets. Result!
I can't for the life of me remember what the place was called (it didn't have many vowels in it I seem to recall) and even if I could, I wouldn't post it on here - the last thing it needs is hoards of tourists descending on it!! (Yeah, because there are thousands of people reading this blog.....in your dreams Mike, in your dreams!)
We spent some time there watching people's dogs playing on the beach and four young guys trying to throw a rugby ball around to impress their girlfriends. I don't think they were actually watching and seemed to be quite happy talking among themselves. Eventually, feeling a bit hungry, we decided to move on to Fishguard.
Now, on the map, Fishguard is made out to be a fairly large town of some importance. Don't be fooled. The free parking should have had us on our guard, but we had been lulled into a false sense of security with our other free parking experiences this week, and we fell for it.
If we said that it was naff, it would be doing it a dis-service. It wasn't actually good enough to be naff. In fairness, I did buy Sally a lovespoon there from a gift shop that was up for sale. (As a business with potential - potential to lose you a lot of money if you were foolish enough to invest in it!) It seemed as though the majority of the town was either closed or up for sale. There really was very little to see there.
At the recommendation of a shop keeper we then headed to Goodwick (where Fishguard port is) on the eternal search for fish and chips. We did indeed find one there, and managed to get our order in as they were about to close. They cooked the fish and chips especially for us, and I have to admit that I wasn't holding out much hope for the quality of them. It could even be said that I was a bit grumpy. I have to confess that I was wrong - they were superb, almost as good as the ones from Aberraron.
The rest of the afternoon was spent back at the tipi sunning ourselves on the decking. It was a glorious afternoon, and. Sally did more sunbathing than me - it was a bit too hot for me really, so I went inside to read and fell asleep!
We are now on the deck having eaten, watching the sun go down, and starting to get ready for bed. Another (mostly) successful day - let's hope the weather remains this good......

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Thursday early

Yeah! We won the battle with the stove last night, and got it to stay alight all evening, which was very welcome as it went rather chilly as the evening wore on. We listened to the England game on the radio, which was entertaining, as the medium wave reception here is dreadful.
It got very misty as it got dark, dashing my hopes of a bit of star gazing if I had to get up in the night, and the mist is still lingering a little this morning, though the sun is beginning to break through.
I was fairly cold in the night, though having a sleeping bag with a hood and drawstring proved very useful as I was able to turn it into the camping version of a yashmak! The reindeer skins are also very good at keeping whatever part of you they are covering warm. If only they were bigger. (Or I was smaller!)
The bird song seems to begin at 4:20 every morning, which is lovely though a shade early for my liking. Thank goodness I have inherited my dad's ability to sleep at the drop of a hat.
It's just before 8am now, having a mug of tea in bed before heading to the lodge for my muesli and granola. The plan today is to head for the coast on the South side of Cardigan and see what that is like.
The mist has lifted some more now, and the view through the door of the tipi is pretty stunning. I like it here!
Thanks to those who have emailed us to say that you are reading the blog. It's good to know that the messages are making it through.....

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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Wednesday afternoon

We did have another fight with the stove last night, and thought that we had cracked it - then it went out. Four firelighters later, we gave up and turned in for the night. At least the firelighters gave out some heat! The big problem, I think, is that the wood chunks they have provided are too big, and not having an axe with me (why ever not, I hear you ask) there's not a lot I can do about it.
This morning started off bright and sunny I'm told, but by the time I woke up, the day had turned dull. Breakfast at the lodge was the same as before, and I have to say that their home made muesli and granola is lovely. We also got to witness the joys of parenting as we watched other couples struggle to control their children. One partcularly amusing scene saw a dad failing to stop his young daughter wailing, but she stopped the instant another child asked if she wanted to play. It was just as though a switch had been thrown, as she was suddenly as happy as could be, leaving dad bewildered and us laughing.
By now it had turned very dull and looked like rain. We decided to head off to the Chocolate Farm! As you can imagine it took a lot of persuasion to get Sally to agree to this ;-). Despite the lack of road signs my navigatonal skills (!?) Got us there without too many wrong turns.
We didn't really know what to expect of the farm, but it turned out to be a very good choicen and is to be recommended to others. The tour of the "factory" itself was a little disappointing, but there was plenty to see and do there, with a very interesting film show all about chocolate from the harvesting of the beans all the way through to the final product.
Needless to say, we did buy a few bits at the shop, thereby helping the local economy!
We also had lunch at the cafe there, and this was also very nice. Probably the best coleslaw that I have ever tasted!
By now, it had started to rain, and we decided to make our way to Llys y Fan resevoir and country park. This involved more navigating of very narrow roads, only made possible due to Sally' superb driving skills. (She made me put that bit!! Though it is true!)
There is a visitors centre here, the shop is closed, but the cafe is "open", and it is from the warmth of this that I am typing this. We are overlooking the resevoir, which I'm sure is lovely when the weather is better. It is not actually raining at the moment, but is windy and looks threatening.
They have closed the servery of the cafe now, and we expect to be thrown out soon! We were hoping to stay in the warm a bit longer.....

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Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Tuesday evening

After the route march down to the car (which being downhill was quite pleasant, though fills you with dread for the return journey later on), we headed to Cardigan town.
It is a very pleasant town, with few of the usual high street multiples and plenty of varied independant shops, though like most towns these days, its fair share of empty units.
We had a good wonder around, and ended up chatting to a local who gave us tips on what was worth seeing. His wife originally came from Nuneaton - its a small world!
Before we left Cardigan, we did buy some fire lighters just in case we feel like battling with the stove again later.
Next up was Aberporth, which turns out to be so small, that if you blink you will miss it. We turned around and finally managed to work out where it was and found a car park. Immediately, we were concerned - the parking was FREE!!! Always a bad sign in our experience. However, we were to be proven wrong, and while it has nothing much there, the cliff top walk was spectacular. The superb weather helped this no end, but I doubt one would ever get tired of that view. Having looked in a few estate agents in Cardigan, even we might be able to aspire to something in the area!
The highlight of the walk for me was seeing a converted railway carriage being used as a home over looking the sea. I want one.
We discovered a number of things today. They haven't got many fish and chip shops despite being at the seaside. Has no one told them that this is what the tourists expect? They haven't quite got the hang of car park charges. Either they were free, or so rediculously cheap (60p for the whole day) that you felt as though you were robbing them by parking there. Let's just hope that the local council never pay a trip to Dorset where you have to take out a second mortgage to park for longer than an hour!
Thirdly, they seem to go in for very colourful houses around here. When you see a row of homes, they are mostly painted in different pastel colours. It all looks very pretty. The houses are also generally all well looked after. Nice.
After blinking and missing New Quay on our search for fish and chips, we ended up at Aberaeron (excuse the spelling). What a lovely town. Again it had lots of pastel painted houses, but most importantly, it had a fish and chip shop, and it was open! It proudly proclaimed to sell "probably the best fish and chips you have ever tasted", and you know what, they may just well have been. Cooked to order, they were hot and fresh, and eating them on the quayside was an absolute joy.
We also noticed that there are a lot of new building developments going on in the area. Perhaps the farmers have decided to give up, and this is why there are lots of new homes going up. It is not an expensive area to buy in, so maybe they are hoping to attract new blood to the area?
We did spot one house for sale in Aberporth that we rather liked, and when we saw the name of the house it seemed as though fate was involved somewhere:- "Craig y Mor". (For those of you who don't know, Craig is the name of Sally's brother)
Back at the camp, the sun was still shining and it was lovely and warm. We are now sitting on the decking as the sun begins to go down. We have really enjoyed our day today - the good weather was a little unexpected. Fingers crossed for more of the same tomorrow.....

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Tuesday morning

Well, I had a good nights sleep, even if Sally didn't! I had decided to sleep on the giant bean bag rather than the very thin futon matresses that they provide. It seems as though I made the right choice, although I can sleep anywhere at any time, so maybe if we swap tonight I will still be fine?
We are eating breakfast at the lodge - locally sourced produce, all very healthy, and surprisingly nice. Mind you, I would love to know how the bananas are local!!!
The shower/toilet block is interesting - all wooden, no heating and more than a little draughty. The toilet cubicles are also VERY narrow, and being of wooden plank walls, you have to watch out for splinters!
The shower cubicles are basically wet rooms, but work very well, and the water is lovely and hot. It seems that there is just the one block for the whole site. (4 toilets and 4 showers) thankfully the site is only small, far from full at the moment, and the block is only about 70 yards from our tipi. If we had chosen to stay in one of the normal tents, it would have been about a 5 minute walk up a steep slope - not what you want in the middle of the night if you wake up desperate!!!
We tried for about an hour to light the woodburning stove last night - at one point we couldn't even get paper to ignite, let alone the wood! We used half a box of matches, half of my magazine and a lot of patience before giving up. Main task for today - buy fire lighters!!!

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Monday, 8 June 2009

Here at last!

Phew, after a journey of just over 5 hours (including the lunch stop) we finally got here.
Was it worth it? Yes, I think it was. The view is stunning, and the site is very peaceful and eco friendly. We are going to hug a tree later.
The car park is about quarter of a mile or so from our tipi, and it is quite a steep hill to contend with. Thankfully, they have trolleys available, but it took two very tiring trips to get the stuff we needed out of the car. This holiday with either get us fit or kill us!!!
Time get the kettle on me thinks....

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Monday lunch

Rain overnight, but a much brighter start to Monday. After a bit of a lie-in, we finally got the car packed and got on our way at 11:30. Later than we intended, we ARE on holiday!
We have stopped off at Talybont Resevoir near Brecon for lunch. The weather has remained dry, but varies between blue sky and dark clouds. The temperature is 15 degrees.
We are about half way to our final destination, and keep confusing the satnav by going my way which is probably longer, but more scenic. If the woman inside it tells us to "perform a u turn" many more times, we may have to throw her out of the window....

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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sunday morning

Guess what? Yes, it's raining again! The best part of this is that we have GOT to weed the garden today otherwise we will return to a jungle. Great.
We have got the majority of our packing done, and despite us not needing to take our own tent, cooking equipment etc, we still seem to have a heck of a lot of stuff.
Even more puzzling, why have I got more clothes in my bag than Sally has in hers? What happened to travelling light?!
The snag is that with the weather forecast not being great means that we have to assume that we will get wet, cold and have trouble getting clothes dry. So, we are taking more than usual with us just in case....

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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Sat 6th AM

Well, I don't know about "wet Wales", at the moment it's wet Coventry!

It's the first morning of our holiday and it is hammering down with rain. Thank goodness we aren't going away today.

The plan is to go shopping and get the car washed. Hmmm, wonder if the carwash men will be working in this weather?.....

It feels great knowing that we haven't got to get out of bed early and rush around. Day 1 and despite the weather, I like being on holiday!!!!!

For those of you who would like to see a bit more about where we are going, here are the websites of the two campsites we are going to in Wales:-


This is the "Fforest" one near Cardigan - we are staying in a Scandinavian Kata tipi for the first week.


This is the one near St David's where we are staying in the Mongolian Ger (or yurt) tent for the second week.

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Friday, 5 June 2009

First entry

Well, here we are on the first evening of our holiday, and I am spending it trying to find out how/if I can do a blog from my Blackberry. Let's see if it has worked!!

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