Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Swimming update

Sally came to my swimming lesson with me today, her first chance to see how I am coming along in the pool. I think she was quite impressed with how far I have come in a relatively short time, having gone from a quivering wreck sitting on the side of the pool to being very relaxed and almost confident in the water.
She hadn't been swimming for around 5 years or so, but got straight back into the swing of it and swam like a fish. She is expecting to ache in the morning!!
It looks as though we will probably join the leisure centre at the Windmill which will mean that I will be able to go more often than once a week.

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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Childhood Dream Fulfilled......

Today, one of my childhood dreams was fulfilled. Well, kind of.......

Like most boys, as a child i dreamt of becoming a footballer, turning pro, playing for club and country, winning games, titles, cups and medals and becoming a hero to hoards of adoring fans.

Playing at Wembley in the FA Cup Final was high among the dreams, scoring the winning goal, climbing the steps to the Royal Box and receiving the trophy and my medal.

Well, none of those things actually happened, but today i got as close as i ever will to any of those things.

Today i held a genuine FA Cup Winners Medal in my hand. To begin with i was fine, but after a while the realisation of what it really was in that small box on my desk hit home, and became quite emotional. Holding in my hand, turning it over and over, i had a few tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

I can remember the game it was won for very well. It was a sunny day. I paced the room in agony watching the game, which flowed one way and then the other before finally being won in extra time. I leapt around the room in sheer joy that afternoon. Yes, i remember it well, but probably not as well as the man the medal belongs to. He has waited a long time to get it (for reasons that i won't go into here), and it almost certainly means more to him than it does to me, but, for a few short minutes, i had the tingle of excitement, and the briefest of glimpses at what it would have meant to me if my dream had come true.

As it is, i have held an FA Cup Winners medal in my own hand, and that will just have to suffice for now.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Well, I have finally done it. I have gotten myself an iPhone! It is a used 32gb 3GS in White which wouldn't have been my first choice, but as you really need to use a protective case on one of these things anyway, no one would ever know what colour it was underneath.
So, three days in to the whole iPhone experience, what do I think of it? Well, it is a stunning piece of kit. There is no denying that apple have made their usual amazingly good job of the design and operating system. It is dead easy to use, though having gotten so used to the blackberry there is the inevitable learning curve to progress along.
Some things work differently to how I am used, am some things are totally new to me full stop. I am finding the touch screen keyboard a little frustrating, but am getting better with it each time I use it. I would say that I am almost up to the kind of speed that I had been able to achieve on my blackberry, but with more mistakes - partly due to the predictive text that this has. If you try to use abbreviations it really gets confused!!
Some of the apps that you can get for it from iTunes are amazing - I have yet to draw a blank when looking for something to do whatever I have been looking for. So many of them are free too. Why would these clever people spend so much time creating these apps and then give them away for free? Most odd.
So, winter has come early this year and they are predicting a harsh one like when we were kids. I hope that that are wrong as I'm really not keen on snow - it is lovely to look at, but not for travelling in. Poor Mini - don't want her getting cold and snowed on.
Enough for now I think - am starting to get a bit frustrated with the keyboard now!!! Maybe it is a cunning ploy to stop me from typing so much rubbish on here???
Keep warm!

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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Swimming - week 4 - My Left Foot

Well, four weeks into learning to swim, and yet again, a few hurdles cleared and few new ones rear their ugly heads!

Straight into the water today - not even down the steps, and once the goggles were in place my head was under the water. Yeah, no problem!

After a few easy warm up lengths of the pool with Sue holding the floaty bar thing, we tried to carry on from where i had been up to last week with "swimming" without a floaty thing. Again, i was able to do a few strokes with no major issues, and this week i was managing to get my arm/leg co-ordination a bit better. I found that if i hooked my forefingers together after each arm stroke while i did my legs, my arms had less of a tendency to want to move as well. I was trying to imagine a piece of string went from my arms to my legs, so that as i moved my arms forward at the end of the stroke my legs started on their bit. This helped a bit, but once i was able to think less about my arms and shift the concentration purely to the legs, that was much better. (of course, while all of this was going on i totally forgot about breathing!)

This was ok, but my legs were really not "snapping" together in the kick phase of the stroke, and i wasn't actually moving in the water that much. More concentration was required, and eventually i got it to work, but, then my feet were not at the correct angle! (ballet feet rather than frog feet) - this was yet another thing to try to concentrate on! As a mere man, two things is about the maximum i can do at a time, so this was a problem.....

We then tried just pushing myself away from the wall with my feet and gliding through the water. After a couple of goes, this wasn't too bad. That is, until i tried to move my limbs after the glide. I managed it after a few goes, and even swam almost half a length of the pool in the end (i know what you are thinking - but just how long is the pool Mike? 10 feet? hahaha)

Overall, i think i did pretty well today, and Sue was full of praise and encouragement as always - i have come a very long way in a month. Less than 4 hours in the water, and i have gone from a quivering wreck who wanted to hold onto the edge all the time, to being able to (kind of, in a fashion) swim a few strokes on my own.

More importantly, i now feel totally comfortable being in the water, less afraid of drowning, happy to stick my head under, and am beginning to understand why those who can swim love the feeling so much.

Next week, we are going to work on my lop-sided leg stroke - my left leg being the big problem, my co-ordination some more, and being able to stop and stand up in the water without grabbing for Sue's arm - something that i wasn't even aware that i was doing!

The challenge continues, and i am more determined than ever to succeed. Bring it on!!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Swimming Lessons

Well, after three lessons in the swimming pool at the Village Hotel, a minor miracle has happened.
I no longer sit on the edge of the pool, white as a sheet, with just my feet in the water, not wanting to go any further.
I get into the water quite happily, move around more than an arms reach from the edge of the pool, stick my head fully underwater and try to float with very little aid, and today I actually swam!!!
Well, I suppose a more accurate description would be that I moved my arms and legs with no support (human or otherwise) for about 3 or 4 strokes without drowning or panicking. (The panic did start to set in when I realised what I was actually doing!)
No, I still can't swim, but I have made massive progress in a short time and overcome so many of my fears that it is truly amazing.
My dreadful lack of co-ordination is going to be the biggest hurdle now - I have to not only remember to move my arms and legs separately (not all 4 limbs at the same time - struggling with that concept), but also to blow out while my face is in the water and only breathe in when it is OUT of the water.
That's four things I have to remember. I am a man, and it is a well known fact that we cannot multi-task!
Two things I can handle (I can blow out and move my arms), add anything else into the mix and it falls apart!! I have tried just holding my breath so that I can take that part out of the equation, but it simply is not possible to hold your breath for the entire 45 minute lesson.
Apparently my left leg won't move in the same way as my right one, so I tend to go at a bit of an angle. I was asked if I had ever injured it, but to my knowledge I haven't, so I am just a bit lop-sided I guess!
I will get there, just not as quickly as I would like. I have to be patient and keep practising hard.
Without doubt, I couldn't have achieved what I have without a superb teacher - someone who gives me the confidence to push myself and who I have absolute trust in.
But, I also have to give myself a bit of a pat on the back for actually giving it a go and doing everything she asks of me.
Usually, when I really put my mind to it, I can do things, learn new skills or improve on old ones. It seems that I still can. There is life in the old bear yet!!
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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Wedding day photo shoot.

As some of you will know, yesterday I was shooting my first wedding! Vicki who used to work with me was getting married to Rob, and they had asked me if I would photograph their day for them. I have to confess that I was VERY nervous about doing it - you only get one chance when photographing something like that, when its over you can't go back and retake anything that didn't go to plan. Thank goodness that digital photography has come on so far that it can offer (almost) 35mm film quality results, but more importantly, you can tell straight away if it has come out how you wanted.

Between us, Sally and I took around 400 shots, and while some of them were awful, a large proportion of them were very usable and some of them were really nice.

I have to say that I am very pleased with how the day went. Vicki looked beautiful and Rob was very dapper in his suit and they both seemed so calm and laid back about the whole thing - whether they really were only they can answer!

Because I knew the bride and groom and most of Vicki's family the whole event was a lot less stressful on me than I was expecting. I'm sure that if I had been doing it for people I didn't know that it would have been a very different experience!

The weather was looking a bit threatening, and although it did rain from time to time, the sun came out for the photos outside of the church and it stayed dry for us when it mattered.

In the couple of hours between the afternoon and evening events, we dashed home to view the photos and chose a few to print out which Sally then put onto a couple of A3 boards to make a montage type display for people to see at the evening do. I think people were quite impressed with what we had done, and Vicki, Rob and their families seem pleased too.

Would I do it again? Well seeing as I already have two more "bookings" it seems that the answer is yes! It wasn't as nerve wracking as I was expecting it to be, we now know a few of the pitfalls and things that we would do differently, (I need a better flashgun for instance) but seeing as we went into the day with almost no clue of what we were doing, I would rate it as a success!! (Sally even got me to dance in the evening - I can't think of anything that feels so un-natural!)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Xandros - an OS too far?

So, finally i got myself a netbook. In the shape of a second hand Asus EeePC 701, i hit the road running. Well, to be more accurate, i get to sit on the sofa and try to get to grips with not only the smaller than usual keyboard but also a new operating system in the shape of Xandros Linux.

Two days in, how am i fairing? Well, not too badly to be honest. I have managed to get my Vodafone 3G dongle working with it, so i now am able to get online. I am still finding my way around Linux, and especially the limitations of the “easy” version of the OS that it boots into by default. I have tried to get the “advanced” desktop working, but so far have failed. I gather that this would give more the look and usability of a Windows XP type system.

In all fairness, it isn't a major issue. This version of Linux has virtually everything that you could wish for – after all, there's not much point being able to install Photoshop on a computer with a screen this small – you are not really going to do much photo editing on a 7” screen!

It has Firefox built in, so web browsing is sorted, there is a full blown email program, but as i always use webmail these days, that is of no real interest to me. Open Office is also installed from the off, and while this isn't anywhere nearly as nice as MS Office, it is almost as powerful, and does everything i need from it, and more besides.

The big question (as already asked by Sally!) is what will i use it for? It can't do anything that i cannot already do either with my PC or Mac, and it especially isn't a patch on the latter – once you have used a Mac and fallen in love with them, there really isn't anything on this planet to touch them.

The Asus is amazingly small, yet still very usable. Even the smaller than usual keyboard is actually surprisingly easy to type on, and as long as you use a sensibly sized font, the word processing aspect of the machine is actually pretty good. This is a major advantage, as that is exactly what i plan to mainly use this machine for. Having a computer that is small enough to have no excuse to not have with me could possibly be a bit of a turning point to my writing ambitions. How many times do i think of something when i haven't got the ability to bash it out? Or am i just looking for an excuse?

I will be able to take it away on holiday with me now, smaller, lighter and less precious to me than the Mac, this could end up being my holiday blogging device of choice. It will also prove useful to look at the holiday photos on a better screen than the camera itself offers. Indeed, this will probably accompany me to Vicki's wedding in three weeks time so that i can check the photos i will be taking on my first “assignment” as a wedding photographer!

There is part of me that wants to learn more about the insides of Linux, but i really should just use this for what it is – a small simple device that does virtually everything that i need it to, and be happy at that. After all, just how many operating systems does one really NEED to know????

Mind you, i gather from YouTube that it is actually possible to install Mac OS-X on one of these........yummy – now that is what i call a handy portable computer!!!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


It has been a while since I went into the city centre, not since before our holiday in fact. Not a lot has changed, just a few more empty shops and a bit more grime around the edges.

One of the reasons for this shopping trip was a visit to Ikea for some glass storage jars for one of Sally's craft projects, but of course I took the opportunity to have my favourite Swedish meatballs and gravy for lunch.

I had never seen the cafe so busy before, it was a struggle to find a place to sit. With the school holidays I suppose it is a fairly inexpensive place to take the kids to for a bite to eat. The special offers on certain meals probably helped too - ten meatballs and chips for £1.50!!!

So, just what is the appeal of Ikea then? (aside from the cheap food) Is it the quality of the furniture? To a degree yes - it is mostly of a pretty reasonable quality at sensible prices. Their sofas are not particularly comfortable, but in fairness that accusation can be leveled at an awful lot of shops in my experience! Why are most sofas so uncomfortable these days? Don't they want you to sit on them?

Is it the designs? Possibly. There is definitely a trend towards the more minimalist Scandinavian designs in lots of areas now. Take jewellery and watches for instance, where less does appear to be more. The problem with this theory is that if the consumer wants simple minimalistic furniture, why do most people not only fill their rooms to bursting point with it, but also clutter it with their junk completely destroying the simple design ethic that moved them to buy it in the first place? Why chose simple designs in light woods and then hide it all underneath books, CDs, DVDs and trinkets?

Could it be the whole eco friendliness that Ikea tries to exude? This falls down when you discover that the majority of the products are made in the far east by cheap labour and then transported to the other side of the world to be bought by us. The carbon footprint must be rather a large one. Not quite so green now are they?

I think it is partly down to the low prices they charge. Everyone wants a bargain don't they. So what if you have to tie your bootlid down with string on the way home, and then spend several hours swearing over the baffling instructions with a hammer and a screwdriver.

Mostly though, i believe it is down to the subconscious cravings we have for the "perfect life" - you know, the one we see in those popular TV shows. If you watch an episode of Friends, it would seem that if one of them ever needed to move house, they could fit all of their belongings in an estate car. No removal vans needed for them!

The idea of the smart, uncluttered lives we see on the TV has us desiring that level of living perfection too, never mind if we have nowhere to store our undies and our DVD collections.

It's just a shame that, in this country at least, we simply can't pull it off in our real lives - we just have too much stuff - much of it not needed, but all of it wanted, and most of it piled high on our Scandinavian designed, mass produced furniture.

Now, where's my catalogue? I saw a nice coffee table while i was in there today........

Saturday, 10 July 2010

World Cup - Festival of football or fiasco?

I’m glad that England have not won the World Cup. Does that make me a bad person? Or unpatriotic? I hope not.

I was born the year after we won the World Cup, and as a teenager i dreamt of the time that we would win it again - would it ever happen in my lifetime?

After the poor first two games in Mexico in 1986, in a must win situation, things came good. Lineker got a hatrick against Poland, and in the end we were only beaten by the cheating and genius of Maradona at his peak.

Italia ‘90 saw the best England team that i could remember come tantalisingly close, only to be beaten by those pesky Germans in a penalty shootout. Like Gazza, i too cried that day, and even now, twenty years later, my eyes get moist when i hear Nessun Dorma because of the memories it brings back of how close we got.

Since then, things have not been good. The Premier League, Sky TV and money have come together to, in my eyes, totally ruin English football. Sure we have some of the best players in the world playing over here now - snag is, they are not eligible to play for England in internationals. Most of them come here for the money, and, realistically, who can blame them? £100,000+ a week would get most peoples attention!

The downside to this is that the sport has been priced out of the reach of a lot of fans, and the clubs are less inclined to look to the future of local talent when they can buy a quick fix from abroad for “instant success”. This has damaged the national team. For instance, there was a time that England had the best goalkeepers in the world:- Banks, Shilton, Clemence, heck even Seaman. How many Premier sides now have English goalkeepers as their number one choice? How many of those few that do are successful?

When you see teams like Chelsea and Arsenal regularly field teams with no English players, or maybe the token one if you are lucky, you have to see that the game here is seriously flawed if we hope for international success.

One of the other problems is that a lot of these young men simply cannot cope with their fame and fortunes. Fast cars, fast women, all night clubbing sessions, drinking, fighting, sleeping with as many of their team-mates wives and girlfriends as they we really want to see these players as highly lauded as the team of ‘66? I’m sure that Bobby Moore would turn in his grave if he saw what was going on now with some of these players. Sir Wayne Rooney? Lord Ashley of Cole? John Terry MBE (Massive Big Ego)? Oh, please no!!

Of course, the press don’t help matters. Did they REALLY have to bring out all that John Terry sleeping around stuff a couple of months before the World Cup? I’m sure it sold a heck of a lot of papers, but it also helped to screw up things in the England camp big time, and if anyone is to blame for the utter turmoil that was happening in the squad during the cup, then the tabloids have to have a very large finger pointed at them. Why couldn’t they have waited?

Yes, the players brought the bad press on themselves by being stupid, careless, childish and attention seeking. Most of them don’t know any better, which says a lot about the state of the country at the moment. They need protecting from themselves as much as anything. Maybe they could be locked away in a dormitory when they are not playing?

Or maybe it is time to take a long hard look at the game. There are so many flaws within it at the moment, there is danger of it becoming a joke. Transfer caps? Yes please! How any player can be judged to be worth so many tens of millions of pounds is totally beyond me. The money side of the game has got out of hand. Bring in a transfer cap, and you level the playing field for all the teams - maybe we won’t have a two horse race each season then?

Wage caps? Yes please! How any player can justify the tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds they earn every week is also totally beyond me. How can they expect to get the respect of the fans they play for when they earn a week what most people work many years to get? How many big houses and fast cars do they need? Perhaps a basic salary with a performance bonus on top would  make a few of these spoilt and pampered fools get their acts together and actually play well.

Here’s another thought - technology - shock horror! Yes, the technology does exist to tell instantly whether the ball crossed the line, whether he was offside, was he fouled or did he dive. It’s there already - it won’t cost the ridiculous sums that FIFA claim. It’s there, and it’s basically FREE!!!!!!

Oh yes, but it would "ruin the free flowing aspect of the sport"..... Er, what free flowing aspect would that be then? So much time is spent with players rolling around like they have been shot, arguing with the referee about a decision, or just simply time wasting that there is no free flowing aspect to the game anymore.

The clock stops while the ball is not in play. Simple. Job done. No more arguments about injury time, time wasting etc. If the ball is in play the clock runs, if it’s not, the clock stops. You want to argue with the ref over a throw-in, fine, go for it, the clock has stopped, so you’re no longer wasting time, and there’s a good chance he will book you for your attitude. (Oooo, 10 minute personal misconduct there’s a thought!).

Have a 5th official with all the TV screens and technology in radio communication with the referee, and you can have instant reliable and accurate decisions. If a player dives or play-acts he gets booked. Every time. That would rip that problem out of the game. Did the ball cross the line from Lampard’s shot - the 5th official would know in a second and could radio the ref. Goal given. Was Tevez offside? Yes, goal ruled out. I like it already!!

Of course, if there was any integrity in the game anymore, the German goalkeeper would have told the ref that it had crossed the line, or at half time their manager would have told them to let England score a goal to sort out the injustice of the decision. However, there simply is not that sort of gentlemanly conduct in the game anymore. It is a shame that the final result has become more important than how it is achieved.

A bit like many aspects of life in fact. “I don’t care how many people’s lives i have to ruin, i just want to be successful” must be the mantra of many business men these days too. It doesn’t matter how many people you have to trample on or stab in the back as long as you get what you want. Fair play and honour? “I spit on them - i want another Mercedes/Bentley/Ferarri”.

They say that you know you are getting old when you start to reminisce. This must mean that i am getting old, as i hanker for the old days, you know, when there were only 3 channels on tv and they weren’t on all day. Life was simpler. If you couldn’t afford it, or didn’t need it, you didn’t have it. Them were the days.......i could go on for hours on that particular subject!

Rant over. Just one more thing - when it comes to football, i don’t care what the pundits and experts say, never write off the Germans! (unless they are playing against Spain of course!)

Thursday, 8 July 2010


I am sitting in the outpatients waiting room at Warwick hospital with my parents. My mum has an appointment and we are waiting to be called.

There are patients and staff rushing about - patients looking around aimlessly trying to work out if they are in the right place, and staff either carrying files from one place to another or with sheets of paper shouting out peoples names.

No one ever seems to answer to the names. I wonder if these people actually exist or if these fictitious people are simply called out to give the illusion of a busy well run hospital. If Wendy Scragg never answers to her name will anyone else get their turn or will her name be called out forever while the rest of us wither and die in the waiting room?

Does Christine Harris exist? Maybe she is deaf and is sitting blindly ignorant that she is being called, or perhaps she died here in the waiting two weeks ago after sitting for days on end?

At least the chairs are fairly comfortable, and the air conditioning is wafting a pleasant gentle breeze around. Empty chairs stretch into the distance along the corridor lined up to perfection, their pink coverings clashing nicely with the two tone blue and green floor.

The fire extinguishers across from where I am sitting are wrong. They are under the wrong signs. The CO2 one is under the Foam sign and vice-versa. Does it matter? Should I move them?

My parents are beginning to show their customary lack of patience. I wonder if we can change my mums name to Christine Harris before her own name is called. Where do you get the forms from to change your name by deed poll?

Finally someone has appeared whose name was called! Or was he just pretending his name is Wendy?
My dad is convinced that some of the staff spend their whole day walking around with cups. They go one way along the corridor with empty cups and then a few minutes later walk the other way with full ones.

Shock horror, my mums name has been called out, and I shouted bingo. Well it felt like we had won a competition of some sort. 25 minutes late, which I didn't think was too bad, but to my parents is indicative of the sorry state the country is now in.

I have just noticed that there are signs pointing this way and that directing you to various wards, departments and consulting rooms, but none of them point the way out. It reminds me of the Hotel California "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave".

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Friday, 18 June 2010

Friday 18th June

Our last full day in Wales. We are a little bit sad, but at the same time a little bit glad. This is the longest holiday we have had, and it is long enough.

The day started grey and cloudy, but improved as the morning wore onto midday. We took the car to Mumbles Head and then walked down to the pier.
It almost seems as though The Mumbles is a bit embarrassed at being a seaside town. The pier is tucked into the corner and largely left to rot away. The only things it has is a lifeboat station and those mildly amusing scenes to put your head through and be photographed to make you look fatter than you actually are. Or thinner in our case!!

We had a quick play in the amusement arcade (again, tucked away like an embarrassing relative) and had a coffee from the freshly painted for the season cafe. (Which does its best to rise above its obvious greasy spoon past by offering alternatives to fish and chips on the menu)

Sitting at the waters edge, we can hear the sea lapping at the rocks and can see across the bay to Swansea with its housing estates built on the surrounding hillsides and its tower blocks of modern apartments and offices on the harbour front, the tallest of which glows red at night. With the sun beating down on the boats in the bay, you can imagine that you are in Monte Carlo . Only if you close your eyes really tightly though.

Had lunch at Casselmare Cafe Bar overlooking the bay outside in the sunshine. Fish for Sally, scampi for me - well it is Friday! They put loads of onion in the salad, so I got to eat both salads and had stinky breath for the rest of the day!!

Started packing up our things late in the afternoon in readiness of a quickish getaway in the morning. Several people arrived at the bungalow next door this afternoon bringing FIVE vehicles with them! Thank goodness there is plenty of parking space here. We haven't been able to work out if the bungalow is a holiday let too. The brochure says that the "Summer House" that we are staying in is in the grounds of the owners bungalow, but there has been no sign of life there until cleaners and gardener turned up yesterday, presumably in readiness for todays arrivals. Question is, are they the owners, friends of the owners or just holiday makers like ourselves???

We watched the fiasco of England v Algeria on TV, and barely managed to stay awake. Now I remember why I had gone off football!

Retreated to the bedroom for our last sleep here in Wales, and with that stunning view. If nothing else, that view is the thing I will miss the most when we get home. The view from our bedroom window at home really can't compete with this one.

The alarm is set for 7:30 in the hope that we will be able to get up at a sensible time and hit the road early enough for us to be home around lunch time.

What have I missed about home? Your own bed is always the most comfortable no matter what. A decent internet connection. Then again, that can be seen as a bad thing in someways. Once again, I have discovered that so many of the "things" I have at home really are not that important, and I could easily live without them. I have too many books and too many CDs. I MUST do something about this.

We really don't need a 3 bedroomed house, and once again need to seriously consider our alternative options. We also need to think through our possibilities career wise. What is the best way of achieving our ultimate aim of living on the coast? We have come up with a few ideas and have given ourselves food for thought.

Time to sleep now, and get back to the "real world" tomorrow........
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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Thursday 17th June

I had set my alarm this morning, so we managed to get up earlier than we had been recently. One of the upsides to this was that we saw a fox on the golf course just in front of us.

After breakfast we headed out to Pennard & Southgate where we parked in the NT carpark and had a little walk along the cliff top looking towards Three Cliffs Bay. Southgate is a very nice village with some fabulous houses. I can only imagine that it is a lovely place to live.

Moving on to Oxwich, and its superb beach. From here we got a proper view of Three Cliffs Bay, and it is quite a view. Oxwich beach claims to be over two miles long, and we walked quite a lot of it. We had a paddle in the sea which was quite warm, and very much enjoyed our walk across the sand and through the water.

We ate our picnic lunch there after our walk before taking back to the car and driving out through Reynoldston and across an area that looked straight out of the New Forest. It was very pretty, full of animals by the roadside.

We then headed to The Mumbles for a "proper" look around the "shops". The carpark really should charge in 5 minute stages - there really is very little there, making Kenilworth town centre seem very cosmopolitan!

As you can guess it wasn't long before we were back at the house. We both had slight headaches which a large mug of tea helped to lesson. I fell asleep listening to the football as usual, and Sally did some more crafting.

The sun disappeared behind clouds and the temperature dropped rather. Dinner tonight is macaroni cheese for Sally and pasta with spicy sausage for me, with garlic bread to share. Tomorrow is our last day here, and it feels as though we have been here for ages!

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Wednesday 16th June

Another beautifully sunny morning. Overnight the flag has moved again AND the green has changed colour!! It is a darker green than it has been. I wondered if they had watered it, but the colour didn't change again as the day wore on and the sun dried the ground, so I really don't know what they have done to it.

We decided to have a lazy day today, and stayed at "home". We had Radio 4 for company, I had my book and dozing to keep me busy, Sally had her book, crafting and my snoring to keep her occupied. Of course, we also had the golfers to keep us amused too.

Sally made us pizza for lunch, which was really tasty. By now the sun was all over the balcony, so she took in some more rays while I watched Spain lose to Switzerland. (Well, I slept through most if it - again!)

Nothing else to report for today really I'm afraid. We have enjoyed our lazy day but plan to get out and about again tomorrow.

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Tuesday 15th June

We awoke to another sunny day. Very few clouds in the sky, a gentle breeze to keep some of the heat at bay and that stunning view across the golf course to the sea.

But what was this? The flag on the green in front of us had moved since we went to bed! It is a good job I knew this happens and had mentioned it to Sally yesterday, otherwise we would have been freaked out by it. I would still have liked to see them do it to find out exactly how it is done mind.

After a fairly relaxed start to the morning (by which I mean "late"!) We ventured out in the car again and headed to the North part of the Gower, and ended up at the village of Portmadog, which is in the top left corner of the peninsula. We had found a walk in a leaflet in the house for there. It wasn't a particularly long walk, but did involve some steep hills, and because of the temperature, we were glad it wasn't any longer.

Part of it was through a wood right on the coastline, it was not only beautiful but so peaceful too. All you could hear was the gentle sound of the sea, the birds singing and the occasional cow moo'ing. How wonderful.

Near to the carpark is a little church dating back to the 13th century. I don't know why, but little old churches fascinate me, and I was quite happy to spend some time looking around it.

We got back to the car and decided not to eat our picnic lunch there, but move along the coast a bit and find somewhere else to stop. As we moved East along this northern coastline, we discovered that not all parts of the Gower are quite as picturesque. We stopped to eat in the village of Pen-clawdd and found a fairly grim place populated with plenty of loud car owning youths who mostly looked as though they were very familiar with the term "ASBO"!! It reminded me of St Just from our trip to Cornwall in 2007.

We scoffed our food down quickly, and then checking the map discovered that we were not too far away from the M&S food store that we had stopped at on Saturday. Also, I discovered a route back to Langlands that avoided the awful centre of Swansea. So we went to M&S and topped up with provisions for the rest of the week and headed back to the house the easy way.

Sally sat on the balcony to catch some sun, but it was too hot for me, so I crashed out on one of the sofas downstairs to watch the remainder of the Ivory Coast v Portugal game. Apart from some of the best play acting I have seen for a while it was not a good game, and I actually missed the last part of it because I fell asleep!

An odd thing I have noticed. Last week when we had no phone signal, the battery on my Blackberry was running down a LOT faster than normal. Now we have a reasonable signal it is back to normal. I can only image it was because the phone kept trying to find a signal. But, when it did find a signal, I sometimes had to turn it off and back on before it could send or receive texts and emails. Modern technology eh?

Jacket potatoes for dinner - haven't had one for ages, so that was nice. Watched Brazil v North Korea before heading up to bed for a lovely sleep in preparation for another hard day!

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Monday, 14 June 2010

Monday 14th June

Some rain overnight meant that we awoke to a slightly damp morning. Dull and overcast, it didn't start out too promising, but improved as the day went on, and ended with quite a lot of sun and fairly warm.
Today, we decided to risk it, and went out in the car. We made it to the end of the narrow lane without meeting anything coming the other way. Phew. That was the hardest part of the journey done then!

We headed West deeper into the Gower Peninsula. One of the strangest things about today's trip was that the B road was a lot wider than the A road we went on.

I also noticed that most of the small villages in Wales only have one tiny village store, a pub or two and a hairdressers. Quite why there is such a need for hair stylists remains a mystery to me.

We made our way to Rhossili, which was the first designated area of outstanding natural beauty. This is a title which gives it a lot to live up to.

It more than lived up to its title - it is fabulously stunning. A huge curved beach that is hard to get to, which means it is pretty much unspoilt. Cliffs that rise up majestically to grassy tops, and a tidal causeway to a mightily impressive rock known as "The Worms Head".

We walked to the Coast Guard Volunteer Station, which overlooks The Worms Head, and got chatting to one of the men there who told us all about their work there, and showed us around their station. He also told us about the seals and pointed some out to us through their telescope. He was very interesting and knowledgeable, and we enjoyed our time with him.

We carried on our walk further around the cliff top until we could see into the next bay, and then walked back along the same route back to the car. Moving on to Port Eynon, which is a place that we very nearly stayed at instead of Langlands, we discovered that we had made a good decision - if Rhossili was a highlight of the holiday, then Port Eynon was a low point.

On the map it seems quite big. It does have quite a few houses and cottages, but it only has one pub, one gift shop, one open cafe and one closed cafe. There were no hairdressers though. We had a bite to eat at the cafe, but decided not to linger. Partly because there was nothing else to see, and partly because off all the "Beware of the Adders" signs warning you to stick to the paths!!!

We had both imagined it being an old fashioned fishing port full of quaint little cottages. It was none of these things.

Making our way back to The Mumbles, we stopped at the Co-Op for supplies, and had a very quick look around the town, and will have to investigate it further before we leave.

Back at the house, the golfers are back bashing their little white balls into the distance before walking after them with a trolley full of clubs and doing it all over again.

I would quite like to have a go at golf, but have to confess that I don't really "get it".

It seems to me that a lot of it is competing against ones own incompetence.

You hit the ball hoping to land it where you want to. If all goes well then great. Chances are it won't end up quite where you wanted it to, and depending on how badly you played the shot, you now have to get yourself out of trouble.

Some of the people we have seen playing have given us a good laugh. Two ladies this morning were obviously not really into the game. They weren't even looking at where they were hoping to play their shots:- head down, whack, trudge trudge trudge, head down, whack....and so on.

Mark Twain described golf as a good walk spoilt. If these people are so disinterested in the game, why not save themselves a fortune and just go for a walk???

Watching the Italy v Paraguay game on the TV, but it is so cold downstairs that I am seriously considering moving upstairs and listening to the second half on the radio! The difference in temperature between the two floors is surprising and very noticeable.

Hopefully I will put some more photos on here taken on the phone. If so, they are from Rhossili. They don't do it justice.

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Sunday, 13 June 2010

Sunday 13th June

A wonderful nights sleep in a very comfortable bed. Another plus point for the house - I thought the bed at the flat was good, but this one is almost as good as ours at home. We left the curtains at the huge balcony window open to admire the view when we went to bed, only closing them as it was starting to get light at around 4am. In the distance last night we could see the light of what we assume is the Swansea / Port Talbot area, and the blinking of a lighthouse.

This morning, the weather started off looking very cloudy and dull, but still reasonably warm, and we decided to go for a walk. We put our boots on and headed off across the golf course in what I hoped was roughly the right direction to get down to the bay. It is probably about half a mile or so across one of the fairways, past the club house and down a narrow lane before you reach the bay. There were plenty of people walking their dogs along the coastal path, and some people on the beach already.
We sat and watched the sea for a while and a group of surfers who were having a lesson, before deciding to take the coastal path East towards The Mumbles itself. The path is mostly tarmac, so is easy to walk on , but itr rises and falls, sometimes quite steeply, along the cliff tops. We walked as far as Mumbles Pier, which appears to be 2 miles or so, having the odd rest here and there along the way to enjoy the spectacular views. We came back the same route, and by now the sun had come out and it was quite hot again.

When we got back to the house, we had a bite to eat and a drink of squash before chilling out for the rest of the afternoon. Sally has brought some of her craft things with her and spent some time doing that. I listened to the football on the radio. Well, that isn't totally true, I started off listening to the footy, and fell asleep for a couple of hours!!

We had a bit of rain this afternoon - it started off as drizzle but got heavier and the wind made it worse and lashed it at those daft enough to be playing golf in it.

The evening was spent watching Germany give Australia a lesson in how to play football. Dinner was an M&S special - a fish pie with herby potatoes followed by lemon tart.

Still can't get a good internet connection on the laptop, so am having to carry on typing this on the Blackberry. This also means no photos at the moment. Sorry. I wonder if I can send any from the phone? If this works, below will be the view from the balcony across the golf course.

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Saturday, 12 June 2010

Saturday 12th June

I had set the alarm for 7:15, and was woken with a start by the darned bleeping. Got up straight away and hit the shower, had some cereal and a mug of tea, and then set to finishing the packing. There wasn't too much left to do really, and it didn't take long. Got the car packed and we still had an hour left before we had to be out of the flat. Or so we thought.....

We were sitting in the living room with the patio door open enjoying the sun and the view for the last time when someone opened the front door. It was the cleaners. It was only 9:20!!! We grabbed the last of our things, took a few quick pictures and that was that. Week one of the holiday over.

We took a gentle drive East, took a slight detour through Pendine Sands and eventually got to Carmarthen. Had a look at my phone and saw something strange. Something that I haven't seen for a week. A 3G signal!!! Wow, I didn't know they had 3G in Wales! Up to now, most of the time the display has either said "No Signal" or "SOS only", with the occasional "GSM" or if you are really lucky "GPRS". It has been during those rare moments that I have been sending the blog entries.

We had a wonder around Carmathen for a couple of hours. It has a new shopping precinct with some nice shops (mostly multiples) as well as plenty of the old narrow streets with the independants. The town has obviously had a lot of modernisation and work done to it over the last few years. It has a nice feel to it, and we could have spent longer there.

Moving on towards our destination, the roads were mostly dual carriageway and even a short stretch of the M4. On the outskirts of Swansea we found a retail park that has a Marks & Spencer Simply Food store, and we did a bit of stocking up there.

The roads signs in and through Swansea were, quite frankly, truly awful! We found our way more by luck than judgement, and by the time we were through the city I was a bit on the grumpy side. We then reached the village called "The Mumbles" where the office is that we have to get the keys to the house from.

Keys picked up, we followed the cryptic clues on how to get to the house. Again, more by luck than judgement we turned into the correct road. At the end of the road there is a narrow opening, no I mean a REALLY narrow opening, which leads onto an unmade track!! You go along this for about half a mile, praying that you don't meet anything coming the other way as it is single track with NO passing places.

Seeing a golf course on the left hand side made me think that this was correct, and eventually you go through two gate posts with no gate (not the four bar one that is mentioned in the instructions) up a steep drive, around a bend and...........

.........WOW!!! A bungalow appears in front of you - nothing special, but to the right is a small two story detached house that is to be our home for the next seven days.

Ouside there is a table and chairs in front of the house on a patio area. To the right of the house is room for two cars, and behind is a small "yard" with a clothes airer. The front door is on the left hand side of the house and leads into the kitchen, beyond which is the huge living/dining room complete with dining table, 2 sofas, wood burner and TV.

The stairs are in the corner of the kitchen and lead up to the one massive bedroom with queen sized bed, wardrobe, drawers etc, coffee table, 2 chairs and a sofabed. These are in front of a patio door which leads out to a balcony which runs the full width of the house, and offers a stunning view over the golf course and the sea beyond.

Off the bedroom is a large bathroom, but as this has a sloping ceiling due to the roof, it feels smaller than it is. It has a large bath with shower over, washbasin and toilet.

The house generally feels nice and airy and we have really taken to it. I feel a bit bad really, I was fond of the flat and almost feel a bit unfaithful to it to like this house so much already!!

We unloaded the car, had a cup of tea and then went for a walk across the golf course to the cliff top overlooking the bay. The views are certainly impressive and we look forward to exploring them during the week.

Back at thew house we sat looking out over the balcony watching the golfers. There is a green just the other side of the hedge, and it is quite amusing watching the golfers try to hit the green and then sink their putts. I feel that they may well give us some funny moments over the next week!

After dinner of salad, cheese and garlic bread, we watched the England v USA game. After a good start, the predictable happened and it ended up as a draw. Yawn.

We have moved to the upstairs room now as it is warmer than downstairs. I can't get an internet connection on either laptop, so you may have to wait for photos I'm sorry to say.

It is quite misty out to sea, and you can't see too far out which is a shame. All the golfers seem to have gone home too, and the only sound is the birds singing.

Here's hoping for a good nights sleep and another lovely day tomorrow.

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Friday 11th June

A cloudy start to our last full day in Freshwater East with the odd sunny spell between the clouds. Can't believe that we have been here for almost a week. The time has flown past, but it also feels like we have been here for ages if that makes sense.

Once again it proves just how quickly one can adapt, and that so much of the stuff one has at home is totally superfluous to your needs. We have already redesigned the layout of this place in our minds to make it perfectly suitable for our requirements. The more space you have, the more junk you fill it with.

The plan today is to go to Manorbier Castle which is a few miles up the coast towards Tenby. From the brochure it is only a small castle but steeped in history. We shall see.

On the beach at Manorbier. The weather is still cloudy, but the breeze is warm, and it is quite pleasant. The beech is a mixture of sand and stones, there is the smell of damp seaweed and the rocks at the edge of the bay are scared by the elements and covered with lichen. It is a very peaceful place - all you can hear is the sound of the waves and the birds singing. This is a very out of the way bay and not at all busy, nicely hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the real world.

There was a young golden labrador on the beach, playing happily and retrieving the hoop his owner was throwing for him. On their way back to the car park, the dog decided to duck his head into the stream and pick out large stones. This would have been great if his owner had wanted to build a rockery, but as she seemed unkeen, we can only imagine that she already has one back home.

Two horses have appeared on the beach now, and their riders are heading down towards the sea. It is not a very big beach so I can't imagine that the horses are going to get much of a run.

We went to the castle and had a look around. It dates back to the 13th century, and is in fairly good condition. It was certainly interesting enough, and was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, finishing up with tea and cake. We were helped by a robin that was tame enough to sit on the edge of our table in the hopes of getting some crumbs. He/she was a cheeky thing and you had to eat with one hand protecting your food just in case.

We then moved on to Saundersfoot, and just like on our first visit there, the sun came back out and the weather was glorious. We had a long walk on the beach and paddled in the sea, which was surprisingly warm.

Had the best fish & chips of the holiday at the Marina fish bar. They were really good, and even better than the ones in Tenby. Full marks!!

Sat on the harbour front watching the world go by and the tide come in. This is the life - can't remember when I last felt quite so chilled out. The time seems to be going so slowly today, and considering such a late start to the day we seem to have packed in such a lot and it is still only 5pm.

Headed back to the flat, opened the patio doors and enjoyed the view and gentle breeze with a lovely mug of tea.

Watched Uruguay v France in the World Cup. What a snooze fest that turned out to be! Discovered that I have managed to get sunburnt. Head and forearms being the worst. Put some cream on, and its not too bad. When will I learn?

Started packing up to save a bit of time in the morning. Really can't believe that this will be our last night here. I'm going to miss this place that is for sure - especially that view! This time tomorrow we will be at our second venue, so we will see what the view from there is like.....

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Friday, 11 June 2010

Thursday 10th June

The weather forecast for today is cloudy, windy and rain showers. So far the only bit they have right is windy. The sun is shining and it looks as though it could be another glorious day. (Or do I speak too soon?)

The fact that I dozed for a couple of hours yesterday evening meant that I didn't sleep as well as normal during the night. Doh!

Yes, I speak too soon, as when we ready to go out it had clouded over. It was still pleasantly warm though. We headed out through Tenby towards Kilgetty. On the way we spotted a market cum car boot just outside of Tenby, so we stopped and had a look around. It was my first experience of a car boot sale, so I didn't really know what to expect. It was a right old mish mash of old stuff and new items. Don't quite know what I thought to it at the moment!

Carried on to Kilgetty where there is a glass blowing workshop. It was more like a large tin shed in someones garden, and despite the "open" signs, appeared to be deserted.

We then made our way to Colby Woodland Garden, which is a National Trust site. The weather was still cloudy, but pleasant enough for a walk. We started with a cup of tea at the cafe before walking the half a mile or so to the beach at Amroth. The walk was along a track through a wood and came out on the road through Amroth. You cross the road and you are on the beach. It is a pebbly beach leading down to a narrow strip of sand and then the sea itself. It reminded me a bit of Newgale from last year, but the road through this village is most definately NOT an A road. You would not get here by accident that's for sure.

We walked back to the cafe and had lunch. Sally had the 3 cheese platter, and I had the grilled goats cheese with toasted pine nuts on a bed of salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I have to say - it was fabulous!! I think we both agree that they were the best meals of the holiday so far.

We made our way back to Tenby and had another wonder around the shops - treated ourselves to a couple of mugs. We had a quick hot chocolate at a cafe. Sally had a bit of a headache, and the hope was that a drink and fresh air would help.

We picked up a brochure in Tenby full of properties to rent for holidays. Sally is busy planning our next trip here already!!

I drove back to the flat from Tenby. It was the first time that I have driven the Seat Leon that is Sallys current company car. It is a diesel, so that was pretty new to me too. I did drive one of her Focus diesels a while back, but this was only my second time driving one. It all went well, I did manage to stall it a couple of times, but Sally manages that too. It seems that you have to rev to doo-dahs off it when you pull away. No namby pamby gentle acceleration when you pull away. Hit the rev limiter and dump the clutch!! (Well, not quite, but you get the idea)

Back as base, I read for a while and Sally played boggle, but not before we had christened our new mugs with tea. Dinner was Ryvitas with tuna followed by cherry scones and strawberries. The scones were from a bakery stall on the market and the strawberries were from a farm shop just outside of Tenby.

It is still cloudy and a little hazy in the distance, but has stayed dry. The day has been pretty good really, and the woodland garden was great, even though we only scratched the surface of what was there. I suspect a trip back on a lovely day will be in order.

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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Wednesday 9th June

Another grey and dull start to the day, but at least it is dry. Toast and tea for breakfast.

While I'm waiting for Sally to get ready I thought I would try to describe the flat for you. The block is part way down quite a steep hill, and is a three storey building with eight flats per storey, so 24 in total. Judging by the number of them that still have their new Yellow Pages outside, quite a few must be second homes rather than lived in or holiday lets.

Because the block is built into the hill to a degree, instead of steps to get to the upper floors, they have put in ramps from paths built into the hill. This means that all floors have easy access. Mind you, I would not call them wheelchair friendly, as the doors inside are so narrow. As previously mentioned, the block is quite bland looking, being a cross between council style and prison block! It could do with a lick of paint to brighten it up, but thankfully once you get inside, it is a pleasant surprise that awaits you. It appears to have been decorated fairly recently, in light neutral colours and the carpet is also neutral and light. The furniture is all modern, the bed very comfortable and all in all gets a thumbs up from us.

Our flat is at the far end of the top floor. It isn't too much of a walk from the carpark, but when it's raining it's far enough!! The carpark has a numbered bay for each flat, although we have seen so few cars there so far that it wouldn't be a problem to find a spot anyway.

The front door opens outwards, and really should be hinged on the other side as you basically pull it open into your face the first time you use it. You quickly learn to go beyond the door right to the end of the walkway before you open it.

Straight in front of you there is a short, narrow hallway. A door to the right (narrower than a normal one) leads into a good sized bathroom. There is a full sized bath with a shower over it along the left hand side, a wash basin on the right just inside the door, and the toilet at the far end. The basin being just inside the door is a bit strange, but there is plenty of room to move around in there. (Wish our bathroom at home was as big!)

Problems: the room steams up very badly, even with the window open and really needs an extractor fan. The toilet is a pig to flush, needs an adjustment I think. For some reason they have put up 2 shower curtains, one as normal, plus one against the wall. It is a fully tiled wall, so this seems very odd, and it also makes it seem very narrow in there while you are in the shower. There is also a glass shower screen half way along the bath which is totally superfluous.

Coming out of the bathroom and back into the hallway, just beyond the bathroom door is another narrow door which contains the water tank and could be used as an airing cupboard.

Straight in front of you is a door which leads into the living room, which also has the kitchen in it. It is a good sized room, probably around 20 feet by 15 feet. The kitchen part is on your right, into the corner and along the wall that has the bath on the other side of it. The "L" shaped kitchen has a fridge with a microwave on top of it and a large cupboard above with saucepans, baking trays etc. To the left of that is an electric 4 ring hob with an oven below. Above is a cooker hood and a small cupboard. Moving to the left again is a worktop with cupboards above and below, and as you come around the corner this continues, but the worktop has the sink unit in it. There isn't a huge amount of workspace, but there is plenty of storage with the cupboards above and below.

The living room part of the room has a two seater sofa, two armchairs, a coffee table and a small unit with the TV on it. The TV also has a video and DVD player built into it and there is a Freeview digi box underneath. In the drawer at the bottom of this unit are a few videos, DVDs and CDs.

There is a tall built in storage cupboard which has an ironing board, vacuum etc in it, and a small built in bookcase which has a few ornaments and books.

The patio door leads out to a balcony looking out towards the sea. The patio door itself is a devil to use. It may be down to a poor design or possibly misuse over the years, but there is an art to closing it successfully which involves getting on your hands and knees to make sure a small peg goes back into a guide runner. It seems from the comments in the visitors book that this has been the main bugbear about the flat for some time. It took me about 5 minutes to suss it out, but obviously not everyone has the patience to do this. (Well, to be honest, I thought we'd broken it to begin with, and only found out about other peoples troubles with it later!!)

Double folding doors on the left lead into the second bedroom, which has a pull down double bed in it, a folding dining table and chairs, built in wardrobe and a chest of drawers. Some people have used it as the main bedroom as it is the bigger of the two bedrooms and has a huge window looking out to sea. We have chosen to use it as our storage/dressing room.

Moving back to the entrance to the living room from the hallway, on the left is the door to the "main" bedroom. This has the very comfy double bed, a built in wardrobe and two small bedside cabinets.

The heating in the flat is by electric storage heaters, but the whole place is so cozy that I doubt these ever see much use.

That's about all there is to it. Compact but pretty much everything you could need. If one of the bedrooms was made into a kitchen (probably the rear one - as that is big enough to be a kitchen diner) and fitted with a washer-dryer and dishwasher, it would be perfect.

The sun came out and we headed out down the narrow country lanes past Stackpole towards Castle Martin, where we hit upon a slight snag. The main road was closed as the army base was having live firing practice!! It would seem that it is a tank training base or something, and they sometimes have to close off the main road which runs through their artillary range.

The detour took us down some even narrower lanes, but we finally got to our destination of West Angle Bay which overlooks the entrance to Milford Haven. The information board in the carpark says that Milford Haven has one of the deepest natural harbours and entrance in the world, which is probably why it was chosen as a place for supertankers to come into.

It had started to spot with rain, so we sat in the car and read (and I dozed for a while). There are not many people to be seen compared to the number of cars here. I can only imagine that most are doing the walk around the peninsular from one side of Angle Bay to the other and back again. There is a pub about two thirds of the way around the walk, and I bet it has a fair few ramblers in it right now!!

A scenic drive back along the same route, and stopped to watch some surfers for a few minutes. Stopped for lunch in Bosherton at the St Govans Inn. This is an olde worlde type pub, wooden beams and all. It was very busy - they seemed to be catering after a funeral judging by the number of black ties being worn.

Sally had a ploughmans and I had scampi chips and salad. Both were very nice indeed. We followed this up with dessert, chocolate fudge cake for Sally and banoffee pie for me. While we were eating, we could here the occasional "boom" of the guns, and even some heavy machine gun fire. All slightly surreal.

We moved on to Stackpole Quay and Barafundle Bay. The one National Trust car park serving both. The walk to Barafundle was a bit strenuous in places, especially just after a large meal!! We didn't go all the way down to the Bay, but sat at the clifftop admiring the view of the beach and cliffs beyond.
The weather has been a bit cloudy today with lovely sunny intervals, only the odd spot of rain, and has remained fairly warm. We are now back at the flat, mug of tea at the ready. The patio door is open and the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach is one I will never tire of.

Dinner was baguettes with the remains of the chicken from last night in one, and tuna with green pepper in the other. Simple but tasty.

As the light begins to fade, the view is still excellent out to sea, and it is very clear, being able to see for miles. A lovely end to a lovely day.
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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Tuesday 8th June

We awoke to a bright and dry morning. Quite contrary to the weather forecast. However, by the time we had showered and had breakfast, the cloud and mist had come back and it was drizzling slightly. This has somewhat made us alter our plans for the day. When we woke up and saw that it looked pretty good we had decided to investigate the Stackpole Estate and that part of the sticky outy bit of the peninsular. Now we are thinking more along the lines of Tenby and Saundersfoot. I quite fancy the museum of speed at Pendine Sands too.

First of all we tried to find the mythical bakery that is mentioned in the handbook in the flat. Some previous occupants have even mentioned it in the visitors book, but we still cannot find it despite having looked for it every day now.

Took a scenic route to Tenby down some very narrow country lanes in the pouring rain. Yes, by now it was hammering it down. As we got to Tenby it started to ease off a bit, and we decided to go to Saundersfoot first instead.

It was only a few miles up the coast from Tenby, but because of the roads it took a little while to get there. In fact, when we did get there, the sun was shining and the rain had moved on. It was lovely!!

We had been led to believe that Saundersfoot was a dump - a typical seaside tourist town. I can see why some people would perceive it like that, but we really liked it!

Spent a couple of pounds in the amusement arcade, and had a look in some of the gift shops including the "Famous £1.20" one (well, inflation hits even the pound shops I guess!) and picked up a few bargains.

Had a wonder around the rest of the town, which was pretty much just tourist, beach and gift shops. (We like that sort of tackiness though!). We had a cream tea (first one of the holiday) at a very nice cafe which had a terrace overlooking the beach. All very civilised, and quite lovely in the sun. What a change in the weather from first thing and even from yesterday.

Wondered around a bit more before heading back to the car and swapping shoes for flip flops for a walk on the beach. The sand was golden and soft, and the sea was quite warm. (Yes, we had a quick paddle!)

We sat in the shade of a wall and watched the world go by and listened to the waves crash onto the beach. The highlight (from a pure amusement point of view) was watching 2 late-teenage lads trying to put up a net on the beach to play volleyball. They seemed to have very little grasp of the laws of physics, and could not understand why the two poles (which looked about as thin as garden canes) kept pulling in towards each other with the weight of the net. It didn't matter how far they pushed them into the sand or if the put stones against the bottom of the poles, they just would not keep straight. When they started digging two holes to plant them in I thought we were going to wet ourselves. The rest of their mates finally turned up and kicked the ball around, totally failing to offer any help at all. In the end they just did their best with the poles and marked out the court with their heels in the sand. Finally the game started and none of them could hit the ball back over the net, and we just had to move on as by now we were in bits.

We got some crackers with cheese and pickle from the Spa shop and ate those in the sun. We wondered around the few shops that we had missed earlier and then made our way back to the car.

Instead of coming straight back to the flat we went to a tiny place called Wisemans Bridge, which basically just has a pub. However, it also has a carpark which is not only free but is right on the seafront. We sat on the wall taking in the sun, sea and sand while reading our books.

Eventually we made it back to the flat for tea and cake. Sally is playing "Boggle" on my ipod and I'm telling you about our day. The patio door to the balcony is wide open, the sun is still shining, we can hear the sea and feel the breeze, the view is spectacular and just at this moment, life seems perfect. (Well, apart from no signal on the phone!!!)

Dinner was chicken, potatoes and mixed veg with gravy. The chicken was really tasty. Washing up done, we are now playing head to head Boggle, and Sally is winning so far.

The sea is changing colour to a lighter blue as the sun goes down. We can still see further than at any other time since we got here, and fingers are crossed for another lovely day tomorrow.
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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Monday 7th June

Woke to the sound of rain on the windows. More like heavy drizzle than full blown rain, but the grey skies did not look promising.

A shower, tea and cereal later, and still the day remained murky. We decided to head to Pembroke again for a look around the shops. Once again we found the road signs there rather confusing and missed the car park first time. Once more around the town and we managed to find our way into it. 4 hours for 50p was a worry - usually the cheaper it is to park, the less there is to see, so we left the car park expecting the worst.

It actually turned out to be a pretty good little town. Not a huge number of shops, but most of them quite interesting. We found a Lloyds Chemist and were very happy to discover that they still have their blood pressure monitors at half price, so for £15 we got ourselves set up with one. Sally also got herself a thin hooded top at a shop that was full of bargain clothes. I didn't get anything. Sniff.

The rain was settling in a bit more now, and as tempting as it was to have a wonder around the castle, we felt it better to move on. Pete at work had suggested that Narberth was well worth a visit, so we headed towards there.

The A roads around here are little more than the countryside B roads back home, so even a short journey can take quite a while. The roadworks didn't help either, so it took a fair while to get to Narberth, but it was well worth the effort.

Again the parking was worryingly cheap, but proved to be excellent value for money. There is a good range of shops in the town, mostly independents, and most of them interesting in one way or another. By now the rain was coming down quite heavily, and we were glad of interesting shops to look around and shelter in.

One gift shop we found had a superb selection of Crocs, and finally I have got a new pair to replace my virtually worn out ones. Well, they are 3 years old now and have seen use pretty much every day since I got them, so they have done very well. Sally got herself a new pair too, and we also got a driftwood ornament for the house.

Once again the estate agents showed a huge variation in prices for property here, though we did spot rather a nice cottage bungalow on the outskirts of Pembroke for a reasonable price.

We had a spot of lunch while in Narberth, at "Sospan Fach". (I imagine that the first word is Welsh for saucepan, but dread to think what the second one might be). Sally had a brie and cranberry baguette, and I had my usual burger. They were very nice, and good value.

It was still throwing it down with rain as we left the town, and the trip back took just over an hour even though it was only 21 miles, partly because of the weather/roads but mostly because of pesky roadworks.

By the time we got back to the flat, not only was it still chucking it down, but it was very foggy too. Can only just about make out the sea. It is very windy too. We are so glad that we are not camping in this!!

The flat is dry and surprisingly warm though, and it is nice to be back here with a mug of hot tea.

I forgot to mention yesterday that during our walk down to the beach we met a man with 5 or 6 dogs. One of them was HUGE. He told us that it was only 8 months old and still not fully grown. It was a "Leonburgher" (not sure about the spelling - sounds like a special at McDonalds to me) and when we stroked it its fur was SO soft that your hand just fell into it. It was amazing.

Sally watched a program about food on the TV while I cooked us mushroom risotto for dinner, which was very nice even if I do say so myself. Later on was a program about a bakers in London, so we had a cake during that one! I finished typing up my journal for our Norfolk holiday, so once we can get a decent signal I will put those on the blog.

Quite late to bed (11pm) and "still falls the rain" (a bonus point to anyone who can say where that quote comes from. A clue - an album cover from the late 60s)

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Monday, 7 June 2010

Sunday 6th

Both had a good nights sleep. The bed is comfy though rather smaller than what we are used to at home.

The morning started very grey but just about dry. Cereal and tea for breakfast followed by a nice hot shower - if only we had that water pressure at home!

The flat is growing on me, and despite its small size is perfectly adequate. We have already re-organised it in our minds to set it out how we would prefer it.

Still no mobile phone signal, so yesterdays blog entry remains on the blackberry.

Left the flat at about 10:30 and headed to Tenby. It is only 8 miles but the road is narrow and twisty and took an age to get there. Once in the car park, found a mobile signal, so fired off yesterdays entry.

Tenby is a very pleasant town, with an old walled section where the majority of the shops are. The usual plethora of gift shops is supplemented by small multiples and independants selling most things one could want. A quick look in a couple of estate agents windows showed a huge variation in prices depending on the area. Even within the same town/village the prices vary tremendously. There must be some well dodgy areas!!

After exploring the town for a couple of hours we got fish & chips from "the runner up best chip shop in Wales", and have to confess that they were very good. I would love to find out who won and try theirs!

While you are waiting to be served in the chip shop, they have a little game you can play. There is a small bucket on the counter filled with water with a whole lemon floating in it. The challenge is to put a 10p piece on the lemon and make it balance. If it falls off the lemon you lose the 10p. If you can make it stay on the lemon your fish and chips are free. Looks easy, but its not. We lost our 10p, and a lady behind us lost quite a few while she was waiting! I asked the chap behind the counter if many people won, and he confessed that no one had ever won. The money was for their Christmas party, and why else did we think that so many of their prices were something and ninety pence!!

Sitting on the cliff top overlooking the sea as I type this. The weather is sunny with cloudy moments. Sometimes you need your coat, sometimes you don't. At least the rain shower we had as we got here was very brief.

The view is very good from where we are sitting. With Caldey Island very close by, and The Gower Peninsular just about visible in the hazy distance.

Went back to the flat and got our walking boots on for a bit of a jaunt. Wondered down onto the beach at the bottom of the steep slope the flats are built on. It started off ok, but as we got onto the sand dunes the going got a bit tougher. Sand is suprisingly difficult to walk on when you are sinking in a bit with each step.

It was wonderfully sunny on the beach, and we sat and watched the waves for a while before braving the long ascent back up the hill. The sand was absolutely knackering to walk up, but we made it in the end. Once back at the flat, we opened the door to the balcony and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air with the sound of the waves in the distance.

We both read for a while, and I fell asleep in the chair for a bit too. (What a surprise!) before moving to the sofa and falling asleep again!

Dinner tonight was just sandwiches, to be followed by ice cream.....yummy!!

Nothing worth watching on the telly, so I started to type up my journal from our trip to Norfolk in 2008. Sally did her best to decipher my scribbles and dictated them to me to type up on the Mac. Still no signal on the phone or on the 3G dongle.

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Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sat 5th.

Day 1 of the holiday. Despite the weather forecast being for rain, we woke up to glorious sunshine and a hot day. Unusually for us, we were not very well organised and only really started packing this morning. The car seemed absolutely rammed by the time we had finished - it looked as full as when we go camping - can't quite understand how, but there we are.

The journey started out with a traffic jam less than 5 miles from home. It took over half an hour to get to the end of the A46. After that, it wasn't too bad, the M5 was fairly busy but was moving steadily.

We elected to take the scenic route across the centre of Wales and via Brecon. This was pretty much the same route that we took last year, and we stopped at the same parking spot as last time and had our lunch.

It seemed to take forever to get here, and in fact was almost 5 hours including the stop for lunch.

The apartment block was a bit of a shock when we first saw it. Both of us thought "Prisoner Cell Block H"!!! It is quite run down looking from the outside, and when we got inside it was smaller than I had expected. When I got past my initial thoughts, it is actually very nice inside. It is clean, nicely decorated and furnished and has just about everything you could want.

One major snag is that there is no mobile phone signal. At all. Neither is there one anywhere from here to Pembrook. We ended up having to phone parents from a phone box!!!

We did a bit of food shopping at Asda and headed back to the flat for a lovely cup of tea. Then we headed to the beach to check it out briefly. It is very sandy and pleasant, and we look forward to spending more time on it.

Back to the flat to cook dinner and watch "Britain thinks it has a bit of talent" final. Some of the comments in the guest book have been that the TV picture is not very good. We thought the picture was fine and settled down to "enjoy" the show.

Half an hour in and the signal vanished. Ten minutes of playing around got the picture back but with no sound. We have discovered that if you press the volume up button on the remote for the digi box the sound comes back (even though the level is fully up). Snag is that after about ten seconds it goes off again. We are taking it in turns to keep pressing the button!!!

We managed to get to the end of the program, and in fact the darn thing ended up working properly after totally loosing the signal for a few minutes just before they announced the winner!!

Dinner was chicken and mexican rice followed by ice cream. Lovely it was too.
Time for bed - no spectacular sunset tonight as it is too cloudy. The rabbits are still hopping around munching the grass happily. Apparantly we might even see foxes.....

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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

It's that time again :-)

It's holiday time again.......yeah!!!!!!!

Yes, on Saturday we go off to Wales for two weeks, and we can't wait.

The first week will be spent in a two bedroomed apartment in Freshwater East just down the coast from Tenby, and the second week in a one bedroomed detached house out at Langland on the Gower Peninsular. Both are within sight of the sea, and the second is overlooking a golf course.

If you want to see more details, check out their websites:-

The details we have been sent about the first week mentions that the mobile phone signal is not great, so it remains to be seen if i will be able to get on the net at the apartment, so the blogging may be a bit limited - we will have to see, but bear with me - i will do my best!

I am also hoping to finally type up the journal from our trip to Norfolk 2 years ago. Have just finished the Cornwall one from 2007.......

The weather forecast is not looking too promising, but you know how little you can believe those things. Don't worry - we will take coats with us.

Have fun - I'm sure that we will!!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Back to front........

Finally, after many months of meaning to, and a couple of requests, i have at long last made a start on typing up my old holiday journals. I started keeping a journal in 2007 for our holiday to Cornwall and followed it up in 2008 for the Norfolk holiday. In 2009 i started doing this blog, so the plan is to put the 2007 and 2008 ones on here now - AND NOW THAT I HAVE WORKED OUT HOW TO MAKE THEM GO WHERE I WANT THEM TO - THEY ARE NOW IN THE RIGHT ORDER!!!!!!

So, the plan is that over the next few weeks i will gradually get the old entries on here, so keep checking in to read up on a bit of "history"............just click on the appropriate years in the "archive" to find them.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

We are number one????

The hockey season has now finished. The Coventry Blaze have won the Elite League again - for the 4th time in the 6 seasons that we have been following them. I should be excited, overjoyed and jumping around with a sore throat.

However, this season has been a real let down as far as we are concerned. This season, we have only been to about half of our home games - we have missed more games this season than in all the other seasons put together - it has been a total waste of having a season ticket this year.

Why have we missed so many games? A total lack of enthusiasm on our part has been a major factor. The team has under-performed, uninspired and not exctited us as they have previously. Maybe it helps that i have finally gotten it into my head that it really is "only a game".

Some weekends it has felt as though we were being robbed of our Sunday evenings, and it has been an easy decision to stay at home in the warm rather than go to a freezing cold Skydome. My seat at home is also more comfortable, doesn't have sticky stains on it, the catering facilities at home are a lot better, and the toilet is a million times cleaner and more pleasant to use than the ones at the rink!

The "Fire and Ice Match Night Live" coverage has kept us fully informed of what has been going on at the games, and we have often been very thankful that we weren't suffering the dismal performances in person.

Are the Blaze deserved champions? No, not this time. They have not been the best team, but the least worst. The reason for the title is that we beat Belfast more times than they beat us. Some of the results against other teams have been an embarrasement - even the club admit that. Not deserved champions this season, no. This is despite having the genius that is Greg Chambers in the team. He has blown hot and cold like all the players have. Poor Peter Hirsch in goal has often had zero defence in front of him, and at times there has been no apparant leadership on the ice, or indeed effort from the "big name" players........

As pleased as we are with the trophy, it almost feels like we have stolen it from a more deserving team, and as much as i never want to see Belfast win anything, they definately deserve to win something this year.

Will we get season tickets again next year? No. We will go to a few games, but overall, we like having our Sundays back too much.

Thanks Blaze for all the fun, excitement and pleasure you have given us over the last few years, but for now, let's have a break from one another, OK?

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Home again

Well, here i am, back at home sitting in my favourite chair. Back to normality, whatever that may be.

The good news is that i did manage to drag myself out of bed at a sensible time, and even had enough time for some breakfast before we left the flat for the last time. We did go for one last look at the beach before we jumped in the car and began the long journey home.

I drove for the first hour and a half! As far as Scotch Corner Services in fact. This is, i think, the longest i have ever driven in one go, my previous longest being the hour from our house to Derby. I thought i did pretty well, and i only managed to scare Sally once - well, the bloke in front shouldn't have braked while i was checking the mirror should he?!

Saly drove the rest of the way home, and we got home around 2pm, which was earlier than we expected to - 4 and a half hours in total - a good 30 or so minutes less than we thought it would take - mind you, in the 90 minutes i spent driving we shifted a bit!! ;-)

It's nice to be back home, in familiar surroundings, but it's sad too, all at the same time. It means that the break is virtually over - work starts all over again on Monday, but, as Sally rightly pointed out, it's not long till Easter, and even out June two week holiday isn't that far away. (guess, we'd better get it booked then)

Did we enjoy our time in Northumberland? Overall yes. Would we go back? Yes. To the same place? Probably. At the same time of the year? No. Right place - wrong time we think.

We went food shopping when we got back home, and saw more people in Sainsburys alone than we had seen the whole time we were away! I mean, the shop was even OPEN. At 3 in the afternoon! Come on, all the shops would have been long shut where we've been by that time on a Saturday afternoon! ;-)

So, where are we thinking of for June? Wales is the favourite again at the moment. The site we stayed at near St Davids in the yurt last year now have the self catering apartment fully up and running, and that is available when we want to go, for either one or two weeks. But, we are thinking about going there for the first week, and then moving on to the Gower Peninsular for the second week, and have found some good looking cottages/flats that are available then for a sensible price - we just need to get a move on and decide which.

Despite the painfully slow internet connection we suffered while in Beadnell, we did manage to start on this organisation of our next holiday you see - we don't want you to get the impression that we don't like working anymore and justlive for our next break, but if you could all see you way to sending us some cash for our VW Camper fund, it would be much appreciated.............

Friday, 12 March 2010

And so the end is near.........

Not only did i get up first today, but i actually drove the car too!!! I’m not as against driving as i used to be - i wouldn’t say i enjoy it, but i’m happy enough to do it. The main reason for me not having driven up till today is two fold - firstly i’ve not driven this particular car (we are in Sally’s company Ford Focus), and secondly, i am better at navigating, so Sally would rather we sat on our usual sides of the car.

Because we were going to places that we knew fairly well today, i offered to drive, and my offer was taken up.

We had some rain overnight - not too much, but enough to dampen everywhere, and it was still trying to drizzle as we set off for Bamburgh, this time to check out the town itself. Well, i guess that village would be a better description, as it is very small indeed. There is a RNLI gift shop with museum, a couple of gift shops, tea rooms, pubs and hotels, and that’s about your lot. We selected the “Copper Kettle” tea room, and entered the old, wooden beamed cottage and stepped back in time.

Although the building has been there for centuries (originally built to house labourers for the castle) it has only been a tea room for about half a century. Two spinster sisters bought the property and spent a fortune on turning it into the tea room. (The last page of the menu gives a potted history). They bought the building for £8000, but spent £13,000 on the wooden panelling inside alone!!!!

Just like our holiday to Wales last June, it was only on the last day that we found a cream tea! We each had one of their wonderful cream teas, with two lovely warm scones, jam, whipped cream, and a large pot of tea between us. It was heavenly!

I decided to just go for a leisurely drive, getting more and more used to the Focus. My initial impression is that the steering is lighter than my Fiesta, it is nice and easy to drive, if a little unfulfilling (both my Fiesta and the Astra that Sally had for a while are more fun to drive), and it really could do with a 6th gear. I had been wondering all week why Sally changed up into 5th so early - now i know why, you just have to. Snag is, there isn’t a 6th to take it into afterwards!

So, you are getting a review of cars today as well as our holiday - what more could you ask of me???!! ;-)

We ended up back at Seahouses, where we had another wonder around the shops (well, the ones that had deigned to open), and treated ourselves to a few souvenirs of our break. We also partook of some fish & chips at the same chippy as our first night here. I felt that it wasn’t as good as before, but Sally disagreed. They have had new windows fitted during our time hear, which look very nice. They were putting the finishing touches to the window today - they put back up the faded, framed newspaper clipping of the Hairy Bikers praise for them.

Back at the flat, we went for a walk around Beadnell, mostly so that i could take some photos of the derelict boats we passed everyday in and out of the village, but also so we could wonder around some of the more obscure parts of the village - mind you, most of it is pretty obscure to be honest.

There has been a lot of building over the last few years by the look of it, and it is still continuing, with a new estate still being completed. This must have felt like a huge blow to the locals, as their village exploded in size, taking a lot of the charm and character with it. Having said that - there seems to have been zero effort to increase the number of village shops - basically, there is nothing here!

It is also strange that walking around, on a Friday afternoon, how few people we actually saw. We were beginning to wonder if anyone actually does live here. All it needs is some tumbleweed to bounce along the road to make it seem complete. There are cars in drives, but no-one around. All very odd.

As the afternoon wore on into the evening, a few vehicles started to appear in the close where we are staying - as we suspected, most of the properties around us are weekend get-aways. This is very sad, as it could well be that most of the village is in the same boat - only seeing life at weekends and during holidays - what a waste of a lovely place. It also makes the properties very expensive when this happens - putting them out of reach of many of the true locals. Don’t even get me started on the whole owning more than one property thing - this could turn into a rant quite easily.

So, our last night - we will start to get packed up in a while, so that we can be away early in the morning. We have to be out by 10am, which with my trouble getting up in the mornings will prove hard enough even if we are ready to leave as we roll out of bed!

It’s been an enjoyable holiday - more than anything, we both feel rested and stress free. We know that this won’t last long into Monday, but for now, it is a nice feeling. Some aspects of the holiday have been great - the flat, seeing Pete & Julie last Sunday, Barter Books, Wallender, Bamburgh Castle, the beaches......... and some have been a bit of a disappointment - the lack of places open (the time of the year), the weather in some ways (the time of the year), lack of decent photo opportunities (the time of the year) and the lack of petrol stations (the sign of the times). Word of advice - if you move up here, get a diesel...............