Thursday, 21 July 2016

A Real Summer in Weymouth

This week we’re staying on a holiday site at the rugby club in Weymouth, stewarded by Mike and Sue of Dorset DA. We’ve been here before and it is a terrific location within easy walking distance of the beach, the park and nature reserve, and a good supermarket that has a cafe with WiFi and very welcome air conditioning. Because it is hot! It is the sort of hot you’d pay lots of money for, and travel a thousand miles to find, and we have it all here in lovely Dorset. To think, a couple of days before we left home I was moaning about the British summer and debating switching on the central heating. A few hours and a couple of hundred miles and like caravanning on the Med. How jammy is that?

I mentioned “easy walk”. Well, I have a thing about about easy walks. On our first day we set off into Weymouth, paddled along the coast, through Weymouth town and beyond, because I wanted to see Sandsfoot Castle. I hadn’t seen Sandsfoot Castle before. We walked on and on, ignoring the most excellent live band that were playing on the harbour front. Ignoring the 80F sun that hammered down onto our heads.
“It’s just a bit further,” I said, again and again.
Weymouth Harbour. Could just as easily be the Med.
We found Sandsfoot Castle. We staggered into the nearest shade and slugged down drinks from the cafe. Did we go and look at the castle? Or the beautiful gardens? Not a chance. We’d staggered over six miles and we faced another six miles to get back. Too knackered to even photograph the castle, we set off on the return trek under the relentless sun. I think the castle looked good. It’s hard to tell when you’re delirious with heat stroke.
Hours later, back at the caravan, we made a pact. We decided it might be a good idea if we tried something new and unprecidented this week – if we tried doing what people usually do on holiday. Relaxing.

Bennett's Water Gardens. Just like Giverny but without the crowds.

So we’ve been to Bennett’s Water Gardens (in the car) and strolled around the cool, shady pools, rested on benches, watched the dragonflies and admired the water lilies. We had another day in Swanage, where we strolled along the prom, walked on the pier and had tea in tea shops. There, you see, we can be sensible. We’ve never been to Swanage before. It’s lovely. Sandy beach, warm sea. Interesting seaside shops.
We even managed to resist stopping off at Corfe Castle on the way through. Last time we clambered up to Corfe Castle the temperature was, like this day, up in the mid 80’s, so we thought, yeah, been there, done that. Don’t get me wrong, we loved Corfe Castle, but we’ll wait for cooler weather, I think. I don’t want to spend the rest of our week in A&E.
A Leopard 1 tank in action at the Tank Museum, Bovington

If you are visiting this part of the world a must-see attraction is the tank museum at Bovington. Check the web site first to make sure there are live action displays on the day you visit, because they are brilliant - lots of smoke and explosions and engine noises you can feel right inside your chest. But even away from the action, there is a huge amount to see, and we both found the Trench Experience exhibit to be eye opening, informative and very moving.
Only a few days left and lots more to see. This is our third visit to Weymouth and it won’t be our last.

This holiday is going well. They don’t always. Travelling in a Box is now available not only as a paperback and on Kindle, but also on iBooks and Kobo.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

A Postcard from Wales

Rhosson Ganol. Wish you were here?
Does it mark me out as being a bit old fashioned, that I send postcards when I’m on holiday? I could email or Instagram or put pictures on Facebook. Hell, I could just ring people. It’s not hard in this day and age.
It isn’t the same though. A postcard carries history. It feels travelled. A postcard will often bear the scars of a journey and adventure: the words might be smeared by rain; the corners are often tatty and dog-eared; the postman might have left some of his breakfast on the picture on the front. Often times the stamp will be postmarked with a blurry ink-pad logo that has missed the stamp and obliterates half the words. If you’re lucky it will have been lost and found and postmarked twice. All of this is evidence that you are far far away. Somewhere remote… On Holiday!

Postcards are hard to write. You sit in the coffee shop, pen in hand, and decide who will write to whom. “I’ll do the kids, you do the parents, yeah?”
“What are you going to write?”
I wonder how many cards I’ve written over the years that start ‘Having a great time’ while the rain softens and delaminates the card and the ink blooms and spreads.
But we always write them. It wouldn’t be a holiday otherwise.

We’re in St Davids, in Pembrokeshire, South West Wales. (Actually I’m back home, reminiscing. No internet in St Davids! But hey, I’ll stay in the present just to maintain the illusion).

I’m leery about divulging the name of the site, because this is probably the best campsite in the world. It certainly has the best view. But here goes, at the risk of scuppering things for years to come when we can’t get on because it’s fully booked, our site is called Rhosson Ganol, and it is just west of St Davids overlooking the St Justinians lifeboat station. It is a small piece of heaven. There are no electrics, there is no mobile signal, it isn’t flat, but it is lovely.

There is a postbox. (See picture) It’s a good thing. St Davids is about four miles away, and to use the car feels like cheating. But it’s good. This is all the civilisation we need on holiday: a tap, an Elsan point and a postbox.

We finished our cards and strolled down the lane so they’d catch the morning collection. Sarah climbed through the nettles beside the wall and tried to post the cards. They wouldn’t go in. She tried again. Some kind of obstruction.

Then the air went black.

It seems our postbox has become a bees nest. Or it might have been wasps, some evil, buzzy, stingy thing for sure - we didn’t hang around for entomology or apiology or whatever.

We walked to St Davids.

More camping and caravanning tales can be found in  the Travelling in a Box paperback/ebook.  To buy a copy, take a look at the web site,