Despite needing to feel the sun on my back, we decide to return to Wales for our second holiday of the summer. With the dog. In the touring caravan. My family is twisted. While I voted for us to rent a cottage again, the rest of the family were adamant they wanted a caravanning holiday. I always thought this was a batshit crazy idea. Large dog. Small caravan. Wales. British weather. A potentially disastrous combo.
We’ve caravanned on and off all our kids’ lives. They have fond memories and often recount stories of past holidays. Nostalgia and rose tinted spectacles keep their memories special and I’m extremely thankful for that. But in reality touring caravan holidays are hard work – mainly for Ad since he ends up with all the physically demanding and unpleasant jobs – but it’s not an easy holiday for any of us. The confined space, lack of home comforts, and rubbish beds all play their part and a holiday such as this can go either way. For it to work we have to have no rain, happy kids and I have to stop pining for sunshine and luxuries. Back to basics for us for a whole week.
This time back to basics turns out to mean no phone reception on site at all – 2G, 3G or 4G – and no useable wifi either. Ideal. Except for Abbie whose EE signal is strong. Fortunately Josh isn’t too attached to his phone so im hopeful that it won’t cause too much sibling tension. At least the sun is shining as we pitch up, the site is peaceful and the dog is behaving. To be fair she’s not a bad dog but can be a bit “vocal” (that’s not going to annoy fellow campers at all then!) and can be quite territorial if we create a base anywhere. Which in reality is anything from plonking ourselves on the grass for 5 minutes or pitching up on the beach for a day.
But here we are, back at Cardigan Bay where we had a great holiday last year. After travelling all morning, pitching and unpacking all afternoon (kids bickered throughout. Great.) we head to Tresaith for the evening. I have a friend that totally loves Tresaith and I can see why. The winning combination of a stunning beach, magnificent waterfall and a welcoming vibe would make Tresaith anyone’s happy place.
It’s me that feels a tad grumpy the next morning. Everyone is under someone’s feet, there’s no space, I can’t find anything, I’ve got a cold and stomach ache. Ggggrrrrr. We drive to Aberporth and set up camp against the rocks to shelter us from the wind. It’s overcast. Grey. A bit like my mood.
The boys squeeze themselves into wetsuits (always hilarious) and brave the cold sea; they’ve been looking forward to going snorkelling. Ab and I dog sit. Lilly is a nightmare. She doesn’t settle, constantly tramples over us and she growls at any other dog who dares to come within a few feet of base camp. Perfect.
A couple of hours is all we managed. My suggestion of a walk along the coast path to Tresaith receives a lukewarm reception so instead Ab and I head off to the supermarket to stock up for the week. Bad decision. 3pm on a Sunday afternoon is not the best time to hit the aisles especially when it’s a tiny store in a tourist area. Hell.
The sun is shining by the time we get back to the caravan. My grey demeanour lifts as I stuff myself with BBQ burgers and enjoy the togetherness that the food, sunshine and vodka brings. With another spectacular sunset on offer and a mad dog needing to burn off energy we drive to nearby Mwnt, a beautiful NT beach and headland. My inner calm fully returns. I can’t be grumpy with so much beauty around.
Although we stayed in Ceredigion just a year ago we are based much further south this time. This was deliberate so we could also spend some time on the northern part of the Penbrokeshire coast that we didn’t get chance to visit when we were there a few weeks ago. On a grey bank holiday morning, while back home is bathed in heat, we explore first Poppit Sands and then Newport Sands – both large, expansive beaches in Pembrokeshire. The dog loves it – lots of running for the ball (until she refuses to paddle across the river running through the beach, thereby losing the ball) and playing with the kids.
New Quay and Aberaeron are favourites of ours, we spent time at both last year. Visiting with the dog is an altogether different experience – crowded streets and an excitable, energetic dog just don’t mix that well!
The sun makes a reappearance on Wednesday as we drive to Fishguard, a deep water port in Pembrokeshire. We walk the coast path and spend a couple of hours on the quiet beach at nearby Goodwick. Even Lily chills. A little. Back in protection mode she’s glaring and growling at a nearby dog but he doesn’t dare come too close so all is good.
It rains heavily overnight, hammering off the caravan roof. I’m awake anyway because the dog, who refuses to sleep anywhere except right next to our bed, is noisily washing herself. Every inch of herself. For hours. At least the rain drowns out the sound of the licking! Fortunately the storm clears and a beautiful sunny day unfolds.
Our next stop is the Blue Lagoon at Abereiddi. Slate was quarried here until the early 20th century. The lagoon was formed when the channel connecting the slate quarry to the sea was blasted, allowing the sea to flood in. The result is a beautiful green water (surely it could be more suitably named????) lagoon, a gorgeous part of our coast, frequented by swimmers, divers, coasteerers and kayakers. The Red Bull Cliff diving world championships were held here a few years back.
Thursday’s final stop off is the Solva estuary, deep into Pembrokeshire, somewhere we wanted to visit last holiday but ran out of time. Josh is happy – he’s able to do some crabbing, while we chill in the warm sunshine. Even Lilly seams happy to rest for a while. And she only growls at other dogs a couple of times.
Friday, our final day, the sun shines again. We decide to drive out further afield today to Manorbier, a seaside town not far from Tenby. The last full on beach day we attempted wasn’t a great success but we try again – this time making sure that Lilly has a good walk beforehand. I’m seduced by the heat of the sun and in a moment of madness decide to be brave. Wig off. Bikini on. Wetsuit on. I join the boys in the sea. It was bloody FREEZING, even in a wetsuit! Lilly, not a fan of water, also braved the sea for a swim. It’s a great final day of the holiday for all of us.
We’ve been so lucky with the weather – 2 overnight downpours, a couple of days of heavy cloud and sunshine for the rest. It’s been a different holiday having the dog with us, good and bad. We’ve not been able to just drop into an eatery whenever the mood took us, she constantly needs exercising, she can be antisocial with other dogs and poo bins are scarce. A low point has to be driving to Solva from Abereiddi while Ad holds a bag of dog poo out of the car window. Ideal.
But she’s worth it – loving, loyal and fun to be with. It turns out that a week in Wales, in a caravan, with the dog wasn’t such a crazy idea after all! ❤️