Our first summer holidays! Well, since they were last a thing which was… Student days I guess. For so long now they’ve just been a chunk of time to be avoided like the plague in order to enjoy crowd-free, relatively inexpensive holidays. Now we have 6 weeks of school-free time to be filled with fun, or at least survived!
Week one: the Pembrokeshire coast, staying in a picturesque converted barn, the four of us and my parents. It was a great start to the summer – we explored castles, harbour towns, cafes and beaches and generally enjoyed the really-good-considering-it’s-west-Wales weather ,which equated to two days of actual sunshine. These were our beach days. People split don’t they? Into beach people and not beach people. I’m a beach person; my husband is not, although he also enjoyed the couple of days we had, filled with plenty of sand castles (which he insisted in turning into major construction projects – children optional) and rock pools, especially at the gorgeous Broadhaven beach in these pictures.
While my dad and the boys got stuck into some serious “drainage works” (digging channels and diverting small streams across the beach), I persuaded my mum to come with me for a swim.
“Go on, it will be great!”
“But I left my swimming costume in the car”
“Oh that’s OK, I have a bikini and a swimming costume, you can wear mine”
“But I have nothing to change under”
“Here’s a towel”. Ha!
Excitedly we headed down to where the wavelets were breaking gently on the golden sand… Oh. My. Goodness. OK so it’s the Welsh coast but even so. Unbelievably cold. Now I don’t pride myself on much when it comes to physical efforts but I grew up playing in a chalk stream every summer for 18 years: I am good at going in cold water. But this was something else! Eventually after much gasping and squeaking we were in and swimming and out again less than 5 minutes later, giggly and glowing.
It struck me after those two sandy, breezy, paddly, rock-scrambly days, with that truly icy swim, just how little I use my sense of touch in everyday life. Despite my good intentions this year (and the added incentive of this blog), we still haven’t got outside as much as I’d like to. I’d like to feel more on my skin: I’d like to experience the rain and the wind more and actually feel the ground under bare feet (without ending up completely drenched, cold and miserable with sore feet obviously). Often I tell myself that I avoid the elements for the sake of the children, but I guess it comes back to my fair weather tendencies that I wrote about in January. Except in summer there’s certainly less excuse, so something to work on!
Anyway, where was I? Pembrokeshire… Another holiday highlight was a day trip to the wonderful seabird island of Skomer. We started with a fun boat ride out which my youngest loved and my older boy was thrilled to see gannets diving near the cliff edges as we approached our landing spot. We then had most of the day to explore the island and try and spot some puffins and other seabirds.
Skomer is biggish for short legs so we kept the boys entertained with imagination games as we explored. The boys didn’t seem to notice or care that they were each involved in a different game and my husband is perfectly capable of tuning them out if he has something to say (I envy men this capability).
“So in this part of the island they are trying to re-establish heather for the owls to nest in” states my husband, the ecologist.
“Fold your wings back and diiiiiiive” cries my magical gannet boy simultaneously,
“Raaaa, lets hunt for triceratops Mummy T-Rex!” roars my youngest, in synchrony.
And of course I’m expected to interact with all of these. Not quite the mindful, relaxing, island experience I was after but it helped us cover the distance with limited whinge – which these days I’ll take!
By the end of the day we’d seen puffins aplenty floating on the sea and flying back to their cliff top burrows, kittiwakes and fulmars (like tiny albatrosses) nestled into steep cliffs and all-importantly, for my excited two year old, the boat returned to pick us up.
“Mummy when’s the boat coming?”
“We’ve only just arrived sweetheart”
“Mummy can we go and catch the boat?”
“Not yet, let’s explore the island!”
“Are we going to find the boat now?”
“Have you seen this… seagull?”
“Look here come’s the [don’t say sodding] boat!”
Luckily he loved the journey back every bit as much.
So Pembrokeshire was great. Which left us with one week down and five to go. What to do now that the main event was over? And are we going to find the creativity, patience and money to get through the rest…? More in the next post!