I have needed a holiday for a long, long time now. We haven’t really left the home counties since January 2019, when we last went on holiday to Bluestone. Our last summer holiday was in 2018 – 5 years ago! A combination of the Covid-19 pandemic, moving house, DIY, a new baby and finances have got in the way of us going anywhere the last few years. In order to try and make things cheaper, I bought a second-hand tent off of a local guy on eBay last autumn and have spent the whole time since eagerly awaiting this summer’s adventures in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It was Reuben’s first holiday and we knew the children would have so much fun camping.
Unfortunately, this summer hasn’t really summered. As we moved through July and each week seemed to bring yet more clouds and rain, I optimistically thought that we were getting the bad weather out of the way. Nope, no such luck! The forecast looked pretty horrible for the week we were away. So instead of pretty summer dresses, I mostly packed our autumn and winter wardrobes. We were determined to persevere and enjoy ourselves regardless.
While we didn’t have much warm or sunny weather, it certainly wasn’t as bad as the forecast had initially said. Rain mostly came in showers, rather than being an all day affair. However, it was SO WINDY! We were camping in a field next to the sea, so there were no real defences between us and mother nature. The night Storm Antoni came, we made sure the storm straps were on and all the guy ropes were pegged down as well as they could be. The wind was so loud, the tent was moving so much. Even our airbed was being moved by the wind and we could feel wind on our faces even though the tent was all zipped up. I never knew it was possible to feel seasick while camping before! Still, we survived. I guess we’re proper campers now 😉
Anyway, I digress. It’s a tough pick, but these were (probably) my 5 highlights of the week:
1. Swimming in the sea
Our neighbours on the pitch next door had a routine with some friends where they went swimming in the local bay each morning. On the Tuesday morning, the sun was shining and they invited me to go there with them. I was a little unsure. I very much feel the cold and the idea of just my feet being in the sea was putting me off. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realised I’d regret it if I didn’t go with them and give it a try!
It started off freezing and I thought I was going to chicken out of it. My feet felt like blocks of ice, but I still kept walking into the sea and I was surprised to find that soon my whole body was accustomed to the temperature! As I played in the sea and the sea played back, I realised that there was no better way I could have started the day. As I walked back to the campsite, swimming costume full of seaweed and sun shining on my back, I felt a sense of peace I hadn’t felt for a long time.
2. Admiring the moon
Our first evening at the campsite was unfortunately the only clear night we had! This was disappointing overall, as I’d been so looking forward to sitting outside and stargazing once the children were in bed. Still, at least we made the most of it that the night was clear. We sat outside admiring the moon and looking at the stars for a long time, simultaneously listening to the sea crashing on the rocks. The moon looked so gorgeous and almost magical shining over the sea.
3. Ice creams at St. David’s
We fell in love with ice creams from The Bench at St. David’s. There were so many options to choose from! I needed at least another week there so that I could try all the others. Not even the gale force winds of Storm Antoni could stop us from enjoying ice cream, although we did get some strange looks! I’m convinced they must be the best ice creams in Pembs.
The ice creams there were one of Autumn’s two favourite parts of the holiday. She loved the cute teddy bear cones that were just the right size for her! If you were wondering, her other favourite part was visiting Dr. Beynon’s Bug Farm!
4. Manorbier’s magical rockpools
We visited some of our old favourites on this holiday, but we also wanted to explore some new places too. I read in Coast to Coast visitor newspaper that Manorbier is brilliant for rockpools! When we had more time than we realised one day and were in that direction, we decided to go and check them out. Typically, we’d been seeing fishing nets in shops all week, yet there were none to be found in Manorbier. We decided to still head to the beach and do our best with buckets and spades. We were too slow for most things, but managed to catch some massive shrimps!
I was slightly cross with myself for always discounting Manorbier before. I was thrilled by the beach to one side with a little bridge crossing over to the side where most of the rockpools are and the drama of Manorbier castle behind us. It’s such a beautiful little beach and I can’t wait to explore it for longer another time when the tide isn’t coming in!
5. Al fresco cooking
Part of the fun of camping has got to be cooking outdoors! We borrowed my parents’ camping stove and made all sorts of things using it. Breakfasts consisted of toast, pancakes and ‘skillet biscuits’. For dinners we had mac and cheese, quesadillas and pizza. Of course, there were hot chocolates too. Yum! It was a beautiful experience cooking by the sea…although definitely more so when the weather was fair!
I was so glad it was a success with the children. We first took Autumn camping in Cornwall at a similar age to Reuben, but he’s quite different in personality to her so it was a relief that it went well with him too. Despite the wind and rain, I’m missing it terribly! I’m already trying to plan our next camping adventure. In an ideal world, I’d love to spend a couple more nights under canvas before the summer is out!