Side Quest 1 – The Gower – Day 1
The Start Of Our Family Holiday
When I started this blog, I was only planning to write about my walking adventure around the GB coastline.
As it’s gone on, I have become increasingly excited and in love with the experience of writing and sharing. So I thought I’d give you a window into our little 5 day holiday to the Gower Peninsular.
I booked an AirB&B on the spur of the moment one afternoon on a long and dull drive to Daddy Pants’ parents. ‘I’ve found a fun looking AirB&B in the Gower,’ I told DP as we trundled down the motorway. ‘Shall we go?’
‘How much is it?’ he asked suspiciously.
‘£50 a night. Pretty darned cheap,’ I explained. ‘It’s a two bedroom pre-fab type bungalow on a holiday park. With two rooms we might just be able to get Baggy Pants to bed at a reasonable hour,’ I added hopefully. I have to add that a pre-fab bungalow on a holiday park would have filled me with fear and loathing in my time before children. I was more of a Cottage In The Wilds sort of girl. Or camping. Or bunkhouses. Or treehouses. Hostels, boats, or abandoned mine shafts. A sleeping bag under an arachnid infested tree (an actual experience of mine in Australia many years previously) was preferable to a caravan or bungalow on a holiday park.
‘Does it have a playpark?’ DP asked as he manoeuvred around a lorry driving weirdly.
‘Deal!’ he said. ‘Let’s do it!’ So that was the basis of our decision. It had two rooms so there might be a slim chance we could get the child to bed before midnight and a play park. Bingo. Summer holiday booked.
We drove down first thing on Sunday morning. It was in the middle of the longest heatwave since I was pregnant in 2013 and we were all happy to be in the car with the air conditioning, although we were getting terribly excited about going to the beach. ‘Let’s stop at Pobbles Bay,’ said DP. ‘It’s en route.’
We piled out of the car in a dusty National Trust car park in Southgate. We loaded ourselves up with water, beach tent, swimmers and a picnic. Dog flung himself into the walk like he hadn’t been exercised since the dawn of time. He bolted up and down the sandy coastal path, stopping only to occasionally roll gleefully on his back. This is the life, he said with every buck. This is what this Dog was made for.
‘We are technically walking the coastal path,’ I said with increasing delight.
We hadn’t really intended to do any walking on the holiday. Baggy Pants does enjoy walking but she has the attention span of a regular 4-year-old and can only do it for so long before she gets bored. This holiday was aimed at her and we planned to simply hang out on the beach and eat ice cream. At that moment we crested the top of a small hill and the whole of the beach was laid out before us. ‘Oh my,’ I said. ‘I’d somehow forgotten how beautiful it is.’
And the Gower is stunning indeed. Several small stoney coves were utterly submerged as it was high tide, but Pobbles Bay was still sandy, golden and in the July sunshine, glorious. We stood and breathed in the sea air and the view. DP and I were smiling lovingly at each other and Dog was nuzzling my hand when, ‘Muuuuummmmmmmmmmyyyyyyy!’ Followed by a furious small person noise. And then tears. ‘I’ve got saaaaand in my eyyyyyes!’
At the exact same moment Baggy Pants temporarily blinded herself with sand, a man on horseback with three whippet types dogs appeared at the bottom of the dunes. ‘Excuse me!’ he yelled up at me. ‘Can you move to the side? I want to come past!’ I nodded and slowly started to guide BP to the edge of the sand dunes while she screamed like a stuck pig. We’d barely gone three paces when the man on horseback thundered past at a flat-out gallop with his pack of dogs yapping excitedly at his hooves. Several holidayers flattened themselves uncomfortably against the gauze bushes.
‘Mummy! What was that?!’ asked BP with her eyes still closed. The noise of the horse and the dogs was tremendous, exhilarating and altogether a bit scary when they were so close and unexpected. I didn’t know it was possible for a horse to explode through the sand quite so spectacularly.
Great clouds of dust barrelled behind him and settled on the stunned spectators.
Baggy Pants and I spent the next 20 minutes sitting on the side of the coastal path as she sobbed and sobbed because her eyes hurt. In-between breaths and tears she declared, ‘I don’t like sand Mummy! It’s horrible! I want to go home!’ I patted her and cuddled her and encouraged her to cry as much as she could – which she did with wailing abandon. I wanted the sand to wash out of her eyes and I figured that the fastest way to do that was for her to cry. Eventually, she decided that she could move but only if she kept one eye closed at all times (it still hurt). So we navigated our way down to the beach to find Daddy Pants and Dog who had gone on ahead. This sounds like they’d abandoned us but I’d sent them on as Dog was hot and needed a swim.
Pobbles Bay was pretty busy but in a Welsh Sort Of Way. What that means is that although it was busy, it wasn’t nearly as busy as it would have been had we been in Cornwall. Cornwall is, of course, beautiful but relentless in my experience and during a hot summer’s day, you can’t move for deckchairs and ice cream vans. I’m probably going to the wrong places and someone hopefully will put me right here as I’d love to explore it further. Pobbles Bay was busy enough but not so busy we couldn’t find a more-or-less empty cove to settle ourselves down in.
I very smugly popped open the beach tent that I had bought a few days earlier. A few deeply impressed (or so I believed) faces watched as it opened with ridiculous ease. 4 large stones secured it in place. As it turned out we didn’t use it one bit – except to store all our clothes in – as we spent the whole afternoon in the water. Dog was in seventh heaven rolling in the sand and then galloping in the water to clean the sand off. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.
Baggy Pants – who had now got over her sand blinding – spent a good deal of her time digging trenches and making huge piles for castles. Or was that Daddy Pants? I can’t quite remember. I read my book and began the process of gradual relaxation. I am appalling at relaxing. I sit down for about 5 minutes and then I get up again like I’ve got bees in my pants and walk around looking for something to do. I did actually manage to lie still for almost a full 20 minutes before I went off for a swim. Dog accompanied me into the water and we swam happily together through the surf whilst he barked excitedly.
Whilst lying on the beach a little while later Daddy Pants proceeded to perform one of the most athletic things I’ve seen him do in 10 years. Dog was lying next to me half asleep in the sand when he suddenly leapt to his feet and broke into a full out gallop towards another black Labrador. Dog said, You are mine and I’m going leap on you and maybe bite you and most definitely stand on you until you are sorry that you smelled that way around me!
Daddy Pants sprung like a coiled cobra and rugby tackled Dog to the ground as he was in mid-leap. They rolled into a furry, sandy heap and both looked somewhat winded. The family of the black Labrador looked on in slack-jawed horror and scuttled away hastily. ‘What the hell was Dog doing?!’ I asked.
‘He was about to leap on that other dog. I was watching him and he had a look in his eye,’ panted DP as he brushed the sand off himself.
‘Why that dog?’ I asked Dog. He looked at his pityingly as if to say, You wouldn’t understand, Human. And went back to sleep apparently not understanding what all the fuss was about.
The rest of the afternoon passed in blissful paddling, reading, castle building and cloud watching. Happily, there was no more dog wrestling. When we did eventually walk back to the car we told each other stories and poems to make the walk go more smoothly for the suddenly very tired child who ‘can’t possibly walk anymore ever ever ever!’ She could and she did.
In the next post, I will tell you all about the bungalow and finding our favourite secret beach.
If you’ve got any tips on how you help your children to keep on walking when they are getting bored and tired then please do share them in the comments below!