One of the family holiday traditions which I appear to have inherited by some kind of Osmosis is the arrival and departure ‘greeting’ ritual. Let me explain…..Every year from the year Dot I can remember our endless family drives form land-locked central England to the glorious beaches of Wales. (These were frequently made all the more stressful by the fact that I was violently car-sick before we even reached the outskirts of the city. Nice. …But I digress……) As we approached the coast, it was a family tradition to compete to be the first to shout “I can see the sea!” in a sing-song fashion. I have no idea why, but I found myself doing this when we arrived in Pembrokeshire 2 weeks ago. My kids respectfully and politely joined in.
The arrival in this glorious place was not a disappointment. Wales greeted us with sunshine (rare and gratifying) and has continued to supply us with ever-lasting memories for the last 14 days.
This has been an unforgettable, traditional holiday in many respects. We have visited places I remember as a child. With 3 boys to entertain (between the ages of 4 and 17) it’s not easy to find a universal winner, but I must confess that Pembrokeshire has it all in spades.
The coastal path which runs for over 180 miles along the rugged ups and downs of Pembrokeshire is owned by the National Trust and is one of the UK’s best reasons I can think of for getting out of the car and walking. It is somewhere close to heaven, peppered with coves and beaches to explore, and, despite my concerns over our calamity-prone 4-year-old, it is very family friendly.
Like all good British family holidays, there was beach cricket, frisbee, ice-creams and crabbing. This latter pass time became a trusty favourite whether by twilight on the harbour-front at Solva, or in the rock-pools at Marloes Sands. Watching our 4-year-old catch his first victim was a memory to treasure (even if he did scream a lot!) There was sand-castle making and burying-kids-alive-in-the-sand to fill the gaps between packed lunches and paddling.
Sea fishing off St. Ann’s Head near Dale provided us with enough mackerel to BBQ for a week, and the boys were puffed up with pride when they presented me with their pay-load. Our final day, amidst all the adventure, was full of animal calm. A trip to the Shire Horse Farm near Cardigan proved a real hit with all our boys, mainly due to the presence of a litter of tiny kitties, nursing with their mum. Awwwwww.
Galleries and pubs provided us with belly fillers and creative distraction between beach-hops….none more beautiful or memorable than the spectacular Broadhaven South. I hesitate to write about her (for she is indeed a lady) for fear of increasing her popularity or notoriety. She is a treasure in the portfolio of Pembrokeshire’s coast and must be treated with the greatest secrecy and respect. I have travelled far, but this is surely one of the greatest beaches in the western world, and I consider her my own.
This morning it is time for the ritual farewell. This is a simple matter – we simply say goodbye to each and every place we have visited on our hols, as we pass them on our exit route. “Goodbye house, goodbye coastal path, goodbye beach…” You get the picture. Before they know it, I shall have my kids singing it to my grandkids and wondering how the heck that happened…..