Thursday, 30 August 2012

We Captured the Castle

‘I really don’t understand why more people aren’t in the sea!’ I exclaim happily after an exhilarating leap about in crashing waves. ‘Because,’ says Si, who with my daughter, Rose is staying with us for the holiday weekend, ‘you’d have to be NUTS to go in! It’s FREEZING!’ Ah, that would explain it then. It’s true it’s not exactly toasty on the beach or in the sea, but at least it isn’t raining… at the moment.

We’ve had lots of visitors over the last few weeks, but as the weather doesn’t seem to know that it’s the summer holidays, we’ve learned to adapt to whatever it’s throwing at us that day. For me and Tom that means a trip to the beach whenever there’s a sniff of sunshine. I’ve been trying out some daily disposable contact lenses just for swimming, rather than risk losing one of my gas permeables. Now I can brave bigger waves, which is great fun – well, I think so. My girls swam in the sea from an early age and despite a horrible incident of near-drowning in Greece, they still get on with it. I watch with pride as Rose wades in and strikes out without a girly fuss. It is a bit nippy-noodles, I admit, but it’s wonderful once you’re in!

On the day when the weather really doesn’t want to play, we head for Pembroke Castle. Lovely Rachel, from Choc Lit, has recommended it to me. It’s one of those attractions I’ve been meaning to see but have taken a bit for granted because it’s on the doorstep (ish!). Anyway, if you’re in this part of the world, Pembroke Castle makes a brilliant day out and it’s excellent value for money; the entrance fee will buy you as many turrets and battlements as you’d care to climb and you can make it as much of an educational experience as you wish. There’s a good cafĂ© too!

Bride on the battlements - on a windy, grey day! Brave girl!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Cae Hir

At Cae Hir
We’ve seen a wonderful garden on Countrywise,’ says my sister who, with her family, is staying with us. ‘It’s not far from you. Shall we go and see it?’

Although Tom and I enjoy introducing our visitors to the attractions of this lovely part of the world, those regular trips can lose some of their charm if repeated too often. It makes a real change to go somewhere new to us. It’s also interesting to see how other gardeners are dealing with the challenges of this summer; the non-stop monsoon since April – apart from a handful of dry days – has rotted our veg, turned innocent shrubs into towering triffids and the lawn into a meadow.

Cae Hir

Both Ma and my sister are passionate gardeners; Ma, who hates not being able to get outdoors, can make the saddest specimen grow. My sister’s a wonderful plantswoman who creates elegant designs. Looking at the jungle that’s our garden at the moment just brings out my impatient streak and I feel like taking a shredder to the lot.

It’s just as well than that Wil Akkerman who, some thirty years ago, had the vision to turn six acres of rough pastureland into a beautiful and very special garden was born with a lot more patience than me! 

Created, as Wil’s proud children put it, by just one man and a spade, Cae Hir is an absolute delight and I would urge you to follow the links to its website here, the Countrywise programme here (while it’s available) or, best of all, to see the garden for yourself. My lasting impression was one of a spirit of generosity about Cae Hir; it’s there in the planting, in Wil and his family who gave their time to chat and share their experience and it’s even at the tea room, where five of us shared two enormous cafetieres of good coffee for the price of two cappuccinos from most chains.

Cae Hir
As for the non-stop rain? Wil’s only complaint was that it had made mowing the lawn difficult… so I can’t use that an excuse not to tackle the garden. I suppose I’ve just got to get out there!

(Apologies for my photos which were taken on a overcast morning and really don't do justice to this lovely garden!)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Author's Corner and Bits and Pieces

Today I'm over at Choc Lit's Author's Corner blogging about the secret of success... my research shows there are no short cuts, unfortunately.

My apologies to all for being a tardy blogger and even tardier visitor.  Despite all of us doing our best to hold our nerves, the fast-approaching wedding seems to have created a frenzy of off-line activity.  I can't even begin to describe the trouble I've had looking for shoes (I have found some, thank goodness, two pairs, in fact, phew!; shiny heels for the day and some flatties - which looked very pretty in the picture but look suspiciously like slippers sprouting cabbages in real life - for evening).

The wedding's also galvanised me into attending to all those bits of essential maintenance I've been putting off too long; that niggling toothache - who wants to grimace through their daughter's wedding day?  Spare contact lenses - imagine squinting through the whole occasion!  And I've arranged long overdue appointments for all the bits of women's kit that need regular inspections - I won't go into details here, but hopefully all this vigilance will ensure I'll be in rude good health on the big day. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Don'ts and Do-ers

There must be some equation to the effect that the bigger the occasion, the worse the outbreak of bad behaviour.  I remember a few scraps at birthday parties when the girls were little and the usual round of ‘who’s going to eat what with whom’ at Christmas time, but the run-up to Lily and Russ’s wedding has certainly brought my blood close to boiling point several times.  It’s astounding how many people seem to forget that this is not about them, but a young couple marking the start of their journey together as husband and wife.  It is Their Special Day.  Surely that’s not too difficult to remember, is it?

On a happier note, I always admire the ‘can dos’, folks with a zest for life, and feel a bit sad for the ones who talk about the things they ‘used to do’.  It’s not about getting older - Ma’s a good example of someone whose lively curiosity is undimmed by age and infirmity - but about seeing opportunities rather than the lack of them.  So it was a lovely surprise when we got a call from some old friends who were up at Aberystwyth having travelled up from Fareham.  By boat. On their second circumnavigation of Britain! 

We invited them to spend a few nights on dry land with us and had a splendid time listening to their stories of crossing the Thames Estuary, dressing the ship in Poundland bunting for Jubilee celebrations at Wells and discovering the wonders of Hull.  At a time when one or two whingers have got me down it was lovely to share good times in the company of friends who know how to make them.

ePainting is Bedroom Window View, by Tom Tomos.