Woohoo, we've been on holiday for the last week! In fact it's the longest time we've been away since our honeymoon almost exactly four years ago now. Somewhat intentionally, we avoid going to places just because we went there when we were single and enjoyed them, but Katy found us a nice and fair-priced little self-catering apartment in Pembrokeshire, where I last went in 2001 (fulfilling the "single and enjoyed" anti-criteria) and Katy merely has it on good authority that she went when she was very little.
So anyway, a week ago on Saturday we drove out to Neyland, just across the Cleddau Estuary from Pembroke and east of Milford Haven. Our first-floor apartment was pretty much as we would have hoped, and apart from a rather tiny television, was well equipped. But the television really was no big handicap when we had the "big TV" next to it, namely the French windows and balcony overlooking Neyland's busy and pretty marina. We were a bit more out on a limb than we'd realised, but quickly found a five-minute footpath short cut into town – though "town" really constituted a useful Co-op and a couple of unexciting takeaways. Walking out the other way, we immediately found ourselves on the seemingly ubiquitous cycle route number 4, leading to Haverfordwest and beyond.
Pleasant though the marina was, the coastline immediately around Neyland wasn't amazingly "wow" by Pembrokeshire standards, but during the week we enjoyed walks out in both directions, plus one across the nearby Cleddau Bridge into Pembroke Dock. Far more idyllic was the coast round Martin's Haven (near Marloes), St David's and Manorbier, where we (unsurprisingly) spent three of our days. A lot of the coastline is still off-limits thanks to artillery ranges and the like, but there was still plenty that was accessible, even if we had to re-arrange our plans on the fly once or twice due to red flags and/or razor-wire!
The highlights of the week probably had to be our boat trips. We'd hoped to go on one starting from the marina where we were staying, but they were somewhat vague there, really not at all certain when the next trip would be running or which of the handful of trips on offer it might be. We got bored waiting on the off-chance, and in the meantime stumbled on an excellent (and cheap!) trip round Skomer and took a more expensive but quite exhilarating RIB trip round Ramsey Island, as I had done seven years previously. Round Skomer, the big highlight was the huge colony of puffins, whereas Ramsey was better for its seals. The waters around the islands were home to lots of other marine life (guillemots, razorbills, gannets, fulmars, porpoise...), most of it well used to and unfazed by the frequent tourist boats.
Being self-catering, we had a good mix of our own curries and so on, augmented with a few nice meals out. The marina's own restaurant came with the recommendations of our letting agents, but turned out to be rather overpriced for what it was, and we had our "main" meal out at a waterfront pub we'd earlier stopped at for a coffee while out on our Thursday walk. The café at the marina proved good though, and amongst other snacks was the perfect place to fuel ourselves up for the drive home.
Speaking of driving, yes we had to do quite a lot, and hardly economically. It was easy to underestimate the distances involved, and with all the twists, turns, ups and downs, fifth gear was a rarity! Thankfully not all the petrol was ludicrously expensive (relatively speaking, at least) and we were able to fill up for our return journey at "only" 115.9 pence a litre, which turned out to be the cheapest we saw all the way home. Of course, in the heart of oil refinery country one might expect fuel to be at its cheapest, but it doesn't always work out that way!
And the question everyone seems to be asking: did we manage to switch off for the week, in all senses of the word? Thankfully, yes! I had warned my clients I would be away and not able to do any work for them, and they honoured that. I took my laptop "just in case", and confirmed that there was affordable wireless access at the marina if absolutely necessary, but we survived the week without the distractions of email, Facebook or anything else more technological than Ceefax. So all in all, it was just what the doctor might have ordered!