Saturday, 21 July 2012

How We Came to be in Wales (7) - "It's like being on holiday all the time"

 Ferryside seen from Llansteffan. . .

Years ago I met someone who had moved to Devon from London and she said to me she was still pinching herself and hoping she didn't wake up as "it's just like being on holiday all the time." I think I can fairly say that about living here.  I was reminded of it this morning as on our way back from the car boot sale we had visited (laden with bargains), I suggested to my OH that we dropped down into Ferryside, and got the papers there, and I fancied a stroll along the beach . . .

I got my stroll and relaxed completely and utterly.  I just wandered quietly up the beach, watching the tide quickly receding, leaving tangled rolags of seaweed stumps and fronds mixed with binder twine, dead crabs, large feathers and plastic bottles.  Beyond Scotts Bay, I could see the deserted strip of beach which borders the MoD land at Pendine, and beyond that, misty in the early morning heat haze, Caldy Island, with the white monastery  of the Cistercian monks gleaming in the sunlight.

I looked at Llansteffan Castle, guarding the entrance to the River Towy as it has done for hundreds of years.  As I can't find my photos from Ferryside, this one taken inside Llansteffan castle will have to suffice.

The little village of Llansteffan seeps right down to the edge of the estuary, with its pastel colour-washed cottages, church and a huge white mansion overlooking it all.  HERE is a link to tell you some of its history.  I like to imagine it in its holiday heyday, as once the railway reached the village in Victorian times, it became a magnet for holidaymakers from the Welsh coalmining valleys during "miners' fortnight" and every spare room in the village was divided and divided again with old sheets or blankets to make up small rooms with put-you-up beds and a "po" in the corner.

It is our nearest "seaside" and is where our children grew up playing in its sands, scrambling up to see what was in the rock pools, and exploring the castle.  We have so many happy memories of Llansteffan, as have most of our neighbours and we often saw people we knew from school or our vicinity.  Oh gosh, if I had a pound for every time we'd climbed up from the beach to the castle, I'd be a rich woman now.

Pembrey, just along the coast, and now a country park, boasts much better beaches - you can walk for miles along the sandy coastline there, and the beaches boast Blue Flag status.  Here our children played for ours in the play area, explored the sandy forest trails through the pine trees, built sand-castles and paddled in the sea, collected bucketfuls of shells and had to be persuaded that gently-stinking dead crabs were better left on the beach . . .

And of course, there's Pendine, further West along the coast, and approached through Laugharne, the village made famous by Dylan Thomas.  Pendine made famous by Parry-Thomas's fatal land speed record attempt back in 1927.  There is now a small (and extremely atmospheric) Museum of Speed where Babs (once buried at Pendine) is now restored and on display.

It has been perhaps our favourite place for a seaside outing over the years, and as you can see from the above photo, even grown-up smalls still love it there (daughter T with her father).


  1. What a beautiful place to have so near at hand, especially when the children were small. Are you SURE you want to cross the bridge back to England when the house sells? It would be hard to beat your lovely part of Wales....

  2. So beautiful.
    You are indeed lucky to live there.

    I miss the ocean so much now that I am back living in the Sonoran Desert. Where I was raised and love very much but the pull of the ocean is very strong.

    cheers, parsnip

  3. I read somewhere the other day that the overwhelming percentage of people say they would chose to live at the seaside if they could. I have always fancied living there too - you certainly are lucky.

  4. Oh I agree with DW .... dont leave ....

    My introduction to Wales was Port Talbot with the chimneys and smoke (still incredible to see at night though) and a dark terraced house - but within the first two years I discovered what was just on our doorstep - I wouldnt move away now - Id move house - but not back to Scotland even thought East Lothian is just beautiful. Fi x

  5. I wish we were close to the sea. Are you really moving back to England?

  6. Each post as alluring as the last...

    Your beautiful images woven amid the names of the towns and castles of Wales lends magic all the more to your tale.

    And the sea. Always the sea. She beckons, soothing. Comfort and clarity found always at her shores. Any sea, anywhere. She is constant amid the confusion of man.

    Tis the one thing the farm lacks (confirming the concept one can not 'have everything' lol) Tho her running fields and woodlands trees speak a soothing ancient dialect much akin to the language of the sea. Still, the sea is unequaled....

    I dread even now the day you series (here) is done - but then we'll have the keen hope of travelling along on your new journey to the West Contry and hear all of how that grew to be your dream!
    (deams & fate are crafted from such ~ hearts that are ever changing, ever seeking)!


  7. All - the West Country is calling me, loud and clear, and the minute I get across the Severn bridge and start driving towards Devon it is a clarion call! I could go into more detail but you would think I was completely and utterly BATTY, if not a case for the men in white coats!! It just feels like home in a way, sadly, Wales never has to me. I think in a way, we had a lot of things "go wrong" here and that is part of the not-settling problem. There are a lot of things I shall miss, but they do have their equivalents back in England.

  8. You know I share your sentiments about the west country. Where you are does look incredibly beautiful though. Whenever I leave Dartmoor I feel tense and out of my comfort zone. As we drive back and see the moors from the A30, I breathe a sigh of relief. I do hope you make it back here!

  9. Crossing the bridge, that came back to me, an expression used by one of the people at the Cambrian Inn. I love crossing the Severn Estuary, it is just like entering another country. Maybe we will move to Solva Jennie it all depends on other factors, but what I do love about Pembrokeshire is its depth of history and how green and quiet it all is, and you just can't beat the views of the sea, especially as you breast the hill at Newgale and look at the long beach with the glittering sea and the cliffs sweeping down, the beach sadly is too windy though ;)