I rose extremely early,
aware that we had a busy but pleasurably different day ahead. I checked on the batch of chevre I’d made, which was draining nicely & set to work giving the house a quick but thorough clean after walking the dog. Then I packed my briefcase for Welsh class, hastily completing the homework before setting off.
As usual the lesson was great fun; & I found that my conviciton that I’d been right to retake the year was again reinforced as new words, phrases & even ways of saying things, were introduced: I’m sure I’d have found it far too confusing to have attempted to plough on with Year Two – & it’s more fun, learning with my friend Boo anyway. Rather than the customary post-class coffee shop chat however, I had to hurry home as Michelle & Neil were bringing the children over to stay for a couple of days, & I couldn’t wait to see our dear friends again.
They’d just arrived, & were making a cup of coffee as Tony was finishing up on the ffarmyard. He soon appeared but minus the milk churn, so I asked him where the morning milk was? “In the goats”, he replied. “So you haven’t milked them this morning?” I asked, baffled. “Oh yes, but I fed it straight back to them; I didn’t think you needed any.” he responded; much to my horror, as we’d just about run out of the ‘white’ stuff in the house. The jug in the fridge was almost empty: I’d been using everything to make batches of cheese & ice cream. Oops!
Well, as we couldn’t get a decent, milky coffee in the house until the girls had refilled their udders on the lush pasture of Parc Dyffryn we decided to head over to Tresaith for a spot of lunch & an afternoon on the beach with the children. It wasn’t exactly perfect ‘beach weather’, being somewhat overcast; but the children were of an age that they really didn’t mind – just gonig to the beach is excitement enough. So we all squeezed into our friends’ capacious people carrier (with me consigned to the boot – I know my place!) & headed with hungry anticipation to the Ship Inn, one of our favourite hostelries in the local area.
Little Lucas had specified he wanted to go somewhere with a childrens’ playground & we normally go to the Nag’s Head at Abercych: a truly excellent pub with traditional surroundings, great food, a riverside setting, wonderful ambience & – all importantly for Lucas – a playground. Unfortunately however it is closed on a Monday so I’d spent much of the previous evening desperately trying to locate an alternative venue with said childrens’ entertainment, to no avail. So does anyone know of another pub in the Newcastle Emlyn/Pembrokeshire/Cardiganshire/Aberaeron area, which has such facilities? It’d be very useful information indeed!
We were surprised to find that Tresaith was relatively quiet, despite being the English half-term holiday; it’s usually busy regardless of the greyness of the weather. However, when we pulled up in the inn’s car park we found out why: orders for lunch were already closed as the local catering company was late delivering their rations. In fact last time Michelle visited a few weeks ago, we’d called in for lunch only to be told they stopped serving at 2pm (although it wasn’t quite; but they were extremely busy & were unable to take our order in time). We are beginning to wonder what we’ve done to offend them & what the next excuse to turn us away, will be (a meteorite destroying the kitchen, perhaps?) – but seriously, I’m sure it will be ‘third time lucky’ as opposed to hungry – as we’ve had plenty of good meals there in the past; & it’s a lovely pub in a beautiful setting we will certainly persevere!
Aware we now had to ‘get our skates on’ as the children were getting fractiously ravenous we headed out to the Cliff Hotel at Gwbert, which at least provides food throughout & has plenty of outside space for the children to run around as well as a stunning vista across the whole of Cardigan Bay.
Even on a sunless day the coastline takes on its own moody aspect, the dark cliffs brooding against the steel-grey swell of the sea, breakers eruping like lace fireworks against the rocky bulk of Cardigan Island as seabirds shriek their cacophanic chorus overhead.
We had a pleasant, leisurely meal in the conservatory bar before muffling ourselves against the bracing breeze & going for a brisk walk along the great golden spit of Poppit Sands across the other side of the Bay, a place we’d never been before. We scrambled among the rocks at the edge of the beach, searching for shells to put in little Erin’s bucket. I found a prettily-marked Peppery Furrow Shell with fawn & cream banding, & the small but perfectly-preserved carapace of a young Shore Crab, both of which were added as decoration to the turrets of Lucas’s sandcastles along with a myriad of purple-blue mussel shells, pearlescent oysters & the complex brown-furrowed beauty of toothed topshells.
I showed Lucas different species of seaweed, & told him of my mother’s tale from when she lived on the Cornish Coast as a girl; how she’d found an injured brown seal pup, but knew to treat its’ wounds with the gentle application of bladderwrack – the only thing to hand – as the iodine in the dark brown blisters cleans & heals. Thankfully Mum finally received her birthday flowers, today; but she also had the unpleasant news that the medical services have opted to formally register her, as blind: a crushing blow as she was ever-hopeful that she may yet somehow regain her sight. How tragic, that those eyes which have witnessed so many marvels, may never see another sunset nor view another vista: but at least with a lifetime’s rich memory she has the comfort of sunshine, showers & snow in dreams unhindered by age & as fresh as the new day.
Strolling along the softly-shifting sands with husband & friends, I was delighted to discover undisturbed patches of sea sandwort & chamomile up towards the dunes, each visit to every different beach revealing its own secrets. And it is thrilling that even such popular coastal destinations can still hold wild treasures in abundance.
We wound our way back along the pretty, narrow lanes that skirt Cardigan’s estuary, & headed homewards to get some milk for a much-needed, warming cup of tea. Tony went out to do the chores accompanied by Neil & faithful assistant Lucas, as Michelle & I set to work to prepare the evening meal & put the children to bed. We enjoyed a relaxing evening in front of the cheery glow from the Rayburn, with a long, leisurely supper in the dining room topped off with some excellent cheeses & a fine bottle of vintage port.
For us, it really felt like the weekend: days here come & go with no particular punctuation; animals require feed & care whether it’s a Wednesday morning or a Sunday evening. So to enjoy a little snatch of leisure time with our friends, is a rare & particular pleasure. And when those friends are such special people, it makes life feel doubly rich.