Sun, Sea, Sand &…

Caldey Island!

Yes, Debbie and I have been visiting beautiful Tenby on the Pembrokeshire coast over the last couple of days.  It’s only a 90 minute drive from Llanfoist along very good, largely dual carriageway roads.

We’d meant to visit back in February but had to cancel and the last minute when we had the leak in our roof and lost our non-refundable booking.  We were so disappointed that I’d booked a room again in the Premier Inn in April to make amends. Never mind the weather that we might encounter we were looking forward to enjoying our return again to the beautiful harbour and the network of shops and restaurants.

After leaving about noon on Monday afternoon, leaving James behind to look after the dogs, we arrived just after 1.30pm at the car park just behind the hotel and using the RingGo app on my phone paid for 24 hours parking.  This is quite a handy app as it stops you having to find £8 in change and you can remotely extend your stay by phone if needed.

The staff at the hotel gave us the keys to room 209 a little earlier than the advertised 2pm earliest checkin time which was great, as was the condition of the room itself on the second floor.  The position of the hotel is fantastic too, literally just next to one of our favourite roads leading into the walled old town and the room cost was only £50 for the night.

Feeling pretty hungry we made our way to our favourite Fecci’s fish and chip shop where we sat down in the restaurant area & I had a large cod, chips and curry sauce while Debs took advantage of the healthy cod in very thin batter with mushy peas – delicious!

They even had coeliac friendly batter too which I thought was amazing for a fish & chip shop!

Feeling full we then headed towards the harbour, passing by our favourite ice cream parlour also owned by Fecci’s, part of that famous tradition of Italian immigrant families into Wales.  We used to frequent it a when the kids were little, as did Debbie with her parents, but there was no way we could eat anything more for a few hours at least sadly.

Then onto our favourite Castle beach where we spied a boat arriving from Caldey Island at the tractor pulled mobile pier.  I got quite excited as this was too good an opportunity to miss and we were told that we could visit the island, but that we’d only have an hour there to explore which we were happy to accept.  Especially when the owner discounted £4 off the normal £24 return fare for the two of us!

We were the only two passengers on board this fairly large boat going out and after moving around taking photos as we left Tenby we went to the prow as we approached the island like a scene from “Titanic“, only obviously Debbie is far better looking than Kate Winslet & we didn’t sink!

St. Catherine’s Island
St. Catherine’s Fort
Approaching the island…
Very close now!

We arrived safely on the slipway with the skipper and his crew mate showing expertise that I could only dream about when I’d been captaining our Sealine Senator motor cruiser “Nutbrown”!  Ah well…

Heading up to the monastery I learnt a lesson from the sharp end of a rusty anchor before spotting an old army amphibious troop carrier that looked like a more modern version of the WW2 DUKW parked up.  I’m not sure why the tide that day had made its use unwarranted but I do remember in a previous visit with the family it being needed at an exceptional low tide.

Unfortunately my PI recognition skills were as rusty as the preceding anchor!

Eventually we came up to the sign at the entrance to the start of the monastery complex and I think Debbie would agree that we did find the visit gave us peace & happiness as we reminisced about previous visits with our children and parents.

The island post office is to the lower right

We climbed the road to the right of the post office leading up to the lighthouse but diverted to the right to explore the old priory where on a previous visit we’d lit some candles to remember loved ones who had passed on.  Alas this time we couldn’t find the chapel or at least it wasn’t open so we left this to the following day today in Tenby’s main church St. Mary’s.

Glancing at our watches our hour was nearly up so we headed back to the harbour and saw a smaller, more typical ferry boat approaching.  The wind and cold was really biting by now but we’d really enjoyed this short visit and vowed not to make it so long before our next return.

Safely on the penultimate boat back to Tenby

What we didn’t know then though was things were about to go downhill with the weather and Debbie unwisely made the comment “well it may be cold but at least we won’t get soaked like the time we crossed by ferry to Rock from Padstow “…  Oh dear was she soon shortly to be proved wrong!

The couple to our left helped us shelter against the wind and rain later on in the crossing

`Just before the next photo was taken as the rain subsided I’d handed back a loaned umbrella from a family that delighted in taking pictures of us and other poor lost souls in the back of the boat that got drenched!  It was a lot of fun though there really is such a thing as the Blitz British bulldog spirit still in 2017 IMHO.

“Grin and bear it” as my old dad used to say!

Feeling rather cold and damp we made our way back from the harbour where the ferry docked to the delightfully warm Hope and Anchor pub to dry off with a warming glass of white wine.  It’s the pub where Debbie’s father loved to frequent on holiday and looked as if it had been enlarged and modernised since our last visit.

Feeling somewhat refreshed we made our way back to the hotel for some camomile tea, a shower and a change before heading off for our evening meal at the The Bay Tree restaurant where I had asked for a quiet spot to enjoy the meal with Debbie.  Quiet it seemed to begin with and our mixture of warmed breads with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip them went down a treat.  Before long the main course of  T bone steak with buttered new potatoes for me and balsamic chicken fillet with mixed veg for Debs arrived which were delicious.

Peace and tranquility was somewhat disrupted however halfway through all this protein by about twenty smart young men arriving, all wearing shorts & standing round a large rectangular table next to us and making rather loud toasts to the new and president!

To be honest it was quite funny watching them and we didn’t mind the disruption which the waitress apologised for after we paid the bill and left a decent tip, apparently it was the local Round Table club which speaking as a fifty-something year old is obviously ageist. 🙂

A final nightcap at the Lifeboat Tavern finished the evening off well and is where the skipper of our first boat to Caldey remembered us both and said he was glad we hadn’t missed the last boat.  I asked if anyone ever get marooned and he laughed saying “only deliberately, but they’re not put up by the monks and have to pay to be rescued”.  Which i guess serves them right!

My own personal (life) rescuer!

After a good night’s sleep we checked out from the hotel both agreeing we’d stay there again and dropped our bags off at the car before walking over to the newly refurbished Seaview restaurant for breakfast.  The wind was bitingly cold and after our omelette for SWMBO and my full english washed down with lemon and ginger tea we headed back to the car for our hats and gloves.

A quick stroll down north beach and up to the harbour was rewarded by a tub of cockles for the seafood kiosk and looking longingly at the freshly boiled crab we made our way around the Castle hill memorial and to the new RNLI lifeboat station where we bought a couple of lightweight rainproof anoraks for summer.

Back finally at the car we departed Tenby stopping briefly at Saundersfoot only to realise that the former just has so much more to offer before heading back home.  Not wanting to get back too early we headed off the A465 and headed for signs heralding “waterfalls” where we ended up in a remote carpark with a sudden hailstorm almost hiding a sign pointing out  that it was a six mile arduous walk to see the advertised attraction.

It looked great but for another day and we headed off home almost forcing a racing 4×4 driver off the road who was approaching us too fast from the opposite direction, but all’s well that ends well and we arrived back home safely and very happy!

Sun, Sea, Sand &…

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