Kiri and


Who needs Greek sun anyway?

July 13th, 2021 (by Steve)

Roof box back on the car? Tick. Box of cakes on the back seat of the car between the kids? Tick. Railway Children audiobook on CD in? Tick. Hitting traffic on the M5? Tick. All of us at various stages of a cold? Tick. Yep, you guessed it, our destination wasn’t Greece. We crawled with other holiday traffic towards the Gower, powered first by enthusiasm, then by chocolate buttons and diet coke (FIVE POUNDS at a service station!!!) – the chocolate buttons rationed – one every 15 minutes. That is every satnav 15 minutes it counted down rather than real 15 minutes. But it was worth it; we arrived at our campsite to find our tent already pitched and our tea already on the go. Within 15 minutes I was so laid back I fell off my camping chair onto my mother in law’s lap!

After a monumental negotiation with Dionysus in Zakynthos and Stavros at Easyjet (well, likely one of his staff) by my Father in Law, our big family holiday had been postponed until 2022 and instead we all descended on a campsite in South Wales, right by the sea. And it was definitely sea spray, not rain that was falling on us that first evening as we struggled to get the kids to sleep. Definitely. At 9:30 our kids were still awake, although even I was baffled as to what the right answer was when Kiri finally said to them “I don’t want to hear another word from you – do you understand?”. That, my friend is called a catch 22 situation!

Now our campsite had a quiet policy between 11pm and 9am which we thought might be a bit of a challenge based on our previous camping experiences… but that was 2 summers ago, so surely it would be better now? 5am. I’ll repeat that. 5am. At which point a grandparent suddenly appeared and whisked our eldest off into the motorhome, giving us a lie in until a more respectable 6:30. By then there was a steady stream of surfer traffic to the car park next to our tent, so it seemed reasonable to be awake then.

Over a cooked breakfast it was decided that as the beach and sea would feature greatly in this holiday, it might be good to get some wetsuits, but there weren’t any at the campsite shop. Time to ask one of the surf schools which had a hut in the car park. Hmmm, fishy – they apparently have a local agreement that none of them would sell or hire wetsuits – sounds like there’s some kind of back story there. They did recommend a shop in the nearest village which sounded promising though. We looked them up online (I’m still amazed that I can access the internet from a tent!) and reviews described them as a “friendly shop with friendly prices”. I think the reviewer might have a different definition of “friendly” to us – we popped in, then quickly popped out again deciding that £150 for a wetsuit was probably catering for a different market to us. Back at the campsite the tarpaulin and duck tape were looking like a good option…

The morning passed – a few of us snoozed at the campsite and few did bodyboarding and found starfish on the beach, before returning for a Welsh cake, then lunch, during which both of our children fell of their camping chairs. Just Kiri to go, and we’ve got a full house! And then plans for the afternoon. An exciting-looking hill; wild grassland, peppered with boulders, loomed over the campsite with Rhosilli the other side and most decided to climb it. I was in two minds, as I would have loved to have explored, but equally my cold was in full swing. I eventually chose to stay at camp and just sit. Sometimes I sit and think and sometimes I just sit. Actually, these days I rarely do either, so this was to be a treat of an afternoon.

The stillness was shattered. My nephew burst into camp – “Kiri fell and is hurt and her leg might be broken” – followed by my eldest. “I got stung by stinging nettles”. Thinking that this was a bit of a joke I didn’t respond particularly quickly until my sister in law arrived carrying our youngest and said “Kiri is actually hurt and there’s an ambulance on the way”. I switched into St Bernard mode, grabbing a blanket, paracetamol and a protein bar and set off at pace up the hill. Too fast. I stopped to admire the view and catch my breath. I set off again, this time pacing myself, until I found a sheepish Kiri, applying pressure to, and elevating her leg, whilst leaning on her Dad. Her sister had provided a lovely white top which was acting as a tourniquet / stemming the bleeding and I stepped in / lay down to provide extra elevation.

We kept Kiri chipper for half an hour until the paramedic arrived – watching the flashing blue lights coming down the valley (you’ve got to say that last sentence with a Welsh accent!), then watching him spend a lot of time at the bottom of the hill, before climbing with all his gear. When he finally arrived at our party, we let him rest then he did the standard checks. As he took my sister in law’s top off, his verdict was that the leg wasn’t broken, but the wound would need stitches, so he patched it up and we hobbled down the hill. Whilst our paramedic didn’t seem to have appreciated the hike (he’d apparently been enquiring about whether he could borrow a quad bike at the bottom of the hill), he did enjoy the view, saying that it made a change from drug dens in the city.

Our friendly paramedic agreed to drive his ambulance car to the campsite entrance so the kids could see it and we could check in with our kids (who were quite happy with their cousins, auntie, uncle and grandparents!), before heading off to the local MIU (minor injuries unit). We were initially told to go to Morristons (hadn’t realised supermarkets were diversifying!) – but local knowledge at the campsite suggested we instead went to Llanelli; just a Lidl bit further, but much quieter. Once there, only Kiri was allowed to go in due to COVID regulations, so once again I was left to just sit.
Once stitched up (4 very neat stitches, a free tetanus shot and instructions not to get it wet), we had a lovely sunset drive across the Gower peninsula to a supper of chicken mornay, wine and chocolate. 

The excitement bar had been set high early in the holiday with Kiri’s escapade, but a choice of bacon sarnies or salmon and cream cheese bagels the next morning meant it didn’t drop. And this second day was “operation beach”. The beach towel with a picture of Zakynthos gently mocked us as it accompanied us down to the beach where we had an idyllic morning of body boarding (I maintain that it is perfectly normal to body board whilst wearing a flat cap), building an immense sand castle, and creating a driftwood and pebble structure around a picnic mat. And the sun shone. So. Much. Sun. Who needs Greek sun when you have Welsh sun, eh?

We were to return to that spot on the beach a couple more times – after a fish and chip supper that evening, we headed back down to the beach to light a driftwood fire, toast marshmallows and watch the sunset. The stuff that memories are made of. And the following day when we were joined by Kiri’s brother and had expanded our tent empire, we again headed to that spot, only to find that it had turned into the barricades from Les Miserables (according to the random boy guarding it). So we just picked a spot nearby and restarted construction. The sun was still shining, but it was windier and the sea was further out, so I decided not to brave the sea; with or without a tarpaulin and duck tape covering, but others did.

We’d designated that the Monday would be Greece Day. Soon the body boards made way for cheese boards as the kids headed off to the campsite playground with grandparents and we sampled a beautiful feta – Meredith Dairy goats cheese. Yoghurty smooth with beautiful flavour… a mighty fine cheese… and newly stocked by the Fine Cheese Company. Other preparations began in earnest for the Greek feast – spanakopita was assembled and baked in the motorhome oven, lamb kebabs assembled, ouzo poured and olives out. All plans of an “egglympics” were forgotten as food became the focus. Eating, rather than playing with it! A happy place. Our toddler “helped” with the washing up, and once in bed with sodden clothes drying outside, we settled down to play cards in the fading light. Now how did I manage to get sunburned ankles?!

Our penultimate day had a slow morning, then a long conversation over how we should play the day given that we’d got lunch booked at a pub. I felt very strongly about this, and chose to share my opinion quite assertively:

The consensus was that we’d do a round walk, starting along the beach, which today had much smaller surf, but loads of jellyfish and shells along the waterline. We then proceeded to climb up through the dunes full of diverse wild flowers and walk along the cliffs (well, the littlest one was carried). And eventually we arrived at the pub. At least I think it was a pub – I haven’t been in one for such a long time.

Turns out that things have changed – we had to order our drinks and food from an app (and no, they didn’t arrive on a rollercoaster). So, we order our drinks first – a couple of our party went for a diet coke, I went for a normal coke… only there wasn’t a normal coke on the menu – just “coke none”, so that was selected. Turns out it’s likely that it just meant “no coke” as all of the other drinks arrived, but that one didn’t, but fortunately a human rectified the situation. And then onto the food. As with previous times we’ve eaten out since having kids, I played it strategically; realistically I’d be finishing the kids’ food, so I ordered a “vegan Buddha bowl” – a fancy salad. And then the food arrived… but the three of us who ordered Buddha bowls didn’t get them… but there were 3 random bowls of cheesy chips that had no owners? Gotta love technology. It’ll never catch on!

After a very tasty lunch of cheesy chips with a little bit of everyone else’s food (peas, steak, pizza, tartar sauce…) we had a lovely wander back to the campsite through some woodland, past a babbling brook and a field of native Welsh alpacas. Some (mainly the children) still had room for an icecream to cool themselves down, whilst the rest just appreciated the shade of the gazebo. Rumours of Wales being a drizzly nation are definitely over-hyped! We each did our own thing for the rest of the afternoon – some headed off to swim, others to play – I had a lie down; extremely thankful for the extra adults whose presence enabled my rest. I woke to tales of “nappy-off” time around our campsite pitch from our toddler, who suddenly went from hyper mode to zero in the course of about 5 minutes – I got his nappy and pyjamas on and got him lying down in his bed whilst I turned around to zip up the tent and when I turned back, I was greeted by snoring! Before long, most of the kids were asleep and we settled down for a final game of canasta whilst watching the sunset.

Our final morning started at a very reasonable 6:30am and was fueled by a decadent salmbled egg roll (scrambled eggs with mushrooms and smoked salmon). I thought it should be salmumbled eggs, as mumbled eggs are scrambled eggs with mushrooms, but I was wrong and actually, I’ve had less experience with these things. Packing the car was as one might expect with two wee ones – we caught the smallest one “keying” the paint on the side of our car with sea shells and the other one was overheard saying “but can’t we take just one dead animal home with us?”. And then the other roof box strut snapped!

All this considered, we made it off the campsite soon after 9 and once we were on the faster roads, our little one drifted off to sleep, then the other one, then as our car has auto drive, we did too… oh, wait, our 15 year old Toyota didn’t have that fitted as standard! We arrived home to 27 degrees and bright sunshine at which point Kiri and I said “hi” to each other, realising quite how little time we’d spent together during the week. Nay bother though, we’ve got a few days booked in Fifi in early July, similar to last summer’s adventure. Now… time to fix that roof box!

2 Responses

You seem to have had a lovely holiday with the family, but sorry to hear you all had colds and that Kiri hurt her leg. Hope it has now healed. I’m sure the children really enjoyed camping, but I expect you have come home for a rest!

Kiri’s got a lovely scar now the stitches are out, but it’s healed nicely. The kids loved the excitement of camping, but I think we all appreciated our own beds too when we got home!

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