Tuesday : This is Aberaeron. I don't know why I like it so much, but I suspect it's a place where prayer is valid AND for us it's connected with the holiday when Paul proposed to Penny, which I remember as a beautiful sunny family holiday. Anyway that was our Tuesday expedition, west over the hills, through Lampeter and down the Aeron valley to the coast. We parked on a headland south of the town, and while Jane and Jess walked, I sat and enjoyed the seascape. I think it was porpoises we saw (though my cheap binoculars weren't much help). It might have been a whale! No, it wasn't it was a basking shark. I'm sure; they weren't leaping, but the dorsal fin appeared above the shadow now and then. Wow! That is awesome. (Just seen them on 'Springwatch'.) After lunch we drove into town and parked in the shade and went walkabout, ending up by the harbour surrounded by its painted houses (see picture). The observant may notice I have a sweater on my knees: this is not in case it gets cold but to protect them from the sun. A wise precaution, though sadly they hardly betray signs of having seen any sun now. Vanity of vanities.
Wednesday : We headed south, again for the seaside. Sadly, I missed the turn and so sent Jane through the former mining villages behind Llanelli. It wasn't exactly the scenic route, but a bit of history. However we eventually reached Pembury, our destination. Long-term blog-readers may realise that this time I was able to join Jane and Jess on their walk through Pembury Forest, thanks to the wonderful Beamer Tramper which you can prebook and borrow (free) from the visitors' centre. The Tramper is the Land Rover of disabled buggies, which is just as well, since we managed to wander into rutted forest tracks. Half way we had our lunch in the sun by a track passed by joggers, mountain bikers, a dog-walker, and some horse riders. We ended up at the beach, which is vast and sandy, but were too mean to have an ice cream (£1.50 a go). No doubt at weekends and in holidays it's crowded, as there are 8 tarmaced car parks, plus spare grass ones.
Thursday : The forecast said the wall-to-wall sunshine was going to break, and so we'd planned to go somewhere where we could leave Jess in a shaded car park without her being roasted, viz. the National Botanical Gardens. Earlier in the year than our last visit, so different flowers were out, like the bottle brush trees in the Norman Foster glasshouse. It's a great place for disabled access, and also for fluffy birds like Romeo the robin with their authentic calls. I and another bloke had great fun in the gift shop, prodding them all and trying out all the calls. We must have sent the assistants spare. We had our meal out for the week in the outdoor café - which reminded me of France - formidable. And as you can see, the sun still shone.
Friday : Well, the weather did begin to break today and from that point of view I made the wrong choice in heading north rather towards the coast again. However it didn't rain, much, except when we were having lunch in the car. We hadn't taken waterproofs with us; so it looked as if Jane would get soaked walking the dog. However we were in the woods near Beulah just north of the home of bog-snorkelling and Jane bravely reckoned that the trees would provide some shelter and off she strode into the wilderness. On this occasion the sun shone on the righteous, and after an exhilarating climb through the forest she returned. As a reward I treated her to coffee and cake in the Coed Tallwm Forest Centre in whose car park we had parked. As you can see, it has disabled access and facilities as well as a warm welcome from the host who also owns the surrounding woodland. It's an undiscovered treasure, which deserves to be better known (OS878542; http://www.forestcottages.co.uk/cafe.php). On our way back via Abergeswyn we saw a blue haze on the hillsides, which turned out to be masses of bluebells among the bracken shoots - amazing. And so back to the cottage and our last session of 'Poldark', which we'd begun to watch. Thanks, Ruth and Anthony, for the loan. As well as the romance and Cornish scenery, it's a tale of vicious commercial rivalry, which made me wonder whether the business world is still as unpleasant as that. Maybe 'The Apprentice' confirms that it is.
It really rained on Saturday, but not before Jane had packed the car. And so ended a thoroughly good holiday. Thanks, Jane, for taking me to lovely places. Thank you, God, for amazing scenery and great weather (this year). I really appreciated it.