Easter in Wales with Waves and Tails

Tip – don’t drive to Wales from London with everyone else for Easter. Our journey of 5.5 hours on Thursday night before Good Friday should have been 4 hours. But it could have been worse. Other people joining us from Brighton started driving Friday morning at 7am and decided to turn around at 3pm because the GPS indicated up to 4 more hours travel versus a 2 hour journey home to Brighton. Crazy!

For me it was a great opportunity to chat with Bernice who I hadn’t met before and was kind enough to give me a lift from London. Bernice and I have a mutual friend Wendy who was getting to Wales from Brighton. Wendy is my South African friend who I went surfing with in South Africa in 2014.

We arrived after midnight so after a quick reunion it was time for sleep!

Good Friday… and that it was

I could feel myself finally relaxing. The thought of 4 days holiday ahead helped me unwind! A sleep in always helps too. We cooked up a communal oats breakfast and enjoyed it covered in yoghurt and fruit. Even coffee seemed to taste more delicious this morning. Probably because we had time to enjoy it without rushing off to work!

Surf Shop

Surf Shop

Today’s activity was finding a place to surf. We were really happy when we found Llangennith, a village in Gower. Our points of interest were the surf shop and the pub across the road. The sun was out and there were people enjoying a beer outside the pub called Kings Head. We went inside the surf shop and they were really friendly (there was a ‘Stacey’ accent for any Gavin and Stacey TV show fans!) and sorted us out with wetsuits, boards, boots and gloves. Cost around 28 pounds each, depending on your choice of board.

Kings Head

Kings Head

It is still chilly at the end of March in the UK, hence the need for boots and gloves. Actually let’s face it, it’s chilly all year round compared to Australia! Some people in the surf were wearing the full head gear and I fully understood why when the water hit the back of my head! But first it was time for lunch. We all recommend the Kings Head, particularly the fish and chips with mushy peas. Yum! And for my fellow animal lovers, there were so many dogs here (see THE best photo of the trip below)! Everyone knows one another, even the dogs! At one point one of the dogs started jumping up and down like a jack-in-the-box until a lady walked through the front gate and up the stairs to pat it, and she wasn’t even the owner! Like I said, great vibe.

jodie and dog at pubWe were quick to assume the beach wasn’t far away but actually it was still a couple of kilometres away. So, strapping the surfboards to the roof necessary! We had to borrow another strap from the surf shop and were soon on our way. After a short drive we arrived at an entry point to what seemed like public accommodation but apparently it’s private. There was a lady there collecting money for parking, 3 pounds to be exact. Do you think any of us had coins on us? Nope! And it was the only way of getting us closer to the beach so we could walk with the surfboards.Bernice came to the rescue and purchased a bottle of red wine and a fake egg (this comes into play later!) from the convenience store so that she could get 3 pound cash back for the parking. Legend.

Surfing time! Finally! Those wetsuits, boots and gloves were an an absolute beep to put on. But worth every part of the struggle. We paired up, stood in the middle of our two boards with one of us at the front, the other at the back and picked them up for the journey across the hilly sand-dunes. This was absolutely necessary with our long and light beginner boards combined with a strong wind coming across the beach. But we made it! And after a few practice runs on the sand on how to ‘pop up’, we were in the water!

Back to that frozen head moment. But other than that, the wetsuit, boots and gloves were doing the job! It was great fun catching the waves together. There were actually a few other surfers out in the water too. For some reason, 5 planes suddenly appeared above us and started doing acrobatics in the sky! They all flew together in perfect unison except for one of the planes that sometimes split away from the rest and made it look like it was going to collide with the others. It was all very well timed and of course part of the show. Every now and then they also made an ‘e’ with their smoke trails which we all interpreted as a symbol for Easter!

removing wetsuitsThe wetsuits were even harder to get off once they were wet. Tip – allow plenty of time to get out of the surf, across the sand-dunes and remove your wetsuit, gloves and particularly your boots! We made it just in time to drop off our surf gear at the shop and drove back to our accommodation at Llanteglos Estate in Pembrokeshire, roughly 1 hour away.

Harry, my partner had to work last night (Thursday) so was arriving at the Kilgetty bus station in the next 1-2 hours depending on traffic. It was a journey around 7 hours long by the time he arrived! We were all exhausted again so enjoyed a cheese and snack platter, fajitas, wine and an old movie until we retreated to our rooms for a peaceful sleep. No city noise out here!

Easter Saturday – Folly Farm and night out in Tenby

We all enjoyed a sleep in this morning. It was perfect in the rainy weather!

Remember the fake egg? Well we put it to good use during breakfast by throwing it at Harry. He moved quickly to catch it and seemed quite proud of his catch until he realised it was fake. Well worth the purchase!

penguin and harryWe reassessed our plans for the day due to the rain, and Harry discovered Folly Farm all of 10 minutes drive away. Folly Farm is an adventure park and zoo. Despite the rain, when we arrived the car park was full! It all made sense when we found the undercover fun fair with rides and a magic show. There were all kinds of animals at Folly Farm (including the children – just kidding!) and they had lots of room to roam around in. The ring-tailed lemurs even had their own house surrounded by water well away from any people access!

penguin and kidWe fell in love with the penguins and spent lots of time with them both on land, and in the underwater viewing area. We even got to see them being fed without anyone else around. The lion feeding was difficult to see with the rain as the lions were hiding away undercover. Though the male lion was either still hungry or curious enough to leave the shelter a short while later as he followed a lady in a wheelchair around the edges of the enclosure. We followed them both around to Giraffe Heights where you could walk up a ramp to be the same height as the head of the giraffe. So cool.

giraffe heightsIt was soon time for the magic show so we walked through the fun fair to get there. So many rides! The magic show was designed for kids but the magician actually did a few good tricks. Once it was over we got tokens for the rides from the machines. It cost all of 50p each for the ghost train… bargain! The scariest part of the ride was being in single file carriages that got launched into the ride individually so you were on your own! Dodgem cars were much more fun. And the carousel!

carouselThe others were ready to leave but Harry and I still had so many animals to visit! I think we’d spent too long with the penguins. We set off to see the black rhino. He or she was beautiful and was enjoying some food. On the way to the exit we were lucky enough to see the black and white ruffed lemurs bounding around their large grassy enclosure. We had never seen them before!

It was time to go back to our accommodation and rest up before a night on the town! No designated drivers allowed. Wendy phoned a taxi company and they said they’d never transported 5 people before so they would have to send a bus. Wendy actually thought they said a 60 seater bus so we half expected this to turn up at the set time. Instead it was a 6 seater. Makes sense!

Our night out was to a pub in Tenby called The Galloping Major where it was advertised they had live music on Saturday night. It took us about 15 minutes to get there. It had a small town family vibe and the drinks were cheap. Lucky, because their cash machine wasn’t working and we had a small amount of cash on us! The live music started and we realised that he was singing along to a recording. Still good! There were quite a few local dogs there to love, and a table with a few different hats on it. We thought maybe people were sitting there, but after a while figured it was fair game!

We played dress ups with them and somehow I managed to wear the grey granny hat with a side flower for the remainder of the night. Our money stash was getting pretty low so we pooled everything together for a tequila shot each. Only they didn’t have enough tequila for 5 people, so instead we had a very strong substitute! We were up dancing in minutes and owned the dance floor with a few other locals until the live music was over. I did try and sing with the singer but he was not keen on sharing the microphone – no idea why!

Our choice of pub meant there was nothing else nearby so we caught a taxi home much earlier than our original plans.

Easter Sunday – International Whisky Day!

Chocolate day, and we had lots of it.

Aside from chocolate we had Penderyn whisky tasting on the agenda for this afternoon. But first, it was time to explore Amroth. We found a place for lunch on the beachfront but kept forgetting it was Easter Sunday and everything was fully booked. Lucky the place next door had a table available. Harry and I ordered fish and chips to share and beers. Our time there was shortened when Wendy double checked the timings to get to Penderyn for our booked whisky tasting. We needed to leave immediately or we would miss it. Wendy got us a takeaway coffee cup to pour the beers into and a takeaway container for our fish and chips! Back on the road!

jodie and harry penderynWe arrived in time for the whisky tasting at Penderyn and found out that it was International Whisky Day. The cost of entry is 8.50 (gbp) and this includes a generous tasting of two whiskies of choice at the end of the tour. The tour is definitely worth doing, especially if you’re interested in the efforts they go to from an engineering perspective to get the right equipment to get the right product. There’s even a specialist taster who visits Penderyn every few months to smell (yes smell, not taste) the barrels to determine whether they are ready or not for bottling. You will definitely appreciate whisky a whole lot more after this tour!

Towards the end of the tour you get to try a drop of whisky when it is still around 90%. A glass gets passed around and you dab your finger inside and put it on your tongue. I didn’t taste much as it seemed to evaporate so quickly. Probably a good thing!

Penderyn gave us the tip that the Red Lion pub nearby was good for food. Unfortunately when we got there, they weren’t serving food but we’d already bought a round of pints. So we went through at least two packets of crisps each to get us through until dinner at our accommodation. The pub is worth visiting, it’s on the top of a hill surrounded by green countryside.

It was our last night (and there were supposed to be 8 people here instead of 5) so we had a lot of food and drinks to get through. Have you ever played the game ‘Heads Up’ on your phone? It’s an App, kind of like celebrity heads but with different categories like ‘animals’ and you can save the video recording of the person trying to guess and everyone acting it out. It’s hilarious. I’ve included some footage in the Wales Vlog at the end of this blog post.

Easter Monday – final surf

jodie and harry surfingLast day in Wales. The weather was okay so we decided to go back to Llangennith and go surfing so that Harry could enjoy the experience, having missed out on Friday. We hired out the same equipment and headed to the beach. Unfortunately the weather changed thanks to Storm Katie and while it was still okay to surf when we were there, it was windy, the current was strong and the waves really threw you down into the sand! We still managed to have a lot of fun with the dark grey cloud backdrop before making our way back to the car.

Wetsuits removed and returned, we were really excited about a pub meal after hours in the surf. I couldn’t go past the fish and chips again. We left for London around 6pm and amazingly it only took us 4 hours. This is the bridge between Wales and England:

wales to england

Have you been to Wales? What would you recommend for us to do and see next time?