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South West: Fitting Out Weekend in Pembrokshire
27th February 2017 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Dawn of Thursday 16th February saw us packing our cases and our elderly Labrador “George” into the car and heading for the M5 and the Severn Bridge. I had spent some time at Swansea during my maritime career but had never ventured as far as Pembrokeshire. Julie had never been to anywhere in Wales so we both looked forward to exploring this distant land.
Once over the wonderful new bridge across the Severn (£6.70 Gosh!) we found quite depressing the heavy industrial areas from Newport almost to Swansea and were somewhat surprised that the steelworks at Port Talbot can still pump out such pollution in this day and age. However, once off the M4 West of Swansea and into Pembrokeshire itself, how the scenery changes. Really quite beautiful views and much reduced population levels. I read a quote quite recently that “Pembroke is a little piece of England beyond Wales” How true this seems at first sight.
And so, to Tenby itself. Such beaches, wonderful! Add to this the majestic terraced Georgian and Victorian houses along the sea front, most in excellent condition and presented in many delightful colours and you have some idea of how appealing the town appears; even in the depths of winter. Our hotel’s prime position right on this seafront was an added bonus. On checking in, we were informed “Zat Sally insists you report for ze dinner at 1900 hrs sharp!” ‘ello, ‘ello I thought. I found myself checking if Herr Flick was hiding behind a pillar. With 18 of us arriving one night early, a most pleasant and cosy evening was enjoyed with excellent fare and great company as always. Being a day early, on the Friday morning, we all went our individual ways after a hearty breakfast. Julie and I elected to explore the National Trust areas around Stackpole and St Govan’s Head. Again such beautiful beaches plus staggering rock formations and so little commercialisation! At 1830 hrs, the new arrivals had settled in and we all gathered for a drink before dinner. Some 57 of us in total I believe and everyone talking at once! Another excellent dinner by the Chef and his staff put us in fine form (helped possibly by the wine!) and many a swinging lantern tale of daring do was told.
Saturday morning dawned cold and damp with a very moist sea fret sweeping in from the bay. Never mind, we were given the most interesting historical tour of Tenby by a Wales Blue Badge Guide who happened to be a charming lady with a great sense of humour. Poor Tenby; such an interesting history but just about everyone down through the ages seems to have laid siege to it at one time or another. It was surprising to note that the original city wall was built to keep the marauding Welsh out! Meanwhile, in room 302 the hotel had kindly provided Bob and Moria Shapland with a mock-up of a Westerly Nomad for training purposes. In the photo, lady members are receiving instruction on MOB Recovery whilst ensuring their wine is not spilt overboard!
Into Saturday afternoon and the walking teams formed up. A good turnout for the walk to Giltar Point and back finishing at the pub on the beach. However, I believe that only four brave souls turned out for the more difficult Tenby to Sandersfoot hike. Well done! At least the weather cleared in the afternoon.
Unfortunately, due to the age of our dear Labrador, I could not join Julie and the others on the beach walk. After a slow stroll along the Esplanade with George, I retired to our room to carry out a detailed deckhead inspection.
On to Saturday evening and a flurry of activity prior to pre-dinner refreshments as the teams of quiz participants finalised their entries and submitted them before the 1800 hrs deadline. And so to an aperitif and dinner itself. Once again, the overall opinion was that the Chef and his team had excelled themselves; the fare was excellent. We were joined at this stage by Kelvin and Val Boughey who owned a Westerly for many years and were SW members. John Alker who organised the weekend, made a short speech and a few announcements but kindly, kept them short and humorous.
After dinner, it was back to the bar for coffee and the all-important checking of the nautical quiz entries. The winners by a long chalk were Roy and Hazel Cummings with an amazing score of 55 correct out of 60 questions. Amazing because the overall difficulty level was indeed quite high. Our own team only managed to achieve 38. Roy and Hazel win the dubious honour of setting the questions for next year’s gathering.
Next morning, apart from those remaining for an extra night, it was farewells over breakfast and back on the road. Delightful and Pembrokeshire is, I have to admit to a warm feeling when returning over the Severn Bridge into the South West.
Our own personal thanks to John for organising it all and to everyone else present for making it such fun and friendly gathering. Julie and I once again were delighted by the comradery and friendliness that make such WOA gatherings so special.