EMBRACING THE NEW NORMAL

Attempting to embrace the new normal, OH (other half) and I recently had a holiday in Wales.

We chose the Pembrokeshire coast which is known to have beautiful beaches and stunning scenery.  We were not disappointed. Our first couple of nights were spent at a B&B in the Brecon Beacons National Park. This normally popular inn and busy restaurant, close to the charming village of Crickhowell was – thanks to Covid-19 – closed to business for the foreseeable future other than two rooms which were being let for overnight stays.  From the window of our room we could see Table Mountain and the surrounding countryside. The breakfast area had been divided in two creating a complete separation between tables so we felt very safe.

Our next stay was in a guest house in Penally village which is just down the road from the delightful coastal resort of Tenby.  There were six rooms and the place was fully booked. Our hosts operated three separate breakfast sittings – two tables at a time spread out over three hours.  Much more work for them but reassuring for us.
 
 
From our bed we could see farmland, the Pembrokeshire coastal path and the sea. On our first morning we decided to explore the coastal path.  Do you know the children’s story, The Secret Birthday Present by Eric Carle?  In it, to reach his goal of finding his hidden birthday gift, the little boy has to combat a number of  obstacles.    And so it was for us in our attempt to reach the beach.
 
 
First we had to walk round a caravan park and then cross a very busy main road.  Safely on the other side we had to negotiate a stile embedded in deep, boggy puddles of water. We then found ourselves right by a signal-less level crossing. There was no way of knowing whether or not a train might be coming along the track other than by using our eyes and our ears. We dashed across. Moments later there was a train.  A very small train but a train nevertheless.
 
 
 
We were almost in reach of the coastal path but first we needed to get past a military firing range. Not helped by all the notices warning us to keep out.  “When red flags are raised live firing is in progress, ” the sign read. The next step was to cut across the golf course with its sign alerting us to “beware of flying golf balls”.
 
We were now, finally, on the coastal path.  But it wasn’t a path at all. It was more like a Welsh version of the Great Wall of China!  OH and I have walked on the Great Wall and it’s a bit like walking on a big dipper.   The coastal path was not quite like that but it was not a path either. You may have established by now that OH and I are not seasoned walkers. In the old pre-Covid days we always enjoyed a good walk providing there would be a pub at the end of it. Now, in these days of Covid, walking is just walking.  And often consists of avoiding other walkers.  Here on the coastal path we had none of these problems as we were the only ones around.  Not surprising because the winds were very strong and it had now started to rain heavily.
 
 
Our next hurdle was keeping on the “path” and avoiding the crumbling cliff edges. That’s not to say that we weren’t enjoying ourselves. The scenery was magnificent. We had sea on one side of us, the rooftops of Tenby in the distance and fields all around us.  Our stony pathway became sandier and after negotiating a few sand dunes we found ourselves on a deserted beach.  Had it not been raining we would have walked along the beach to Tenby but we thought we would save that experience for another day.
 
 
 
 
Walking back we came across some “practice trenches”, a legacy from the First World War. The Penally trench system  – the only known surviving example in the UK – was created to train soldiers in trench warfare before they were sent to France.
 
 
That evening we strolled to the local pub for a socially distanced meal.  On our way home to the guest house there were two youths walking closely behind us. I quickened my pace. They quickened theirs. And then, to my relief, overtook us and walked ahead.
 
A few minutes later a police van drew up alongside us and six policemen and women got out. They surrounded us so we were forced to stop walking and demanded to know where we were going. Were we with the youths, they asked. Were we from the camp?  Then the penny dropped.  Very close to where we were staying was a former military camp that was going to temporarily house refugees.  We had read about it on the news. Every night there had been protests. Not from the local villagers but from far right and left groups who were being bussed in from outside.
 
At the time of our stay, there were only five men in the camp but it was said that there were plans to bring in 250.  Penally has only 500 inhabitants so it would be understandable if they didn’t like the idea but as it turned out the locals were very welcoming. It was the outsiders with their banners saying, “no consultation” and “black lives matter” who were stirring up trouble in this tiny, peaceful place.  Clearly the police thought we were on our way to protest! Thankfully they let us go once we pointed out where we were staying. But they held on to the youths.
 
So that was the exciting start of our holiday.  Compared to the last seven months it was a wonderful escape from the so called new normal.   Give me the old normal – firing range and all – any time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems
 
© Photos – Andrea Neidle

3 thoughts on “EMBRACING THE NEW NORMAL

  1. That was a real adventure, after all that walking I bet you slept well at night! Lovely pictures taken in glorious sunshine.

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  2. We hope OH enjoys your blogs as much as we do. For many many years we had great walking adventures all over the Island of Mallorca. We were very adventurous. No maps to begin with. One day we met a couple who were writing a book and then there was no stopping us she used to give us her trial walks to see how we fared. We are having an odd experience, we are at The Grove fully masked for 3 days. Frightfully grand my dear! Stylish. No washing up or cooking or any chores! Hooray! Cheers Mirelle &Manfred

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    1. You were on my list to phone. How lovely to be staying at The Grove – masks or not! Have a wonderful time and please bring us back a doggy bag!
      So pleased you enjoy my blogs – thank you! x

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