Well, what a week! It seems strange that we were sunning ourselves down on the Pembrokeshire coast whilst the rest of the country was coming to a standstill in what has suddenly become known as a ‘snow event’.
What exactly is a ‘snow event’, and why is it we have had no snow events before? It has certainly snowed in the past, but never in such a way as to be described as an ‘event’. Does this mean we can look forward to ‘rain events’ in the future? Or perhaps a ‘water event’ when all this snow melts and the rivers burst their banks. And what about my brother in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, where they have had virtually no rain for three years – will he be experiencing a ‘drought event’ perhaps?
Right, you weather people – we don’t need this kind of euphemistic nonsense, okay? If it is going to snow, just tell us. We can take it. I know the baby boomers are seen by some as having never grown out of the state of babyhood, but I for one can cope with a weather forecast that contains four-letter words, like ‘snow’, ‘rain’, ‘hail’ and ‘wind’. So lay on, Macduff; and damn’d be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”
Where was I? Ah, yes. The Pembrokeshire coast. I should be fair to you and point out that it wasn’t sunny every day. Neither was it snowy, however. The weather was what used to be described as ‘variable’. It was a lovely day when we arrived in Saundersfoot on Sunday, but bitterly cold. With a stiff sea breeze blowing, it was the kind of cold that numbs the face and causes the sort of speech impediment more usually associated with the after effects of a 10-filling visit to the dentist. Hardly able to string a few words together, we headed for The Shoreline Café to thaw out and attempt some kind of rudimentary conversation. From the window, sipping hot coffee, we watched in disbelief as a kite surfer sped through the waves, being pulled along at a fair lick by the above-mentioned stiff breeze. Despite the hot coffee, we felt chilled just looking at him. Call us wimps, but the temperature out there was still around freezing, and on top of that there was the wind chill factor . . . On the plus side, though, at least he was in no danger of hitting anyone else.
The next day dawned bright and sunny – a perfect day for a walk along the cliff path to Tenby. Rumour has it that, when the tide is out, it is possible to walk around the headlands between Tenby and Saundersfoot. The tide was at its highest as we were tucking into breakfast, so we estimated that it would be at its lowest ebb by the time we were ready for the return trip, allowing time for a coffee and a little something of course (at the amazing Caffe Vista!).
Sipping yet another coffee and gazing through yet another window, we watched the tide slip away down the sand. Worryingly, it was still lapping at the rocks at the far end of the beach. Though it had virtually reached low water by the time we pushed back our chairs and donned our coats, scarves and hats, the rocks on the nearest headland remained decidedly wet. We calculated that the chances of getting around this headland without getting drenched, bruised or cut to ribbons on the barnacles were about zero. Ever optimistic, however, we surmised that, once beyond this particular promontory, we would find a way down to the beach and from there be able to complete our journey back to Saundersfoot.
No such luck. As we trekked onwards, it became obvious that there was no beach to speak of, even at low tide. Which was a pity really, because our legs would have benefited enormously from being able to perambulate on the flat. As it was, we were committed to taking the coast path all the way back to Tenby. The operative word here is ‘back’. Going from Saundersfoot to Tenby is a pleasant enough walk, though somewhat tiring for the unfit, amongst whom I would number myself after too many months of limited physical exertion back at Aspen House. Going back, and on the same day, however, is strictly for the Royal Marines and other similar individuals who seem to get some kind of buzz out of punishing themselves beyond the limits of physical endurance.
I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old git, but I have to say that the return journey was about half a mile too long. I could have done without that last half mile, to be perfectly honest. And I could have done without the short flight of stairs that took us to the safety of our first-floor retreat. As I collapsed into the comforting folds of the sofa, I reflected that we were probably not in our right minds when we decided to go down to the beach just before reaching Saundersfoot. Descending two hundred steps set into a precipitous cliff is madness in itself, but to do it without a clear option to then walk the beach back to Saundersfoot is, quite frankly, a straitjacket job.
Seeing our way barred by another outcrop of barnacled rocks, we made our way back to the two hundred steps, foolishly carrying a chunk of driftwood each, just to add to the weight we would have to lug back to the top of the cliff. In the delirious state that came upon me as I goaded my aching muscles into submission, I thought I might be able to claim later that I managed to go through the pain barrier, but that was not to be. Remaining in pain suggests that the barrier has not yet been reached.
We went to bed early that night, and slept for twelve hours.