“Look, the sun's shining, let's go to the beach.”
“But there are thick black clouds, they're coming this way – it's pouring with rain!”
“Well it's cleared now, let's go to the beach while the sun's out....oh, it's raining again.”
“Look, there's some clear blue sky, let's go to the beach.”
“But it's just about to pour!”
“Oh sod it, let's just go to the beach!”
So we did, driving to Newgale, ten minutes away, through a landscape of undulating GREENESS. Pembrokeshire is not the Wales of jagged mountains, deep valleys and male voice choirs that some of us might identify with. It is a gentler scene, of wide GREEN pastures, speckled with black and white and red cows and the odd square farmhouse, threaded with roads so narrow that, in the unlikely event of meeting another car, one might have to reverse two miles, before being able to pass it. On either side of the roads, are high banks, feathery with ferns and the odd foxglove, or wild geranium, hedges grumbling along the top so that, for the most part, you can't see where you are going and it is a surprise to come out at the top of a cliff and see the great expanse of the sea in front of you, the road winding down to a long brown-gold beach.
We parked, picked our way over the broad band of painful pebbles to the sand and did the normal Bignall thing of walking for ages along the sand, laden with bags (crisps, apples, water, towel for dog, ball for dog, more balls for dog) for no apparent reason until we felt that we had arrived at “our spot”. Put down the bags and it poured with rain.
“Come on, let's go.”
"But we've only just got here!"
"Yes, but it's raining!"
"The rain's just stopping!”
"But just look at those clouds heading this way!"
"There's a tiny bit of blue sky following on...."
"With more black sky behind it...."
"Oh sod, it let's just stay!"
Lydia was the only one brave enough to bring swimmers and she headed off into the sea while Sam mooched off to sit and brood on the rocks and the rest of us tried to distract Bonnie from stealing other dogs ball's. (as in tennis and football, before anyone gets too smart)
The sun even came out enough so that were able to strip down to thermals and jumpers and I pondered again on the fact that the weather must be the only thing that saves this corner of the world. Here in the last week of August, there was only a scattering of people and dogs, brave surfers, children in wetsuits, on this long stretch of beach. And yet, the sand was sandy, the view of the surrounding cliffs stunning, the water itself no colder than the Pacific ocean in Queensland's mid-winter.
When Lydia was satisfied that she had paid enough homage to the Gods of Pneumonia and Hypothermia, we left the beach to walk along the cliff tops. The footpath wound amongst the purple spread of heather, spotted every so often with gold wildflowers, with glimpses of GREEN fields beyond, shining brilliant in the beams of sunshine that poured from gaps in the lowering black clouds overhead. On our right was the vast sheet of creased, tinfoil sea, washed with silver and gold and black, and below us, jagged rocks plunged into foaming white spray. The air was full of the smell of heather and wet earth and salt and I was just thinking how incredibly lucky we were to be here at this time, witness to this beauty, when a certain sixteen year old, who shall remain nameless, turned to me, hunched into his raincoat, frowning against the wind and said: “Now you've got to admit that this is horrible, haven't you?”
As the mysterious “they” say, I guess you can't please everyone all the time.