Wales, A Long Drive and a lot of Rain!

Wales Carnarvon Castle Rain

“Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?”  –  Sir Thomas More – ‘A Man For All Seasons’

I was surprised that I was so easily persuaded to book a holiday cottage in Wales because most of my holiday memories of the Principality involve precipitation.

When I was a boy we used to go on family holidays to Borth in Mid Wales and stay in a caravan.  It always rained and all through the night there was a steady pitter-patter of rain on the biscuit tin roof and everywhere seemed damp, musty and cold.  Later we used to go the Plas Panteidal Hoiliday Village near Aberdovey and although the accommodation was an improvement the same could never be said for the weather.

To be fair,  I can remember the sun shining on one occasion and that was in the long hot summer of 1976 when I went to Plas Panteidal for the last time and we actually managed a few days of good weather and enjoyed some unexpected opportunities to get on the beach.  The last time that I went to Wales for a holiday was in 1986 when I went to the Hoseason’s Holiday Village in Carnarvon in North Wales and it was so cold and so wet that we gave up on the fourth day, abandoned the holiday and drove all the way back home.

As well as holidays, between 1972 and 1975 I went to University in Wales at Cardiff and I spent a considerable amount of my student grant on umbrellas and wet weather clothing.

Anyway, after a gap of twenty-five years I was ready to give Wales another chance and booked a holiday cottage in Cardigan in South Wales.  Things seemed promising as the spring and early summer got off to a fine start with the hottest April on record followed by the driest May and the meteorologists predicting a long hot summer and a certain drought.  Now, I didn’t particularly want to wish a drought on anyone but I did rather hope that these fine weather conditions might just continue through into the middle of June.

Unfortunately I was going to be disappointed and a week following a BBC Radio Five special programme on the drought crisis everything changed and it rained every day thereafter and instead of picnic hampers and swimming costumes I was going to need anoraks and umbrellas!

The day of departure started quite brightly but unfortunately that was in Spalding in Lincolnshire on the east coast and I was due to be driving into certain wet weather in the west.  And it didn’t take long and by the time I picked up my travelling companions, son Jonathan and granddaughter Molly, it was already raining steadily and there was no real prospect of improvement.

What we had ahead of us now was a five hour journey in the most appalling conditions as the wet weather was completely relentless.  On the first part of the journey we used dual carriageways and motorways where the spray and muck from other road users constantly assaulted the windscreen and then after Shrewsbury we crossed Offa’s Dyke from Shropshire into Wales onto single carriageway roads with ever widening puddles and bleak gloomy weather ahead as heavy grey clouds stuck like stubborn strips of Velcro to the tops of the sodden Welsh hills.

Wales Rain Rivers Water

It rained in Welshpool, it rained in Newtown, it rained in Llangurig and it rained in Aberystwyth as we reached the coast and the road swung south towards our destination.  To our right the sea was grey and uninviting, lashed with spiteful squalls of stinging rain as wave after wave of dark clouds swept in from the Irish Sea and it was about now that I was forced to concede that we probably wouldn’t be having a barbeque this evening.

The road took us through the Georgian fishing port of Aberaeron which has a High Street and a harbour flanked by gaily coloured houses in a Mediterranean sort of way but even the pretty hues of the elegant buildings could do nothing to lift the gloom of the grey sky as great slabs of misery assaulted them continuously and robbed them of their natural vibrancy and leeched them of their colour.  Everwhere people were hurrying along the drenched pavements in raincoats and with umbrellas and in the late afternoon the outside temperature dropped into single figures.  I was not amused!

Eventually we arrived at the farmhouse cottage in the village of Ferwig just outside Cardigan.  The farmyard was full of puddles and the gutters and drainpipes were overflowing with water but at least the farmer who greeted us had a broad smile and that lifted the gloom by about a factor of  about 1 (that’s 1 from a base of zero, by the way!)  And the cottage was excellent, it was comfortable and warm and we turned the heating up and put the fire on and transferred our bags from the car and began to set up home.

It rained all evening as dark clammy clouds kept swooping in over the nearby coastline like a hostile invading army and just before going to bed I took a last look out of the rain splashed window and said to myself ‘OK Wales, this really is your very last chance, this is my first time in twenty-five years and if it keeps raining I won’t be back for another twenty-five!’

Aberaeron Wales Rain

27 responses to “Wales, A Long Drive and a lot of Rain!

  1. What a cliff-hanger! Did it stop, or do we need to be patient and wait for the next instalment?

  2. Ah, a wet camping holiday in Wales nearly ended my relationship…and not only my relationship with the country!

  3. When I worked at Disney I was asked by a park guest “Is it sunshiny all the time here?” I explained that Florida is the sunshine state. He and his family didn’t seem all that thrilled. They were very pale, lathered in sunscreen and squinting in the sun. In an effort to cheer him up, I mentioned we usually had a thunderstorm mid-afternoon. That day we had a doozy. Most of the tourists scattered. Those who didn’t complained about the rain. Here came this family, again, all smiles. “We’re from Wales. This is more of what we’re used to,” the father explained. I get it now.

    • A great story. I remember visiting Disney in Florida, I was so impressed that when the rain arrived all of the racks of T shirts in the shops were rapidly replaced with plastic rain coats – what great marketing!

  4. Hohoho… We used to visit Wales (North) when I was a kid, but I do recall sun! Many years later, I used to go for long weekends in early October, when the light was beautiful, and not too much rain…

  5. Rotten luck. I can almost feel the dampness in my bones.

  6. Thanks for the memories, Andrew. We spent a few rainy, windswept days along the southern Welsh coast back in ’11. A good memory was an old coaching inn at Neath where Admiral Nelson had stayed back in
    1811 or so. The place looked like it hadn’t changed much in the last
    two centuries, except for lots of good local ales in the pub.

  7. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimism, Hoping For Better Weather! | Have Bag, Will Travel

  8. It can be a little damp on occasion in Wales, but we booked a cottage at Strumble Head a few years back, and that wasn’t too bad for April. Our wettest holiday ever was the 13 days of rain and one dry, in Penzance one “summer” years and years ago.

  9. I don’t believe I would ever go to Wales because of it’s climate. I hate being wet and clammy. At my age, it’s not good for the bones. 😀

  10. What a fun story, nicely told – can’t wait for the end to see if any sun came out. And no barbecue? – what kind of holiday is that?

  11. For some places, perhaps consistency is the key. Thanks for the photos in any case. And giving it another try… well, you learned that your memories hold true.

  12. Reminds me of some of my backpacking trips in Alaska, Andrew. Once it rained for six-days straight. And there was no cozy cabin for an escape— only a wet tent and damp everything. When Peggy and I were full-timing in our RV, we would sometimes drive 500 miles out of our way to avoid or get out of bad weather. I am looking forward to your next installment. Will the sun break though the clouds? Will Wales get another chance? –Curt

  13. You could be describing my trip to the Adirondacks if you changed the names of the towns. I hope to go back someday, but for now, whenever I see an Adirondack chair, I think of driving in cold,wet rain and being drenched within one second of opening the car door.

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