And for once the weathermen seemed to have guessed correctly because it was a fine morning that greeted us when Molly decided that it was time to get up and go downstairs. We followed the same early morning routine as the previous day and I prepared a full sizzling English (Welsh?) breakfast before dispatching Molly upstairs with instructions to wake Jonathan. ‘Wake up Jon, it’s morning – time to get up’ I heard her shout in his unsuspecting ear and I don’t think he absolutely appreciated that as he made his way downstairs still half asleep.
We didn’t rush but just let the weather continue to take its time to improve as the sun burnt away the thin sea mist and then the temperature started to rise. We left the cottage at eleven o’clock and drove to a viewing layby with an elevated view of Cardigan Bay with its harbour full of colourful boats and wide sandy beaches on either side but didn’t stop for too long because today we were travelling north along the coast to the nearby town of New Quay.
It took about forty-five minutes to drive the short journey and when we parked the car and walked down the steep hill towards the harbour the sun was by now really very warm. New Quay immediately reminded me of the sort of coastal town that you might find a little further south in Devon or Cornwall and it turns out that this place has plenty of similarities with the almost identically named Newquay in south west England because here was a pretty harbour town with a fishing heritage and a similar history of smuggling.
We were planning to take a boat trip to try and see dolphins but we were disappointed to discover that we had narrowly missed the last morning boat and because of the tides there wouldn’t be another one until the afternoon which was probably going to be a bit too late for us so we checked the schedule for the next day and walked to the beach which on account of the weather was full of people in deck chairs turning slowly through cerise to vermillion to scarlet and children playing and digging in the sand at the water’s edge. It was really holiday weather now so we had an ice cream and watched the stranded boats waiting for the tide to lift them off the sea bed and walked along the shoreline ourselves and collected some shells to take home.
From the beach we could see the picturesque houses, pubs and restaurants painted in vibrant colours all clinging to the sides of the hills above the waters of the harbour. The town has a jumble of narrow streets rising steeply in terraces from the bay and in between several of these the little alleys called ‘ropewalks’ that were once used for twisting rope in New Quay’s heyday as a shipbuilding centre. Then, New Quay was a fishing and smuggling port. Later a thriving shipbuilding industry developed, reaching its peak in the middle of the nineteenth century. Towards the end of that century shipbuilding died out and tourism gradually took its place. Today New Quay has little industry, just a little fishing and a shellfish processing plant but plenty of tourists!
We walked along the harbour quay where holidaymakers were enjoying the unexpected sunshine and just as the day before there were lots of steps that Molly insisted on negotiating by herself and a path down to the sea which she was instantly attracted to. She ran backwards and forwards and climbed up and down and worked up an appetite because after a while she declared herself to be, in her words, a ‘little bit hungry!’
We left the quay and the harbour and started the climb back to the car park up a road lined with pubs and cafés and selected one with a terrace in the sun where Molly had a lunch and Jonathan and I had a beer and then finished the remains of the chicken nuggets and chips that Molly couldn’t manage. She was getting tired and sure enough on the drive back to the cottage she fell soundly asleep and when we arrived back she couldn’t be woken so we took her inside and left her to slumber while Jonathan and I sat on the patio in the sun, read the newspapers had a glass of beer and had a lunch made of last night’s leftovers.
All thoughts of rain and bad weather were temporarily suspended now as we enjoyed an afternoon of glorious blue skies and giddy temperatures and our thoughts began to turn to going to nearby Mwnt beach.