Discovering Pembrokeshire: Newport and Fishguard – visit, where to sleep, to eat

On est bien comme ça (acoustique) – Vianney

Salut, salut

Already my last post about North Pembrokeshire! We were supposed to stay the entire second day but as I told you in my previous past about the boat trip, bad weather invited itself in and even if rain is fine, rain without coat nor umbrella is kind of annoying. We shortened our visit but we visited after our boat trip and didn’t come back as soon as we woke up the next day, we wanted to see stuffs first and I’m going to show them to you today.

First of all, let’s talk about an essential thing: beddy-byes, where to sleep. We checked the hotels but they were expensive and we checked Airbnb and found better places and cheaper so… Airbnb it is! If you’ve never used Airbnb, I have a link for you that would make you and me save money so click here. We chose Joanna’s place in Llanychaer with the sweet name “Lavender cottage“; ideally situated between St Davids and Newport, calm, surrounded by land. We didn’t hear a single noise, no cars, no sirens, no city noises and that was a dream, we could only hear the rain falling and some cows far away. For a night, we didn’t need such a big place but we chose extra comfort, you would be really at ease if you go there alone or as a couple during a couple of nights or even a week. I really want to go back there during winter, to light a fire in the beautiful chimney… There are enough photos on Airbnb of the inside so I just post two that I’ve taken of the outside.

After our boat trip, we were pretty hungry, our host asked us if we had plans and we told him that we were thinking about eating in Fishguard but he advised us a pub in Newport, we thought that a local’s advise was worth taken and we went there. The Golden Lion is a typical pub, super cute and calm! You can eat inside, outside and in the backyard garden. As in most of the pubs, the food is simple but gourmet, prices are okay and people welcoming. I had the chance to hear a man talking in Welsh to a waitress and I love it, I absolutely don’t understand a thing but I love it! I’m learning Welsh, slowly but surely, it is very hard. Anyway, I recommend this pub to you, the food was great!

We finished our day by a walk in Newport’s seaside. It’s a small place but very cute, very “fishermen’s village”, rock houses, rock walls and in front of some houses,  a little garden with benches facing the sea. My post’s cover photo is in Newport actually, you can see that despite the tide, it’s absolutely lovely. Colours were so beautiful, a deep blue mixed with grey and the night’s light gave the atmosphere a sweet touch.

We spend a lovely night in our Lavender cottage and we woke up with the rain’s sound. It wanted to waste our plans but no, we absolutely wanted to see Fishguard so we went there. Fishguard has this “fishermen’s village” touch too and is lovely, under mist and rain but still lovely. The tide + mist + rain gave a melancholic air to it but I like those coloured houses in the middle of this grey. Sitting here and watching the seagulls is very soothing.

Our last stop before going back to Cardiff: Pentre Ifan, we wanted to see an old thing. This place is on a hill thanks to which, in theory, there’s a beautiful view over the countryside and the seaside but because of the weather we could see sheep. Pentre Ifan is a neolithic burial chamber (so 45000 year-old!) and formed by the largest dolmen in Wales and when we saw the thing, only one question came “How? How did they do that?”. The pebble is 5m long and weight more then 16 tonnes, and it is poised on three other pebbles made of the same bluestone that was used for the menhirs at Stonehenge. It is completely crazy, I keep thinking about it and I can’t find the answer, the thing is heavy! They were really strong! I’m sure there’s a explanation so if you have it, I take it.

That’s it, our Pembrokeshire’s discovery is over! We want to go back to visit South Pembrokeshire (and I really want to see other puffins) because villages there seem to be as pretty as what we saw. Pembrokeshire is super cool, we had a great time there and a fab anniversary.

If you want to see other posts about Pembrokeshire:

There are also other posts about our visits in Wales here: CRUSH #10.

So tell me, how much do you love Wales? Where’s your favourite place? We still have a lot to see, we’re not gone yet!

I leave you with Léo l’escargot (escargot is snail in French), inhabitant of Pentre Ifan and des bisous.

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A boat trip from St Justinian to Ramsey & Skomer island

Salut, salut

Here is the article about « the thing that we don’t do every day », finally. This article is important for me because I’d like to make you feel at least a quarter of what we felt, of the beauty we witnessed and it might be difficult with words because this place doesn’t need words. When we looked for something original to do for our 10 years anniversary, I remembered that I read in my Lonely Planet something about boat trips around Ramsey island in Pembrokeshire and we thought that it was exactly the right time to do it because we don’t do boat trips in our every day life. There are several tour operators possible included Voyages of Discovery, Thousand Islands and Blue Ocean Adventures; prices are similar and time on boat too. We didn’t know which one to choose so I simply sent an email asking them why they were the best choice among all (depending on tour, staff and boats), it’s a really simple thing to do and might appear stupid but you easily get an idea according to who answer and how they talk about their company. Among the three of them, one didn’t answer and the first who answered talked about the boats’ safety so we chose this one. « We’ll explore with Voyages of Discovery ».

Once we had the tour operator, we had to choose the tour. At first we wanted the big one, 2h30 on a boat for £60 and the title was « offshore islands whale and dolphin watch », a tour around Grassholm and the Small Lighthouse, seemed to be great; expensive but great. I called to book and the lady on the phone told me to call the next day to check the weather, unfortunately because of the weather the tour was canceled (could be dangerous to go there with the wind etc) but they advised another tour, 1h to 1h30 on a boat for £26 around Ramsey Island to see some animals, caves and the island so we were a little bit disappointed because it wasn’t a big one but we though that it was better than nothing so we said yes. The following day we arrived at St Davids and when we went to their office they told us that the last boat for this tour just went out, that was on us, we should have get there earlier. The last tour they had for the day was in an hour, a 2h boat tour called « Islands expedition » for £45 around Ramsey Island and Skomer Island. Per-fect! It was exactly between the two previous one, in term of prices and time. Per-fect!

This time, we didn’t dawdle, we didn’t want to be late so we went back to the car and drove 15mn to arrive at St Justinian. When we arrived, there’s a free car park but no empty spaces so we had to go to the £3 one. We went there and here’s the #VeryBritishProblem… We had to pay £3 right, but we had £2.50 old coins and £3 new coins. Guess what? The machine doesn’t take new pounds! This is absolutely ridiculous, I mean okay you changed the coins, fine, they’re better now but wasn’t it possible to think about machines first? Anyway, we called Voyages of Discovery and they were very nice, they took our number plate and told us to give £3 to Sam. We just needed to find who Sam was. Finally, we arrived at the boat rendez-vous point and Sam was the first person we saw, great! He looks like a beach boy from our Atlantic coast, blond hair and a Jax Teller’ look, it made us smile and we got the feeling that it was going to be great.

We still had 40mn to waste so we walked along the cliff. Breathtaking.

Then we took the stairs and sat closed to the dog, Sam and other people. He gave us big coats because even with 24 degrees on the mainland, it was going to be chilly on the boat. The boat arrived with a driver and a guide, Neil and Martin, they helped us go onboard, advised us to put our coat on, explained how to put the life jackets, checked and let’s go. We were a little bit afraid but so excited!

This water’s colour is unbelievable, it looks like a painting which shines and reflects. We got closer to Ramsey Island and saw opposite currents forming holes, tides, Neil and Martin explained to us how it works, and we even went into one of them, it was scary but so interesting! Once the boat started we got off easily. The island is beautiful, huge and really impressing, birds flew over us, they are called shearwaters.

Martin told us that we were going to one of the caves because we might find friends there…

So, here is Phoque the seal (phoque means seal in French, Le Barbu lacks of originality for names). We can clearly see him with our own eyes but I had to zoom with my camera , don’t worry we weren’t so closed with the boat. Actually, this is one of the thing we really liked about this boat trip, we could see animals but neither Martin or Neil wanted to go after them nor closer because they wanted to respect their lives and we appreciated it, we were on their lands so we let them and admired them from a respectful distance. We stayed a little near Ramsey Island to watch birds and Mr Phoque, breathe and realise how lucky we were then we went away. Direction: offshore!

And offshore, we could see the beautiful Ramsey Island, birds and… dolphins and porpoises! Voilà. You’re on a boat, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by blue and you glimpse a fin, two fins, three fins. It is magic. We could see them jumping and during those moments we didn’t really take photos because we were just enjoying. I got this one while photographing Ramsey Island. How lucky we were!

We didn’t see a lot of them but as I said, we weren’t going to chase them we were lucky enough to see what we saw and that was fine for us. We stayed a little while, we watched them and then we went to Skomer Island.

The closer we got to Skomer, the the more birds we saw. I was impatient to meet puffins, I think they are really cute, I thought they were bigger though. But the littlest the cutest, right? With their little orange bec, they look like penguin-birds.

Skomer Island is owned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and is managed by National Trust of South and West Wales. It is a scientific site and a Historic Monument! It is the largest island of Pembrokeshire with its 730 acres. There are more than 6000 puffins’ couples on Skomer and more than 2000 couples on Skokholm (an island nearby), 120000 shearwaters’ couples on Skomer and 45000 on Skokholm, we saw thousands of them and it was crazy! We also had the chance to see Miss Mouette (mouette means seagull in French), she had less friends than the puffins and the shearwaters but they were here too. Actually, Miss Mouette sat on our boat and stayed for a while, looking at us, pooed, photobombed one of my photos and went away. Martin called her Steven for Steven Seagull/Seagal and we found it funny. It is funny, isn’t it? We also saw some jellyfishes, one of them I’ve never seen before the moon jellyfish, beautiful but scary! Martin told us that it was dangerous to swim here because of them.

Our 2h tour was going to end, we were sad but so happy at the same time! We were so lucky to witness all that beauty but the weather started to look gloomy. On our way back, we saw two cute seals, they were looking at us with only their heads out of the water but we couldn’t really see more than that because of the mist that was coming. We went on the boat with a shiny sun and 24 degrees and we landed back with a huge mist and 14 degrees… In two hours! But what a souvenir we created during those two hours, one of our most beautiful!

Useful info: we chose Voyages of Discovery, a 2h tour for £45 per person, the money is taken from your account only when you take the boat. There are 12 people on the boat and 2 employees. We met a young man at the office, Sam, Neil (I’m really sorry if I spelled it wrong), and Martin and they were all extremely nice and we had an unforgettable time, thanks a lot! Honestly, I was a little bit afraid first but they reassured me because they were so professional, we learnt a lot, saw beautiful places and animals that we’re not used to see, we had a fabulous time. It was an amazing gift for our 10 years anniversary and we’re really happy we chose this over material gifts. In those times you see how little you are, you human, and how nature is spectacular, we’re so lucky and we should preserve our beautiful planet because it deserves it…

I hope I was able to show you how beautiful this moment was, how extraordinary it was and I hope you understand that I highly recommend you to do it too, it worths the price. I leave you with Miss Mouette and her photobomb, and Skomer going away. Des bisous

(photos are mine, please don’t use them without permission)

Discovering Pembrokeshire: St Davids

Without you – Tobias Jesso Jr

Salut, salut

Today I’m not posting a recipe but a lovely tour in Wales. For our 10 years anniversary (10 years…!), le Barbu and I decided not to buy gifts but to discover somewhere new, create memories and do things we don’t do in our everyday life. We went from East to West, that’s how you realise that Wales is not a large country because it took us only 2H20 to go from Cardiff to St Davids! I’ll write 3 posts about our little tour in North Pembrokeshire: 1st today about St Davids, 2nd Wednesday about “a thing we don’t do in our everyday life” and 3rd Friday about lovely places.

We took our car to get there, by leaving at 9am we arrived at 11:30am, perfect timing for what we had planned. Roads are quite good, there’s the M4 but it gets better when you leave it and take little roads, Welsh roads where you can see sheep, cows, beaches and coast. Motorways are great because they are faster but so boring whereas little roads are good fun. We drove past St Brides Bay, it was sunny, gorgeous and a nice sun welcomed us in St Davids.

Why did we choose this town? Everyone knows about St Patrick, Irish and others celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, well there’s one for each country and in Wales, it is Saint David. There’s a cathedral to visit, a nice town and what I’ve liked a lot was the legend of Saint David. I’m going to tell you the story, very briefly, according to what I’ve read on historic-uk and in my book Welsh Legends and Myths by G. Watkins. It might not be all accurate, legends after are not supposed to be strict history.

Let’s go back to 6th century. A beautiful little girl, Nonnita, born Royal Princess in a small town called Menevia embraced the new religion, Christianity. She devoted herself to a life of celibacy and devotion for her only God and showed absolutely no interest in men. Little by little, she became well-known and people come from far away to see her, hear her words and wisdom. Sant, King of Ceredigion is one of those people, when he saw her he felt a powerful desire and even though she resisted, he took her and violated her. I’ve read a lot of legends about Saint David and they are all quite similar but a lot of them just mention his “royal blood parents” without this part of the story and I think it’s not fair because it is important to explain that Nonnita resisted.

Nonnita became pregnant and when her waters broke, she took refuge near the sea. She washed herself and lay down in the mud. A storm started with ugly clouds and pouring rain but as soon as the child arrived, a single ray of sunshine illuminated the mother and her child. Nonnita decided to give him the name “Dewi Sant” in Welsh, “Dewi” is “David” in English. He was raised as a Christian and his mother left to establish several religious sites but his education was taking care of by two priests, Saint Columba and Saint Finnegan. They taught him theology, languages and history, they also engaged a blind tutor, Paulinius. Guess what? His first miracle is going to be for him! He splashed water into Paulinius’ eyes and when he reopened them, he was able to see! What was the first thing he saw? A bunch of daffodils… Hence the Welsh symbol.

Saint David developed his religious side, he is called “David the Water Drinker” because of one of his rule: always drink water, unless it is safer to drink wine or beer. He was a strict vegetarian and frequently immersed himself in freezing water as an act of piety. He traveled a lot and was really well-known, so much that people complained they couldn’t see him in churches because there were too much of them. No problem, he took a handkerchief, put it on the floor, stood on it and a small hill appeared so everyone can see him. Classy, right? So he preached and a dove landed on his shoulder. Super classy, right? He taught people to “do the little things”, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was named bishop. He foresaw his death and at around 100 years-old he died during a Viking raid on 1st March 589. AH! Hence the national day…

In 1120 Pope Calistuts II canonised him and declared that 2 pilgrimages to David’s tomb = 1 to Rome, 3 pilgrimages to David’s tomb = 1 to Jerusalem.

Now you know every thing, roughly, about his legend. Let’s see the cathedral.

Photos: entrance, the Bible in Welsh, one of the gorgeous ceilings, the Lady Chapel.

Good to know: you have to pay £2 to take photos in the cathedral. First, we were like “oh, common’ there are a lot of people without a badge so they haven’t payed, we’re not going to” but then, after 30 secondes “hum, cathedral, God, karma, respect…” and we payed, I got a beautiful self-sticking thing on my arm. The cathedral is really beautiful and huge (as you can see in the first photo of the post)! It is rustic, walls and decorations are amazing. There’s also a treasure room that I liked but Le Barbu didn’t because he doesn’t understand the fact that Church posses things but he liked the cathedral anyway, that means that even if you have different tastes and opinions, everyone can enjoy the cathedral and find something interesting. There was something that was strange though, 3 statues: one of Saint Patrick (Ireland’s patron saint), one of Saint David (Wales’ patron saint) and one of Saint Andrew (Scotland’s patron saint) but none of Saint George (England’s patron saint). The big question is: why? That was strange and funny at the same time.

After this little tour, we went to the town centre and even though we hadn’t much time, I can tell you one thing: I’m falling in-love with cottages, those little houses are so cute!

Photos: part of the cemetery, town centre pub, one of the cottages, beautiful flowers.

Le Barbu ate a Welsh rarebit in that pub and found it quite good, staffs were nice but, again, we didn’t stay long. If you don’t know what a Welsh rarebit is, it is a “nice but fat meal” (looks like that). We arrived in St Davids under a clear blue sky, 26 degrees, very nice and all of a sudden, clouds, rain and little thunder. Great. Awesome. I was a little bit scared for the rest of our day but it went away as fast as it came. Maybe we can thank Dewi. Or not? We decided in St Davids that if one day we want to change our careers, we’d take cows for their milk, hen for their eggs and sheep for their wool. And that, that is a great plan! They also have nice birds here, jackdaws they are called. They look like ravens but nicer and with a better sound.

We went back to the cathedral to take our car and fly to our next adventure. Saint Davids’ flag was proudly flying, water from the stream was making a soft noise and ran peacefully, birds were singing their lives, elderly people were sitting on benches and pupils were playing around. Saint Davids was pleasant! Authentic, natural and pleasant.

I hope that you enjoyed the little tour, on Wednesday I’ll take you with us to one of our best memory ever! Des bisous

 

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