Camping
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Baaaack

Holiday: a bit rainy. Camping for a 4 person family for 11 days in a vast old-school tent: knackering.

Pembrokeshire is rather lovely though, and the cliffs and rock formations are so stonkingly beautiful I am even more convinced that there's a version of me in an alternate universe somewhere that is happily beavering away as a research geologist.

We went on a birdwatching trip around Skomer, which was not as wonderful as it could have been due to lack of Puffins (2 in total) but saw their wee holes all dotted along the cost, looking for all the world like strange old-world human communities carved out of rock mountain sides. We went further out to see the divine looking Manx Sheerwaters shooting in to the water, diving for their suppers. Thousands and thousands of them, looking for all the world like oversized Swallows. So perfect. it felt like being in the middle of a really fantastic nature film. Apart from the waves.

I really dislike being on the sea. I dislike it because it is an awesome, astonishing thing that could flip you in to its freezing arms in a moment and drag your weakling human arse to its bosom, only to spit you out hours or days later, further up the shore. If at all. On a wee tugboat, sometimes going parallel to the waves instead of meeting them head on (they were not big waves, btw), on occasion the pitch and toss means you're looking at a wall of water on one side of the boat. Even with small, insignificant, no white-horses type of waves! Nora, fantastically, was terrified for the first bit of the journey, but she gritted her teeth and by the time we were travelling home, there she was at the back of the boat, surveying the sea, head up, having conquered her fear. Brilliant little girl. James meanwhile was fine until the last ten minutes, when the motion began to get to him, but only mildly.

And they saw a Puffin! So now they have one on the fridge.

Many photos will make their way to Flickr but in the meantime, I want to tell you that if you have any empathy with the sea at all, or whales (as opposed to Wales), or indeed, you have ever read Moby Dick and enjoyed it you absolutely must, I demand, read "Leviathan" by Philip Hoare. It's so wonderfully mental, and brilliant, and enthralling and so beautifully written... I missed it every time I had to put it down.  And, extraordinarily, part way through I discovered that the Whalers from Nantucket negotiated a british whaling post at Milford Haven, which was the biggest town closet to where we were staying. That was a hell of a peculiar coincidence. A quick trip to their charming small museum and a whole bunch of information about Milford Haven's early history, alongside two wonderful examples of "Scrimshaw" fitted like an extra, beautifully carved and unexpected jigsaw piece in to my Leviathan experience.

Turned out, by the way, that the chap who negotiated with the Nantucket Quakers, and who made the small town of Milford Haven quite economically prosperous for a long time was none other than Lord Hamilton. He of Lady Emma Hamilton / Nelson fame. So now you know.

Nora had tears in her eyes that we were going. James wants to go back and stay for 100 days.

 

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