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The storm, the gales and the earthquake – half term camping in Wales

If I told you our latest camping trip involved 12 hours of driving rain, gales and an earthquake would you believe me? What if I told you that was just the first night?

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Regular readers will know we’ve not had much luck with the weather while camping. Apart from a couple of dry and, in the end, quite sunny days at the start of May this year, all of our days spent camping have involved rain.

This half term we went to Plas Farm in north Wales for four days with our friends, the Ws. We left Yorkshire in drizzle and conversation in the car revolved around the bright bit in the sky to the west that we seemed to be travelling towards.

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It always seemed that we’d be out of the rain soon. But “soon” never came. In fact, ironically the weather got marginally better – and by that I mean changed from banging rain to the occasional patch of drizzle – as we arrived in Wet Wales.

A brief respite while we chose our pitch and rendezvous-ed with the Ws soon gave way to a steady drizzle. From 4pm, thankfully just as we finished getting the tent up, the rain became proper big, hard drops. It didn’t stop for the next 12 hours.

During the evening we four grown-ups took shelter in our tent and drank wine (well, what else could we do?). After a late-night dash to the toilet block during which I cursed Husband for persuading me not to get any kind of toilet solution for the tent, we got settled for the night. The rain drummed like a military tattoo on the roof of the tent and the wind howled but we eventually managed to get to sleep.

Just after 4am Buddy woke us. He wasn’t sure what had woken him up and didn’t take long to settle, although we did. Strangely the rain stopped about 20 minutes later, almost instantly. When morning dawned we heard about the earthquake which had been felt nearby – 3.8 on the Richter scale sounded quite big. And the timings corresponded with Buddy waking up, so we can only presume he felt something.

We were trying out our new porch on this trip – which now I’ve read the instructions was perhaps not the best idea. The instructions say not to use the porch in high winds or on the top of a hill. We had done both. Oops. Even without this knowledge we were nervous as the way the porch attached to the tent created a kind of kite that the wind was trying hard to make fly. And it was touching the tent, meaning we did have a few drips during the night, although thankfully not in the bedrooms.

On the Wednesday we all took the children to Greenwood Forest Park and had a great time. The weather even bucked up for a while and we didn’t need to wear thermals or winter coats. Well, it was the end of May after all.

I’ll review the theme park separately, but suffice to say it was a really good day out involving a roller coaster, sledging in AstroTurf and a barefoot trail (whoever invented that is seriously warped, but perhaps not so much as those of us who went in it).

Another damp evening followed and an early night for us all, but we were optimistic about the following day, which was forecast to be sunny.

Unfortunately the forecasters got it wrong so we ended up spending a rather damp day in Llandudno. Husband, in a rare moment of optimism, declared the drizzle a sea fret and we put our best smiles on as we explored the pier and parts of the clearly once amazing Victorian resort.

Luckily the children were happy throwing stones into the sea rather than paddling in it and I was touched to see Husband and Mimi working on their own little creation, do you like it?

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I prefer my version.

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Lulled into a false sense of security by the forecast we’d planned a BBQ. But our luck changed (finally) and at 4pm the drizzle cleared, leaving the Welsh hills behind the site bathed in late afternoon sunshine.

The kids had yet more fun with their new friends in the playground and we sat around enjoying the weather – with just 19 hours of the holiday left.

IMG_0172 The sunset was amazing and a very pleasant evening followed, with perhaps a few too many marshmallows and glasses of pop, and we woke optimistically on Friday morning thinking it would be good to pack away the tent in the dry. At least the end of the holiday would be good.

Those turned out to be famous last words as I came down with a sickness bug (no, it wasn’t the effects of the night before). I spent the 2.5 hour journey with my eyes closed concentrating on not being sick. I made it 2 hours.

Husband had already declared that the weather meant this break could never reach the dizzy heights of “okay”. In the end he downgraded it to “unacceptable”. I think that’s a bit harsh.

So I’m still hoping for a camping trip that he will upgrade to “okay” as I reckon that secretly he’s starting to enjoy at least bits of the experience. We have one more weekend booked at the end of August and it would be great to slip another one in between now and then, but I think I’ll wait til we’ve a free weekend and the forecast provides a cast-iron guarantee of sun before booking that one. Maybe a whole weekend of sun will convince him. Keep your fingers crossed…

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20 thoughts on “The storm, the gales and the earthquake – half term camping in Wales

  1. Phil Daniels

    Well, you’ve been very unlucky with the weather! We were away in south Dorset for the half term from Monday to Friday and had one day of rain on Tuesday. The rest of the time it was glorious! Maybe you should consider heading a bit farther south?

  2. Hazel

    Blimey, well at least it wasn’t boring. I love Wales but I have never been there and not be rained on at least a little bit. I guess that’s what makes it so lush. I think Phil might have a point, try further south – and east! You were so unlucky to get sick too. I think unacceptable is actually a reasonable summing up by the sounds of it!

  3. Rob B

    You really must have done something to upset the weather pixies as the Peaks/Manchester have been bathed in constant and glorious sunshine every day for the last week and a half with the good weather forecast to continue right in to next week.

    Hoping it holds out a while longer as we have our next trip away booked for the 14th/15th/16th June in Gloucestershire. Testing out a newly acquired Pennine Folding Camper :D

    1. Louise Post author

      Ha ha! You’re right, I must!

      Enjoy your new kit. Looks like the weather will be nice here too this weekend. Wonder if it’ll rain if I pitch the tent in the garden?

  4. Erica Price

    Sounds like the sort of holiday you will talk about for a long time, even though it wasn’t the best. We have one like that in our family which also took place in a rather wet wales.

    1. Louise Post author

      I’m going to be doing daily sun dances until our next trip in August as penance for whatever I did to the weather pixies. Clearly I ran off with one of their husbands or something…

  5. Suzanne

    Listen Louise, I told you that Wales + Camping = Disaster! You didn’t listen! Mind you, even we didn’t get an earthquake, that’s pretty impressive. I see the hubby’s enthusiasm for camping is growing ;)

    1. Louise Post author

      I’m afraid I’m not good at listening once a plan’s in place Suzanne!

      And I think, secretly, Husband is finding bits of camping he likes. There was definitely a few smiles, especially when he was sat by the fire, beer in hand. I’ll break him soon enough. Mwah ha ha ha!

  6. Verily Victoria Vocalises

    Why can’t this country and its weather just buck up its ideas?! As if rain wasn’t enough it throws an earthquake in for good measure!! You are one brave lady to go through that. I have to say that the sunset looks beautiful – my camping in a tent days are behind me but that scene with some wine and marshmallows would make it worth it. Thank you so much for linking to PoCoLo and welcome xx

    1. Louise Post author

      Thanks Victoria. #pocolo has been great.

      The camp fire, good company and just seeing the freedom the children have make it all worthwhile. We’ve all got thermals and waterproofs, so can cope with the weather.

  7. Cathie B

    This brought back so many happy memories of our family holidays camping in Devon. We even took our dog! The sounds of the zips on the tents is etched in my mind and I so enjoyed reading this x

  8. Rob B

    The thing is, it can rain anywhere, anytime. People talk about guaranteed sun but there is no such thing. I got an emal from a friend of mine last night who has gone to Spain in his motorhome. I read his email sitting in my Derbyshire garden, baking in the evening sunshine whilst he tells me they have barely left the campervan all week because of the lashing Spanish rain and freezing temperatures.

    If you have the right kit and the right attitude then you can be just as snug in a tent as you can in a cottage or a hotel. I always look on a rainy day as just another excuse to go to the pub :)

    That said we seem to have reasonable luck with the weather, yes we have had the odd disaster but generally we have seen plenty of sun.

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