Our first trip was to the Forest Holidays campsite at Bracelands, near Christchurch in the Forest of Dean. We've been here a couple of times before, once as part of our Forest of Death cycle trip in May 2008, and once almost exactly three years ago, when Nia was about the same age as Alys is now. This was the trip where the campsite entry barrier attempted to eat my old Ford Focus, a scenario we avoided this time in a few ways - firstly by not having the Focus any more, secondly by attaching a large roof box to the top of the Mondeo as a barrier (though I suspect it wouldn't have stood up to having a site entry barrier land on top of it), and thirdly by actually going to a slightly different place, the tent section of Bracelands having moved down the road a bit since we were there before. The site we were previously in now contains some little log cabins which look lovely, though they do seem to be eye-wateringly expensive to hire.
Secondly, we made a repeat visit to Bluestone in Pembrokeshire, this time with our NCT chums Huw and Zoe and their two children. Lots of the obligatory hooning around in the pool with the kids, one cheeky visit to the onsite pub for a pint (very decent Reverend James this time, though it is by no means my favourite thing - a bit dark and malty for my taste), and one bit of adult time (steady on, it's not what you're thinking) where we put the kids in the crèche for the morning and went off to do their High Ropes challenge, which is Go Ape! in all but name. Interestingly the only way in which the Bluestone version differs from Go Ape! proper - which we've done twice, once at the Forest of Dean and once at Margam Park - is that it doesn't include the Tarzan Swing into the big cargo net, which is the scariest bit as it requires a proper step off into the void. Perhaps they didn't want to traumatise the Mums and Dads too much before they went back to pick up the kids.
We also took a trip to the beach at Tenby, where Huw and I had a go at throwing a boomerang (one of these, I think) he'd recently acquired. I have thrown a boomerang precisely once before in my life, in a school field in Market Drayton in about 1992. On that occasion a good hour or so of attempts yielded precisely one successful throw and catch; here maybe half that time yielded two, plus a couple of near misses. Perhaps my technique is improving. Remarkably I have photos of both sessions: compare and contrast the differences in both boomerang technology (the 1992 model was an old-skool green wooden V-shaped one) and my waist measurement over the course of about 23 years. Note also how my beautiful daughter has done her best to photobomb the recent photo.directions to Tenby are as follows: past Eightby and Nineby; if you get as far as Elevenby you've gone too far.— Dave Thomas (@electrichalibut) September 2, 2015
There are some quite interesting and extensive caves in the cliffs at the south beach at Tenby (the boomerang picture above is taken from a vantage point just in front of them), some brief exploration of which yielded the inevitable scalp injury which you can view below, and compare with the earlier one inflicted by the kitchen doorway at our old flat in Newport.
One of the myriad benefits of having a luxuriant thatch of head hair is a fraction of a second's early warning that you're about to hit your head on something, allowing you to take evasive action - plus of course a bit of padding in the event of an impact. If I'd still had the 1992-era haircut I'd have been fine.
Anyway, Forest of Dean photos can be found here, Pembrokeshire ones here.