Pembrokeshire promise

This week we took the teens whose summer plans had crumbled back to the scene of many of their childhood holidays. A last-minute booking of a comfortable cottage adjoining farmland in Lamphey, Pembrokeshire led to a few sunny days of coastal walks, beach cricket, reading, picnics, clifftop  ice creams, garden boules, sunset chip suppers, beer and a late-night box set of Foyle’s War.

More of a mini-break than the promised holiday but it did us all a lot of good to be together by the sea. Not that we’ve been short of time together since the end of March. It might be the only beach time we get this summer. I’m glad we made the most of it.

We’re planning a Winter version at the end of the year.

Things to do in the Summer Hols….head for the beach

Following on from my series of *Things to do in the Summer Hols* here’s the first of this year’s offerings. What’s a Summer holiday without a few trips to the beach?

I grew up near the sea in Pembrokeshire.Now I live in landlocked Wiltshire. Mostly it is on Winter days that I miss the salty air. There’s a lot to be said for blowing the cobwebs away on the beach, snugly wrapped up against the elements with a flask of coffee in one hand and a tin of flapjacks in the other.

My children are more at home on warm sand.No trip to our house in Pembrokeshire is complete without a few afternoons spent at Broad Haven or Barafundle on the Stackpole Estate, Marros, Marloes, Druidstone or Amroth.None of these beaches are commercialised and most involve a walk to get to soft golden sands and waves good enough for body boarding.

We employ the packhorse approach to arriving at the beach with body boards, cricket set, badminton kit,buckets and spades, sunshade, windbreak and copious amounts of water, juice and food, arriving towards the end of the afternoon when others are heading home and the water is at its warmest. For this I must thank my dad, who spent endless summers arriving home from work and scooping us up for an early evening swim before dinner. Whole days on the beach happened but rarely and usually involved a lot of soggy tomato sandwiches packed into a Family Circle biscuit tin. (You can see why I’m not a fan)

This year whilst the rest of the family dug, swam, surfed and read I did a bit of investigation into seaside planting. There are some very hardy, wildly beautiful, bee-friendly gardens out there. There are the obligatory rhodedendrons all over the area but I spotted sea kale, sea buckthorn, buddleia, olives, figs, pittosporum, viper’s bugloss, thrift and valerian doing well. Silver leaved plants like santolina look particularly well against the sand, pebbles and driftwood. And in a very exposed site someone had made good use of rosa rugosa, blackthorn and Quercus ilex to protect their less hardy specimens. I seem to recall Joy Larkcom doing something similar. Seaweed mulch also helps the fertility of the soil and one very experienced seaside gardener told me that he never buys plants from nurseries where they have been too cosseted.Seaside plants must be tough.

I came home inspired to create a little seaside garden of my own in an exposed site……… proving it is possible to take the girl out of the garden but not gardening out of the girl – even on holiday.

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