Revisiting a childhood holiday
Some oil painting, our time in Tenby. We meant to go camping to a near-Med sunspot but young children are prone to getting bugs at wrong times. My brush with a fever too close to our dates scuppered us.
We drove west instead, on a narrowing sea road, tarpaulined grey roof rack flapping in sympathy with its twists and turns, the afternoon light becoming threatening. The sky’s overcoat reflected the slate shades of the valleys and scattered villages.
By the time we found the site, too high above the beach and too far from the town, rain was pelting down, our pre-booked pitch a seeping mire. Manoeuvring the car – as unresponsive in the mud as the vacant-eyed cattle at the roadhead – Dad damaged a crucial part that, ‘You wouldn’t understand!’
While his frustrations battled on against storm-rent canvas and snaking guy ropes, I ventured out, against instructions. The stricken steps facing gale and torrent are stuck in my memory – wet-plastered into ageing neurons.
It’s an awesome, proto-picture postcard of Celtic coastline; a post-impressionistic, underwater inferno, hurled at by writhing monsters locking firmament to ocean. Fractured cascades dissolve into the rising abyss. For all roads leading there, none return.
I’d slipped, and was covered head-to-toe in gluey, black slime. We spent one night. Limping home, we swore an oath: never again. Last year, I did go back. Glinting lines of static caravans stretched across the tops, like a sea-serpent’s bleached skeleton. A whitewash.