Trip Home 2012

Posted by tom on July 03, 2012

Left work in a nice timely fashion having made up my hours during the previous weeks. Tree drove to Pittsburgh Airport and we checked in 2 and a half hours before oure flight time. We sorted out carry ons and got through security. We sat at our gate and waited to start boarding. Our flight was supposed to take off at 3pm, but as it got closer to 3pm it was becoming abundantly clear that our flight would not be on time and with that, it flashed up on the board that our flight was delayed and would be taking off at 3:30pm. We could cope with that as we had a 2 and a half hour lay over in Chicago (The Windy City).

The Windy City was apparently living up to its' name as with that the flight time changed to 4pm and then 4:30pm. There was a big storm over Chicago delaying all flights in and out. We finally got on to our plane and took off around 5pm local time (4pm Chicago time), which pretty much meant that we were going to miss our connection back to Heathrow. As it happened our flight back to Heathrow was delayed, due to the weather, but was it going to be for long enough for us to manage to make it?

When we landed we got off the plane A.S.A.P. but the plane was so small our carry on cases would not fit in the overhead bins, so be had to put them into the "Valet." This is a small compartment under the plane for carry on cases. They then give them back to you when you land the other end of your trip, which means waiting PATIENTLY in line for your case to be unloaded. Eventually we got our cases and we legged it from our gate to the "shuttle." Once we got there we asked if our plane had taken off, we were told no, so a "shuttle" was called for us. I should explain that the shuttle was the other end of the terminal building, so it was a good sprint, with carry on cases and laptop bags - easy!

The shuttle finally arrived after about 10 - 15 minutes and we set on our way across the airport to the other terminal to be dropped off. Of course it was far too easy for them to drop us anywhere near our gate, and they dropped us up the other end of the terminal building. As soon as we got inside our names were called over the tannoy to say get to the gate now, or, you will not be on the flight - so another sprint was on the cards. I left Tree behind to ensure we got to the gate. Fortunately they held the plane especially for us. For the first time ever the plane air-con was set to HOT, not cold as it usually is, which is all you need having run around an airport, but on the positive side we were on our plane back home!

We landed about 30 minutes after our proposed time, which was not bad considering the delay we had - always nice to have a tail wind. We got through security and down to the baggage carrousel. Unsurprisingly for us, our cases had not made it to our flight, so it was off to file a report in the hope we would get our bags back. We are always prepared for such events and carry spare clothes in our carry-ons. We got the shuttle from the terminal to enterprise and got on the go. 5 miles down the M4 and the service warning light came on with a nice beep to tell us that the front drivers side tyre pressure was low. Hooray. As we were going to stay with Rae & Dave we pulled off at Bracknell and went to enterprise there to see if they could sort it out for us. Fortunately it was anice easy fix, but not something you want after a long haul flight.

We finally made it to Rae & Daves' in one piece and had a much needed cuppa, and then a nap before the kids came over. We had a party in Emma and Boes' room before me & Tree headed off to see her Aunty and Uncle who I had never met before.

Woke up to a notification that our cases had finally made it to Heathrow and that they would be delivered to Pembs today. I notified Mum & Dad that this was the case to make sure someone was there to receive them. We got up, got dressed and went to visit Trees' cousin before getting on the road to Gods' Country (Wales). The normal 3 and a half hour drive from Finch. too aboout 5 hours due to some unavoidable traffic. Fortunately there we some jams that could be avoided by using the back roads, and we did so around Newport, but Bristol and the Camarthen bypass (the part we got jammed in) were unavoidable as it was too late to skip round them. On our way we had a call to say our cases would be with us around 6pm.

We finally arrived in Haverfordwest and went straight to Mum & Dad Ps' for the evening. When we got to Mum and Dad's we had a message and update to say our bags would not be with us until midnight. They finally turned up about 1:30am, but at least we had the damn things!!!

We headed down to Milford to meet up with Trees' family at Marthas. Whilst we were waiting for them to turn up freesh from their camping expedition we took a walk around the diamond jubilee boot sale. We met a photographer simply called "H" while we were there. We got talking to him and arranged to go out with him the following week for some photography lessons.

We then headed over to Marthas and grabbed a table inside as it was windy and peeing it down with rain - Welcome back to Pembs!!! We went back to Mum & Dad Ps' for lunch and then over to Trees' parents for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Today we got up with the intention of going to Marloes to go on a boat trip to see the Puffins on Skomer Island. Trees' mum,Rae, Dave, Joff & Em came to get us from the house and we followed them over. They flew off infront, but we still managed to get there before them as they took a wrong turn. We got to Marloes and then hit a lot of traffic. We were kindly informed that the island and the carpark were both full, so we relayed the information and decided to head over to Dale to see if we could get a trip from there. We asked in the shop, but they were the same people as over Marloes, so there was absolutely no hope, We had a quick cuppa and then decided to go to St. Davids for the afternoon and try get a boat trip from there.

On the way to St. Davids we stopped off at Solva to grab a bite to eat at the ship which is now run by Brains and has changed a lot since I used to go in there after playing football for Sausage and Chips as our post match meal, then carried on our merry way to St. Davids.

Once there we enquired about a boat trip and decided we would go on the trip out to Ramsey Island. We then took a walk down to the Cathederal and then had to drive down to St. Justinians to get on the boat. Once we were out at sea there was quite an impressive swell, which we were told was used by Kayakers for thrills, we then saw lots of Razorbills, Guillemots and Seals. There were also a few sheep on the island. They are trying to get Puffins back to the island, they are trying to encourage their return by putting plastic dolls of Puffins along the cliff edges, lets hope they do make a return here.

On the way back to land we saw some Kayakers enjoying the swell. The captain decided to hang around and watch them for a while which did not please the safety boat who was there watching over the kayakers as he got right in their way. If there had been an accident, that would have been quite an awkward situation to be in. We got back to land, walked back to the cars and then headed over to Abereiddy to go to the Blue Lagoon. Unfortunately the tide was too far in for the water to look it's blue colour, but nevertheless it is still a lovely spot.

Today we went into Tenby, which is normally a nice little venture, but today it was pissing it down and blowing a gale - nice to be back home to enjoy such phenomina as Pembrokeshires' Horizontal rain. Today there was supposed to be a street party for the Queens' Diamond Jubilee. I am guessing that due to the glorious weather people had thought better of it and not made much of an effort. If this was the plan, then fair play it was pants. There was 1 marquee in Lower Frog Street serving soggy food, even the Jelly had rain water on the top of it - YUM YUM!! We went into a cafe to grab a cuppa and a snack or two, or three, had a walk around the shops before deciding it was a good idea to go back to Trees' parents place and sit round the log burner before dinner.

Rae, Dave and the Kids last day down in Pembs with us, we met up with Rae & Dave and headed out to Picton Castle for a walk around. We had some lunch and then had a walk around the gardens, including the herbal garden which was full of natural remedies for things, such as sore throats, the shits...etc... no Marijuana here for the record, it is not that kind of herbal garden. We then went back over to Trees' parents to say goodbye to Rae, Dave, Jake and Em. When we arrived Jake and Em were using the slip n slide Tree had bought them as a present from over in the States. They seemed to be enjoying it quite a lot.

Can't remember what we did today other than going down Wetherspoons for Brunch - Yummo!!!

Up and off to Cardiff to meet up with Jason, Ryna and Craig from the old days back in Uni. Me & Tree checked into our usual port of call, the Hilton, and went out shopping. We bought some stuff and then headed back to the hotel to get a shower and changed for the evening. We met the boys in Fat Kats, well, Ryan and Craig werre there. We then opened the book on how many minutes late Jase was going to be ;o)

In a surprising move, Jase was only 30 minutes late, so we got in another round of drinks (me on water as usual) and then headed off to Central bar to get some food. From there Tree went back to the hotel as she was feeling tired, but we moved on to the CIA to go to the Great Welsh Beer Festival - not one Gluten Free beer on offer - bugger! Nevermind! Whilst there I played delegate to what people should sample, which was quite entertaining, along with making sure Craig got the most potent of beverages on offer. After they boys had used up all of their beer tokens, myself, Ryan and Craig headed over to the Prince Of Wales for quieter drinks and of course a couple of games of Cluedo, Deal or No was the tradition in Uni. Our money winning was also upto tradition - i.e. - sod all! Eventually Jason caught up and joined in the games.

I was feeling pretty knackard by now, so decided it was time to call it a night. As I walked back with Jason he got a phone call from another old Uni friend, Neil who I literally hadn't seen since the Uni Days, so we went to the Gatekeeper to catch up with him over one drink. Spent about 30 minutes there discussing some of the finer things in life, such as Football and Music, before retiring to bed - Nos Da!!!

Went for a walk around Cardiff before heading home, had a sneaky watch of the 1st test between Australia and Wales, which as usual we threw away in the dying minutes, that was certainly the story for the 3 test series!!! We then got in the car and headed back down to Pembs. Today we were moving residence from my parents over to Trees' parents house. Before we did that we went for a walk along Broad Haven. The tide was far enough out to enable us to walk the whole length of the beach to Little Haven and back again before the tide cut us off, which it was nowhere near close enough to doing.

Tree decided to go for a paddle in the sea but that didn't last too long as I spotted loads of Jelly Fish being / had been washed up, so we thought it best not to go paddling. We walked back to the car and went back to Mum and Dad Ps' for a cuppa before moving over to Mum and Dad Cs'. When we got there they were out over at Sues' house, so while we waited we decided to head down to Saundersfoot for a walk along the beach there. It was a lovely evening for it. We got back to Trees' parents and spent the night chatting etc, and then headed off to bed.


Headed over to pick Mummy P up from home so we could head up to Bedlinog Rugby Club (Not far from Merthyr) for the afternoon. This place is in the back end of nowhere, and to say we had a good old adventure is an understatement, up and down mountains, through Vallies, it was interesting. The reason for this completely random trip to this completely random place?? It was the only place I could locate the RBS Six Nations & Triple Crown Trophies on their tour of Wales that was anywhere near home during the 2 weeks we were back home and I didn't intend on missing out on this opportunity.

We got to the club, had a look around and then the guy came up and opened up. We went inside to sit down and wait until the trophies arrived. A few people were giving us strange looks, and asking who we were (in amongst themselves) as is the way of the Valleys, local places for local people, but they did make us feel very welcome. We took photos of ourselves with the trophies, and the club also had their own photographer on hand. You can see his photos here.


On our way back from Bedlinog I pulled into a layby on the top of the mountains to take some photos, and as can only happen in this part of the world, a random person came up to me and asked me for direction to Merthyr. Strangely enough I didn't know, but I tried my best. But I think he probably spent the next few hours walking. We carried on our trip back and stopped off at Llanelli primarily for food, but we took a detour to Parc Y Scarlets to have pictures taken outside the stadium. Fortunately for us there was a side gate open so we managed to get inside and get some photos pitchside, unfortunately for us as it was not rugby season they had dug the pitch up, but nevertheless, it works for us. We then headed to the Spoons for some lunch and then back home. Tree spent the day with her family watching Men In Black 3 at the Cinema in Carmarthen :o)

Tree and her mum went Horse riding at Marros today. I was supposed to join them, but my back was knackard, but I went along for "Moral Support," or as it is otherwise known, going along to take embarrassing photos where possible. They did a 30 minute refresher course in the barn and then went on a 30 minute trek through the woods. I sat outside in the sun. It sounds as though I missed the best bit which was Mummy C trying to get down off her horse, I shall not make any further comments about that here!


After they had finished we got back into the car and made a pit stop at Amroth to grab a drink, it was beautiful along the beach front, nice, sunny and hot. Me & Tree then headed over to HWest for my Nans' 86th, and we met everyone down the spoons, John and Karen also joined us which was nice, and as always entertaining.

Marloes today, so we picked up Mummy P on the way to the boat, to go on our belated Puffin seeing tour out Skomer. It was a lot quieter than the previous week and the weather was good. When we arrived we were told that the island was full, but we managed to get on a boat that went around the island (although we only ended up going round the North End of the Island as the boat was so full. We had plenty of time to kill between arriving and sailing, so we took a walk up the cliffs before heading back to get our stuff to go out on the boat.

We all thought it was going to be cold out at sea, but is was quite the opposite, very pleasant infact, so there was no need to wear jumpers or anything. We saw hundreds of Puffins as well as the usual Razorbills, Guillemots and a few seals. The sea was pretty calm, although there were a few times footing was lost, but no one went overboard. Once we got back on land, we headed back to HWest, had a quick cuppa and some lunch before heading back over to Trees' parents.

This morning we went to visit Rhys, our hairdresser person in Tenby to get mops chopped, or in Trees' case chopped and coloured. From there we did a Cross-Pembrokeshire trip to Portgain to meet up with H for our photography course. Like all good courses it start off in the pub (The Sloop). From there we took the coastal path and headed towards Abereiddy. First thing of course was the steps up to the top of the cliffs, which is always good fun, but at least it was a nice day, even if it was a bit windy. The visibility was good, the only wildlife we saw were some seals and a few gulls, but nothing major, although we did hear an Owl in the old Quarry.

We were out and about for 2 to 3 hours along the path, and I learned a hell of a lot. It was more of a fill the gaps lesson on what I already knew and didn't know. This is a bit more awkward than just starting out where you know nothing, or, having a full knowledge, but he was very patient with me and managed to fill the gaps nicely. If you are ever in Pembrokeshire and want to take a photography lesson, this is your man, I highly recommend him. At the end of the walk / lesson we returned to the Sloop to review the photos we had taken, and you could see the improvement with certain shots immediately. Big thanks to H.

Visited Maz & Loo and then Joyce and Lawrence to start the day off, and then I headed to HWest to see my Mum, Bro & Nan whilst Tree went off shopping with her mum. That evening we said goodbye to my Dad and Bro, as they would both be working when we would be leaving tomorrow.

Said bye to Mum & Dad C and then headed over to HWest to say bye to Mum P, Nan and John. We then set out on the road back to Finch to stay with Rae & Dave. The weather at the start of the trip was terrible, but got better as we went along. We got to Rae & Daves'. Dave was out in the garage with Boe making a hobby horse, Rae had just taken Jake out to try out some Kung-Fu. The lesson he went to was more for kids, so he went back later to try again. That evening we had a curry, and Tree was not very well :o(

Went to Lockby farm to grab some breakfast, but Tree was still not feeling well. We then popped in to Wokingham to pick up the pictures from our disposable cameras from our wedding, and popped into Costa to have a look through them. Some good pictures in there :o)

Up nice and early, and dropped the car off at Enterprise, before getting onto the shuttle to the airport. Even though we were there in plenty of time we still ended up running to the plane as security was incredibly slow. Fortunately our flight had been delayed due to an inbound flight where there were a lot of people connecting to our flight - sounds familiar. We got to New York in good time, got through security after a while, it seems as though my finger prints took the system down for a bit. But we got our bags, dropped them off again and proceeded to our next flight. Got into Pittsburgh, got our bags, got our car and headed over to Sams Club to buy some things.

When we parked we had someone yelling that they were going to beat YOU to death. We were not sure if he was shouting at us, or, if he was having a go at his wife. Who knows, either way, good to be back!!!. We then went to Ikea to finish getting stuff for our house, we then set off home, and went to bed!! The end of another highly relaxing trip home! It was great to see everyone, I think we both cam eback more tired than when we left, nevermind, back to work for a rest.

Tom & Tree