After settling into the Dolawel B & B, my home for the next two days, hunger drove me down into the picturesque harbour of New Quay for a bite to eat. Down the hill, passing quaint pubs and shops, the sight of the harbour came into view. Many people were milling around, young and old, here for the bank holiday weekend. Mostly from the Haven campsite across the bay, I guessed.
After perusing a couple of venues for my first meal alone, I chose an eatery partaken in before with my other half. Conscious of his absence, I took a seat on a bench overlooking the sea, outside on the terrace. The last time I was here, Dolphins were spotted in the near distance by other diners and a crowd gathered to watch them. The place was called the Old Watch House for a reason.
There is a pod of Dolphins living in the bay and regular boat trips take you out there to see them in their natural habitat. They are known as the Cardigan Bay Bottle Nosed Dolphins and I decided that on this visit, I was going to do the trip.
I ordered the St David’s Chicken, in keeping with the local cuisine and treated myself to a glass of red. I wasn’t doing any more driving that day and for some reason, felt the need to explain to the waitress that it was my first time dining there alone; as if it was a crime or something. Either that, or I didn’t want to be seen as “Billy no mates”! It is funny how I felt so vulnerable on my own and didn’t want people to think there was something “wrong” with me because I was holidaying alone. It took a couple of days to acclimatize to the sense of solitude but I told myself it would be character building.
It was about five thirty before I got down to some serious writing and I managed a couple of hours. If I were a serious writer, I would have spent many more but, you see, I am a slave to the TV. Britain’s got talent was on, followed by an old film which I liked, coupled with a bottle of wine that I had smuggled into the room, that was the end of my first “writing day.”
The next day started with promise, on account of the fact that I misread my watch and ended up downstairs in the breakfast room by eight fifteen. I was so shocked that I had risen that early on a Sunday morning that I only ordered a small breakfast; not the Full Monty. On a positive note, it meant that a full day lay ahead to do the writing that I had driven all the way here to do.
I got down to it, in the peace that I craved so badly and before I knew it, I had done four whole hours worth. Then the grumbling sounds from my stomach told me it was time for lunch. I had already decided that I was going to visit the Penwig Hotel today, to shake things up a bit. I had also been there before, with the other half of course. I didn’t relish the idea of walking in there alone, as it was quite busy; making my single status even more conspicuous. So I took my trusty ipad for company, which worked very well. Computers make very good companions, in the absence of real people to have lunch with. I even sent the other half an email, so I could still have a remote conversation with him from two hundred miles away.
I had a very nice Brie and Bacon sandwich, washed down with a couple of Desperado’s and began to feel more at ease with my surroundings. Unfortunately I had missed the last boat for Dolphin spotting but there was always tomorrow before the journey home. So instead I decided a walk along the beach to take in the scenery was in order. It was then that I remembered that this was where Dylan Thomas wrote most of “Under Milk Wood” and had hoped that I too, would get some inspiration from my surroundings. Alas, it was not to be.
I did enjoy my time on the beach, even fully clothed. Then I thought of Shirley Valentine again (because there were a few rocks close by) and thought if she could be happy in her own skin, then so could I. After all, I was going home tomorrow and things would be back to normal. The other half would be waiting with open arms (in fact he was VERY pleased to see me) and I still had a catch up with my sister to look forward to this evening.
She lived a few short miles away in a tiny hamlet called Ffostrasol and we had arranged to go for an Indian in the Royal India brasserie, where we have eaten a couple of times before.
My sister breeds and shows Great Danes in her very limited spare time, which is why I didn’t see her during the day, as she had two shows over the weekend. We met as planned and had a very pleasant meal and catch up and I was secretly relieved to not be dining alone again. It was over all too soon and I probably won’t see her again until Christmas but hey ho, it was good while it lasted.
The next morning I was up and ready nice and early and had decided that I was going to see the Dolphins, up close and personal. I knew where to purchase a ticket and after a short wait, while I read my book, it was time to board the boat in the harbour. A burley, bearded man helped me into the boat with his strong, chunky hand and I joined the other people, who were a mixture of young and old again.
The sea was nice and calm, which I was very grateful for; worried that I may get tossed over the side as I cannot swim. To my relief, there was a brief health and safety talk and I learned that there were plenty of life jackets and a life raft if the occasion arose. Happy in this knowledge, I began to relax.
It wasn’t long before we saw our first Dolphin, albeit far in the distance. It was swiftly followed by another, appearing out of the water to tease us with their presence but not close enough to get a decent photo. We waited with baited breath for the next sighting, which was also many feet away but even so, it was nice to see them jumping out of the water for a glimpse in their natural habitat
The boat chugged along the coast, the skipper pointing out objects of interest. There was a colony of seabirds nesting on the cliffs, which could not have been seen from land. There were also seals in the bay but we were unlucky that day, as they must have been elsewhere.
We slowed down to a spot where a number of Dolphins were accumulating and waited again. The skipper told us that due to strict conservation laws, he was only allowed to stay in that spot for a short time, so as not to scare the elusive creatures. Flipper still kept his distance but I managed to get some shots. If I zoomed in enough, a dorsal fin could just about be detected. Then my moment came. For I got a full frontal of one jumping out of the water with what looked like a smile on his face. Bingo! Again, I had to zoom in before any features could be distinguished but that was the best I was going to get today. If you look very carefully and zoom in on the photo, you may just catch him leaping out of the water with a splash. Disappointing I know; will have to come back another time and try again.
The sea kept calm and all in all, it was a good trip and I was glad that I plucked up the courage to go. I didn’t need my sea legs after all. The hour trip was soon over and we made our way along the coast to the harbour, where the next boat load of eager Dolphin spotters were waiting.
It was time for my last meal alone before the journey home and this time I chose the Hungry Trout, a renowned seafood restaurant, where I had a very pleasant salad of Crayfish tail and avocado, which was delicious. I conversed with the waitress confidently, now I was getting used to solo dining and was surprised how relaxed I was; not self conscious at all.
I was also confident that I would find my way home without getting lost, which I did and cut an hour off the original journey because I knew what I was doing this time. The conclusion was that I actually spent four hours more driving than writing but the experience to go it alone had taught me that I could do it if I had to and that once I got used to it, I quite enjoyed it. Would I do it again? You betcha!