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Tales from Wales.

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Well, we made it! After a most confusing email from Parkean late Friday evening suggesting their touring and camping in Wales would remain closed until 24 July we were frantically trying to find an alternative on Saturday when Parkdean called to confirm we had received the email and whether we wanted to continue, cancel or upgrade to a static. As it turns out, it was only the facilities which were closed, toilet and shower blocks. The chap who called said most people had read the email as if the whole site was closed and that it was very badly worded. No apology though. 


Sigh of relief, yes we are self sufficient in the necessary areas and we will still be arriving on Monday (July 13).


We had already checked in online by this time, as per their COVID19 policy, and would receive an email the day before arrival with our arrival details, pitch numbers and park map so we could drive straight in and there would be a box with our welcome pack and resort passes waiting for us on our pitch, which all seemed pretty efficient. Except that the email never came. As Sunday rolled on we kept checking but no email. by mid afternoon no email so I rang them, or at least tried. At 7pm after two and a quarter hours on hold we got the closed message, despite their website giving Sunday hours until 9pm.


So on Monday morning we set out with some trepidation, had the booking been cancelled rather than reconfirmed by the chap who called on Saturday?


We travelled with other family members and arrived on site together. Apparently Ty Mawr were not doing the email thing with pitch details, a make shift check in had been arranged at the entrance barrier and we were given our pitch details and map. We also asked if we could pitch face to face with each other, i.e. one van in nose first so the awnings faced together which meant we could keep the children in a more enclosed space. We had booked their largest pitches so that we could do so whilst maintaining the fire gap etc. Yes, that was not a problem as long as we maintained the gap. I expressed my annoyance at not being advised we would not get an email, if I knew not to expect it I would not have wasted half my Sunday evening trying in vain to ring them. 


So we made our way to our pitches, which were adjacent as we requested. Each pitch is marked by a slab with it's number painted on, but no indication of the edges of the pitch, and no instructions given as how to pitch. We have visited Parkdean sites many times but this is the first time we have taken out own van, so, looking at how the slabs were arranged we decided the pitches must be slab to slab and arranged the caravans accordingly. I put mine nose in using the mover and my sister in law reversed in (or at least I reversed her in!) and we set about hooking up and getting awnings done. The depth of the pitches meant we could park our cars in front of the caravans and still leave plenty of room between our units, and between us and any neighbours. 


So having settled in a warden appears to tell us we are pitched the wrong way around and were infringing the privacy of our neighbours but having explained that we were together in an pre existing family bubble all was well, until ... About an hour later the warden returned with a manager to explain that not only were we the wrong way around but that both vans were off center, and that we should have our jockey wheel on the slab, a system I have not come across before. On sites we have visited with strict pitching rules it has always been van, awning, car so this was new to me. Apparently we should have known that every site anywhere in the country you always place your caravan in the center of the pitch. I quickly called up photos on my phone from our February trip showing the site with the arrangement I was used to, only to be told that they were "doing it wrong too".  We also explained that we were oriented as we were because we were told it was OK to do so at check in. Apparently we should not have been, and it was our fault that we had the wrong information because we had asked a silly question. 


When we asked why there was no information about how to pitch on any of the paperwork we received on arrival we were told that the warden would have seen us on to the pitch, but he was busy on the other side of the park at the time of our arrival. The site has two separate touring areas at opposite ends of the park but only one warden to cover both, apparently we should have waited for him to show us how to pitch, something else we were not told and it was at least an hour and a half after we arrived before he first appeared we were by this time not happy. We also queried the lack of water on the pitches. When we booked there were two options, smaller pitches which stated no water, and larger pitches which did not. Apparently the lack of the phrase "no water" on the description does not mean that there is water. I guess that is our fault for making an assumption. 


We were eventually told to stay as we were, not that we had any intention of moving anyway and whilst the people we spoke to were always polite the fact that the blame was placed firmly on us, rather than the lack of information from the site left us fuming and a stinking complaint has gone to Parkdean which as they have no email contacts at present has been posted snail mail. 


The main reason for choosing a Parkdean site was for the entertainment, the children love the kids discos etc but of course they were not running. We booked early, well before the pandemic and lock down and were looking forward to being able to tire the kids out at the evening entertainment. Of course, we can't and don't blame Parkdean for the pandemic but they could have done more to rearrange things. There are plenty of outdoor areas where they could have arranged something, they had managed to reopen the bars and food serveries, they had reopened the paid activities such as the Bear Grylls sessions which we booked our eldest on to and he thoroughly enjoyed, but none of the children's characters, the "Starland Krew" made any appearance, and with a little though and imagination it could have been done. 


So in effect we ended up with a couple of squares of unserviced grass and little else, at full park dean prices which made them rather expensive squares of grass.


Anyway, enough about Parkdean, and more about the area. 


Ty Mawr itself is in Towyn, midway between Abergele and Rhyl. Neither are particularly pretty or exciting places though Rhyl has a nice beach and towards the end of our 8 days the weather had picked up enough for us to enjoy a couple of evenings on it. We likes the beach in later afternoon / evening. They are less busy, you don't have to worry about the kids getting burnt quite so much and at Rhyl the tide was coming in during the afternoon which meant it was great fun watching it race in (and it does come in mighty fast), covering the little humps and filling the hollows, playing desert islands, building sand dams and then breaking them down and watching the water rush through, all great fun. 


We had a day out to Betws-y-coed which we like very much, and the rain held off long enough for a good walk around the town and wonderful cream teas from the little cafe in the visitor center courtyard. We drove back via Llandudno and The Great Orme, the top of which was well and truly in the clouds so we didn't stop, but heaaded back along the coast through Rhos and Colwyn Bay which have changed a lot since we last stayed there. The hotel we used to visit in Rhos is now a block of flats, a shame as the restaurant there served the best steaks you could ever find. 


This holiday was the first since our lock down renovation of the caravan, and the first outing for the new air awning in it's full configuration. As for the caravan everything worled very well except for the cursed Trum ultrastore which despite a recent overhaul still seems to heat water up as and when it feels like it, and never when you decide to wash up or take a shower. I'm afraid it's days are  numbered and an alternative method of water heating will be pursued. The awning was brilliant. cannot speak highly enough of the Bradcot modulair and despite the doomsayers telling us we would find it too heavy to thread, it would leak, it would deflate etc etc we had no problems with it at all. 


Despite the issues with the site, and the fact that this part of the country would not rank amongst my favourite places we had a great break, much needed after staring at the same four walls for four months. 



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