Just about everyone I’ve spoken to on the Llynn Peninsula from the local MP to folk I met at the campsite have told me, in no uncertain terms, that I must visit the pub on the beach, Ty Coch.
I am nothing if not obedient. A sunny day, the promise of a lager shandy and a sarni, a pub on the beach…
Could it possibly live up to my expectations?
Things look promising as one wanders across the golf course that’s on the way to this pub of pubs, meeting people with big easy grins on their faces…a bit of banter, a bit of chat…
‘Is it really THAT good?’
‘Go and see…’ was the almost universal response.
I arrived on the beach, and I defy anyone not to have the same response as me.
It is ludicrously beautiful, from the traditional looking bar itself exuding soft reggae tones, to the beautiful blue sea lapping the sandy shore of this most exquisite of bays, with a variety of boats, placed seemingly for decoration like baubles on a Christmas tree.
Everyone is smiling.
I take one step onto the beach and I’m chatting to Pat and Paul, a couple from Walsall.
We all seemed to have the urge – the need to share this with someone – is it really this beautiful?
Well, yes it is.
We’re chatting freely – Pat tells me she’s had depression on and off for most of her life – treated through long term psychotherapy and medication.
Paul is the first to say he didn’t really understand mental ill health, but over their 40 odd years together he’s been keen to learn.
In amongst all the talk – one thing stood out for me.
At one point, Pat had been asked how she would feel if she woke up tomorrow to find she no longer had depression.
Terrified – was her response.
This was something that Paul had struggled with. He’d attended a number of therapy sessions with Pat such was his motivation to get his head round it.
A mental health problem is a pain in the arse – why wouldn’t you want to be rid of it?
It Pat’s case – and in mine to some extent – yes, it’s a pain in the arse – but it’s a life long familiar pain in the arse.
It’s my pain in the arse – it’s part of me.
It’s not the same as that oft quoted attack on your person with a mental malady – YOU DON’T WANT TO GET BETTER!
It’s like being told you could be better if you had a sizeable chunk of you lopped off.
They went off while I smiled a bit more at the whole situation.
I took a couple more steps and met Louise and her family – she has a physical disability to the point that she is unable to propel/ control her wheelchair.
This wheelchair had big floaty tyres that enabled them to safely pile into the sea together – everyone was having a hoot.
In all my years as a social worker I’d never seen the like.
It was American, of course. Not NHS/ social work issue.
We chatted a bit later – Louise has another, very heavy attendant propelled wheelchair provided by social services.
For those of you who’ve encountered these leviathans you’ll know they aren’t the easiest things to get up a hill.
Louise’s dad, a practical sort, attached an electric motor to it to make those most difficult hills flatter.
Social services response?
The wheelchair is on loan from social services so Mr Louise’s Dad isn’t authorised to make alterations to it.
They threatened to take him to court.
Anyway, I finally made my way up the few steps into the bar – Stewart, the king of this particular castle, said, ‘You can’t bring prams in…oh, it’s not a pram, oh, this is Hubert? What does Hubert want to drink?’
…and promptly gave me a pint of the sacred lager shandy, gratis, on the house. He was busy, but promised to catch up with me later.
I had some cheese and onion sarnies – there is no better food – and chatted to some of the other punters filling the rest of my time staring gormlessly out the window.
It got to the point where it looked like Stewart – sporting a most impressive moustache and beard combo – wasn’t going to find that chat gap, so I started on my way…
And was intercepted – by er, Stewart who was very interested in the ramble.
Being something of an expert on accents, I concluded that he was from one of the villages in Northamptonshire – probably near Kettering…
‘I was born here on the beach,’ he told me, ‘I’ve lived here all my life. My mum took the pub over from my dad, and I took the pub over from her…’
I should have a TV programme, such is the prowess of my ability to spot regional accents.
All too soon it was time to go… I said something along the lines of, ‘Hubert isn’t going to pull himself…’
(Which, in retrospect, is something I’ll never say again)
…and Stewart intercepted by thrusting £40 into my hand saying, ‘Get yourself another shandy up the road…’
My advice to you, dear walk a miler, stop what you’re doing NOW.
Say to anyone who might miss you for the next few days, ‘I may be gone for some time,’ and go to Ty Coch.
It really is that good.
Walk a mile