A self-catering break in Pembrokeshire

Delightful cottage Bwthyn Gerrig's dining room and well-equipped kitchen in the backgroundDelightful cottage Bwthyn Gerrig's dining room and well-equipped kitchen in the background
Delightful cottage Bwthyn Gerrig's dining room and well-equipped kitchen in the background
Pembrokeshire is the place for eating well on holiday on a budget, says Wendy Gomersall

The trouble with holidays is they can be so darn expensive. It’s not just the initial outlay for transport and accommodation; food and drink add significant amounts to any budget, too.

Thankfully, a self-catering break can save you a tidy sum, allowing you to treat yourself to eating out a couple of times on your holibobs without feeling guilty. So all you need is a volunteer cook in your party and a destination with lots of yummy food available on the doorstep.Get yourself to Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales, for the freshest fish, crab and lobster, gorgeous seasonal veggies, fabulous cheese, butter and just-baked bread, tasty specialities such as laverbread and welshcakes, and refreshing Welsh beers and wines to wash it all down.Ask Douglas Balish, Executive Chef at The Grove of Narberth, if you don’t believe me. Born in Scotland, Dougie began his career in Ayrshire and joined The Grove in 2019."The food scene in Pembrokeshire has exploded in the last few years, with a vast array of local restaurants, small artisan bakeries and unique cafes, supplied by local coffee roasters," he says. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce."In our supply chain, we have Pembrokeshire fishermen delivering straight to the restaurant just hours after landing, along with vegetable growers and farmers supplying meat, cheese and raw dairy."On the drinks side, we have wonderful producers creating local sparkling wines and gins, amazing local beer, and even vermouth from foraged items."Do treat yourselves to dinner at The Fernery restaurant at The Grove one night if you need proof. But first, you have to save some funds with a bit of self-catering. Luckily, Dougie was kind enough to give us a recipe to make a tasty dinner in our fabulous holiday cottage.Our accommodation was perfect. We booked into Bwthyn Gerrig, Berea, near Abereiddy, a delightful stone cottage sleeping up to six. Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire offers more than 500 holiday homes in the area, sleeping from two to 28 guests, with 40 per cent dog friendly, too.Our holiday home has a brilliant kitchen, equipped with everything we’d need and everything we didn’t know we’d need.There’s a big, cosy lounge, separate dining room with extra sofas, two double rooms and bathrooms downstairs, and a wonderful third bedroom with two single beds accessed via a spiral staircase, a perfect holiday den for kids.They’ll love the pair of ducks that waddled up the path beside our cottage daily, too, and the chickens and goats next door and dobbins and donkey in the distance. The sea is only a ten-minute walk away.Now, all we had to do was track down our ingredients…On the first night though, we decide to take it easy and headed north for possibly the best haddock and chips in Britain, at The Shed, theshedporthgain.co.uk, three miles away in Porthgain. The portions are huge – go hungry; watch out for the whopper seagulls.Next morning, we headed for Britain’s smallest city, picturesque St Davids, a ten-minute drive away, to buy provisions at CK’s Supermarket.We left with Pembrokeshire Gold rapeseed oil, Parsons Laverbread, Totally Welsh butter, a lemon - and two crème doughnuts, freshly baked on the premises, not for recipe night but a yummy sugar hit before we toured picturesque St Davids Cathedral.St Davids is a fantastic little city, with a range of great places to eat and drink as well as pick up further supplies. We found Pembrokeshire sea salt at St David’s Food & Wine. Still no fish yet though… A visit to The Bench icecream parlour cheered us up.Feeling lazy, we collected dinner from the Pizza Shack at Coastal Stay campsite just up the road, coastalstay.co.uk, where we order a couple of huge pizzas and a round of garlic bread. Delicious, and so convenient.Day three, and you can’t go to Pembrokeshire without visiting Melin Tregwynt, Abermawr, melintregwynt.co.uk, a working woollen mill since 1912 and offering truly beautiful blankets, cushions and other textiles for sale – I bought a pink sheep now called Jason, don’t ask.It also has a very nice café. The menu includes beef cawl, a hearty, traditional Welsh broth, served with crusty, warm bread and a hunk of fantastic Colliers Welsh cheddar, and it is utterly delicious.Next day, our mission is to find seaweed, as I’m scheduled to cook our special dinner the next evening. Car-Y-Mor, just outside St Davids, carymor.wales, started the first regenerative ocean farm in Wales, and sells a range of seaweed products. You can order Pembrokeshire seafood, too. Anna Gilbert-Falconer, who has Scottish heritage, has a wealth of knowledge on all things seaweed. We buy some dulse to go with our potatoes.We couldn’t track down Angle Bay asparagus, so instead, snapped up some lovely baby courgettes at Perennial plants, garden, farm shop and café close to our cottage, perennialstdavids.co.ukWhich leaves the seabass…You can book a boat trip and have a go at catching your own little fishy for your dishy. Coastal Cottages’ excellent concierge service can organise many activities as well as food hampers, flowers and fizz, even cookery courses.We had a stroke of luck – Something Fishy near Solva could order us some ultra fresh fish to collect the next day, and we just got our order in on time. Two glistening seabass fillets (we’re not good with whole fish) for £7.That evening, my friend Val and I cooked up a truly delicious dinner, thanks Dougie. And what it lacked in visual finesse, it more than made up for in taste. Enjoy!A week for up to six guests at Bwythyn Gerrig costs from £600; four-night break from £450. £3 from every booking goes to the Coastal Communities Fund, supporting projects protecting Pembrokeshire’s landscapes. Book on: coastalcottages.co.uk

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