An Adventurer Settles… in Pembrokeshire

Alex Rawson on her travels

Alex Rawson has had the travelling bug for much of her life. Born in Reading, she moved to Hong Kong with her parents when she was nine. She was also fortunate enough to spend her holidays exploring much of South-East Asia and parts of Africa with them.

With her mum and dad still living there, she still thinks of Hong Kong’s more rural island of Lantau as home.

 “I consider myself so lucky to have grown up in one of the most multicultural places in the world,” she told us.  

Only returning to the UK to undertake her degree in geography and tourism management in her late teens, Alex then tried office work for a short while but knew very quickly that it wasn’t for her.

A life of adventure followed, with her travelling and working in places many of us could only dream of. She met her partner, Kane, ten years ago in Honduras, and the couple have continued their adventures together.

Alex has worked on a game reserve in South Africa, collected data on whale sharks in Mozambique and managed watersports centres in Honduras and Fiji. Looking for a change and not afraid of getting her hands dirty, she was also happy to muck in with the locals and worked on a variety of different farms in Australia.

I asked Alex about the risks of living in the outback and she told me about some of the dangerous creatures she encountered on a regular basis. “It wasn’t uncommon to find redback spiders in among the grape vines, and you’d always be sure to keep an eye peeled for brown snakes when climbing out of your tractor.”

Rooms in the five-star hotels where she worked weren’t really her cup of tea. She has always sought after more authentic experiences, such as real village life in Fiji which she and Kane called home for close to four years, living right next door to the village chief.

Alex in Fiji with friends

Travel problems have included contracting dengue fever, through being bitten by a mosquito in Thailand, which had both her and her partner hospitalised for several weeks. “Typical me – leaving it too late to go to the doctor’s and falling really ill – meant that I ended up having to be escorted on a four-hour ferry ride to another island with an IV drip as there was no local hospital.”

So after all that adventure, what is Alex doing in Pembrokeshire?

Quite simply, Pembrokeshire is her partner’s home.  He spent his childhood growing up in Fishguard and, with family still in the area, they have visited numerous times over the years.  Falling in love with the beautiful surroundings and laidback pace of life, plus a desire to start putting roots down somewhere, saw them return. “We’re incredibly lucky to have seen as much of the world as we have, but we are now at the point where we’d like to have somewhere to call home. As silly as it sounds, I would often see beautiful pieces of unique artwork when travelling and always wanted to have somewhere to be able to put them, something that just wasn’t possible when we were moving around so much.”

The Grand To Grand ultra-marathon

Alex tells us about one holiday to Pembrokeshire a few years ago where she spent a few months training for the Grand To Grand, an ultra-marathon in the Grand Canyon: “Having miles upon miles of beautiful coastal path right on my doorstep was the perfect training ground and I couldn’t help falling in love with the beauty of Pembrokeshire. 

“We came back her in January 2020 and were immediately in lockdown, but recently, with some lifting of restrictions, we have been able to get out in the boat. I couldn’t believe the incredible diversity of wildlife here and there are more pods of dolphins than we have seen anywhere in the world. I have also been enjoying more leisurely walks with Kane’s grandma and her dog. There are so many lovely places. I can’t wait to be able to get out and explore more.”

Swimming with sharks

Kitty Parsons

Kitty Parsons

Kitty is an incomer, with five summers under her belt and the knowledge that even the wettest and greyest of winters have not diminished her love of Pembrokeshire. She knows she will never live long enough to be considered a local but hopes to leave some small mark through writing about this beautiful county and its people.

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