Sunday, 2 August 2015

Ah! Wales

We’re in Wales. More precisely, we’re in the most Western part of Southern Wales, in the midst of the Pembrokeshire National Park, somewhere between Fishguard and the Newport that isn’t the Newport near Cardiff. This is Welsh Wales. The Wild West… 

We drove here, with Sam and Matt and a shed load of baggage crammed into our car. The weather was beautiful in London. By the time we’d reached the Severn Bridge, it was looking overcast, and as we passed the “Croeso Y Cwmru” sign, it started to rain. Welcome to Wales indeed! 

Wales isn’t just the Land of My Fathers, it’s the land of MY father, so I always feel like I’m coming home when I enter its green, green embrace. And of course the landscape is green because it gets well-watered. Hence the rain. But my Dad tells me the weather in these parts doesn’t stick around for very long - whatever it is - and that has certainly been our experience so far. 

We stopped in Swansea for lunch. Everyone is exceptionally friendly in Swansea… and inquisitive. They’ll basically talk to anyone - particularly those they don’t recognise. We went around Tesco buying food for the house we’re staying in, and must have talked to five people. One woman came up to us to talk about garlic, and a young lad outside wanted to know all about London. He was an outsider himself, he said… Turns out he was from the Rhondda!  He was part of a group of teenaged lads who were talking to each other in the most peculiar blend of Welsh and heavily accented English. They told me they were off to play rugby on the beach. They were wearing the wrong clothes for rugby, and it’s the wrong time of year for the game, but they assured me they were off to play a match. Maybe there’s a new sport called beach rugby? 

Swansea is covered in wild flowers. It’s obviously some kind of initiative by Neath Borough council because all of the verges by the sides of every major road are covered in the most amazing riot of colour… So, so beautiful. Bravo Neath County Council. (I may have made that up. It might be a Swansea City Council initiative. Is Swansea even in the borough of Neath?)

It seemed to take forever to reach our little cottage. We’re staying here with a bunch of university friends. Tanya, Raily, Mez, Hils and their associated loved ones, plus, of course, Sam and Matt. We holiday together every year, but this is the first time we haven’t ended up on a campsite. (Although, Nathan and I have latterly ditched the tents and opted for the relative luxury of bed and breakfasts.)

The cottage is a Sam and Matt find. They stayed here two years ago and raved about it in a most infectious way. So here we are, and it’s absolutely stunning. We had our tea on a terrace overlooking the beach, which is 100 meters below us. I genuinely had to keep pinching myself just to take in the glorious view. As the light faded, the sea appeared to get lighter in colour until one could almost imagine it being made of milk. We went down to the water’s edge, out of a gate in the garden and down a magical set of natural steps through a little wooded area. It’s all rather Famous Five, and I think the kids with us are going to have the most incredible time. We walked along the water’s edge and skimmed pieces of slate on the calm water. 

I blinkin’ love Wales… 

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