Tuesday, 4 August 2015
We went to Fishguard this morning, a charming little market town which clings to a series of cliffs and hillsides. It's actually the location of the last invasion in Britain by the French; an event which happened in 1797. By all accounts it didn't go too well for the invaders. Within two days they'd surrendered unilaterally. The Welsh, we're told, fought viscously. One Jemima Nicholas single-handedly captured twelve French soldiers, and women were also responsible for a brilliant act of subterfuge when they paraded around a hillock dressed as male soldiers and convinced the French that the British army was much larger than they'd initially calculated.
There's a brilliant Bayeux-style tapestry in the town library which local residents sewed in 1997 to celebrate the event's 200th anniversary.
I managed to hide two little toy snakes underneath the tapestry as part of the game I've been playing with the two girls. They knew they were looking for snakes in the shape of the number seven, and created a little rhyme in order to summon them...
"Seven snakes in the tapestry
One plus two plus one plus three
These are the words which hold the key
To set the snakes in the tapestry free!"
We came home for a late lunch before heading back along the coast, past Fishguard, and onto the most remarkable little spot called The Blue Lagoon, an old slate quarry which is breeched by the sea at high tide. At low tide an incredibly deep and impossibly jade-coloured lake is left in its wake which has become immensely popular with cliff divers, who jump from a couple of natural platforms created by an old industrial building on the edge of the quarry.
The place is so so beautiful. The slate cliffs which surround it are a fusion of blacks, greys, rusty oranges, browns and whites. It's been pretty awful squally weather today, but as we sat on the flinty beach, the sun suddenly burst through and everything started glowing majestically. I braved the freezing water for a swim. It was like being attacked by a thousand needles to the extent that my arms started going into spasm and my heart began to thump like crazy in my mouth. At one stage I thought my body was actually shutting down, but it was so so worth it. Nathan, Meriel, Sam and I swam to the mouth of the quarry and stared out through a tunnel of slate columns to the sea where the waves were crashing and bursting like foaming fountains illuminated like a million sequins by the late afternoon sunlight. It was magical beyond words and well worth coming close to death to witness!
Emerging from the water was like stepping onto a tropical beach, such was the coldness of the water in relation to the outside air. Drying myself with a towel, however, was like rubbing myself with sand paper.
As we left the beach, the heavens opened once again and we drove back to the cottage through driving rain, which, rather brilliantly, stopped when we got back to the house. This mad West-Walean weather can work rather well!