Sally Walton's Travels
A WEEK IN WALES
I had been told the weather prediction for my week in Wales was cloudy with chance of sunshine, sunshine with chance of showers or conditions variable. In fact, my friend picked me up at Heathrow for the 3-4 hr drive to West Wales on the hottest, sunniest day of the otherwise rainy summer.
The next morning we headed off for a walk, I in a pair of borrowed Wellington's which were slightly too big for me. As I struggled to get through a muddy bog, one Wellie stayed in the knee-high ooze, as I toppled in the mud. My clean new clothes for this walking trip were covered with mud, and all this before breakfast!
Each day we set out in a slightly different direction to explore sea side resorts, castles, standing stones, mountains, villages, several towns, old churches, a cheese factory, woolen mill, most of these along small narrow roads. I fell in love with the River Teifi winding it's way through many towns and villages that we visited, and providing delightful picnic spots and walks along its banks.
Every day's adventures also included a stop at a local pub with varying choices of bitters and lager. There was usually a lesson in Welsh pronunciation as well. The Welsh hold up their glasses and say something that sounded to my ears like "Yucky dahl". I was corrected that it is actually Yecky dal (my own spelling - not the Welsh!) I had such a laugh just making this toast that I always felt merry even before the first sip of beer.
Attempting to get somewhere near the Welsh pronunciation for place names was a daily struggle. Though I have some facility with language, I found Welsh almost unpronounceable. On our longest day trip we drove through Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, and Blaenau Ffestinog. I practiced the "ll" pronounced as "cl", and other sounds like clearing the throat just before a spit which I never mastered.
Reading the local paper gave a chuckle with ads like "Enjoy a slap-up meal!" and "The best in tasty bangers". A frequent conversational colloquialism was "She got her knickers in a twist."
I learned a lot about cricket watching bits of the test match between England and South Africa. England's triumph brought great rejoicing all around. In daily life there is much disparaging of the English but in a cricket match, all is one country.
It was a wholesome holiday with lots of walking, talking with the local folk and seeing the delights of Wales. I highly recommend it for those who like to function in English on their travels, and still feel that they are in a unique culture. Croeso a Cymru! (Welcome to Wales).
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