My Love Affair With Wales

Welsh Countryside
Originally uploaded by Liz du Canada

As I have mentioned before, the best thing about Wales is the Welsh. Not to generalize about an entire nation of people, but I have yet to meet a Welsh person who wasn’t funny, curious, wry, and generous to a fault. Here are a couple of examples from my recent stay:

1.) I get off the train with no map or plan as to where to stay in Swansea that night. I have one night and then am off to a friend’s house, but I am not going to sleep under a bush. I’m too old for that. Anyhow, it’s a gorgeous sunny day and I’m happy to walk along, when I spy a Unitarian church. I knock on the door and am invited in by the caretaker. He gives me a tour while the woman who runs a dance school in the church hall calls around looking for the best rate. When she’s got something good, she lends me her mobile to talk to the hotel proprietor. THEN, the caretaker drives me the couple of miles down to the oceanfront and introduces me personally to the man at the hotel.

2.) My fab friend Ness took a day off work to drive me around South Wales and look at museums and go shopping. This is absolutely true to form for her, as her house is kind of like a Hitcher hostel. Need a mini-break? Tell her you’re coming and she’ll be ready. Her husband and children have adapted readily, as they never know who’s going to be in their living room at any given time. Pretty cool.

3) While Ness and I were shopping, I decided to get a few more bras at Marks and Spencer. Let me just evangelize a moment on the importance of wearing the right size. it’s important, okay? Okay. And if I want to actually go to a store to try on a bra in my size, that bra is going to cost about a hundred bucks, if not a hundred and fifty. So. I wanted bras. M&S bras start, in my size, at about 16 bucks. So, yes, I was buying bras. Anyhow, I’m there in M&S, and I tell the salesgirl what I’m looking for. Not only does she race around the department gathering a dozen bras she thinks might suit, she enlists the help of a friend, who goes off on her own bra-hunting mission for me. That hasn’t happened in any other M&S I’ve ever been in.

Now, the Welsh have their detractors, who say that they are a volatile bunch, prone to setting fire to holiday parks ( trailer parks) to protest English domination. Sure, they can get a little agitated, but who wouldn’t, after more than 700 years of being told they were inferior and useless? Hell, I’d torch something as well.

Another thing I love about Wales is how the people and the land form a kind of dichotomy. The people are gregarious and love to laugh. The land keeps secrets. The people will buy you a pint and start a conversation, but the land waits for you to listen to its whispering. The people are moved to act. The land waits, and is, down in the very bones of earth, possessed of a kind of stubborn patience that says, ‘You can’t change what is’.

I do love Wales. I kind of wish I was still there.

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