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Saturday, 01 July 2017

Exploring Wales and England through the Eyes of Friends - Page 3

Written by Dale Fehringer
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The Budded Mountain

Driving in England was getting easier, as we had figured out roundabout etiquette, adjusted our brains to staying on the left side of the road, and learned to lift a hand to other drivers in a friendly apology when we made mistakes. We crossed the beautiful Severn Bridge and re-entered Wales. This time we stayed with Dave and Kath, friends who live in a lovely stone house outside Oxwich, a small village in southern Wales. They both work in Swansea, a 20 minute drive (or 45 minute bicycle ride, or two-hour kayak ride) from their home.

Our hosts took us to dinner at a small neighborhood restaurant in the nearby city of Cardiff and to a concert at Acapela, a recording studio in a converted Welsh chapel. The next morning was sunny and mild, so our hosts led us on a hike to a nearby beach and in the hills near their house, and later a longer trek on the Wales coast path up and over the hills to the Worm’s Head, a spectacular nearby peninsula. We packed sandwiches and even a portable kettle and enjoyed hot tea and savored the sun and views of the Irish Sea. Lambs played on the hills and spring wildflowers offered a contrast to the green grass and gray cliffs. Fellow hikers stopped to visit with us, offering cheery observations and favorable comments on our American accents.

Worms Head

We had dinner in Swansea and watched the sunset, and then walked to a nearby pub to witness a tribute to Allen Ginsberg, the 1950’s San Francisco beat poet who had visited Wales and composed a poem about its beauty. Film clips of Ginsberg were followed by locals reading “beat generation” poetry, an historian reciting the history of Ginsberg and Dylan Thomas, Wales’ famous poet, and a reading of Wales Visitation, Ginsberg’s poem about Wales. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day.

When the next day started drizzly we wondered if we would go out, but Dave and Kath assured us that Welsh people persevere in the rain, so we threw on rain jackets and headed out for a hike around the Mumbles, two large islands near Swansea. Waves crashed into shore rocks and sea birds squawked at us when we paused to enjoy the spring flowers growing among the rocks. Our final evening in Wales included a superb lamb dinner in Dave and Kath’s charming home and the company of Johanna, an elderly neighbor who added charm and interest to the conversation and the evening.

As Dave drove us to the train station the next morning, we hated to say goodbye to this beautiful and charming place. We had seen an exquisite piece of the world from the viewpoint of friends, and we had been welcomed, entertained, and given a glimpse of life from their perspectives. In the process we had experienced more than a new land; we had seen another way of life. Travel is a unique and eye-opening experience; combining it with friendship is heart-warming.

On the train back to London we reflected on our time in Wales and England and recalled our favorite lines from the Allen Ginsberg poem:

No imperfection in the budded mountain,
Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,
daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,
grass shimmers green.


©Dale Fehringer

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Friday, 30 June 2017

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