Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leeds to St. David's in Wales

Mike's birthday is Saturday.  As an early birthday present we have spent this week at St. David's in Wales.  It is a wonderful place to visit and a popular tourist area in the summer since it is surrounded by beautiful shoreline, puffins, waves for surfing, islands to explore and beaches to walk.  Since it is the off season some of these are not available to us, like surfing in the cold, but it has still been wonderful!
We took the train from Leeds to Swansea and then rented a car to finish the trip here.  The countryside is beautiful with lush green fields, small cottages and sheep, sheep and more sheep.  Oh, and the roads are very narrow, very. (Check out the sign below concerning oncoming traffic. :-)  The signs are printed in both Welsh and English which is interesting.

We saw our first ever trucks spreading salt on the roads in anticipation of the roads freezing that night.  I just can't imagine driving those curvy, hilly, narrow roads when they are icy.  Luckily we were safely at our destination before anything froze.

As it got dark we drove past a lot more houses with lights and trees, inside and out, than we had seen before.  The lights and decorations, both in the homes and villages are very simple and hark back to when I was a kid fifty years ago.  I loved this vibe of a simpler time and found that it really did increase my Christmas spirit.  I love the feel of a simpler, slower, less commercial season. 

As we neared St. David's we passed through a small coastal village right on the shore and it grabbed me by the heart strings immediately.  I. LOVED. IT.  I would love to have stopped and stayed right there but we had to move on.  We have, however, returned there to walk the shoreline and soak in the peace and calm.

We are staying in a little self-catering flat here in St. David's that overlooks one of the two main streets and is in easy walking distance of shops and sights.  The buildings here are mainly built using the local stone which is green, red, yellow and the usual brown and black.  They are quite striking and it is easy to imagine people making their homes in them for hundreds of years.  They have that "I have been here forever" feel.


The town is centered around the cathedral.  The original was built by St. David about 1500 years ago.  St. David, the patron saint of Wales, is buried in the cathedral.  It has been enlarged and rebuilt over the centuries and is a wonderful building but also one built on a more human scale than many other cathedrals.  You can actually imagine people worshiping there or slipping in to say a personal prayer in times of great joy or sadness.

Next to the cathedral is the ruins of the former Bishop's Palace from which a succession of bishops oversaw their ecclesiastical see.  The people who oversee the ruins have done a wonderful job of giving you a sense of what the spaces would have looked like and been used for without overdoing it.  We really enjoyed seeing both spaces and we loved talking with the lady who was in the small shop at the ruins.  She really knew her stuff and gave us a good feel for the place.  She was a special treat to talk with.

A wonderful week and a fitting birthday celebration.

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