Justin forgot to explain in his previous post but we have a new acronym, well a new meaning for an old acronym. JJ now can stand not only for our first names, but for a magnificent description given to us by a drunk at our local tube station… As we left home at 9.30am on Sunday morning with our backpacks and stood at the ticket machine topping up our travel cards, a drunken young man who from the look of him was heading home after a night on the town stood close behind us and spoke to someone on his phone, describing how he was queuing up for a ticket behind ”two backpackers… they look like Jehovah’s witness Jedis”. Not sure exactly what that means (something to do with wearing black maybe?) but we like it!
So anyway, taking up the tale where Justin left off, last night we stayed in Mumbles, or as the Welsh spell it, Mwmbwls (vowels are overrated) just outside Swansea which is apparently where both Catherine Zeta Jones and Dylan Thomas are from. This morning we awoke to more ice and frost, presumably there was rain during the night as ice sheets covered the footpaths. After checking the level of the tide – much higher than the previous evening, as the bay there has the second greatest low/high tide differential in the world! 11m, twice daily, very impressive (the stony beach I’m standing on in the last post was completely covered by metres of water this morning) – we went to Oystermouth castle which unfortunately was closed due to being the extreme off season. But very picturesque from the outside. By the way, Welsh Cakes – delicious – a cross between scones, pikelets and shortbread.
We headed off from Mwmbwls to see some more of the Gower peninsula, first going to Worm’s Head (named after the ancient term for a dragon, not your common or garden variety worm, as when the tide is high the coastline looks like the loch ness monster style dragon poking out of the water) which was a beautiful headland, all bleak cliffs, sheep and saltbush. The tide was in so we couldn’t walk out to the Worm’s Head, and were content to enjoy the view, observe the remains of a 1870’s ish shipwreck poking through the sand, and watch paragliders hover with the birds in the crisp air overhead instead. Beautiful weather, blue skies and barely a cloud, just a touch on the frosty side.
We then headed to the North side of the Gower peninsula and tracked down King Arthur’s Stone, a neolithic dolmen, a 25 tonne quartz capstone balanced on little upright stones – not quite as impressive as one we saw in Ireland but great nonetheless, and even better for being so deserted, plus it was adjacent to a cairn burial ground and surrounded by an amazing landscape of bright green grass, red bracken and white snow (welsh colours), plus frozen lakes! I guess the novelty factor explains it but we’re ridiculously overexcited by frozen bodies of water, and spent a good hour photographing them, bouncing stones off them, and shuffling nervously out onto the ice before skidding back to the edges with squeals of delight when they creak and crack ominously under us. By then we’d then got completely off the track and had to trudge back to the car through semi-frozen marshland where tussocks of firm-looking grass would squelch into pools of icy water under our feet and prickly gorse bushes would poke through our thermals.
Back on track driving through a landscape that varied between sunshine warming autumnal browns and reds, through to a glittering winter wonderland of very fine icicles frosting barren leafless forests – with a temperature shift to match, varying between 4 degrees and minus 2 degrees. And we headed to Tenby, a picturesque seaside resort with pastel coloured terraces and a very intact fortified old town wall (I think the most complete in the UK) although the experience was slightly marred by the non-appearance of public toilets even after following WC signs in circles around the entire town – we ended up using a pub, then felt obliged to buy a drink, which as soon as we left led to the desire for the non-existant public conveniences… oh the irony. We enjoyed the almost deserted beach while the tide was out and rambled around the rocks and the jagged cliffs as the sun set, then decided to push on to St David’s, arriving tonight at around 7 ish. With a population of 1800 people, St David’s holds the title of the UK’s smallest city – it only has the honour of being called a city due to the magnificent cathedral. We wandered around after a pub meal and saw the locals spilling out of the cathedral after a christmas service, but will have a closer look tomorrow. We are in the third floor of a little hotel called Y Glennydd, and we feel like giants as the ceiling is so low.
Apologies for the crazy formatting. Jehovah’s witness Jedis signing out, may the farce be with you…