I will spare you guys the aching about my train ride yesterday to get here. It was just awfully boring and I spent most the day on the train. However, once I arrived Claire and Geoff were immediately there to whisk me away to their house where we enjoyed tea, beer, and cake. Which is quite the triad. After some chit-chat and figuring out how their accent affected some sayings… such as “have a lunch” sounded convincingly like “see an avalanche”. We were off to bed for quite the county tour today. After a light breakfast these two took me on a whirlwind of a tour along the coast seeing different beaches, filling me in on different historical lessons as well as local history. The stones from Stone Henge came from this area and no one knows how they were moved to where Stone Henge is located. In 2000, a group was awarded a grant to try and move a comparable stone from here to Stone Henge. They rolled it 15 miles to a beach, then attempted to load it on a raft to float up the coast. While they left the stone on the beach overnight, many local farmers came with their tractors and hid the stone for a few days!
The local history did not stop here. The French had attempted an invasion nearby in the late 1700’s and there were loads of other things to learn. While hopping around to the different beaches, forts, chapels, cathedrals, and towns. We had plenty of good laughs and near collisions on the narrow country roads. Geoff and Claire are super friendly and chatted with everyone we encountered today. We stopped by a chocolate shop and the lady who owned it recognized Geoff from grade school! We were given a few free pieces of chocolate to enjoy later. I had only gone in there to buy a chocolate bar because Claire had said she didn’t like Hershey’s, which was very sac-religious to say after we had just finished at St. David’s Cathedral. We stopped for lunch at the Sloop Inn near a harbor for the old brick works. I had a traditional Welsh Dish called Lamb Cawl, essentially lamb stew. It was delicious. Afterwards we headed to the Gwaun Valley Brewery, had a few pints on my client who set me up with Claire and Geoff and even brought a few bottles home!
We tackled the other half of the coast today. We started in Milford Haven which was an old port town and has gone quite downhill since its hay day. However it has a beautiful view of the river and town! Pembroke dock was our next stop. We crossed a bridge that replaced the old way of crossing the river. That method was a 10 car ferry. During construction part the bridge collapsed onto the houses below and into the river. Thankfully, that was not a problem today. We continued on to Pembroke Town where Pembroke Castle is located. It is the birthplace of King Henry the VII, the first English claim in Wales, and we took a guided tour of the castle. The tour made the castle experience 200 times better than I could have experienced it alone. Our tour guide was a retired history teacher and was extremely passionate. He was extremely knowledgeable and kept everyone entertained and engaged for an hour and a half. To top off the tour the castle boasted a few exploratory options such as a cave underneath, the dungeon tower, and the keep. The view from the keep was amazing and you could see all of Pembroke Town. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone travelling in Wales.
We continued on to St. Gavons Chapel. It was tucked away in a cliff face. It was built in the side of a cliff to hide its location from pirates so that they would not plunder it. The legend of this chapel was that St. Gavon was being chased by pirates and he hid in a cut in the rocks. The rocks closed around him and hid him until the pirates passed. There were rib cage marks in the wall that I could see. The legend states he built his chapel there immediately after. Access to the chapel is not guaranteed as the only road there is in the middle of a military tank range. If the tanks are firing then the road is closed and people cannot access the chapel. We went to see Geoffs old town and school after this. We saw where his family was buried and the school he went to at first before he had to move. A refinery had been built at the top of the hill and they paid everyone in the town to move out as there were major fears of explosions from the refinery. 4 families refused to be paid and still live there today. We wrapped up the day enjoying the beers we got last night courtesy of Lorrie and Kenny with dinner made by Claire. We have done so much so far and tomorrow is looking to be a more relaxed day to ease me back into travelling home and getting straight back to work.
I woke up sickish today so I slept in a little later. After I made it out of bed we went to a nearby keep that was built in strange fashion. It is called a Motte and Bailey. The keep is placed on the top of a hill, the motte, while the top of the hill/inside is referred to as the bailey. It was a simple thing, located in a field that used to be the English/Welsh Border back in the day. After this we went down into an old estate where multiple rivers meet. It was beautiful. We came back to the house then had lunch. It was left over’s from last night but it was so good. We went to dinner at a local Indian restaurant so that I could treat them to dinner after how amazingly hospitable they had been with me these past few days. The evening wrapped up with Claires sister and neice coming to visit. We drank tea and had Christmas cake. Don’t worry, I have had enough English tea to hold me over until my next trip. Tomorrow I will be spending a lot of time on the train and a night in the airport so I can get home to film Episode 11.
Full video: stay tuned