Sunday, October 24

Wales Or Bust

Madeleine moments before meeting "Rusty" - the fulfillment of a two year campaign and dream come true.

Saying our good-byes to Dave and Tabitha and their clan, we head for Wales crossing the Brecon Beacon on a lovely autumnal day. It is hard not to be impressed by the splendid scenery. The mountains are red-brown which, Sonnet notes, are ferns now dead from the seasonal cold. 50-degrees latitude yet tropical plants cover most of the visible countryside. Bi-zaar. We are on our way to Rhayader, Powys.

Mid-morning outside Bath in the parking lot of the closed Pet Shop superstore, Sonnet saves the day with her Android phone with directions to where we are going. The sat-nav not programmed for Wales. The kids on the edge of their seat.

We drive past the Big Pit which draws shudders from the Shakespeares. Recall the pit a disused coal mine which today provides access to tourist via an elevator-drop some hundreds of feet below the earth's surface. The tunnels narrow and claustrophobic and, since Eitan and Madeleine the youngest by like 20 years, we found ourselves at the tail end of the group struggling to keep up. At one point Madeleine's torch falls off and while fixing the problem we are momentarily separated from the guide. The kids screamed like nobody's business and we were well glad to get the hell out of there.

The Anglo-Saxon word for 'foreign' or 'foreigner' was
Waelisc and a 'foreign(er's) land' was called WÄ“alas. The modern English forms of these words with respect to the modern country are Welsh (the people) and Wales (the land). Historically in Britain the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used indiscriminately to refer to anything that the Anglo-Saxons associated with Celtic Britons, including other foreign lands (like Cornwall), places once associated with Celtic Britons (Walworth in County Durham and Walton in West Yorkshire), the surnames of people (Walsh and Wallace) and various other things that were once new and foreign to the Anglo-Saxons (ergo,"the walnut"). None of these historic usages is necessarily connected to Wales or the Welsh. The Anglo-Saxon words derived from the same Germanic root (singular Walh, plural Walha) that has provided modern names for Continental lands (e.g., Wallonia and Wallachia) and peoples (e.g., the Vlachs via a borrowing into Old Church Slavonic), none of which have any connection to Wales or the Welsh. Source: Wiki.

Madeleine: "Do you know where we are going?"
Me: "Yes, I just don't know how to get there."