Today is the feast day of St David, in remembrance of his death in 589. It’s the custom to wear one of the Welsh national emblems, either a daffodil or a leek on this day. We ate the leeks yesterday and although daffodils are growing in our garden there are no flowers yet so here is a photograph of the daffodil carved on Celtic slate by Reg Beach. The carving is beautifully coloured using waxes that were applied to the slate when it had been heated. This plaque hangs in the kitchen next to a little Welsh dragon to remind me of my Welsh ancestors.
The red dragon is the heraldic symbol of Wales and there are many legends associated with the Welsh dragon dating back to the Roman occupation of Britain. In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain the red dragon is a prophecy of the coming of King Arthur – his father was Uther Pendragon. Other stories tell of a red dragon defeating an invading white dragon which Merlin interprets for the king to mean the victory of the Celts over the Saxons.
According to Chris Barber’s Mysterious Wales Myrddin or Merlin actually did exist, even though the stories about him seem like fables. There were in fact two Myrddins, which have been fused to form the traditional figure of Arthur’s Merlin.
On a trip to Wales a few years ago (2003) we went from Herefordshire into Wales through the Golden Valley and came across Arthur’s Stone. According to folklore this marks the spot of one of King Arthur’s battles, but that’s doubtful as this is a neolithic tomb dating from 3700 – 2700 BC .
These are just a few of my favourite places in Wales we visited in 2003.
The Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel is a 19th century inn where the Climbers’ Club began. It’s the place where the Everest Expedition of 1953 was planned and on the ceiling in one of the pub rooms you can see the signatures of Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir John Hunt, Joe Brown and other members of the team. We had lunch there surrounded by photographs, old climbing ropes, ice axes and old boots which were hanging from the ceiling.
Tryfan is 3002 feet above sea level, one of the highest mountains in Wales. Many years earlier (when we were young) we’d camped at the base of Tryfan on a rock climbing holiday and D climbed to the top of Tryfan – it was beyond me even in those days.
The Devil’s Kitchen next to Cwm Idwal above Lyn Idwal is one of D’s favourite spots in Snowdonia, one of the routes to Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr. We (yes me too) practised rock climbing on Idwal Slabs.
Walking is more to my liking now and here I am in a very dark forest in the Brecon Becons.
And a photo of Welsh sheep near Machynlleth in Powys
The sheep came running down the hillside as we sat in the garden of Plas Dolguog Hotel one evening. This hotel was fascinating. It’s an early sixteenth century manor house with Victorian extensions and the gardens are amazing full of strange and wonderful sights.