A man’s summer in Wales
I’m not gonna lie, I did not plan to spend the first week of August in Wales.
My holiday at home was the result of what I’m calling “unforseen circumstances”.
But with a week’s leave to burn, I set off determined to discover what I had been missing out on since moving to London and I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s the five things I re-discovered about Wales…
Cardiff is once again home to the shell suit
After wasting dozens of Sunday afternoons wandering around Spitalfields, heading straight to Cardiff’s own pop-up market was perhaps least imaginative first step on my journey of cultural rediscovery I could have taken.
Although the Welsh incarnation was smaller - if London has a fully hipster beard, Cardiff has a slug of top lip stubble - all the visual indicators needed to furnish the life of a socially aspirant youth could be found for sale.
Battered XXL Barbour jacket. Check. Moth-eaten cold war issue shell suit. Check. Luminous orange string crop top. Check.
I dodged a gang of hola-hooping children and beat a retreat down Womanby Street for a more traditional stroll through Bute Park.
One does not just get a bus in Wales
With my sights now set on Wales’s natural beauty spots, I set off for a family day out to Southerndown with my sis and cousin.
We declined the offer of a lift. “It’ll be nice to take in the countryside on the way,” we agreed.
An hour’s wait at the bus stop and a panicked phone call to the company later and we’re on the way.
On the way, until that is, drive declares he’ll be late for the reverse journey unless he turns around now. Faced with the prospect of being abandoned at a hut-come-bus-stop in a remote village, a pensioners revolt ensued.
Good manners soon gave way to middle class heckling. “We’ll never get to M&S at this rate,” crowed one retired radical.
After facilitating negotiations between drive and his bosses (his phone had no signal and I had their direct line from earlier) we finally arrived at sunny Southerdown almost two hours later than planned.
But you can get a tan
We stomped grumpily down the slope to discover the tide had swallowed up the beach long before our belated arrival.
Only sandwiches, squash and a long lie down could now save our once idylic day out.
With no sand in sight, I splayed myself like a seal on the flattest rock I could find and drifted off to the sound of waves.
The result - less tan, more minor burns - only became clear to me later at the pub, where I spent the evening covering my face like a blushing geisha.
The Eisteddfod is a national fresher’s fayre
It may look like a cultural festival if you’re watching on S4C from an arm chair but it’s pretty difficult to distinguish from a raucous uni fresher’s fayre if you’re down on the Maes.
Dozens of stalls staffed by people hoping to slap a sticker on you, ply you with booze and, if possible, take a few quid off you. It’s enough to make you snog a stranger.
The free tipple on this occasion came courtesy of the Chubut Government…and with the kick of a wild Patagonian horse.
That and few more cwrws brought some of the Welsh I learned before disappearing over the border flooding back.
The evening ended, in true Welsh student style, with a tuneless rendition of Mae Hen Gwlad Fy Nhadau on the way to find a taxi in the rain.
Omlettes are a Welsh delicacy…
“Would you like an omlette?”
The offer famously fired at Nessa by Gwen in Gavin and Stacey is the very same my nan made to me most lunchtimes. I suspect me and Nessa are not the only ones.
Yes is always the answer. They are “immense.”