311.February 24

Nottingham, UK

It was Pauline's birthday today, from Rocky Horror show. I was supposed to tell CJ about this, but I forgot. I had British Countrysides class at 14:30 downtown.


Entering Wales

The Heart of Wales line, leaving Shrewsbury at 08:55, running 25 minutes late because of a breakdown. We started out quite empty, with me and two other passengers. But as the sun gets brighter, more people seem to pile in to absorb the sun off all the train windows. We just went through the smallest town in Britain, and just before that, passed the mountain where my father’s namesake was murdered by the British in 1282. Llewelyn was the last native prince of Wales. The place was Cilmeri.

We’ve just changed train conductors, or ticket takers, if there is a difference. The last was very helpful and told me more than I needed to know, but in a very giving way. The bare rolling hills passing by, with stubbly bearded patches and here deciduous trees. We left the evergreens in England. And we come to a red heather hillside, a few sustained trees, alone on the clay colored hills. Grounds are very green, otherwise. So I know it is a different plant. Passing through a lone tunnel, I’m keeping track on my map of their lengths.

Now in Llanymddyfri, what George Borrow called in 1854 “the pleasantest little town in which I have halted in the course of my wanderings. The Drovers is the name of their football team.

Just out of Llanelli, crossing now the Matter coastal plains. Just had a pint for a punt, very good bitter. Asked for a local bitter in a local pub and they all watched me. Quick drink waiting for the train. Wasn’t told that I wouldn’t make the connection to Fishguard. Now going to Milford Haven instead.

Settled by the Whalers from Nantucket, not the Welsh, Milford Haven is thoroughly based on the sea trade. I never thought I British town could be settled by Americans. But it served their purposes. Finest natural harbor in the world.

This land is beautiful. Hills to my right, estuary to my left. Sandy Delta. I think, except I assume more water from the sea brings the sand than silt from the Rivers. Just left Pembry and the tops of the hills are covered in mists. Might make my walk to Fishguard even more difficult. Now the sea is opeing up, covered in mist.

“Where are you bound?” I wish to ask the ruck sacked blonde in front of me. “Any where you like” would be her answer.

I was told we’d missed that last train to Fishguard, the place my ticket was aimed for. I decided if I couldn’t get close to the water to the west, I’d go directly south and walk the sea coast path until I got to St. David’s, the main focus of my trip. I did not reach it, I can tell you now, but it’s not really where I ended up that matters, but how I got there. It’s 15:15, perhaps, I could tell more exactly if I looked, but who’s counting except the shiny sun who was splashing me with warm rays off and on.

The train wound through the lovely valley of the Tewi river, and although altogether pleasant, I was hungry, thirsty, and tired. I found little of what I wanted immediately, instead I went to what used to be a tourist information site, a hardware store, and they were sick that people still came looking for tourist information. They wished to tear down the sign immediately, which is what they did after they directed me back across the bridge. But, I missed an important part.

As I lumbered from the train station, took the wrong way across a bridge, was looking at all the ships and the water, and I walked right into a pole, smacking my glasses. Then I was back to loving them that they were still on and sturdy.

So I walked until I came to a pleasant man, walking down the hill I was beginning to lose faith in. He showed me back to my way in no time, a route that I didn’t dare to try before. Passing a huge structure going up that resembled a metal pole barn, just with the poles so far. Passing the Dockside Gallery and some other attractions (Kaliedescope) previously mentioned in the Rough Guide, I found that hardware store, then back to the Dockside Café. I ate a jacket potato with cheese and onions, and some cod. Fortified, I asked aout the trail, got makeshift directions to a pub called the King’s Arms, where I was to ask again. I ordered a pint of bitter first, then went to the unlit dart board, which as I threw my first few, lit up. The woman at the bar cared. That was nice, so I threw til my pint was gone, looking at some mariner maps with care. On my way out, without having asked yet, a man said “Cold night for a walk”. I agreed, and then I asked him for the directions. That’s how I do it, I don’t know how I’ve survived this long in life. On to the trail.

I walked onto some private coast guard area, and eventually noticing the sun starting to fade, I plunged forward.

I saw a couple to my right with a dog out walking, coming from some kind of trail. I headed that way, and ran into a lone dog, and then it’s own comes with another, and asked me where I was headed for. “The Coastal Trail?” I said yes. “Go passed that eddy and up the hill.” As I followed those directions, I still had no idea if I was moving aright. But I found my way to the trail, and its winding down a run off dyke. I was pretty confused until it started following the hills, which slowed me down. But beautiful views of the Milford Haven. I pushed on after pictures of an island castle and the sunset. I walked across a beach and angered at the spray painted lovers. I passed along the cliff finding pill boxes and the metal mounts where anti-ship guns would have been placed. There was a high fenced-in wall of dirt all along up above, I believe as extra precautions against a sea attack during WWII. Perhaps before, but likely not. I went inside one, but it was more like two brick shit houses without the hole or the stench. I walked on, with the light now ominously fading.

Eventually I came to the Sandy Beach Caravan park, all were sitting dark, and I though about climbing in or under one for the night. But still, the need to press on was great. I walked the trail until it lead me nearly into the water., a boat entry point. I don’t know if I missed another entry or not, so I walked up the path from the caravan park, a one lane road for auto’s. Some men and a dog approached with a flashlight. I continued. I found a hotel with a pub a mile in the dark. I drank and talked to the female tender, a stately woman with a lovely outfit and a nice hotel. She nearly scolded me for taking such a risk, walking all night. She encouraged me to walk back to Milford Haven and get a bus to HarverfordWest.

I pretended to follow her instructions, and the advisory statements from the others in the pub. But when I slipped back into the night, it seemed like I could do anything. I used the phone booth to call Fiona McKensy (a swing dancer I knew from St. Paul) and Kate McIntyre, a friend from University who lived in London. I put some warmer clothes on in case I had to sleep through the night outdoors. I walked back to the water, and the tide had gone down quite a bit. I walked to the center of the estuary, but with only the dwindling flashlight, could see that there was still a very broad river of tide standing in my path.I picked my way back through the heavy sand and rocks until I crawled onto the bank again, and tried to sprawl out against my red ruck-sack on the stalagmite-like rocks.The smaller stones grumbled against my back bone and elevated legs. I realized there was no way to sleep, and if the tide had come in again I would be whisked off. I decided not to dare.I headed back down the now pitch black roadway and stood aside for one car bearing down on me. I had no desire to thumb, so I didn't. I passed the pub hotel that I had been to many hours before, and found a road sign that showed I was heading in the accurate direction west, but it lacked mileage.I walked mybe two hours that way, I have no way of telling how long. Cars passed, but infrequently, and I got out of the way as much as the tiny hedged roads would allow. Eventually a car stopped and a 17 year old girl said "where you goin'?" I responded "Dale". "why?" she seemed to have said. She and her girlfriend drove me to "The Griffin" kindly.

Inside the pub, I got a pint of Double Dragon Bitter from the Felinfoal Brewery in nearby St. David's, my destination. I asked a tall handsome man, nearly my age, who happened to be collecting pint glasses, if he knew of a B and B. I was knackered. But I was still ready to find a spot on the ground somewhere too, at least I thought. He called his parents because they happened to have a B&B, but it turn out to be full. Everyone in town was. He asked a friend of his at the bar, who took over my plight and invited me to stay on his couch at "The Fort", if I didn't mind. Otherwise we could go ask the old night watchman for a bed. Mark was very much like the leader of green company when I worked for Climb, Peter I think his name was. Marked talked and looked like him, but he was a scuba diver and worked and lived at "The Fort", an aquatic training center in Dale.

I bought Mark a drink, a stout. The tender wondered why I was off bitter now, seeming offended that I got the same for myself as I got for Mark. I didn't want to switch, but I also wanted to try everything.

After Mark told me of his upcoming expedition to the Galapagos Islands, and the dive he was doing the next morning, we walked the block to the undersea education center.

When we entered, I saw their guitar, commented on it, and was promptly asked to teach a Mark a lesson. He fixed tea with much cream, and for me, one sugar. I played lots of easy songs, and showed him some other techniques. And some at the end they knew, and then quieted down when someone upstairs came down from his sleep.

They were all very nice to me, but Mark was an angel. I found the bathroom myself after they all left quickly for bed.

Then I slept underneath a sweat smelling sleeping bag. It was a very deep sleep.


Tonight I had a lot of typing to do, and Rachel had class until 19:30, so I had her drop me off at The American Grill, where I typed and drank Fat Tires until she returned. I think I'm ready for bed. We had lunch at the Co-op, some soup, and also ate last night's home-made bread and some avocado's in the car as I drove Rachel to her 12:15 class. She is making a design for Theatrical Design class that has to show texture and either Attraction or Repulsion.