Saturday, October 20, 2001

Hello Wales


Breakfast is served in a breakfast room on the first floor. Our waiters were two little munchkins about eight and nine years old. Their mother does the cooking, which is billed as a typical English breakfast. We had a choice of cereals, juice, fruit, and then were served sausage, ham, eggs and our choice of beans or grilled tomatoes with either coffee or tea.

This is our time to relax and not get frenzied with touring, so we walked to town to leisurely see the area. Our first stop was to the post office to get the contest winner’s prize in the mail. Fortunately, they sell mailing bags in the post office. We walked through the town’s winding roads and looked in store windows. One of the sights is St. Cybi’s (pronounced like koo-bee) church, which is within what used to be a fort. Unfortunately, it is closed, but next to it we saw a sign offering tea and biscuits for forty pence by the church ladies. It was not an immediate draw.

We asked a little gentleman directions to the local Laundromat and after the directions, he asked where we were from. He told us how he fought with the Americans in Korea and other battles and wars. He was in the service for thirty years and missed it a great deal. He suggested we walk down to see the breakwater they built in Holyhead. He claimed that it was the longest breakwater, but left off the longest where. He also explained that Holyhead is an island, a fact that escaped me on the train coming in and said the island is eight miles by two and a half miles. We took him up on the suggestion of seeing the breakwater. I had no clue what a breakwater was. After taking the wrong street, we found the breakwater. It was not especially fascinating. A breakwater is a manmade area to break the water so that the boats have a more calm see when in harbor. We headed back to the church ladies and their tea.

In a room the size of a one-room schoolhouse, which this once was we sat with four elderly ladies and one gentleman that welcomed us in like we were family. We asked them about Holyhead and Wales. They said that Holyhead is about 18,000 population during the season, but shrinks down to about 13,000 on off-season. Although all of the signs around town are in English and Welsh, the ladies told us that when they were in school, they were only given a smattering of Welsh education. Most of the Welsh speakers were country folks. English was the dominant language. Now, Welsh is mandated along with English and it is spoken more often now then it ever was before. We spent an enjoyable hour listening to their stories, and then received directions to the Laundromat. After walking twisting streets and winding roads, we found the self-serve laundry. That is our major project for Sunday to wash our clothes.

Behind the church is an old building of questionable origin, but on Fridays and Saturdays, they have a market. Most of the larger room is a giant flea market where various people bring their wares for sale. I found an original first edition of “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde, for twenty pence. One of the other rooms was set aside for fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The produce was beautiful and extremely reasonably priced. The third room was set aside for new merchandise for sale, which included crystals, incense, and a full stand with organic dog food, and dog treats. Ron picked up some fruit and some pasties for a later dinner.

Speaking of dogs, in England we never saw English Bulldog, in Scotland there were never once a Highland Terrier that passed our view, and so far in Wales we have not seen a Welsh Corgi. In Hungary, we never saw a Hungarian Puli, or an Italian Greyhound in Italy in years past. I think these dogs had better do some serious genealogy searches, because it seems that someone is really pulling a fast one. Where are these dogs coming from if their sponsoring countries are not overrun with them?

Due to the size of the town, there does not seem to be an Internet café. This is disturbing since we will be here until Monday and that postpones the hope of finding an e-mail from our property manager. It also puts us out of communication will everyone else too. We will have to plan an extra amount of time on our next stop to catch up with the hordes of mail. Yea, right!

After a rest period at the room, we decided to attend the St. Mary’s Catholic Church service tonight so we would have Sunday free for clothes washing and whatever else came up. In Holyhead, I doubt there will be much that surfaces on a Sunday.

The service was nothing unusual, though the priest had an Irish accent. The church was extremely modern with colorful stained glass windows that were splatters of color and not designs of religious figures. The altar was plain with banners on the back wall. The one thing that amazed me was that of the four altar people, three of them were girls. It surprised me that a town this size would be that progressive to have altar girls, but I was glad to see them.

With the service over, we took our bagged dinner to the pub we were at last night and ate dinner with a beer. Ron again had to eat double duty since a handful of fries and half of a pastie was enough to fill me up. I hope he doesn’t gain a lot of weight while I am trying to get my palate back in shape. By 8:00 pm, we were back in our room; I with the computer and Ron channel surfing over seven channels. He is a little closer to heaven with the increased choices. I would be a little closer to heaven with Internet access, but you just can’t have everything all of the time otherwise you would grow unappreciative of the time when you do.

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