I am often asked if I miss Wales. The answer is no. Simply because I have never been able to stay away from the place long enough to miss it…
I left my home in the Glamorgan seaside town of Porthcawl in 1983, to rather naively, or should I say, bravely, travel the world as a piano bar entertainer – before landing in Iceland 18 years ago and thereafter, turning to a life of cruise.
And whilst I have not lived there for more than 30 years, and even after all of these years of self imposed exile, my feeling is that I never really left Wales. At least not ‘left‘ left, if you get me.
I make welsh cakes from memory, my practised ear can detect a Welsh accent at 50 paces and my own Porthcawl lilt is still very much alive and kicking! (Ta very much babes)
Familiar phrases like, ‘I’ll be there now in a minute’ and ‘come and give nana a cwtch’ come naturally. As does the inbuilt patriotic pride in all things Welsh. This list, in no particular order and certainly not limited to, entails stuff like – castles and cheese, daffodils and sheep, Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, choirs and rugby, beaches and mountains, the valleys and Gareth Bale.
I even managed to give birth to my youngest daughter, Jamie, on March 1st, the holiest of days in the Welsh calendar, celebrating St David, the patron saint of Wales and marking his death on this day in 539.
Two of my Welsh wishes were granted last year. The first involved seeing Sir Tom Jones live in concert. Something which, for some reason, I had always presumed would be in Wales, but which in fact took place here in Reykjavik on June 8th, the day after his 75th birthday. I was even privileged enough to meet him back stage before the concert. Needless to say ‘Tom the voice’ from Ponty nailed it and I thought my chest would burst with pride.
The other Welsh wish I was lucky to be granted was to finally watch Wales play at the Millennium Stadium, something which I got to do for the first time during the world cup rugby tournament last September. The surge of pride that accompanies the singing of our absolute daddy of a national anthem is inexplicable. Gwlad! Gwlad!
Incidentally, a rather unexpected and unlikely Welsh rugby tribute also surfaced last week in the form of Penybont School’s very talented year three performing a parody of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, entitled ‘Rugby Ball’. I must admit that I was rather pleasantly surprised to see Miley Cyrus (of all people) inspiring a Welsh Primary School’s patriotic musical endeavours! Who would have thought…
Having proudly watched Wales at a distance for so many years now, I find myself in awe of what this wonderful country has to offer it’s visitors. Castles and daffodils aside. The heartbeat of Wales is in its people. Their story, heritage, language and passion.
Way too big and important a topic to sum up by way of a few measly lines tucked into this blog post. Suffice to say it is a topic that will be continued.
On a cruise note, Swan Hellenic’s Minerva will call in Cardiff, the Welsh capital, on August 6th, 2016. The ‘included shore excursion’ takes in visits to Cardiff Cardiff Castle & Dyffryn Gardens. Another tour option includes a visit to Tredegar House, a fine example of a restoration mansion and which, according to its website at least, is a place of ‘dark arts, riotous parties, war heroism, crocodiles and crucifixes…’
A total of five Welsh ports will welcome cruise ships this coming summer – Cardiff, Newport, Fishguard, Holyhead and Milford Haven.
A cruise to Wales… Now you’re talking.
Be still my beating heart!