Thursday, May 19, 2016

Returning from Wales

Morning Prayer in the St David University Chapel 
 After one last morning in Lampeter, I caught a bus back to Aberystwyth after church, by way of the bakery, where I bought a custard-filled resolve to save it for later didn't last very long, and I enjoyed it while waiting at the bus stop, accompanied by Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle.

I had several hours to kill in Aberystwyth, and I stopped in a charity shop (still no woolen jumper, but I'm now one dress and one shirt up) and a Costa (basically English Starbucks, but I suspect the coffee is better because Husband actually drinks it). When I made my way over to the train station, the staff person informed me that no, I couldn't take the earlier train, but why don't I spend my two more hours by walking that way?

I did, and "behold, the sea itself!" (Walt Whitman for Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony). I walked a few blocks further than Costa and there it was. Absolutely stunning. Because I was carting a suitcase, I wasn't able to take off my shoes and socks and run into the water, but the views alone were amazing.

And the thing about the UK is that if you wander through a city (or along the oceanside walk, in this case), beautiful old buildings just appear. Sometimes they're well-labeled; sometimes not...and somehow I love the unlabeled ones more because they're taken for granted as just a part of the community.

Not sure what this building is, but isn't it splendid?

Anther view of the mysterious building. What beautiful windows.

St Michael's Church
The inside of St. Michael's. I found the juxtaposition of old and new (drum set, television monitors) to be quite jarring and actually uncomfortable.

The remains of a castle! And this isn't a tourist spot--there were no signs explaining the history of these tower ruins. I felt ridiculous trundling along the pathways with my suitcase, but I didn't want to miss out.

A playground and a mini-golf course on the castle grounds!

I took the train station staffer's advice and bought some ice cream at the seaside. And I swear I'm not making this up: as I walked out of the shop, a seagull flew straight at me and my cone and stole a bite! He landed a few yards away, looking very pleased with himself, as I stared at him in disbelief for a moment and then admonished, "That's unacceptable!" Ah well, it was a delicious treat in spite of that.

Finally, I could hop on the proper train from Aberystwyth back to England. It was the first of two long train rides, and I confess I got rather bored. That day, I finished Gaiman's Sleeper and the Spindle, started and abandoned Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 (why have books been outlawed? It's all the minorities' fault for wanting equal representation. Ugh.), and read A.A. Milne's Once On a Time (really cute, and put me in mind of Elizabeth von Arnim's Princess Priscilla's Fortnight). Plus a bit of dissertation work, though not a lot, because my body was a bit worn out from traipsing around Aberystwyth with a suitcase and heavy backpack.

Finally, as my second train was pulling out of Oxford, a double rainbow:

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