Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wonderwool Wales

Another principal reason for my travels overseas at this time was to attend Wonderwool Wales-- "A festival of Welsh wool and natural fibres." It is a yearly event at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, and I believe this was the sixth year it's been held. As I've learned, the show has gone from strength to strength, and this year was another hit. The event was well organized, with many exhibitors--mostly from Wales but also from England and Scotland--a number of places to purchase tasty, relatively inexpensive food and many spots to just sit and watch the people. From counting the number of exhibitors in the show directory, there was a total of 154 booths. These were mostly yarn producers and shops, but also guilds, classes, a number of different sheep breeds and even a large working display from the Welsh National Wool Museum. I have many ideas for a group tour to Wales in 2011.

After a very pleasant interlude with my cousins in Carmarthen, I stayed at a charming country house hotel near Builth Wells for two nights and on the third night in mid-Wales, moved to a B & B so I would be near the train station for my departure the next morning. The train station was located in a tiny little place called Cilmeris and it was stressed that this was a 'request stop'. Right on schedule, a little two-car train came chugging along, with me excitedly waving for it to stop. (The engineer couldn't have missed me as I was the only person, other than a flock of sheep on one side of the tracks and a number of cows in a field on the other.) I really enjoyed my journey from Cilmeris to Swansea--the route is called the Heart of Wales Line--and I happily sat and knit while I watched the green hills and fields of daffodils go by. It was fun to hear the chattering of Welsh accents from the other passengers.

On a historical note, Cilmeris is known where Prince Llywelyn was slain by the English in 1282 and there is a granite memorial to mark the spot. On the Welsh inscription at the marker, Llywelyn is described as "ein llyw olaf"--translation: "Our last leader". (Wonder if Prince Charles knows about that?) My B & B hostess/taxi driver told me that Llywelyn was betrayed by those of the neighbouring village of Aberedw, and it's still felt that people from that village cannot be trusted! Welsh feelings run very deep and memories are long!

Once in Swansea, my train to London was waiting on the next platform. From there, I took the Heathrow Express at Paddington and then the shuttle bus to an airport hotel. The next morning, while I was waiting for the shuttle to Heathrow, I was amazed by the number of planes coming right over the hotel--I'm sure there was no more than a three-minute interval between each landing approach. Hard to believe!

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