From London to Wales, Day 4

Yesterday was mad and too busy to write. I missed my train! I did. I was awake on time, but somehow misjudged the timing… and at 7:47am arrived, ticket printed out and in hand, at platform 4 from whence my 7:45am train had departed. Having no phone that works in the UK, I used a payphone to call my ride, Josie, in Cardiff, who was absolutely sweet and offered to meet me an hour later when the next train got in. I gamely purchased a new ticket–ha! So much for buying in advance!–and (this makes no sense, I know) went in search of the one thing that would give me solace:

The new Terry Pratchett book.

So, ensconced in my non-reserved train seat, bag of almonds by my side and knitting in hand, off we rushed through the English countryside, which is, of course, beautiful and looks exactly as the English countryside should, which is to say, English. No wonder everyone wanted it. Romans, Saxons, Angles, Normans… oh, and the Celts too, of course.

It seemed only a short time before we arrived in Cardiff. I battled my way upstream of a million frustrated Wales Rugby fans, a sea of red and black and green coming from the nearby Cardiff stadium that shares the parking lot with the train station. Wales had lost, but they gamely sang and made plans in Welsh to drink lots of beer anyway. I know this, because they sang, in Welsh, and held up boxes of beer to one another.

I found Josie and our fellow knitter, Lian, from London, and we piled into Josie’s car and were off. I had forgotten what it felt like to drive motorways in Britain, being on the left and using roundabouts, and it was so interesting that I refrained from knitting. Josie told us a lot of the history of the area (how one port town had crashed and currently was dealing with a lot of poverty after an industrial boom; how smaller Welsh towns can be difficult to live in if you are a minority, like Chinese or Indian, lesbian or English). We arrived at Beggar’s Reach Inn famished and excited, because the whole landscape is beautiful and the hotel looked to be an old, large white country house. The inn staff are friendly and bewildered by us. They bring us food and beverage and give us a giant room in which to knit, and in return we buy cider and tea and Felinfoel Welsh Ale, and we don’t bite too much.

Much knitting was had by all! This trip is officially called Plug and Play in Pembrokeshire, or P3 for short, and it officially started at 3pm. Officially. Unofficially, it began as soon as we arrived on Saturday. We claimed a table and ate sandwiches on wholegrain bread and drank tea and ate biscuits until Brenda and Amy ushered us into a large, light-filled banquet room that was to be our hive of activity for the weekend. And! They gave us presents! More on that later. The room grew bright, then shaded and then bright again with artificial lights as we learned all kinds of interesting lace-type things and ate very, very good food (like fried brie with cranberry sauce and baked aubergine, or eggplant, and creme brulee). As the world outside grew dark, hidden lights circling the large skylight began to glow red, yellow, green, blue, red, yellow, green, blue…

Now I prepare to sleep, with the disco lights of our gathering room shining right outside my window.

It is absolutely dark now. The disco lights have gone away, and my sky is velvet black with no stars. The cows were lowing earlier, but I scared them away with my cry of delight and rush to the fence. Funny cows, so big and yet so fraidy. Even the cows are covered in darkness, and sleep.

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