Lately, in the context of Remembrance Day here in the Netherlands, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the different ways in which World War II is being remembered today. For us, being occupied by Nazi Germany during the war has become a foundation myth of our identity, and most Dutch novels, films, and even musicals (Soldier of Orange, based on the book of the same name) about the war centre around the two main protagonists in that myth: the evil collaborators and the virtuous members of the resistance. You can even pretend to be a member of the underground press in an escape room in Nijmegen, racing against the clock to escape discovery by the Nazis.
Yesterday I visited the famous Tintern Abbey in the southeast of Wales, close to the border with England. The first time I ever heard of it was during my Bachelor’s when we studied William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798“. Quite a mouthful!
Last week I spent a beautiful weekend in the seaside town of Aberystwyth, on the west coast of Wales. I took the train up to Cartmarthen and there transferred to a bus, which took in a beautiful part of the coastline on its way to Aberystwyth. I had been told that it’s probably the most “Welsh” town there is. It reminded me of Brighton, mostly because of the sunny weather and the candy-coloured houses, but yes, it was undeniably Welsh: the red Welsh dragon was ubiquitous. I even saw somebody wearing suspenders with the Welsh flag on them!as it’s closer to the north than Swansea, there is a higher number of people who speak Welsh. Signs and menus were nearly all bilingual.
I have been in Wales for a little over a month now, but it feels three times as long! Not only am I kept very busy at work, I try to make the most of my weekends by going exploring. Last weekend I returned to the Gower peninsula, and this weekend I visited Caerphilly Castle, the largest castle in Wales, which was high on my to-see list.
Two weeks ago my supervisor at my internship gave me one day’s notice to go to Caernarfon in the north of Wales to visit a literary festival, Gwyl Arall, and gave me permission to take a day or two to off to enjoy myself there since I’d technically be working on the weekend. Transport and accommodation paid for? How could I say no!
I am currently doing an internship in Swansea, South Wales, and on my way there last week I spent a most lovely day in Bath, in England. A charming little town, Bath was most famously inhabited by Jane Austen and, just a little before that, by the Romans. What I was most excited to see were the Roman thermal baths – or rather, what was left of them. I’d also brought my new 50mm camera lens that I was eager to try out and which I’m very pleased with thus far. All photos can be seen in better quality on my Flickr page!
A week ago I joined the two friends I’d been to Bastogne with at the place where it all began for the paratroopers of Band of Brothers: Normandy. I’d been dying to go there for ages and as I was planning a holiday in France anyway, we were happily able to meet up there just two days before the 6th of June.