While on holiday in Yorkshire last month, my friends and I decided to go up to Newcastle for the day. I didn’t know much about the city, except that it was at the heart of the industrial revolution in Britain and that it’s where Dire Straits singer Mark Knopfler is from. In fact, while making my way to Yorkshire from Wales – where I started out, visiting friends – I found myself on a whistle-stop tour through the north of England, passing through Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds before ending up in York. My impression of these cities was all too brief: driving through Birmingham, which was heavily bombed during the war, left me with the impression of a hodgepodge of soot-stained red brick buildings with garish postwar structures planted here and there. Newcastle, however, surprised me: I had expected more of the same. But the moment we passed that magnificent sculpture on the motorway, the Angel of the North, which personifies better than anything the north’s industrial charm, and drove into the city with a view of Newcastle’s seven bridges curving over the river Tyne, I knew we were in for something different.
My travels in Wales, Scotland, England and Ireland came to an end two months ago, so it seems like a good time to present a chronicle of my time over there in my preferred manner: self-portraits.
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!
Last weekend I went to visit Swansea’s main attraction: the Gower peninsula. A treasure trove of natural beauty! On Saturday I made my way down to the Worm’s Head, a cluster of small islands on the west coast, and then walked along the coastal path to the end of Rhossili beach. On Sunday I went to Three Cliffs Bay, which was even more gorgeous. There I hiked from the beach to the cliffs and to Pennard Castle, the crumbling ruins of a Norman stronghold overlooking the bay. Here are some photos that I took.