Wales 2010 – Day 6

The view through the window this morning is not promising: heavy grey skies and streets shiny with water indicate a day of rain. This does not fit in with our plans but where the weather is concerned you just have to make do with what you are given.

Grey pigeon on a grey day
Grey pigeon on a grey day (Swansea station)

It was spitting with rain when we set out at 8:20. We hurried up the road and breakfasted at the pub, then continued to the station. We are now aboard our train awaiting departure at 9:16. Off we go!

The train took us through some spectacular countryside a varied scenery of hills and valleys, rivers and winding streams. From time to time the clouds opened and the sun broke through but then the grey overcast returned again, dashing any hope of a change for the better.

Craven Arms station was deserted
Craven Arms station was deserted

At around 1 pm we reached Craven Arms and thought to take a look at it, especially as we had had a light breakfast and the thought of a good lunch appealed. The station was deserted: perhaps we should have wondered why.

The Craven Arms
The Craven Arms, once part of the Earl of Craven’s estate

When you leave the station and follow a path signposted to the town centre you come to a rather unattractive area characterized by a big car park and a supermarket. At the nearby crossroads is a big pub, also called Craven Arms. They had a fairly well stocked menu, including vegetarian options, so we went in for lunch.

The obelisk showing distances to other towns
The obelisk showing distances to other towns

After lunch we had a look around in the immediate neighbourhood of the pub. This did not turn out to be a very prepossessing place at all. About the most interesting item was an obelisk with a list of distances to a number of other towns. This, however, is not enough to bring us back another time.

The Craven coat of arms
The Craven coat of arms

I subsequently discovered a link between this town and London, through the person of the legendary Dick Whittingdon who was born hereabouts. Having made his fortune, he returned here and the Earls of Craven are his descendants.

There wasn't much to see
There wasn’t much to see

We did have a look around but there wasn’t much to see. Perhaps we didn’t walk far enough. We returned to the station and there we met a friendly native who was happy to stop for a chat.

A friendly native stops for a chat
A friendly native stops for a chat

The next train out was at 2:36. As we had arrived on platform 1, it seemed reasonable to wait for the train back on platform 2. When the train appeared, it was indeed on our side of the tracks but then – how strange! – it switched tracks and entered platform 1 where, a few minutes before, there had been a train going in the opposite direction!

We hurried over the footbridge but as the train spent a few minutes there, we had no trouble going aboard. That was perhaps the most exciting thing that happened to us in Craven Arms.

A not quite so deserted station
A not quite so deserted station

The journey south was a repeat of our journey north, though in reverse of course. I had another attack of sleepy sickness and just couldn’t stay awake. Eventually, I went for a walk along the train and that seemed to wake me up. I suspect I am suffering from a tea deficiency!

On a long train journey in Wales, if you get fed up of looking out of the windows, you can study the bilingual signage. Yesterday we bought what describes itself as a Learner’s Dictionary of Welsh. It is not that I have any plans to learn Welsh but languages always interest me and as a result of our visits to Wales, its language is coming to seem a little less impenetrable than it once did.

What attracted me to the dictionary was the section on pronunciation because when all’s said and done, you can’t get very far with a language unless you can pronounce it.

When we arrived back in Swansea just after 6 pm, it began to rain heavily. We hurried across to the Grand Hotel and had coffee in their bar.

Swansea's Grand Hotel under a threatening sky
Swansea’s Grand Hotel under a threatening sky

The rain eased slightly so we made our way down towards the hotel and stopped off at PizzaExpress for dinner. The meal was fine but the knives were blunt. We asked for sharper knives, suitable for cutting pizza. The waitress said they didn’t provide sharp knives but that she would bring as a pizza cutter.  This is safety-consciousness gone mad. We had been given proper knives the evening before at Il Padrino, so why does PizzaExpress act in this silly way?

Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to Wales 2010 – Day 6

  1. Reluctant Blogger says:

    Well, yes, there is always a danger people will start bringing their own knives. How silly!

    I share your love of language and it is always that which fascinates me in any country with a strange tongue. I can spend ages contemplating signs, trying to work out what they say and why the words might be what they are – trying to fathom their roots.

    I have a very good Welsh accent but my vocabularly is poor. I used to say a few words to people I passed in the street when I lived in Aber – hello, nice weather, that kind of thing – and my accent was so good they would then spout on at me assuming I was a native speaker and sometimes they would have rattled on incomprehensibly for about 5 mins before I could stop them!

    I love the way when you stand amongst Welsh speakers, the paragraphs are peppered with English words – washing machine, Coronation Street etc. Always makes me chuckle.

    • SilverTiger says:

      The inclusion of loan words is common in minority languages. You can hear a similar thing if you listen to Asian language radio stations in the UK (and presumably in other host countries) where even words like paint remain in English.

      To speak a language fluently – and to increase one’s vocabulary – requires lots of time spent in the linguistic milieu and a good ear.

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