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Friday, June 18, 2010

VISITING WALES & FINDING THE POET

Caerphilly Castle
After I leave London I plan to visit my father's town, Caerphilly Wales, and spend some time with my Welsh cousins. I've visited there many times before and last year when my sister, niece and I went, we were treated to a family reunion of a great many distant cousins we had never met before. So I vowed I'd return for a longer stay this year and spend some time getting to know everyone a bit better.

One of the features of Caerphilly is the wonderful, well-preserved Norman castle that has a wealth of history and legend. My dad used to play in there when he was a child. Now it is protected and well-kept and it gives you a real sense of what castle life must have been way back when. Caerphilly was mainly a mining town and my father and a great number of his family members worked in the mines. He had a fairly large family and they all lived in this house on Windsor Street. I was lucky enough to have visited there several times during when his two younger brothers still lived there. Now it is privately owned but I still go by and get my photo taken outside the door. Caerphilly was a place I heard about all through my childhood so it has a specific place in my heart, very much part of my family history


My sister Jean and I in front of our father's family home.

One of the things I've never done when I have visited Wales is to search out all the Dylan Thomas haunts. So this year I am determined to make a visit to Swansea to the boat house where the poet lived and wrote so many of his marvelous poems. The boathouse is at Laugharne. In Swansea there is a Dylan Thomas Centre as well as a pub and Kardomah Cafe where Dylan used to met with his friends. They were known as the Kardomah Gang and were a group of talented writers, artists and musicians, all Dylan's contemporaries.

While I'm in London, there is a pub near the Indian Y where Dylan Thomas used to hang out so I usually go in there and have a pint in his honour. I've also been to the bar in New York City where he collapsed on the sidewalk after downing an astonishing number of whiskies. He died not long after that, unfortunately.

So, to make this a really Welsh part of my holiday I am determined to track down the poet.
The other thing I want to do is find the grave sites of my great grandparents and grandparents. I think my cousins know where to find those. And if there is time, to make a trip up to Senghenydd again, to visit the place where my great grandfather died in a mining explosion. I've been there before, but a return pilgrimage is in order to make this truly a special Welsh visit.



Statue of Dylan Thomas in Swansea

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