Saturday, September 19, 2009

Only connect

No-one can come to Anglesey and not learn the meaning of Araf: it's before every corner, at the brow of every hill, the entrance to every village and hamlet. It means 'slow', and it's what Anglesey is all about. Meandering around the lanes, finding an old-fashioned windmill here, a little fishing port there, we really didn't need this constant reminder written across the road. It would be madness to rush anywhere here: old men (perhaps the same old man) are blackberrying along the lanes, there are dazzlingly white fluffy sheep with long tails scattered over bright green fields, the rowan berries are bright in the hedgerows and there's new-made hay scenting the air.

It's a relief to slow down: we've been rushing a bit and seen possibly too many castles. Seven, maybe eight in four days: that's a lot of arrow loops and spiral stairs. But the connections have been satisfying: it's fun to join the dots. Harlech, Caernarfon, Beaumaris: Edward I built them and his son, Eddie II, was born at Caernarfon - but buried in Gloucester Cathedral, after being murdered (in the most painful and vicious manner possible - Google it, why don't you) at Berkeley Castle where my great aunt was a guide and my grandmother's family farmed. In the Welch Fusiliers museum in the castle is a reproduction of the tapestries and portrait we saw at Blenheim Palace, because they fought at the battles where the gorgeous John Churchill made his name ('that was a man' said someone of him, and it's hard to disagree). Everything we see is another piece in the puzzle: it's very satisfying.

And tomorrow we move on: another country, another history, another set of grievances against the English. I shall be wearing my New Zealand t-shirt.

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