Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Delight of Pembrokeshire

One of the best things about doing a Masters in Creative Writing at Swansea Uni is the teaching staff. It was one of the decisive elements for me with regards coming for the course and so far I have had no regrets. So it was with great joy that I received the information that one of my tutors was having a production of one of his plays done in Pembrokeshire – and we were invited. Awesome. As part of the Dramaturgy module, we were expected to see as many plays as possible, to enable us broaden our perception of dramatic writing and production. Going to see this play up in Pembrokeshire was like being in Fun School, and this brought out the 16 year old in me. Arrangements had been made for us to spend the night at the Druidstone hotel. We were getting a neat deal for a night in a cottage up at the hotel, and we rescheduled our Monday plans to allow us spend a luxuriously lazy day up in the countryside. Now, as an international student, the extent of my sights and sounds of Wales was just Swansea and Cardiff. There was the occasional stare at the map in wonderment at the idea of places like Bangor, but for me, Swansea a pretty good estimation of Wales. How terribly myopic. That Sunday, together with 3 other lovely ladies, I went on my first adventure outside my Swansea cocoon. I had planned that I was going to have my earphones plugged in my ear and I’d spend the 2 and half- hour ride peering at my Kindle. I mean, what exciting thing could hold my attention for the length of the ride? From coach ride experiences, I knew watching the unending stretch of black tar with white markings was no productive use of time. However, the ride to Pembrokeshire was different because as we drove further away from the city, the beauty of the countryside hit me. I wanted to know more. The clear blue skies met the lush green fields in the horizon in a sprawling display of colour. It felt like nature was showing off and there was no better evidence of it as there were long stretches of fields with lambs grazing and sheep adding light speckles of white against landscape. It was indeed a good day to be out there, and it opened my eyes to how limited one can be if one does not go out there. With school and other lifestyle adjustments, it’s extremely hard to take time out to see beyond the university community and city. However, the entire experience of being so far away is lost if one doesn’t explore beyond one’s oyster. I chided myself with these words as the fields rolled on both sides of the roads. When we got to the little town of Haverfordwest, I asked if we could do this more often. But we had only just started. We looped through the narrow windy roads of the town as we tried to navigate ourselves through Little Haven, and Broad Haven to get to our hotel. I had been told that the Druidstone was a hotel by the sea but nothing prepared me for the immense beauty of the Irish sea. I soaked in the sights of the towering grass and moss covered hills. Beside the hills were sharp crags and cliffs against which the force of the winds and the tide of the sea created a beautiful contrast of the ephemeral and the solid. Because right there, standing by the edge of the cliff, the waves, sand and skies transported me beyond the physical. There are no accurate words to describe the way the bluish green tones of the beach juxtaposed against the brown and grey of the cliffs. I wanted to be as close to the sea as possible. This was nothing like Swansea... it was like being let into an intricate Welsh secret. I wanted to be there forever. That Sunday night, as I watch the talented Welsh actor, Richard Elfyn, work his magic on the stage at the Druidstone, my heart yearned for the possibilities for creativity. It was creativity that could only be birthed by being in a place so wonderfully kissed by nature. At 7am the following morning, I slipped into my running shoes and headed for the beach. Walking along the trail, I imagined the people who had walked this path before me. I wondered about their lives, and their dreams. I wondered if they looked out in the sea and felt its powerful allure. I wondered if they told their children that the highland cows were special to them. I wondered if the farm hands that cared for the ponies looked into the beautiful skies and dreamt of a brighter future. I wondered if they realized how totally blessed they were to experience the Pembrokeshire Delight. After that trip, I came to the conclusion that it would be remiss of me to end my time as an international student at Swansea University without exploring more parts of Wales. My trip to Pembrokeshire was an eye opener. It said to me that I could find beauty, peace and joy in the simple things. The Pembrokeshire Delight was a perfect amalgam of these simple things. *** This piece was originally written by me for The Swansea Waterfront

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