Home of the second longest one word place name in the world and the longest in Europe, at 58 letters long – its train station has the longest name of any train station in the world. The nation’s capital, Cardiff, is home to the oldest record shop in the world and the second largest retractable roof of any stadium on Earth. This nation is the home of the largest electricity generating waterwheel in Europe and home of the UK’s first designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Where Bonnie Tyler, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Roald Dahl, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Tom Jones were born. And also the birthplace of Robert Recorde, inventor of the equals sign. Today, we’re in the Land of Song, Wales.
Wales is one of the four constituent states of the United Kingdom, a part of the island of Great Britain in the North Atlantic Ocean, bordered by England plus the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel. It has a population of just over three million people over an area of just over 8,000 square miles. The national flag incorporates the green and white colours of the House of Tudor. The dragon was added as there was one on the Tudor royal arms, added to signify their Welsh decent. The motto of Wales is ‘Cymru am byth’, which is Welsh for ‘Wales for ever.’
Wales is a historic nation, a land of heavy industry, its people proud of their strong Celtic culture, rich mythology, literature, music, festivals and national language. The Welsh love to sing and dance, and are also rugby mad and partial to a touch of football. They are strong, warm-hearted and generally lovely people.
Wales is a nation of mountains, rugged coastlines, grasslands and woodlands, famous for its alluring raw natural beauty and gorgeous diverse landscape.
There are many wonderful sights to see, such as the enormous Caernarfon Castle, a colossal grey monument like nothing else on Earth. Set in the most picturesque landscape of the highest beauty, 685-years-old, easily capable of causing one’s jaw to drop at just one glance. Elsewhere, there’s Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, rising 3,560 feet above sea level. It’s staggeringly ethereal. It’s like you are on the top of the world. The brutal gentility of this beast is sumptuous, calming and awe-inspiring. And then there’s Portmeirion. Where The Prisoner was filmed. A stunning village of supreme grandeur. The artistry and bright colours of the childlike architecture is surrounded and cocooned in a bubble of loveliness. The walls of trees and rocks are divine. It’s heavenly. Totally and utterly heavenly.
But I think the best sight of Wales is the brilliantly named Pistyll Rhaeadr, a 240 foot high waterfall located in the area of Powys. George Borrow once wrote, ‘What shall I liken it to? I scarcely know, unless it is to an immense skein of silk agitated and disturbed by tempestuous blasts, or to the long tail of a grey courser at furious speed. I never saw water falling so gracefully, so much like thin, beautiful threads as here.’ He had a point. The landscape surrounding the falls are supernaculum, an enchanting fairytale from the mind of great imagination. The mix of colours ameliorate the scene, a vista broken up by the incicurable waters cascading with such force and grace. It is undeniably beautiful. It is almost indescribable. Capable of filling one with a gaudium like no other.
Wales. The nation of great landscapes, wonderful people and the equals sign.
Images: 1) The flag of Wales (credit: wikimedia.org), 2) Pistyll Rhaeadr (credit: summitpost.org), 3) Portmeirion (credit: wikimedia.org)
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