Day 434: Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth is a coastal university town located in County Ceredigion (formerly Cardiganshire) at the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol. The name comes from the Welsh chieftain Ceredig, who drove the Irish out of much of Wales in the fifth century. Laetitia chose Aberystwyth as the day’s destination with a certain amount of trepidation, since it is a favorite place-name used by limerick writers, and writing a limerick that hadn’t already been done would be a challenge.

They began the day with a hike on the Dylan Thomas Trail. The trail runs from Llanon to New Quay in County Ceredigion. Points of interest include places where Thomas lived with his wife Caitlin and the homes of those who encouraged and published his writings. Back in town that afternoon, Laetitia took her group to the Aberystwyth Arts Center, where a special traveling exhibit was on display. The exhibit featured the work of Albrecht Dürer, the German engraver, printmaker, and painter from Nuremburg whose life spanned the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

As her group fanned out to inspect the exhibit’s offerings, Laetitia found Dürer’s 1507 painting of Adam and Eve especially interesting. The picture wouldn’t have struck her as odd if she hadn’t visited the herbosexual bar in Cockpole Green (Day 346) and remembered the bartender’s story about classical herbosexual art. In the painting, the figures are nude with their genitalia covered with leaves but the leaves are still attached to branches from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so someone with a certain mindset might imagine that Adam and Eve are being fondled by the tree as Eve reached up to take the fruit from the serpent’s mouth. Laetitia smiled. She didn’t know whether she believed the Cockpole Green bartender’s story, and it really didn’t matter. Albrecht Dürer had given her the limerick of the day. Tomorrow, she was starting a new series of tours in the eastern United States and all of Canada. When she finished those tours she was coming back to Wales first before continuing around the world.

There’s a painting just now in Aberystwyth
Showing Eve just before she’s dismissed with
Young Adam, her man
When she ignores the ban
And takes fruit from the mouth the snake hissed with.

Day 433: Saint Mellons

Laetitia and her group started their tour of Wales at Cardiff, the largest city and capital of Wales. Its Welsh name was Caerdydd, meaning “the fort on the River Taff,” referring to a Roman fortress on the spot where Cardiff Castle now stands. William I, King of England, built the original castle about 15 years after the Norman Conquest, but it has been renovated many times since.

The group visited the castle first, moving then to the National Museum of Cardiff, and finally to the nearby village of Saint Mellons, number 94 in Rude Britain. The name may be derived from Saint Melaine, a sixth-century bishop in Brittany, or a fourth-century bishop from Rouen named Mellonius. The village was originally a coach stop on Newport Road connecting London and Cardiff, and is home to some of the oldest pubs in the Cardiff area. Laetitia stopped at one such licensed premises for a pint before meeting her group for dinner, where a bartender’s story about a wayward nun from the area provided the limerick of the day.

The defrocked young nun Sister Ellen’s
Chest protruded like twin Mount St. Helens
And what she did for fun
Seemed not right for a nun
So in Cardiff they called her Saint Mellons.

Day 432: A Lick and a Promise

As she walked down Raglan Road toward the Emerald Victorian, Laetitia decided that she would leave Scotland today. She was beginning to think about the tours she would lead in the eastern United States, but she needed to plan some tours in Wales first. She opened the big wooden door, went into the kitchen, started a pot of Columbian dark roast brewing, and went into the library. Her first thought was that Wales was going to be a bit of a challenge, since she didn’t have a feel for the Welsh language. As she walked back into the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee, she mulled over her options. By the time she had finished her second cup of coffee, Laetitia made a decision.

Her grandmother hated “housewifery,” as she called housework, borrowing the term from American Puritan poet Edward Taylor. When her grandmother gave her house a cursory cleaning, she would say she was giving the house “a lick and a promise.” Laetitia decided to give Wales a “lick and a promise” this time around. To atone for giving the country short shrift this time, she would go to Wales again when she did the worldwide series of tours that she planned to do after the eastern United States.

She was still drawing a blank on a tour in Wales for today, so she made a second decision. She would use the day to plan a short series of tours in Wales. The powers that be at Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours headquarters—wherever that was—hadn’t authorized a day off from touring, but she would do it anyway. She decided it was easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. She still needed a limerick for the day, so she made one up about a female stamp collector named Natalie.

When a man kissed a lady named Natalie
She was so engrossed in philately
That she gave John Thomas
A lick and a promise
When he wished her to play Lady Chatterley.

Day 431: Khyber Pass

About ten miles north of the Scottish mainland is an archipelago known as Orkney, or the Orkney Islands. Norwegian Jarls ruled the islands for several centuries during the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century Orkney came under the rule of the Scottish kings. Laetitia and her group spent part of the day viewing sea birds and wildlife on Orkney’s largest island, known as the Mainland.

In the afternoon, Laetitia and her group walked around Stromness, the second largest town on the islands. They visited the Stromness Museum and the Pier Art Gallery and then did a walkabout on the outskirts of town before going to their final destination, Khyber Pass, number 92 in Rude UK. This local narrow passageway between buildings, linking Dundas Street and Franklin Road, is named for an important trade (and invasion) route linking Pakistan and Afghanistan that was the scene of major battles during Britain’s three Afghan wars. It’s included in Rude UK because it is a synonym for buttocks in Cockney rhyming slang.

The group passed a cottage next to a pasture with several donkeys grazing. A woman standing next to the fence introduced herself as Lydia Pinkham. Miss Pinkham was a plump former schoolteacher from London who fulfilled her retirement dream by obtaining a cottage here with a bit of land where she could raise donkeys. The one thing she missed from her former life as a teacher was the captive audience that each class provided. Thus she never missed an opportunity to speak at length when unsuspecting strangers came within her range. She loved to talk about her pets and was in the midst of a drawn-out discourse when a very large donkey came up to the fence expecting a food handout.

Lydia had obtained it from the local donkey shelter. During a brief sojourn in the wild, it had developed the ploy of begging for food to a high art. The donkey scanned the group with large doleful eyes, but nobody had any food to give it. As Lydia rambled on, Laetitia saw a small group of young men approaching them, and noticed that one was carrying a copy of Rude UK. She pointed to the approaching men, made excuses, and she and her group escaped down the road toward their destination. The men asked directions to Khyber Pass, which they received along with a protracted exposition on Lydia’s favorite subject, with special emphasis on the fine specimen on display next to the fence. Laetitia and her group were just about out of earshot, when the donkey, tired of having his begging ignored, began to bray loudly. Upset at having her speaking opportunity interrupted, Lydia scolded the animal, casting aspersions on its parentage and upbringing. At a local pub before meeting her group for dinner, Laetitia wrote the limerick of the day.

To the young men who sought Khyber Pass
Miss Pinkham displayed her large ass
Which was nude I’m afraid
And when loudly it brayed
She berated its absence of class.