Day 712: Caernarfon

These days the heir apparent to the throne of UK is given the title Prince of Wales. This tradition dates back to 1307, when Edward of Caernarfon became King Edward II of England. Thus Caernarfon in Wales became the place of investiture, the site where the ceremony is held officially designating the next in line for the throne. The ceremony occurs at Caernarfon Castle. Laetitia began her tour there. Built in 1307 by King Edward I, the castle saw military action on several occasions, the last during the English Civil war. After a walkabout in the town, they had lunch in a pub that featured local specialties such as white bait (fried bait-size fish) and black beef lob (stew of Welsh beef and root vegetables).

The leek is a national symbol of Wales. According to legend, St. David ordered his warriors to wear leeks as a means of recognition. Whether the recognition was to be by sight or smell is not clear. Leeks are also very popular in Welsh cuisine, leading to the limerick of the day. This was Laetitia’s last day in Wales before beginning a new series of tours across the Channel in continental Europe.

When a Faroese lass from Torshavn
Sought amore with a lad from Caernarfon
And found his breath reeks
From consumption of leeks
She married a lad from Dungarvan.

Day 711: Aberystwyth

The former market town of Aberystwyth is a popular tourist destination and also the home of the University of Wales. Laetitia began her tour at the ruin of Aberystwyth Castle. Afterward they toured the University, an institution of higher learning since 1872. They rode the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway and afterward walked along the beach that fronts the city.

At the north end of the long promenade in back of the beach is a steel railing about 20 feet long and about 2 feet above a low concrete base. When Laetitia and her group approached, a group of students were lined up in front of the bar and were kicking it. When asked what they were doing, one of them said, “Everyone does it. It’s a tradition. The Prince of Wales put his foot on the bar to tie his shoe when he was here on an official visit once, and we’ve been kicking it ever since for good luck.” Laetitia pondered that Princes of Wales haven’t always been lucky, but she said nothing. After the students finished, she and her group kicked the bar. As they were leaving, a drunk staggered up and tried unsuccessfully to kick the bar with comic effect and became the subject of the limerick of the day.

A drunk on the beach at Aberystwyth
Brought smiles to the lips the crowd kissed with
When he kicked at the bar
And missed it by far
And fell down on the leg that he missed with.

Day 710: Milk Wood Misunderstood

Laetitia sat in a comfortable chair in the library of the Emerald Victorian, sipping Peet’s Major Dickason Blend. She had a passing thought wondering who Major Dickason, was but didn’t take time to pursue it because she had just found what she was looking for: a book of the collected works of Dylan Thomas. Her grandmother liked to quote from his poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. When she did, Laetitia teased her about liking Thomas because his wife, Caitlin, was Irish, but Laetitia liked his work, too. She had read A Child’s Christmas in Wales when she was small and seen Under Milk Wood at a Hibernia theater. She scanned the pages of the book for a while and then made a decision. She would go to Laugharne.

Laetitia took her group along a path under the ruin of Laugharne Castle that led to the writing shed where Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood. Both the shed and the boathouse where Dylan lived with Caitlin from 1949–1953 are located on what he once described as the “heron-priested shore” overlooking the Taf Estuary. Laugharne is the likely inspiration for Llareggub, the fictional setting for Under Milk Wood. Llareggub is “bugger all” spelled backward. The slang phrase can be interpreted in a bawdy way, but it’s more commonly used as an idiom meaning “nothing.” In early editions of the play, publishers censored the village name to Llaregyb. The group had tea on the terrace next to the boathouse and then did a walkabout in the village. Over a pint of Buckley’s Ale at Brown’s Hotel, Laetitia composed the limerick of the day.

Though I’m sure he was misunderstood
And thought mirth in village names good
Censors found it perverse
“Bugger all” in reverse
When Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood.

Day 709: Revolting Rhymes

It was their second day in Cardiff, and Laetitia took her group to the waterfront. She arranged for them to go to an area museum called The Dr. Who Experience, based on the popular, long-running BBC television show, many episodes of which were filmed in and around Cardiff. Later they visited the small white church where Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was christened. Dahl’s parents were part of the Norwegian seagoing community in Cardiff. Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during World War II before becoming a famous author.

Laetitia loved his children’s books, especially his Revolting Rhymes, parodies in verse of popular traditional stories for young people with unexpected endings. She especially enjoyed his version of Little Red Riding Hood where Red Riding Hood pulls a pistol from her knickers and shoots the Big Bad Wolf. That rhyme inspired the limerick of the day.

Roald Dahl’s rhyme of Red Riding Hood
Where she shoots Big Bad Wolf from the wood
With a gun from her nickers
Engenders loud snickers
When she’s portrayed more clever than good.