Welsh Witterings 2. 28th January 2014
Wet, wild and windy has been the order of the weather this week and my pony, Dewdrop’s field has looked like the set of a mud wrestling competition. I have braced myself every time I have ventured outdoors as the wind has been cutting and the rain driving hard, indeed muddy wellies and soggy coats have been the order of the week.
Despite the chill outside love has been in the air this week in Wales, as we celebrated St. Dwynwen’s Day on 25th January, which is the Wales very own St. Valentine’s Day. Dwynwen was a 5th century Welsh girl that was daughter to Brychan Brycheiniog (son of an Irish king). Legend has it that she was very beautiful and stole the heart of Maelon Dyfodrull, but her father forbade them to marry. In a state of deep emotional turmoil Dwynwen ran away from the clutches of her father with Maelon in hot pursuit . When Maelon catches up with Dwynwen she refuses to marry him because she does not want to disobey her father and encounters Maelon’s wrath and anger. So she prayed to God to be released from her love and she turned the object of her heart’s desire into ice. Then, legend has it that an angel came and granted her three wishes. The first wish she cast was to be free of Maelon, and with this he vanished. Her second wish was that she would never fall in love again or marry and the third wish was that she could help all lovers. She wanted to spend her life helping anyone who was in pain through love.
The third wish saw, Dwynwen and her sister Cain and brother Dyfnan travel around Wales, preaching God’s word and founding Christian churches. They sailed to a little island off Anglesey where Dwynwen established a following in a place known as Llanddwyn (Dwynwen’s church). Whilst her sister Cain went on to found a church on Anglesey at Llangeinwen. Many girls who’d found God and those bearing the scars of a broken heart came to Dwynwen on Llanddwyn and a church was eventually built on the island. For centuries people have made pilgrimages to Llanddwyn. There are still the remains of the church and to this day they still hold a service each year.
As an old romantic I love the story of St Dwynwen, who devoted her life to the salvation of lovers. In my household my little daughters have had the legends recited to them and have been busy making a papier-mâché love heart as a consequence. Lots of glue, lots of sticky mess and lots of fun was the order of the proceedings, who knew that story-telling could be such a practical affair.
Bad weather has prevented me from getting into the garden this week and so the weeds continue to dominate my vegetable patch, however, next week I am determined to don my gardening gloves and claim victory over the brambles, but for now I will have to be content with a hot mug of tea and the sound of rain lashing against the window.
The sweet little pony that arrived last week has turned out to be a little madam. Yes, Dewdrop the miniature Shetland is a titchy pony with a big personality. She has strong opinions on what she does and doesn’t like to do and it seems that we differ greatly on what she’s allowed to do. However, she is gentle with the children and despite her lack of manners I still have a huge soft spot for her and I’ve no doubt that with a little bit of time and training she will become a model stable mate.
The next big task will be to divide the five acres of fields into manageable grazing fields, but this job will have to wait until I can stand on the grass without sinking. In the meantime I am on the hunt for a nice nanny goat to help me tackle the weeds and hedges. I have had a dream of fresh goat’s milk for many years and this year may be the ideal time to put this dream into action. Having given so many cookery demonstrations on cheese making I would love to get my hands on raw goat’s milk, so that spare stable block may not stay empty for too much longer.
This week Hattie got to try her hand at combing local wool and spinning it, courtesy of a natural craft worker called Pam Newton who was in attendance of The People’s Market in Lampeter. With four children herself, Pam was incredibly patient with my four year old who continually spun her wool the wrong way. To the background noise of market bustle and a live folk band, my little ones held bright naturally dyed sheep’s wool with glee which was carried home with great care and given pride of place on the mantelpiece.
The People’s market is always full of bright and bold characters, home grown vegetables, organic meat, freshly baked goods and local cheese. This Saturday’s highlight was an eight year old girl getting up on stage and singing a Welsh hymn, bringing transactions to a standstill as stallholders and customers alike waited to give her a round of applause. There are not many markets where folk bands play, cottage industries thrive and everything is from a 30 mile radius. For my daughter’s the highlight of the market visit was a small knitted heart they purchased and the lemon drizzle cake we enjoyed in the café, whereas I was very chuffed with my local Welsh garlic.
Well back to bread making this cold weather has made me turn to comfort food and homely pursuits.
Da bo ti (good bye)