Going West: The Talking Stone

Wales 114

While I was researching the cathedral at St Davids, I came across a couple of legends that caught my fancy. Both of them concern Llechllafar, the talking stone. The name just by itself was intriguing… where did the emphasis lie? Was it a stone that spoke, or a stone where people could speak? I soon found out and it tied in with the legends of the old corpse roads that Stuart and I had come across when working on our books.

When villages began to get their own churches, quite often it would only be the mother church of the area that had burial rights. People were obliged to carry their dead, often long distances, to bury their loved ones. There were many legends associated with these old highways that could scale hills and ford rivers for mile upon mile, following a straight line, very like the leys, that might take them even through homes…the spirits of the dead always took a straight course, and a convoluted path would confound or confuse them.

There was a corpse road at St Davids… and it was crossed by Llechllafar.

The talking stone was a huge white slab of marble, ten feet long, six feet wide and a foot thick. It lay across the little river Alun that separates the cathedral from the palace… making me wonder which side was that of the living and which that of the dead, especially as, beyond the ruins of the bishops palace, there is only the sea and the islands that float in the mist…

Continue reading at France & Vincent

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out with the Old?

It is not my intention to talk non-stop about my current health problems. But, even just a few days into what promises to be a rather long haul, so many things have been brought to my attention that I feel need to be highlighted. I’ve already mentioned the hospital food, albeit briefly compared to what could have been said, but that… although nowhere near as minor as it might seem… is as nothing compared to some of the other concerns that were raised.

Let me say straight away that I am not blaming the grossly overworked nurses; the care from individual to individual was, in most cases, superb. I am questioning a shift in our attitude as a society that allows unnerving changes in the way we deal with older and more vulnerable people.

After spending time in the Rapid Response unit and then in Resuscitation, I was eventually wheeled into a private room for the night, which was most welcome. Next day, I found myself on a ward. There were several other patients whose stories I could relate, but the saddest case was the old lady in the bed opposite mine.

Scrunched up into a little ball, the old lady barely moved. She would not speak, would not eat or interact… or so it seemed. But, just after two, her husband came in… and she came to life. The two of them were as much in love as when they had first met, nearly half a century earlier. They had shared a bed for forty seven years and the separation now was almost killing them both.

He had walked into a village dance one evening, caught her eye and winked at her. She winked back… and they were both lost to a lifelong love.

We learned how close they had become when a car had ploughed around a corner, ripping into her legs…and killing their children in the pushchair. We learned how their lives had been lived for each other from that day onwards…and how very deep the love between them still ran.

Continue reading at The Silent Eye

Posted in Love | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Where… #midnighthaiku

Where did summer go

Running away fleet-footed

Calling tomorrow

*

Posted in Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Going West: The Accidental Tourist

Wales 080

Frankly, I thought it appallingly bad planning. Could the town not have chosen a different day to ceremonially install their new mayor? It isn’t as if we hadn’t advertised our itinerary for the weekend, culminating with a visit to the Cathedral at St Davids and lunch in the refectory. In that order. But no… the Cathedral was otherwise occupied and would be for some time to come. It was still occupied by the time we had finished warming up with pots of tea… and still too busy after I had wandered round the outside of the church with the camera, trying to get a few good shots in spite of the rain that was now beating a steady tattoo on the lens. We were at a loose end.

Wales 081

“Another twenty minutes or so,” said the gentleman manning the door. Some chose to stay in the warmth of the refectory. Others disappeared, planning to gather again shortly. I wandered off over the little stream to be a tourist. Tourism is not the point of these weekends and although we have a plan of where we will go and what we want to see, we have learned to be flexible in our approach, shunning rigorous timetables in favour of time to savour the sites we visit. Sometimes, though, there is nothing wrong with a little tourism. The Cathedral is not the only thing worth visiting in St Davids and, with little time at our disposal, the Bishop’s Palace is a good place to while away a little time. To be fair, it deserves a lot more than I had to give it, being part of one of the oldest and certainly most important Christian sites in Wales…

Wales 082

Continue reading at France & Vincent

Posted in Ancient sites, Churches, History, Photography, Spirituality, The Silent Eye | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Small Dog has a Bad Week…

“Help! Ambulance!”

Not a good way to start your week, but last Monday, it was panic stations. My two legs went wonky and, stood all hairless in the tub, she couldn’t breathe. The next few minutes, I was going spare, I can tell you… with her gasping, the ball guy phoning, and me trying to be there for both of them and stay out of the way at the same time.

A squealy thing on wheels arrived and I sat with her while they did stuff to her. I don’t mind admitting, I was frightened and shaking a lot, but then they bundled her onto a bed thing and took her away.

I didn’t see her again for a week. I wasn’t sure I would ever see her again.

The ball guy and my boys were all really worried. There was no sign of her at all but they told me it would be okay… I didn’t really believe them. The ball guy took some of her clothes things in a bag… so I put her a chicken treat in too, just from me.

Continue reading at The Small Dog’s Blog

Posted in Dogs | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Felled #midnighthaiku

Wide horizons wished

Boundaries imposed by need

Walls felled by dreamers

*

Posted in Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Going West: Where Ancient Sites Collide

Wales 042

Wreathed in mist and roses, the Mother greets those who visit the sacred spring of St Non. The little shrine to the Virgin was erected in 1951 when the Passionist Fathers restored and rededicated the spring, as if to leave those who walk the cliff-top path in no doubt of the deity from whom the healing waters flow. Me, I was having grave doubts about such a claim of allegiance.

Wales 047

The legend tells that St Non gave birth to her son, St David, in the field beside the spring. St Non was the daughter of a noble house who had been ravaged and left with child. The healing waters of the spring began to flow when the babe was born, bathed in light, while a thunderstorm of biblical proportions raged around the mother and child, protecting them from harm. I have to wonder what a pregnant noble lady was doing alone, in a storm on a cliff top, when her time came upon her. As pious as she was, eating only bread and water throughout her pregnancy, surely she would have headed for church or convent to seek aid and sanctuary? Especially as, in Welsh, her name means ‘nun’. If that was the whole story, somehow, it didn’t add up…

Wales 045

Continue reading at France & Vincent

Posted in Ancient sites, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

MarySmith’sPlace – Cancer Diary #04

Mary Smith's Place

Monday September 21: I have never experienced such excruciatingly painful constipation in my life. If you are squeamish about bodily functions you should skip this and move on down the post – it does get better. I don’t know if the chemo drugs caused it or one of the other drugs I have to take at various times including steroids and anti-emetics.

I’ve been devouring liquorice – vast quantities of the stuff. While out walking yesterday – walking is an excellent way to get the bowels activated – I had to find some suitable shrubbery to squat behind leaving my son to stand guard. I crouched and strained and struggled, eventually producing something about the size of a rabbit pellet. Re-emerged, not exactly triumphant, onto the path and noted a farm pick-up further ahead, parked directly in line of sight. I was very relieved to find, when we approached, it…

View original post 810 more words

Posted in Photography | 1 Comment

In brief…

The Silent Eye

As the majority of our friends and readers will now know, I was rushed into hospital last week in a very bad way. I would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has sent good wishes through all the various social media platforms, through the comments, by email, snail mail, text and phone. And to the friends wh have kept me company across the miles with tales of normality and laughter.

I am sorry if it has taken a while to respond to everyone individually, I am really rather unwell and my energy levels are a tad variable.

At a time when the Covid restrictions mean that even close family cannot visit, it has meant a very great deal to be touched by so much love, friendship and kindness. Trying to process the changes that serious illness has and will impose upon us as individuals and as…

View original post 267 more words

Posted in Photography | 8 Comments

Going West: The Chapel in the Mists

Wales 041

The chapel of Our Lady and St Non perches no more than a few yards above the steep cliffs and clear waters of the bay. Rising beyond a bank dotted with the brilliant spires of foxgloves, it was a welcome sight on a damp morning. It is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time, though the building itself is less than a hundred years old. The tiny chapel, just twenty-five feet long and twelve feet wide, was built in 1934 by Cecil Morgan-Griffiths. He had built a house on the clifftop, close to a far more ancient site that has long been revered as a holy place and, as the nearest Catholic Church was many miles away, he built the little chapel that would become the most westerly in Wales.

Wales 013

Morgan-Griffiths used stones and fragments of architectural beauty from ruined chapels in order to build his own. The holy water stoup by the open doorway as brought here from the Chapel of the Fathoms. It is all that now remains of a place wonderfully named. The pale slab of stone that forms the altar came from the chapel dedicated to St Patrick that once stood at Whitesands, where we had officially begun our weekend.

Wales 018

It seems as if the little chapel is home to the ghosts of many ancient places, giving their bones sanctuary within its walls. Perhaps it is this that makes the place seem warm with prayer and peace. The chapel is a living place of worship and pilgrimage… the Sisters of Mercy care for the chapel and Morgan-Griffiths’ old home, keeping it as a place of spiritual retreat. It has a gentle air; a sense of inclusion that welcomes all who seek shelter or solace within its walls… even the birds.

Continue reading at France & Vincent

Posted in Churches, History, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments