|The view on the way to Church|
Saturday dawned bright and clear. I had an appointment with the bank - Barclay's. Yes, to your raised eyebrows - the bank is open on Saturday (Sunday in the larger cities) and one needs an appointment to open an account to give them money... of course, you eventually want to withdraw it so you must bring your passport and various other items of of identification.
Not to fear, I used my time well and got a bit of a Welsh language lesson from Geriant, my personal banker. Waunfawr, where I live, is pronounced Whine-vow-er. "Welsh is easy," he proclaimed. "It's all hard letters," he continued, referring to their vowels. The light suddenly dawned as I've been trying to memorize the double "ll" as a "cla" sound, thus the Llandinam building is actually Chlan-dee-num. "I think I've got it," as Eliza once said; but what I had was that the Welsh assign different sounds to their letters. I explained to an astounded Geriant that a hard "a" in American is like the "a" in Kate. Problem solved, account opened, we shook hands, and I stepped outside into a truly astounding Welsh afternoon.
I started down the Prom which borders the seaside. People were out in droves, walking, strolling, jogging, pushing prams, chasing children, and generally enjoying life. Me, well, I was rubbernecking.
My iPhone 4, now worthless as it was designed without a Sim card, is a glorified iPod and decent camera. I love the Old College. Exploring later in the day and trying to trace the sound of a lovely choir, I learned that it was actually built as a hotel with three architects. The first was fired for spending too much money (see pic above); moving to the right, the second spent less but died before completion. The third finished but on a reduced budget. I didn't see where they skimped nor really where one left off and the other began. The architecture is spectacular.
I came upon the dragon benches that line the Promenade. Catching my breath, I gazed out across the Irish Sea. Six months ago, I sat in my office (the bed in a borrowed RV); and in researching Wales and Aberystwyth came across pictures of these benches. Now here I was in Wales. Reality has at moments like this a very unreal quality. How could I be here? Had I died and gone on to circumnavigate my dreams? But people saw me, nodded, spoke, and answered my questions. I was real flesh and blood. I was truly alive. I held the feeling of joyful discovery close, a gift.
Walking around the point, I climbed up a stone stairway, wondering at my imagined satin or damask floor length gown slipping across the tightly fitted slate, perhaps jewels on my fingers. Had a princess or a milkmaid climbed these steps before me? The castle ruin spread before my eyes as I followed the path back around the point; and as I climbed the rise, there on the lawn instead of wooly lambs were picnickers dotting the velvet green lawn. A young woman sat upon the remains of a wall, silhouetted against the sky, the textbook in her lap grounded her in the here and now but she held a fairy quality as her hair billowed in the sea breeze.
Walking across what could only have been a moat at one time, I came across a gaol in which I understand four French soldiers were incarcerated. Eventually I climbed to the back of the ruins and turning got a great shot of the town beneath me. A blue Welsh sky is almost unbeatable. Aberystwyth is hard to get to, one has to be determined, but it is a jewel that sparkles with depth and layers of history.
Climbing down I investigated the Old College, wondering as I wandered as to how it was ever used as a hotel. Of course, in fairness, it was Saturday and most of the interior doors were locked. They are offices now. I wondered how the rooms looked new, tried to imagine what they were like in 1865. It was built in just one year, which I can hardly fathom; went bankrupt; and was purchased by philanthropists intent on opening a school. Aberystwyth/University of Wales now resides up the hill but Old College is fortunately still used, housing random offices and some classes.
|View into the town from the Castle to the Old College|
Among its treasures is the library which overlooks the sea. Located off the gallery level of the great hall, it's the door on the left at the far end. One enters quietly. It is a no-noise/study zone. Not knowing it was a student at the front desk, I asked cautiously, "Where are the books?"
It is sadly no longer a library. Now it is "The Library that Isn't," Shelves filled with the ghosts of books past. Computers have replaced the collection; but bibliophiles do not fear. I believe all the books have been moved to the Hugh Owen Library on campus. Three-quarter sawn oak, fashioned by craftsmen long gone, the shelves beckoned to me. There are those that call it haunted or comment that it makes their skin crawl. I sat in utter bliss and wrote. So overwhelmed with the antiquity of the day, the sea, the sky, the sheer beauty of creation, I Skyped my husband and in my excitement woke him at 2... AM... Oops... Sorry, honey. Fortunately he barely remembered the call the next morning.
|The Library that Isn't|