Gretna Green and Wales

This morning was the regular breakfast routine except that Teresa and I were running late and had to make do with rolls and containers of yogurt eaten on the bus. That necessitated us “borrowing” a spoon from the restaurant. I do feel guilty, but since they charged us over 50 pounds for a small amount of laundry (We knew they might.) I don’t feel too bad.

We got a lesson in haggis history as well as golf history, and you will have to consult Geoff or Wikipedia if you want the details.

We are headed for Gretna Green, Scotland, where British couples used to go to get married, because in England at the time the girl had to be 21 years of age. In those days you simply had to declare in front of two people that you wish to be married, and you were. Apparently, blacksmiths were readily available in the town and became traditional “anvil priests”. It was considered fitting, because as they joined two metals together, they joined two people. Now you have to be a 21-day resident to get married in Gretna Green.

We passed the town of Lockerbie where, some years ago, terrorists brought down a plane and killed a large number of Americans.

Meclan, our driver, pulled in a narrow space between two buses to the wild

Rare bus damage

Rare bus damage

applause of his passengers. Later on he made an even more incredible left turn, backing and filling, and leaving only inches to spare, if that. I eventually found evidence that bus drivers and human, and took a picture of damage to a bus’ lower left bumper.

Not married yet

Not married yet

In Gretna Green, Teresa and I were married in a traditional Gretna Green ceremony. We had to answer four questions, and it was a struggle to get the right answers from us. I had to promise to give Teresa all my money, and Teresa had to give me whiskey every

Happily married!

Happily married!

night. Kris and Tom were Teresa’s parents, and had mixed feeling about the whole deal, except that Tom had a rifle and I knew where he stood. I think it was meant to be a shotgun.

We then headed to the Lake District, which was formed by the action of glaciers 14,000 years

Lunch in Grasmere

Lunch in Grasmere

ago. We stopped at the lovely village of Grasmere for lunch. We found the Grasmere Tea Shop by a flowing stream filled with ducks. We visited the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden with its winding paths and no daffodils, at least in bloom.William Wordsworth and Henry Longfellow lived in this area and were contemporaries.

Shortly after leaving Gretna Green, I realized the land had become quite flat, and that clearly was because the glaciers had not reached this far south. We stopped in Grasmere for a bite to eat and a little shopping. We visited the Wordsworth Garden with his wanting path. We found a lovely place to eat by a creek with many ducks.

Leaving Grasmere we passed Ambleside with the tiny Bridge House, over 300 years old, and which was the inspiration for the Little Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe.

We entered Wales with no ceremony, in striking contrast to our crossing into Scotland from England. Wales comes from a German word meaning border. The Romans built many forts in Wales, but as we have heard before, as happened all over the British Isles, the Romans left the area to concentrate on the Saxons which were invading the Roman Empire from the East.

In 1959 Cardiff became the capital of Wales. It might’ve been Carnarvon, where the Prince of Wales is crowned, but it wasn’t to be.Welch has a lilting sound to it, but Geoff also explained that it sounds like Yiddish spoken underwater by drunken mermaids. We’ll have to make sure we get a sample before we leave. The longest place name is in the world is in Wales is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I’ll leave the letter-counting to you.

We are staying in Ruthin Castle which was built in the 13th century, but ”defortified” sometime later. In 1925 it was a institution for the investigation of rare undetermined diseases. Presumably it has been disinfected from those days to accommodate its present use.

For some unknown reason, Geoff commented, the Swan, the Hart, and the Elephant figured large in pub names. Although I couldn’t hear him clearly, I think he began philosophizing on the feeling of power that drink brings. He recited a poem about drinking which I remember as a song from my college days:

Oh the liquor was spilt on the barroom floor,
And the bar was closed for the night,
When a mouse crept out from a hole in the wall
And sat in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the liquor from the barroom floor,
And on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar,
“Bring on the goddamn cat!”

When we entered Wales we immediately saw the street signs in two languages, with English on top. Farther along, Welch, or Irish, became the top language.People are working hard to preserve their national language.

Ruthin Castle chess

Ruthin Castle chess

We arrived at Ruthin Castle and were met by a jester and Lady Myra. Tonight was the night of our traditional meal, going back to the year 1499. We were ushered into a room filled with long benches and tables, and toasted each other with a glass of mead. There were songs, and jokes, a magician, and a fun time was had by most everybody. We ate lamb shank or salmon, chicken, vegetables, potatoes, and coleslaw, with almost no utensils. There was a limerick contest, and the Collette

Ready for a medieval meal

Ready for a medieval meal

Group pulled a clean sweep. I was third, Tom was second, and Mick Hager finished first.

A fellow named Mark came in and was looking for Cheryl and found her. He said he lives in Wrexham and hadn’t seen her in 10 years. I don’t know the rest of the story.

So ended Wednesday.


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