Here I am, typing to you from a cozy pub apartment in the rollicking Welsh countryside. It’s like coming home in some ways, but in other ways I will always be just a little bit dopey and out of my element in the UK. The laundry detergent bottles feel fun sized in my jumbo-accustomed American hands, skim milk here is actually 2% in the US, and vitamin D rarely comes wrapped in a sunshiny bow.
Instead of daily (or even weekly) sunlight doses, we have Horlicks: a malty powder that, when stirred into steaming milk, yields a beverage not unlike baby spit up. But it’s loaded with vitamin D, so when the sun hibernates, I guzzle it with cheer.
So far I’ve shopped at IKEA (my first trip ever, in any country – gasp!) for cheap apartment furniture. I’ve built some of said furniture and especially admire my tall, rickety wooden shelving unit that may collapse at any upset.
I’ve been to Cardiff, the nearby capital, which is a lovely energetic city of young professionals. I’ve nearly lost my bowels as a car passenger on the constricted lanes surrounding our teeny tiny village. Driving these lanes requires a kamikaze attitude and a full tank of gas. The lanes are no wider than a Mini Cooper in some sections, with hedges over 12 feet tall. When two cars meet, they slam their brakes abruptly and engage in a staring contest until one driver decides to reverse for several feet or miles until the road widens.I will soon learn to drive here. If I indeed survive, I will promptly transition to Formula One.
I’m also bursting with an assortment of Welsh fun facts.
Wales boasts the world’s longest place name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch at 58 letters. It means, of course, “The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave.” It is so long, in fact, that it has seriously knocked this paragraph’s formatting off kilter.
Oh, and Catherine Zeta Jones is Welsh. As is Tom Jones. Isn’t that unusual? (It’s not unusual.) You will only understand that joke if you were around in the 60’s, or are a giant nerdball like me.