Discovering Pembrokeshire: St Davids

Without you – Tobias Jesso Jr

Salut, salut

Today I’m not posting a recipe but a lovely tour in Wales. For our 10 years anniversary (10 years…!), le Barbu and I decided not to buy gifts but to discover somewhere new, create memories and do things we don’t do in our everyday life. We went from East to West, that’s how you realise that Wales is not a large country because it took us only 2H20 to go from Cardiff to St Davids! I’ll write 3 posts about our little tour in North Pembrokeshire: 1st today about St Davids, 2nd Wednesday about “a thing we don’t do in our everyday life” and 3rd Friday about lovely places.

We took our car to get there, by leaving at 9am we arrived at 11:30am, perfect timing for what we had planned. Roads are quite good, there’s the M4 but it gets better when you leave it and take little roads, Welsh roads where you can see sheep, cows, beaches and coast. Motorways are great because they are faster but so boring whereas little roads are good fun. We drove past St Brides Bay, it was sunny, gorgeous and a nice sun welcomed us in St Davids.

Why did we choose this town? Everyone knows about St Patrick, Irish and others celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, well there’s one for each country and in Wales, it is Saint David. There’s a cathedral to visit, a nice town and what I’ve liked a lot was the legend of Saint David. I’m going to tell you the story, very briefly, according to what I’ve read on historic-uk and in my book Welsh Legends and Myths by G. Watkins. It might not be all accurate, legends after are not supposed to be strict history.

Let’s go back to 6th century. A beautiful little girl, Nonnita, born Royal Princess in a small town called Menevia embraced the new religion, Christianity. She devoted herself to a life of celibacy and devotion for her only God and showed absolutely no interest in men. Little by little, she became well-known and people come from far away to see her, hear her words and wisdom. Sant, King of Ceredigion is one of those people, when he saw her he felt a powerful desire and even though she resisted, he took her and violated her. I’ve read a lot of legends about Saint David and they are all quite similar but a lot of them just mention his “royal blood parents” without this part of the story and I think it’s not fair because it is important to explain that Nonnita resisted.

Nonnita became pregnant and when her waters broke, she took refuge near the sea. She washed herself and lay down in the mud. A storm started with ugly clouds and pouring rain but as soon as the child arrived, a single ray of sunshine illuminated the mother and her child. Nonnita decided to give him the name “Dewi Sant” in Welsh, “Dewi” is “David” in English. He was raised as a Christian and his mother left to establish several religious sites but his education was taking care of by two priests, Saint Columba and Saint Finnegan. They taught him theology, languages and history, they also engaged a blind tutor, Paulinius. Guess what? His first miracle is going to be for him! He splashed water into Paulinius’ eyes and when he reopened them, he was able to see! What was the first thing he saw? A bunch of daffodils… Hence the Welsh symbol.

Saint David developed his religious side, he is called “David the Water Drinker” because of one of his rule: always drink water, unless it is safer to drink wine or beer. He was a strict vegetarian and frequently immersed himself in freezing water as an act of piety. He traveled a lot and was really well-known, so much that people complained they couldn’t see him in churches because there were too much of them. No problem, he took a handkerchief, put it on the floor, stood on it and a small hill appeared so everyone can see him. Classy, right? So he preached and a dove landed on his shoulder. Super classy, right? He taught people to “do the little things”, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was named bishop. He foresaw his death and at around 100 years-old he died during a Viking raid on 1st March 589. AH! Hence the national day…

In 1120 Pope Calistuts II canonised him and declared that 2 pilgrimages to David’s tomb = 1 to Rome, 3 pilgrimages to David’s tomb = 1 to Jerusalem.

Now you know every thing, roughly, about his legend. Let’s see the cathedral.

Photos: entrance, the Bible in Welsh, one of the gorgeous ceilings, the Lady Chapel.

Good to know: you have to pay £2 to take photos in the cathedral. First, we were like “oh, common’ there are a lot of people without a badge so they haven’t payed, we’re not going to” but then, after 30 secondes “hum, cathedral, God, karma, respect…” and we payed, I got a beautiful self-sticking thing on my arm. The cathedral is really beautiful and huge (as you can see in the first photo of the post)! It is rustic, walls and decorations are amazing. There’s also a treasure room that I liked but Le Barbu didn’t because he doesn’t understand the fact that Church posses things but he liked the cathedral anyway, that means that even if you have different tastes and opinions, everyone can enjoy the cathedral and find something interesting. There was something that was strange though, 3 statues: one of Saint Patrick (Ireland’s patron saint), one of Saint David (Wales’ patron saint) and one of Saint Andrew (Scotland’s patron saint) but none of Saint George (England’s patron saint). The big question is: why? That was strange and funny at the same time.

After this little tour, we went to the town centre and even though we hadn’t much time, I can tell you one thing: I’m falling in-love with cottages, those little houses are so cute!

Photos: part of the cemetery, town centre pub, one of the cottages, beautiful flowers.

Le Barbu ate a Welsh rarebit in that pub and found it quite good, staffs were nice but, again, we didn’t stay long. If you don’t know what a Welsh rarebit is, it is a “nice but fat meal” (looks like that). We arrived in St Davids under a clear blue sky, 26 degrees, very nice and all of a sudden, clouds, rain and little thunder. Great. Awesome. I was a little bit scared for the rest of our day but it went away as fast as it came. Maybe we can thank Dewi. Or not? We decided in St Davids that if one day we want to change our careers, we’d take cows for their milk, hen for their eggs and sheep for their wool. And that, that is a great plan! They also have nice birds here, jackdaws they are called. They look like ravens but nicer and with a better sound.

We went back to the cathedral to take our car and fly to our next adventure. Saint Davids’ flag was proudly flying, water from the stream was making a soft noise and ran peacefully, birds were singing their lives, elderly people were sitting on benches and pupils were playing around. Saint Davids was pleasant! Authentic, natural and pleasant.

I hope that you enjoyed the little tour, on Wednesday I’ll take you with us to one of our best memory ever! Des bisous

 

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