Happy St. David’s Day!
In this article in The Telegraph, we find that St. David, a Celtic monk, may have died on March 1, 589 AD and he might have been the nephew of King Arthur. Orrrr, his mother, St. Non, might have been King Arthur’s niece. There are a few theories. A few quick on-line checks (I’m a traveler, not a historian) come up with many widely conflicting stories about mom, some not to pleasant. One thing I’ve seen repeatedly is that Dave and his monk friends lived a very simple life, surviving on bread, herbs, and water. That may be surviving, but it’s not my idea of living!
March 1 is the day for commemorating the death the patron saint of Wales. According to the good (and questionably accredited) people at wikipedia, The National Assembly of Wales voted unanimously to make it a public holiday in 2000. Regardless of a 2007 poll finding that 87% of the people in Wales want the day to be a bank holiday, the office of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, rejected a petition to recognize it as such. Seeing as we’ve only just been here for a couple of weeks, I won’t venture into the political debate I don’t understand one bit. I’ll leave it to you to research, debate, and decide for yourself. Time to check out the festivities!
Newspapers and online listings tell us that we missed a fair few celebrations over the weekend, including parades and Welsh Male Voice Choir concerts. The big thing seems to be parades with people dressed in traditional welsh clothing, wrapping themselves in the Welsh flag featuring the red dragon, and wearing… what else? Leeks!
Now, the leek is the national vegetable, but I’m not entirely sure how a person goes about wearing one. I am quite certain this won’t be taking off as a trend, elsewhere, any time soon (and I don’t profess to know squat about the trends in fashion). According to David Morgan (disclaimer: it’s a jewellery website with some interesting information), the daffodil has been overtaking the leek as an accessory for the big day due to political reasons, not fragrance or fashion. I’m not from here. I won’t weigh in on this debate, either.
Anyone who really knows me, especially my family and past co-workers, will know that I’d be rocking a big ol’ daffodil head today, if only I had my sewing machine!
I’m not going to wear any leeks. I don’t have a tall black hat to wear over my white ruffled bonnet. I’ve missed most of the concerts and other events. What’s left? Parades, you say? Who doesn’t love a parade?
Um… we don’t. Neither of us likes crowds. Personal space is under-appreciated in crowds. Jostling around with a bunch of strangers, trying to see over their heads just isn’t our idea of fun (neither of us has ever been called Stretch in any way that didn’t include sarcasm). Through previous jobs, we’ve both been in parades (usually sitting in the back of a pick-up truck at -40C, tossing frozen candy into the crowd, trying not to put someone’s eye out), so any hint of parade magic that may have existed is long gone.
Regardless, I really hoped to take in (or, at least, witness from a safe distance) some version of this country’s big day. I found a parade in another town, checked out the route, promised that we could do something fun (like finding a bakery) after seeing a little of it. Perhaps the novelty of a parade in a new country would over-ride our natural adverse reactions. Hope springs eternal!
You know what else is eternal in the UK? Rain.
We went to bed to the sound of rain. We woke up to the sound of rain. Karen had never been so happy to hear the wet stuff pelting down. She often tries to humour me and my activity planning, but really didn’t want to drive 30+ miles so I could say that I witnessed activities to commemorate some dude from the 6th Century. To tell the truth, I was a bit relieved, too. I was trying to fake it for the sake of a travel experience.
I had to find another way to mark the day. I found this recipe for Welsh Rarebit on the BBC Food website. We had Welsh Slate Cavern Aged Cheddar, and Welsh brewed Watkin’s Cwrw Braf. To the kitchen!
Ta dah! Hot, tasty, meltie, cheesie Welsh Rarebit! This absolutely would have been better with a nice, fresh loaf of sour dough or grainy whole wheat bread. I also would have selected a rich, dark porter or stout, but this ale was what I had on hand. Karen is encouraging me to keep trying out variations until I feel it’s perfect. So supportive.
Oh, yeah, there was that big open bottle of beer, too. What’s a public holiday without a glass of beer with lunch, am I right? And, heh… it’s the national drink of Wales!
Happy St. David’s Day!