Carmarthenshire 2 - Laugharne/Dylan Thomas and Under Milk Wood/the writing shed and the Boathouse/ self destruct button

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March 22nd 2019
Published: March 22nd 2019
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Gabby the motorhome is parked in a quiet corner of the foreshore at Laugharne. Out of her windows we can see the sea lapping at our feet and the castle guarding over us. It is a lovely spot that we found after negotiating the narrow streets down to the edge of the town. The car park is fairly small and for a Sunday quite full. We can park all day for nothing. At night though we read the dreaded words "NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING!" I wonder what harm a few of us would do camping aire style as if in Europe. We could buy an ice cream, perhaps go for a coffee at a cafe or spend a few pounds in a local restuarant. Laugharne reminds me of any Celtic village. It could almost be Brittany or Cornwall. This far west and we find fine Regency three story houses lining the narrow street and colourful fishermans cottages. Laugharne is a nice enough place with walks along the shore and a quiet laid back feeling. We like Laugharne.

Why are we here? Those of you who read will recognise the name of the place as the home of Dylan Thomas that great Welsh wordsmith. I never studied him in school . I wish I had read him rather than Shakespeare, him rather than the 20th century poets that were forced down my throat. He had personality. Born in nearby Swansea in 1914 his path took him on self destruct direction . He moved to London , met Caitlin his wife , married in 1937 bringing the family back to Laugharne where he wrote in his writing shed on the cliff overlooking the sea and in the Boathouse on the shoreline. He died in New York in 1953 and was buried in the churchyard in the town.

How can you not like Thomas with his literary masterpieces " Do not go gently in that goodnight, Old age should burn and rave at the close of the day , Rage Rage against the dying of the light " And then there was Under Milk Wood set in a fictional village of Llareggub. Go on say it backwards. You know you want to. Thomas being brilliant and irreverent at the same time. Somehow his work comes together when you hear Richard Burtons dulcit tones narrating the story. I watched the Michael Sheen version in 2014 and feel in love with the story and the storytelling. So we had to come to Laugharne on this trip and tick the box of seeing the town and his grave.

Our parking spot was just brilliant. It wasnt hard to imagine Thomas, his wife and the children walking this very shoreline and playing in the sand. It was not difficult to imagine them visiting the castle and shopping in the local shops. It had that sort of a feel. We made the decision not to visit the castle . It would have been free but we had had enough of castles for today at least . We were homing in on the church which was a bit of a hike back across the village. We walked past the cottages of pretty creams, pinks, yellow, blue and lilac. They were all charming. We wondered past the many chapels that served the populations of rural Wales, the empty closed down garage with its ancient petrol pump in situ. The church was a charming stone built affair up on bank. The graveyard to its side. A sign told us that if we were looking for Dylans grave we needed to climb the hill, cross the bridge and look for the plain white cross. The cross was painted so vividly white it was hard to miss it. Very simple and understated. We wondered why his burial site was such a simple affair. The first name you see on the cross is Caitlin and Dylan is on the other side . It seemed too quiet a place for a drunken poet and his wild wife who spent her last years in Italy.

Having done the church it was time to walk back to the Writing Shed . The shed was exactly that . A shed . The shed was locked but it was possible to look in throught the windows and see an interior full of writing materials. A comfortable chair next to a functional table with typewriter ready to capture the next Thomas idea. A view from the desk was over the sea. A wood burning stove must have burned brightly on cold days . Paintings and pictures , cartoons lined the walls. Some appeared slightly erotic. His coat hung jauntily over the chair as if he had just popped out.

We walked on the Boathouse. That was in a lovely spot overlooking the sea again and it was easy to see why both Thomas and his wife bought it. Again we chose not to walk down and just took the beauty of the sea, the sky and the surroundings in.

Our stop tonight was nearby Kiln Park. Not our usual type of stopover . This was a massive Haven Holiday complex full of chalets and caravans. Even at this time of the year it was quite full. It catered for children and adults with archery, the Harbwr Restaurant, entertainment and all the things we dont enjoy. We however were on the motorhome site which was furthest from the entertainment. We paid just for one night and received one free. Perhaps that is why we chose it .


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