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Published: July 18th 2018
The Display at the Dylan Thomas Centre
My main reason for visiting south Wales was to immerse myself in the places important in the life of Dylan Thomas. On Monday morning, after a tasty breakfast near our hotel at Buon-Appetito, we walked back down Wind St and arrived at The Dylan Thomas Centre just after it opened at 10-30am. This contains an exhibition arranged around a chronoogical retelling of Dylan's short life. It is free to go in and contains many artefacts of his life. We spent over an hour here. Fletcher was pleased to discover that Dylan had won prizes for the handicap mile and cross-country running at his school, Swansea Grammar. We were able to listen to recordings made by Thomas himself, reading his own poems. In his youth he was a member of the Little Theatre in Swansea and acted in many plays. He left school at 16 to be a junior journalist but his passion for writing poetry soon overtook all of this. It is interesting that the majority of his output was written during his teens, from 15 to 19 years old. There were many photographs of him and Caitlin, his wife and their friends and a video tribute to him and his
Part of the video at the centre
masterpiece, Under Milk Wood..There was even one of his suits. which he had borrowed from a friend.
From here we walked towards the marina and as we passed by the Dylan Thomas Theatre, which I had seen yesterday, I noticed it was open and reading a poster on the outside discovered they had an exhibition about Thomas' ttime spent with the Little Theatre. We went inside. Again the walls contained copies of photographs, newspaper clippings, theatre programs and other artefacts which told the story of Dylan Thomas, actor.There was interesting information about this time in his life and the people he was associating with and he way he would nip to the local pub for a drink between his entrances!!
From there we went to the National Maritime Museum and had an icecream before looking through the collection.This was well presented and divided into categories and we spent some time looking round. From there we walked back towards the hotel and stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Juniper Place. This turned out to contain a gin distillery and we tasted their brew and certainly approved. Fletcher had their special which was fish with potato and sundried tomatoes
Display outside The Dylan Thomas Theatre
while I opted for their Sweet Potato and Ginger soup. Both were excellent. From there we made our way back to the hotel. The rest of the day consisted of us resting back at the hotel. All that walking was catching up with us,!!
On Tuesday morning we returned to Buon-Appetito for breakfast and this time I had a Welsh Rarebit, aka Cheese on Toast. Delicious! We then walked to the Avis office which was not far, and collected our car. Then it was back to the hotel, check out and we were off. Our first destination was to Uplands, an outer suburb of Swansea where I had arranged to tour Dylan Thomas" birthplace. We found it without too much bother and were greeted by Geoff, the man who had bought and restored the house to its condition when Thomas lived here, from 1914 to the mid thirties. We went first into the lounge room where Geoff told us about Dylan's life in the house and then were able to visit the rest on our own, The house is quite substantial, as Dylan's father was keen to show status by having a large house where they had servants. It
In the lobby of the Dylan Thomas Theatre
stretched his teacher's income but gave him status. Dylan's room was very small and cosy but was where he wrote a lot of his early work. We also saw his parents' bedroom which had fantastic views out over the sea. Having checked out all the rooms we left, thanking Geoff for his great information and hospitality. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in literature to visit.
From here we drove to the M4 and headed for Laugharne. This is where Dylan, Caitlin and their children lived for several years and the place on which he based his wonderful play for voices, Under Milk Wood. We arrived about 1-30 and drove through the town and down to the parking area near the ruins of Laugharne Castle which impressively looks out over the harbour.This is a very beautiful place, worth visiting for its scenic beauty alone. We admired the views and could see the Boathouse further along the shore. But first we needed sustenance. We went to The Fountain Inn as it was still serving meals even though it was after 2pm. I opted for the chicken liver pate and salad while Fletcher had a chicken curry. Both were fine
5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Dylan's birthplace
and we enjoyed sitting outside in the sunshine with a nice white wine. Ater lunch we walked along the seafront to the Boathouse. We had to ascend some dodgy stone steps but we emerged at the top next to Dylan's Writer's Shed, an old garage near the main house. This was jus like his room at the house, small and cosy but with great views out over the estuary. We continued onto the Boathouse and entered to experience where Thomas and his family lived. Upstairs was a lounge room and next to that today is a video display of a documentary showing what happened here, It is a small house and the thought of a family of five living here is to conjure up a family on top of each other all the time. The views are amazing and we are told that the family were very happy here.
We walked back along the lane and stopped at another house where they had rented for a while. Then we drove back up the hill to Brown's Hotel, Dylan's favourite pub where we had booked a room for the night. Here we were greeted warmly by the staff and shown
Plaque at his birthplace
to a large room, named Fern Tree after one of Dylan's best poems. Ths was very comfortable and attractive, a very pleasant place to spend the night. We relaxed for a while, watching some TV and me writing but about 6 we went down to the bar for a drink. This room was covered with Thomas memorabilia and had a lovely ambience. We checked out the menu which was only pub food, so we decided to try a local restaurant not far away. The Portrees offered a much wider menu but we were told there that we could not have a table untill 9pm as they were booked out. We decided to return to Brown's and found a table and ordered a burger for me and scampi for Fletcher. A group of people in the corner attracted our attention as we heard that two of then were from Australia. We started a conversation with the two ladies and found that one of them had grown up in Adelaide and had gone to Loreto. Her brother was in the same class as Fletcher!! She had been a Loreto nun for 20 years and had taught at Mandeville Hall in Melbourne when
Lounge room at the birthplace
our nieces went there. The rest of the evening was spent in the company of Jude and Milly. What great ladies. We had a a wide ranging conversation with them, from mutual friends in Adelaide, to politics to Under Milk Wood and many other topics. We retired after a stimulating evening with two lovely women and great conversation.
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