It may look like I have just slammed my head down on the keyboard but I haven’t, I promise, although I came close to it. Trying to spell it alone was painful enough I couldn’t even begin to imagine saying it. I have developed a theory that pronouncing this ridiculous word is only possible if you are either A. Welsh or B. a genius. For those of you who can indeed say this with perfection, you deserve some sort of certificate; because I have tried and failed many a time therefore have decided it was high time to give up. This obviously long and complicated word is the name of a not so long and complicated town situated somewhere in the North of Wales along the Menai Strait. Look it up if you don’t believe me. I know you are wondering why someone in their right mind would name a town in such a way; it must be purely for the humour factor right? Give it a go for yourself… don’t you sound like an idiot and wouldn’t it make for light entertainment? The truth is, they weren’t looking for cheap laughs and it wasn’t trickery either. It was all just a ploy to get more tourists to visit this sleepy village packed with a little history. Speaking of history, Llanfair PG (for short) used to be called Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, which is, as you see, just as hard to pronounce. In the 19th century it was decided that this town deserved to be recognized so the only way to do it was to make the already overly complicated town name even more overly complicated. Please note, sometimes I can do even a little history. Their aim was to encourage tourists to the area and for once a crazy idea actually worked. By giving this town the famous and uber long consonant-mangling name and therefore an uber long station sign, they were on to a winner. The effect I like to imagine must have been something similar to throwing bread at a duck pond: feed them and they will come. Tourists (myself included) flocked (pun intended) from all over the world to get the much-needed cheesy photograph (no doubt a selfie) with the longest one-word place-name in Europe. You would think that with such a high number of tourists the town would be a booming metropolis of shops and sights and all things tourists like, I can assure you it isn’t. There is a shop and there are sights but these do not rank highly on anyone’s to do list. To give credit where credit is due, the shop might be of interest because as shops go it is the mac daddy of malls, but an hour or two is all you need to cross this place off your list. To this, I can testify. Only yesterday I found myself procrastinating, and doing my best to avoid any university work so I decided to go somewhere that was close and of course cheap. I have been to Llanfair PG before in all honesty but I only stopped for no more than 10 minutes. This time I thought I would give it the best part of 3 hours, a good amount of time to avoid work at all costs especially if I factored in the need for some well-earned sustenance, after all sightseeing is hungry work! Ok in all fairness, I did wait for the train for an hour which even I couldn’t justify but seeing as I spent at least and hour in the shop already I couldn’t think of anything else to do and I conveniently left my required reading at home. From bedding to crockery, model trains to tweed coats, whiskey to trinkets, you can walk away with everything including the kitchen sink and it is all conveniently laid out in one not so small shop. Let’s not go forgetting the standard knickknack souvenirs that you find in every tourist shop either! It has everything. Of all things I could have walked away with, my favourite thing that I found in the shop of all shops was this:
I have in my hand the smallest bottle of scotch whiskey, and no I do not have giant hands. So not only does this small Welsh town have the longest one word place-name in Europe but it also has a collection of the smallest bottles of whiskey. And why not? Well, if you are going to hold a Guinness World Record, why stop at just one. I couldn’t agree more. When you have shopped your house and car full may I suggest taking a little walk, there are a couple of historical columns to climb up (it’s only 115 steps) with views that I can only imagine as dreamy. The one I am talking of in particular is the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column which commemorates Wellington’s right hand man in the 1815 battle of Waterloo; Henry William Paget. I know, yet more history, even I am starting to amaze myself! Unfortunately it was closed but I know the view can’t be anything less than incredible up there. If you have a look at http://olivingthedreamphotography.com you will see some of my photos. Ok so these roadside versions do not do it justice and the snow isn’t a permanent feature but you get the gist. Shame about the pylons though, but I guess you can’t have it all! These scenes of snow-capped mountains and sheep actually remind me of New Zealand. The longer I live here the more I am discovering why I find these grounds so familiar. New Zealand as you know is my home away from home so Wales is quickly becoming my home away from my home away from home. It took a while to work out that sentence, not going to lie. It is because of this that Wales, in my book, has become a forgotten part of the world. I have therefore vowed to myself to do the best I can to get it back on everyone’s maps, and what a better place to start than the town with two world records. So mark the town of Saint Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a rapid Whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio near the Red Cave on your maps because with a name like that do you really need any other reason? From myths to mountains, world records to recorded worlds and more castles than you can count on two hands there is so much on offer in Wales that will whet absolutely anyone’s appetite. Get out those guidebooks and prepare to highlight the fun facts readers because this is just the start of my very own Epic Welsh Adventure.