Yorkshire on expedition. We head off to deepest Wales, never before featured, and discover Pembrokeshire, an area of wonderful beaches and wild cliffs. In many ways, we whisper, not unlike Cornwall. Mild climate, thriving delicate plants, narrow roads with steep sides and high hedges, and a foreign language. Scotland went through an exercise of replacing all their road signs with English and Gaelic. It was clear that many of the places had never had Gaelic names, so they made them up. In Wales they’ve taken the preservation of their language – and hence culture and history – to a new level. Welsh is not only taught in schools, but many lessons taught in Welsh. The current millennials are speaking Welsh, chattering as only teenagers can…in Welsh. Wonderful.
So, in addition to place names, everything is in Welsh first, English second. Place names, road signs, “slow/araf” painted on the roads. Everything. We stayed in Stackpole, a tiny village on the south coast. Now Stackpole was named for the Earl of Stakepole. However, in their wisdom, the Welsh government have effected a translation – Stagbwll? Now all of this strikes us as all a bit contrived. Why make up modern names to add into an ancient language? Car park = maes parcio. Why? Well, Welsh is not a dead language, preserved as is Ancient Greek. It’s a living – and more importantly – a growing and evolving language, every bit as relevant as any other in current and regular usage. So there.
The beaches are stunning, used as film sets on many occasions. Soft yellowy white sand, long stretches to walk on, watching the sea roll in – they have big tides along this west coast. Speaking of Coast, we find a restaurant at the back of the beach in Saudersfoot Bay. Simple, elegant modern building, timber terrace for the summer, lots of glass – “its like a greenhouse in here” [server] – and great seafood. Like all similar timber buildings [with natural timber] it goes through that weathering stage from light brown to mid-grey. Hopefully in a graceful way. Too often the timber goes nearly black and unsightly and the building’s detailing leads to uneven and ugly staining. Here the salt air probably helps and the timber is weathering largely evenly, and to a nice colour. However, time will tell. Praise for the designers…
I would like to pay tribute to the team at Acanthus Holden Architects who have worked tirelessly to create a proposal with the highest environmental credentials that sits very comfortably within the unique landscape we are privileged to enjoy in this corner of the National Park.
So, successful with the client then – always a good start. We are here for lunch, so we can enjoy the view across the bay during daylight hours. Some little crisp radishes and lemon mayo with the drinks. Excellent starters – fish and shellfish bisque a deep, rich dark red, complete with thin and crispy toast with gruyère and an aoili; smoked haddock risotto with a crispy quail’s egg, and crab light years better than the one at the Whitebrook the previous day. Mains included sumptuous [that’s the only word for it] beef, skate and hake – all delightful from a carefully considered menu. A bottle of French Touraine and some water kept us going until the espressos. Simply excellent.
Restaurant Coast, Saundsersfoot