Over the weekend of August 20th-23rd 2021 I had a lovely break in Tenby in South Wales. Early in the Covid pandemic several Christian sceptics got to know each over on the lockdown sceptics site and started to hold fortnightly prayer meetings on Zoom which have continued ever since. Now that restrictions have largely eased we decided to have a weekend away and get to know each other better. One of our group lived in Penally near Tenby and invited us down to that lovely part of the world. Originally planned to be a convention it turned out to be very much just a holiday and a chance to explore the touristy areas. I won't deny that the 'C' word was occasionally mentioned but that was very far from our minds. Just a group of like minded friends who would never have met if there had not been a pandemic.
On the Friday morning three of us gathered at my house in Bracknell and set off on the M4 towards South Wales. Being a Friday the traffic was horrendous and what should have been a four hour trip turned out to be nearly seven and we did not arrive until 7pm. But when we did we immediately realised it was going to be a good time. Here is the view from outside our host's house in Penally just outside Tenby. Wow can only describe it. This area is very touristy and it was interesting to watch the various caravans coming and going during our time there, and even the occasional train on the railway line beyond, heading for the 'request stop' station just out of view. Also visible was the military training firing range used during both world wars and a training camp.
After a good night's sleep we set off to explore. Driving along narrow country lanes we first reached the now closed and abandoned St Laurences church at Marros. Although the church was firmly locked and abandoned there were some well cared for graves in the graveyard. Then on to Laugharne where Dylan Thomas spent his final years. Laugharne Castle has been a ruin since it was damaged in the Civil War in 1644.
We entered the castle and explored inside which was quite interesting. In the summerhouse were an old typewriter and a radio with a note complaining that Dylan had left the radio switched on and flattened the batteries - but the Cossor on display was not a battery model so probably not the original. Superb view of the sea from the summerhouse, which is probably why Dylan spent so much time there writing his poems along with the author Richard Hughes. We did not have time to visit the Boathouse where he lived and which is now a museum.
After a light lunch we popped down to Tenby town which as you can see was quite busy. Being a seaside town there was plenty of the usual seaside fare on offer in the shops and lots of activity on the beach. It has its old parts as well, including a Sergeant's Lane historic trading route so it took a couple of hours to see it all, including buying a few odds and ends.
Saturday evening we had a pleasant meal in a local restaurant, which was also quite busy.
Sunday was a special day for us. We decided to drive over to St Davids and attend the morning service in the cathedral. The cathedral dominates St Davids, there is not that much else there and it probably holds the record for the smallest city in the UK. We were warmly welcomed there and enjoyed the service in a well packed cathedral. The service was bilingual, English and Welsh, and we were given an order of service with the readings printed in both languages. Lovely hymns to a great organ and a pleasure to be able to sing to these at full volume. Pity we could only have half a communion service, wafers allowed but no wine, too dangerous in these covid times! Little chat with the Archdeacon of Carmarthen Dorrien Davies afterwards who had led the service and shook his hand as he wished us a pleasant stay in St Davids.
We then had a light lunch in the cathedral refectory, excellent and cheap, I had the Sunday Roast sandwiches which were huge. Then we joined the tourists to explore the rest of the cathedral, very impressive. Particular interest for us were the carvings of Revelation figures and its Greek extract from Revelation as some of our group are learning New Testament Greek.
We were hoping to visit the bookshop in the city but found it had moved to new premises away from the cathedral and was closed on Sundays. So after a short walk around we left, then got confused by the temporary one way system and ended up on some very narrow Welsh lanes - you can be on city roads one minute and lanes with weeds growing in them a few yards away, very strange! But then a smooth drive back to Penally and Sunday dinner. The weekend was nearly over.
Monday morning we packed and left around 9.30. This time the roads were much quieter and we had a much pleasanter journey back, arriving in Bracknell around 2.15. We all agreed that it had been a very enjoyable weekend and now must think about where the next gathering will be.