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Wales B & B: Stay at Dylan Thomas’s Birthplace in Swansea

February 19, 2013

Dylan Thomas Birthplace, Swansea

Everyday life on the Wales seacoast is vivid in Dylan Thomas’s poems, stories, and radio broadcasts. You can stay at his childhood home, the setting of the popular story “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” Anne Haden, the owner, has meticoulosly restored the house to the way it was in 1914, the year tha the family moved in, and she sponsors a number of literary events during the year. The grandfather clock of the story still chimes by the hour. The velvet chaise lounge sits in front of the window with its lacy curtains. Patterned wallpaper accentuates the heavy, dark woodwork. Anne serves a fancy afternoon tea party with Welsh cakes–bun like sweets with raisins, fresh from the oven–on Dylan’s birthday, October 27, and her traditional Welsh dinner is available afterward. Anne made us a meal typical of the kind Dylan’s mother Florie cooked when we stayed there in June. We started off with edible small clams from the nearby estuary, laverbread, a highly nutritious seaweed, and samphire, sea apsaragus, which was followed by lamb, mashed potatoes, cooked celery, carrots, and lemon posset, a tart custard on top of a sweeter one. Annie is well versed on the biography of the poet, and has had the descendants visit the home on several occasions. At one point she wiped her brow, and sighed, “Dylan is my son, you know.” We slept in the back bedroom, the parents’ room, while our friends took the front bedroom, where Dylan was born. We had the advantage of a view that cascaded down over the rooftops to the sea, a vision so evident in his poetry, while the birthplace room overlooks the street. As we settled into our rooms, Anne told us that Dylan liked to recite his poems in the bathroom, as he aimed to project words and phrases as forcefully as his preacher uncle. Breakfast was self serve, with ample Welsh foods Anne had left in the fridge and cold room. The next morning we strolled through Cwmdonkin Park with its open fields across the street. “Hunchback in the Park,” the contemplation of an elderly local who lived in a doghouse, was set there. Prince Charles recently visited in his role of sponsor of the 2014 Dylan Thomas Birthplace celebrations, which will take place in a number of locations throughout the country.

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