I have been getting to know the place where I have lived for over forty years again. Together with Helga, my German friend whom I met travelling in North Vietnam over fifteen years ago, I have been tramping the length and breadth of the Gower peninsula (me still struggling to keep up with the pace she sets) and seeing it anew through her eyes.
Gower’s got the lot: dramatic limestone cliffs; vast sandy beaches and secluded coves; Atlantic swells and estuary mudflats; downs, commons and valleys; more castles and churches than you can believe possible, packed into such a small space on earth; and a history that is palpable.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the coastal path between Overton and Worm’s Head on the south Gower cliffs (photo above by www.philipgriffithsphotography.com): where else can you find a cave such as Paviland? Or a mediaeval field pattern such as the Viel at Rhossili? You can breathe in its distinctive sense of place; let it seep through the soles of your feet (even if they do get slightly sore after the eight mile walk).
But sore feet are good for my writing: I can feel this place again and I will weave that feel and authenticity into my stories, let my characters grow out of the old red sandstone and the carboniferous limestone, let them be stooped by the south-westerlies. Perhaps I’ll even let them travel by bus as Helga and I did to get home from Rhossili to Llangennith, the long way round, in slow, slow time, taking in fresh perspectives of the peninsula through the window.