“This timeless, beautiful, barmy (both spellings) town,” Dylan Thomas said, “in this far, forgetful, important place… This unique, this waylaying, old, lost Laugharne, where some people start to retire before they start to work and where longish journeys, of a few hundred yards, are often undertaken only on bicycles…” is the sort of place where people “like myself, just came, one day, for the day, and never left; got off the bus, and forgot to get on again.”
We have no possible way to catalog the strangeness of Welsh towns, so will have to take Dylan Thomas’s word on Laugharne, where he lived the last four years of his life. We visited today via train to Carmarthen and bus to Laugharne, though, unlike him, we did remember to get on again.
We had another beautiful day for our visit. We planned to start with lunch at Brown’s Hotel, which could – but doesn’t – trade much on its Thomas connections, as it was a favorite drinking place. But as chance would have it, they were not serving food today.” Just today?” we asked, as travel has made us somewhat paranoid about sudden closings and emergency substitutions for major tourist destinations. No, there will be no food service at Brown’s all week as the chef was stabbed in the jaw Saturday night (hmmm, rugby match?) and will be out for several more days. You can’t make this stuff up.
But luckily, we learned that there was a café at our destination, the Boat House, home of the Thomas family. We walked along the lovely path that provides a stunning view of the Taf estuary. The first stop on the pilgrimage is his writing shed, which any writer would crave. “My seashaken house / On a breakneck of rocks.” There was so much sun streaming through that it was hard to photograph, but the magic of the place is evident. The view must have been very distracting at times.
Further down the lane is the Boat House itself, perched on the rocks and tucked under the path. The views must have been mesmerizing, but it is easy to imagine the place shaking in the storms that must threaten to overwhelm it at times. There is just one room dressed up to represent the life they might have lived there, and it is the formal parlor, which probably was least inhabited.
We had our lunch on the porch outside what would have been the kitchen, with the jaw-dropping view. Doubt that much quiche was served in the Thomas household, but you never know.
Walking back toward the village, we detoured along a bridle path to see the Thomas grave site. Our pilgrimage has been completed.