Thursday, July 30, 2009


Is there a better town anywhere than Aberystwyth? I'm not sure I know of one.

In how many towns can you park for free, then stroll from the high street to a paddling pool in less than a hundred yards? Where shops selling saucy postcards and welsh rock sit comfortably by upmarket delicatessen, specialist book stores and the ubiquitous New Look. Where the crawing of gulls and the smell bladderwrack gives way, as you turn a corner, to grunge music and the whiff of faggots and peas. And round the next corner, a steam railway takes ramblers to some of the least spoiled countryside in Britain...

You might prefer a trip on the cliff railway, which ascends to the camera obscura on the top of Consitution Hill. From here you can look down on the castle, or across to Cardigan Bay; look south and maybe you'll spot a dolphin, or north to pick out Snowdon from the pale silhouettes on the horizon.

Aberystwyth is a farming town, fishing port, university, centre of culture, seaside resort; home to more winos and weirdos and intellectuals than anywhere I've been. It's like Kathmandu in traditional welsh costume, and I love it.

I particularly loved it today because Dylan had cut his forehead when we were out in the hills. It turns out that Aberystwyth hospital has an A&E department that allows you to park by the door, deals with children quickly and even gives them a teddy for being a brave boy or girl.

And I loved it twenty years ago too.

Because it was here, in a hotel by the sea, that Jane slipped on a pair of blue and white pants and tiptoed to the bathroom, thinking I was sleeping. The wallpaper was brown with orange flowers, the en-suite had royal blue tiles and a fan that clattered - and I told her I loved her. I meant it more than ever before or ever could again.

On the mountain railway, complete with teddy bear


  1. Reading that last bit gave me a big lump in my throat!! Lovely post!!

    C x

  2. How wonderful to read a post by an old romantic... lovely!

  3. I love Aber too. I was there as a student from 1987 to 1990 (I blogged about it here:

    I love your description of it as 'Kathmandu in traditional Welsh costume'. And what lovely romantic memories it has for you. (Lump in my throat too!)