The trip to Wales by train introduced us to the peace, quiet and natural beauty. It entailed a train to Euston and thence to Birmingham, and Barmouth . The transit at Birmingham was just 10 minutes, but we made it. Then onwards to Barmouth via Shrewsbury, Machynlleth (where one coach of the train was detached) to proceed to LLwyngwril and onwards to Barmouth. The other coach went to Aberystwyth. The names were tongue twisters , besides keeping us alert to our rail route to our destination.
The journey by the seaside is breathtaking. On one side you see hills with sheep, quaint houses, and the sea view as the train chugged along.
Our little train was suddenly engulfed with school children . They brought liveliness into the compartment until they disembarked at their little quaint town, LLwyngwril.
We were received by Fr Alex at Barmouth. The station was very quiet. He arranged a taxi to transport us to St Tudwal’s , our home for the next 3 days.
When Fr Alex mentioned that he welcomed us to a sparse 1 star lodge , I was surprised to be given a comfortable room, with a view …St Matthew’s …normally the room for a visiting bishop. The remaining rooms were Mark, Luke and John. We had a view of the seaside, play grounds, township and the sunset.
We sat to tea and Scottish shortbread .
But ,dinner proved special as Fr Alex actually took the trouble to keep a menu card ready … for a special meal he prepared himself.
Salmon curry, Fresh Steamed Garden Peas, Veg fingers, and Toasted Pitta Bread.
It was meticulously planned with the table laid out . We enjoyed the dinner , specially with apple cider …which I grew to like a lot . the meal ended with tiramisu…
We thence decided to reciprocate with a meal prepared by Anjean and I . Fish Baffat , veg fingers, onion rings.
Breakfast was DIY , with a trolley kept ready very thoughtfully; all ingredients for a good breakfast were at hand to prepare.
Time at St Tudwal’s was memorable for the conversations with Fr Alex . He is a prolific writer and a contemplative at heart.
His favourite quotes…Spirituality …spending time with Jesus. … hospitality ….welcoming Jesus in our midst.
‘Pray your petition, listen to what God is saying and act on it’
. ‘In joy God whispers into our lives ’ ; ‘In times of difficulty , God shouts into our lives.’
On Saturday morning we were welcomed by Fr Alex to the main church. He was preparing for the Sunday service . He combines many roles in one. Pastor, Sacristan, and Mentor….along with help from the few parishioners who make up a congregation of about 12 people.
He has looked after all aspects of the church and explained the relevance of the paintings and carvings on the altar which begins with the Nativity of Jesus and ends with the Ascension spanning his entry into and exit from this world. The Last Supper takes pride of place at the Altar front.
On Sunday we attended the Eucharist. His homily left me reflecting on the few loaves and fish , and how God takes what little we have and multiplies it .
A parishioner from the neighbouring parish , also visited Fr Alex with the gift of a salmon that was caught and smoked specially for him.
I noticed several remarkable things at Wales. They have a language of their own , quite distinct from English. Most young people had moved to cities , so were noticeably absent .
People are very honest. Anjean had absentmindedly left her shopping bag one evening on a public bench . It remained there , until we returned, without anything missing.
On the third day we walked to the beach and enjoyed the windy walk. We saw a few people walking their pet dogs . Later we spent time at the pier . I met another visitor who recounted his time in India as a child when his father served as an officer in the British Army.
The sea gulls and the distant rail bridge made good pictures for my collection.
I left with one souvenir of Fr Alex…. his portrait picture , he requested me to photograph himself, for the new book to be published in January 2020. ‘Face to Face’ . I know and am confident that this book will be among the best of his, since its all about encountering the Lord Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament.
Our time came to an end when we left by train for the trip onwards to Glasgow, via Wolverhampton.
Thank you Fr Alex for gīving us a taste of Wales! We hope to see you in India soon.