Recommended podcast for a long journey, if you’re not one of the 28 million people who’ve listened to it already: The Teacher’s Pet. True story of 1982 murder of a young mother in Australia, with a very current update as a result of the podcast.
My Airbnb host was a teacher. And a mother with 3 young children. Lovely children - chatty, smiling, polite. No partner around. Money tight – hence Airbnb. Heating barely on. Two children moved out of their room to accommodate me. Mother frazzled, stressed by looking after the children, fixing the wifi and tidying up in readiness for my stay. Still on the fridge: the children’s Xmas wish lists. Two were normal: asking for teddy bears, games etc. The other had just two items. Second was a BMX bike - no sign that had arrived. But first on the list there were 4 simple, heartfelt, heartbreaking words: “Mum to be happy”. That was all the child wanted for Christmas.
Another Airbnb host. Daughter home from university, with a friend. Young woman, aged about 22. Had gone to doctor, asking for smear test because concerned about cervical cancer. GP said no, they only start at 25. Persevered: went to another doctor. He said OK. Test positive for pre-cancerous cells, which were then dealt with. Assertiveness can work. These girls told me about a Welsh government scheme, which sounded great. Holyhead, the capital of the island of Anglesey, is officially a "deprived area". Because so few young people go on to university, the Government offered a scheme whereby members of the final class at school had the opportunity to go to a free one week summer camp at the University of Aberystwyth. Purpose was so that they could see what university involved - as most had no idea. And if they did well enough at the camp, they would have an opportunity to attend the university. That first year only two students went to the camp, including this young woman (who is now at university). Now the scheme is in its 3rd year, and has really taken off. Sounds like a great idea.
I walked onto the tiny island of Ynys Llanddwyn. For hundreds of years this was a destination for pilgrims, because of the church built by Dwynwen around 450 AD. Princess Dwynwen fell in love with a young man named Maelon, but could not marry him due to her father's refusal. She prays to forget her love for him. An angel provides her with a potion. Maelon drinks it and turns into ice. Dwynwen then prays for three requests: that Maelon be released; that, through her, God look after all true lovers; and that she remain unmarried. She then retreated to Ynys Llanddwyn to become a hermit. Today, in her honour, many in Wales celebrate 25 January as a day for lovers.