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Sep 2013

Ceredigion Coat of Arms

No, not the one in Cornwall, silly, this one's got a space in it although not that many for cars. You'll probably end up parking up the hill, just off Church Road, and walking down[1] to the centre of this small, Welsh fishing village.

Except, it's now known there are lots of spaces at the bottom and the lower option obviously buys you more time. There should still be enough, however, for an old-skool harbour, less landlubbing than expected and, well, who doesn't enjoy a good old lug back up?

[1] See also pretty much every other pretty fishing village in the UK.

However your way to the harbour, there's a strong association with  Dylan Thomas and the village is argued to be the inspiration for 'Llareggub', the fictional setting for his best-known literary work Under Milk Wood.

No? Didn't know he had a sense of humour, neither, try reading 'Llareggub' backwards.

Born and raised in Swansea, Thomas lived here briefly during World War II. Him, his wife Caitlin and an old childhood friend Vera Killick in tow, it seems they made quite a trio. Nothing kinky mind, Vera lived here herself now and was just the source of funds for the freeloading pairs' lifestyle.

Dylan Thomas

Vera's commando captain of a husband, however, wasn't overly impressed with the debt she'd amassed during his absence in action. On his return and after taking 'a drink', the inebriated infantryman only then takes his machine gun and goes and shoots up the Thomas' house with the bohemian pair inside... Godfather II style!

Unlike Michael Corleone, Thomas didn't do anything drastic and just hot-footed it back to London with the missus.

'I know it was you,  Fredo. You broke my heart.'

  The Hotel Penwig (South John Street)

Outside seating overlooking the harbour and an extensive grub menu. It's part of the Brains Brewery empire who've recently gone all crafty and a pint of Brains' is nowhere near as off-putting as it sounds.

Today's plan was to explore a bit of the  Ceredigion Coast Path, a rugged 60-miler from Cardigan in the south up past Aberystwyth to the estuary at Ynyslas. Pushed for time and with rain on the horizon, the tiny Tourist Information it was.

A young Welsh lad, soon off to Uni was very helpful... 'You've plenty of time for the next  dolphin trip. Just down there, at the harbour, ticket office on the right, you can't miss it.' in a tidy Welsh lilt.

Here's an observation made during a brief time in these parts... very confident is the youthful, Welsh male, especially when talking to grown-ups in a customer facing capacity. It's reckoned to be a strong notion of identity from a firm sense of national pride and bilingualism on the rise, probably.

Whatever the whyfors, there's no staring at shoes or the default, squeaked response of 'I'll have to ask the boss' this side of the border.

Roberto Martinez had just taken over at his adopted football club, Everton and still keeping eye contact...

Everton FC

'He'll get you Champions League.' I predicted.
'I'll settle for mid-table.' he said.

Turns out I was closer to the truth that season[1]. You want a little bit more optimism with all that confidence kidda!

Hang on a minute. Did he say dolphin?

[1] Turns out he was closer to the truth  in the end.

There are over 100 of them in Cardigan Bay, dolphins that is, the largest, what is believed to be called a 'pod' in UK waters and you're sold the chance of seeing them 'most days'.

Remember that rain on the horizon?

Well, on the way out of the harbour, it got a bit choppy. Not quite  Dramamine™ choppy but choppy nonetheless. Choppy enough for the skipper to say... '5 minutes earlier and we wouldn't have sailed!'

Even the resident gull agreed... 'I'm not going out in that.'

As Hurricane Hywel died down, a preemptive strike from the skipper against refunds. Chances of sightings today weren't good, they tend to stay underwater when it's rough on the surface, you see. Rewinding back to 'most days', isn't this 'most days' in what, after all, is almost the Atlantic?

Looks like the most exotic thing that will be seen today is this blurry grey seal pup without its mum.

Then, some frantic radioing between rival operators, they're very democratic on the dolphin front and share the sightings. To one punter's cry of 'There's one!', the skipper nearly shipwrecked on the rocks suggesting he's not really in the habit of seeing one 'most days'.

Captain Bird's Eye™? More like Captain 'Porky Pies'.

Mrs Guff's supernatural, seventh sense had her grappling for the camera and back on dry land it was time to inspect the snaps. There, in all its magnificence and natural marine environment, the common bottlenose dolphin.

It was either that or a log. Now, those you can see 'most days'.