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This report is taken from PN Review 268, Volume 49 Number 2, November - December 2022.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
We recently spent a few relaxing days at Aberaeron, in essence a small Regency-Victorian era town built with neat precision and now spread out in colourful variety, about a harbour just half-way round the bight of Cardigan Bay. Our visit coincided with the second summer heat-wave and we were grateful for occasional cooling breezes off a millpond sea. The sunsets were splendid, though not quite as dramatic as those I sometimes witnessed sixteen miles further up the coast during student years at Aberystwyth. Then, viewed from the Prom against a glorious curtained skyline of shimmering reds, the mountains of the Llŷn peninsula curved round, stark black, like encircling volcanic islands risen from a gilded sea.

The first-year syllabus of the English course at Aber in those days included Thomas Love Peacock’s The Misfortunes of Elphin (1829). I still have the copy (printed 1927!) I bought new at Galloway’s bookshop in 1952. Underlinings and marginalia prove I gave some time to it, and I well remember its account of the drowning of that fertile demi-paradise Cantref y Gwaelod, the lowland hundred, due to the neglect of the drunkard Seithenyn ap Seithyn Saini, whose duty it was to ensure maintenance of the embankment that kept back the often choppy waters we viewed from classroom windows of the Old College building on the seafront.

Aberaeron is the expanded realisation of the vision of one man – an Anglican cleric, born at Cenarth, a short distance down the road south – who, having acquired two adjacent estates by marriage and inheritance, left his Hampshire parish to return to Wales. ...


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