About: mariondavies

Profile
Marion is a Wales Blue Badge tourist guide who lives in wonderful Tenby and loves to show the areas many delights to visitors each year. Enthusiasm and learning something new everyday are a part of her job description! Frequently seen on Coach tours, cruise excursions and private tours she is best known locally for the Story of Tenby and the Ghost Walk.
Website
http://www.guidedtourswales.co.uk

Posts by mariondavies:

  • Puffinus Puffinus Manx Shearwaters in Tenby, 22 Oct 2019 in Culture&Heritage&History
  • Indian Summer, 20 Sep 2019 in Culture&History&News
  • Jonath-ant Living-stoned Sea Gullible, 08 Sep 2019 in News&Science
  • Whitsun AKA Pentecost AKA Spring Bank Holiday, 22 May 2019 in Culture&Heritage&History
  • St Valentine who?, 12 Feb 2019 in Culture&History
  • Sleemans Wine store aka Tenby Sailing Club, 01 Feb 2019 in Heritage&History&Sport
  • Holiday for the holiday hosts, 22 Nov 2018 in Culture&News
  • Plygain and Poems at Christmas in Tenby, 15 Nov 2018 in Culture&Heritage&History
  • The Pembrokeshire Promise, 24 Oct 2018 in Culture
  • World UFO Day – 2nd July 2018, 22 Jun 2018 in History

  • Puffinus Puffinus Manx Shearwaters in Tenby

    I was walking home last week clutching my box of lovely crunchy granola when I came upon a Manx Shearwater sitting/waddling around the town. ‘Damn’ I thought ‘I have to save it’. I pushed the cereal under my arm and gathered up the struggling bird and dodging it’s sharp beak began walking towards the RSPB refuge for stranded Shearwaters in Tenby, located in a basement in St Julian’s Terrace run by Julie Scholfield.  Her porch was pitch black, so with difficulty I located my torch and the hutches for lost birds, which were full of other birds found around the town, and deposited my charge with his friends and relatives.

    On my return journey I got approximately 20 yds closer to home when I found Manx Shearwater number two. Doh! I scooped it up and began the repeat operation…

    Just 10 yards from home I found Shearwater number three. My cereal box with granola clusters is now just a flat piece of cardboard with crumbs in it.

    I attracted a small dog which followed me and who then decided he was lost and had to be rescued also…Nursing my now pecked and bleeding hand I returned home to examine my ex granola.

    Why here? What is attracting Shearwaters to Tenby? Well it seems they are about to leave the safety of Skomer and West wales for their 7,000 mile journey to South America for the duration of our winter. They navigate by the stars and by all accounts juvenile birds are confused by light pollution and often end up in well-illuminated towns around the world.MANX SHEERWATER

    These beautiful birds, that look like they have been upholstered in black and white velvet and being very prone to predators are nocturnal. Their biggest enemies being traffic, dogs, cats and gulls, especially Black backed gulls, which are apparently capable of eating a Chihuahua!! (see my previous blog!!)

    They are effectively ‘sitting ducks’ since their physiology means they cannot walk. They live in their burrows, on the sea and on the wing ‘shearing’ above the waves. To be rescued they need a period of recovery and then to be launched to freedom at dusk by an experienced Shearwater handler. If you find one (bird, not handler) please contact The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales Conservation Manager, Lizzie Wilberforce 07970 780553.

    Indian Summer

    Ironman is over, the kids have gone back to school, and there is certain gentle calm that is descending upon Tenby.

    For a few days it seemed like Autumn was on it’s way, a few leaves twirling to the ground, a chill wind and a greyness that makes the daylight fade early in the evening. But huzzah! The sun is shining and it appears it will continue, it’s official, an Indian Summer…well almost official, maybe a little premature considering the original meaning.

    But ‘what’ I hear you say ‘is an Indian summer, where does the name come from?’

    Well I had no idea and so obviously, in the absence of a teenager I was forced to google it myself.TENBY SUNSHINE

    It seems that an Indian Summer is a spell of warm hazy or sunny weather that is normally experienced in October or November. However its origin is something of a mystery. It appears it has nothing to do with Asia but was first used in the United States where a Frenchman called John de Crevecoer in 1778 described what the Native American peoples of the Mohawk country called these particular weather conditions.

    Its use was adopted in the UK and Europe from the early 19th century where it had originally been called St Martin’s Summer, due to the saints day being on 11th November.

    Whatever the origin, our ‘Indian Summer’ bodes well for the shoulder parts of the tourist season and in the run up to Tenby Arts Festival. Tenby looks wonderful and dramatic whatever the weather but warm sunshine and blue sky is an absolute treat and a very gentle and welcome approach to the Autumn…

    Jonath-ant Living-stoned Sea Gullible

    Recently I have been caused to look at the Herring gulls around Tenby with fresh eyes. I mean I’ve always thought of them as being the cats of the bird world, it’s those unreadable, affectionless, guiltless eyes, but now I’m beginning to think they may just be a little vacant. Not because I think they are naturally dumb, on the contrary, I think they are particularly smart, but it is the fact that it has been reported in the Observer that a local councilor and a bird expert thinks that they may be stoned or drunk….

    DRUNK GULLS

    I’m having a job getting my brain round this one, but it seems that not only have drunken revelers or just stupid ones been feeding the gulls beer. (Wow have they seen the gulls picking out dirty nappies and full dog poo bags from the bin to get to the chips underneath? Hmm, hygienic.)

    But apparently experts have suggested that gulls are also eating flying ants and that the formic acid contained in the ants, converts in gulls stomachs to produce a drugged or drunken like state!!! Crumbs I had no idea Gulls could eat Ants. I mean physically picking them up with their beaks!? I mean chips, fish, ice-creams, pasties, cakes and small furry pets yes…but ants? How many do they need to eat to get to the required state of oblivion and aggression that makes them swoop onto unsuspecting people to steal their food and treats? And I mean Ants are not a filling snack otherwise clearly the gulls would just fly away and abandon the quest for chips.

    I think we have already dealt with drunken Stag and Hen dos in the press and come out the other side intact; please, let’s not hype up the gull issues and potentially inadvertently encourage drunken revelers to crawl around the streets licking the pavements for a free, organic high in the form of an ant with wings!! Oh no! What next?

    Whitsun AKA Pentecost AKA Spring Bank Holiday

    PENTECOSTAlthough accepted by so many of us as only a holiday, Whitsun is also one of the most significant dates in the Christian calendar. It signifies the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of Jesus and essentially the birthday of Christianity. From the Greek word Pentekostos, meaning fifty, it is celebrated fifty days after the final Sabbath of Passover, and therefore like Easter, is a moveable feast celebrated with a bank holiday the following Monday.

    Until 1971 it was known as Whit Monday, but now as Spring Bank Holiday. It is associated with baptisms and the wearing of white and more secular events like Whit walks, fetes, fairs, pageants, Morris Dancing and of course Cheese rolling!

    CHEESE ROLLING

    Years ago in Tenby Whitsun marked the start of the summer season, it seems such a far cry from the pattern of holiday making that we have here today with our busy long and short weekends, day and long term visitors, coach parties, train excursionists, families, groups, couples and solo visitors that come and go all year round. How lucky we are to live in such a lovely place that thrives and changes but stays essentially much the same.

    Here’s to the start of summer and I hope we all have a fabulous one again.

    St Valentine who?

    January is whizzing by and before too very long we will be into February. In fact when mooching around the shops in Tenby, I have been amazed how quickly their shelves have been stripped of Christmas goodies, now all consigned to sale shelves and bargains baskets, only to be replaced by a plethora of frilly red and pink hearts, rosebuds and roses and fluffy loving messages in preparation for St Valentine’s Day on the 14th February. I mean, of course we all associate him with being in love, romance and marriage proposals, but who is this guy St Valentine?

    Well it seems this is an age-old question that has been posed since time immemorial (whenever that was) and that he is a man of mystery, or should that be a construct?

    Not meaning to be sceptical but it seems he is a lot of different things to different people and from very different times and places…

    Let me explain. It seems there are eleven other saints named Valentine who are commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church. Only seven died on days other than February 14, meaning that the rest died on the 14th? Although the The Catholic Encyclopedia lists three St Valentines all of whom were martyred on the same day, 14th February, two of those were buried on the Via Flaminia outside Rome…One a bishop, one a priest…the other was just some unfortunate chap called Valentine who also got the chop on the same day.SAINT VALENTINE

    I say chop, but actually some were imprisoned, some tortured, some battered with clubs or stones, some actually beheaded and some with all of the above. It seems some people loved him, some people hated him and others just wanted him to die horribly even though he was credited with various miracles, mostly restoring the sight of various girls.

    Dates for him are a bit sketchy too, we could go with 3rd century, possibly 4th century and then there’s also the fanciers of the 5th and 6th centuries. Although the Saints & Angels page of Catholic online says he was executed either in the year 269, 270, 273 or 280. Take your pick.

    In fact there is so much confusion about him, the Catholic Church removed him from their General Roman Calender in 1969, ah, the decade of Free Love! Hang on a minute…Love??

    Wikipedia says that “St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, beekeepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, and young people.” …Blimey!

    Despite Valentine’s ‘removal’ there are many churches in Europe dedicated to the saint/s. There are various martyrs’ relics of St Valentine which are liberally scattered around the world especially after they became all the rage in the medieval period.

    In the18th century a couple of English antiquarians suggested that Valentine’s Day was created by taking advantage of his obscurity to make a jolly alternative to the pagan holiday of Lupercalia in mid-February. Others poo poo this, saying he was invented by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century. Others just think this is a money-spinner invented by American Card companies….

    Well whatever the truth of the matter, no hang on, I’ve just spent paragraphs telling you there isn’t any single truth to the matter to the extent that the whole thing is complete tosh! But just buy the cards, the roses, the chocs and whatever floats your boat and try to have a lovely, loving day everyday and maybe just try a bit more on the 14th February to be an absolute lovey.

    Sleemans Wine store aka Tenby Sailing Club

     

    Tenby Sailing Club, was established in 1936 and is situated in the heart of Tenby’s picturesque harbour. The building that houses the club is situated at the head of the sluice and was built in 1825. It was built as a store for a Bristol Merchant called Sleeman and used for imported goods including wine, vinegar, oil, fruits and salt.

    Interestingly though, it is perhaps a little known fact that in St Mary’s church there is a brass plaque on the north aisle wall that was raised to commemorate a certain Sir William Henry Sleeman, a relative of our Bristol merchant who was charged with the task of eradicating Thuggee in 19th century India.

    The Thugs can be traced back to 12th century India, devotees of the goddess Kali they were drawn from various religions and walks of life. Their strange practices began to be noticed by the British during the British Raj period in the 19th century when some mass gravesites were discovered.

    It seems that hundreds of people travelling around India, mostly merchants and pilgrims, met a grisly end at the hands of Thuggees who prided themselves on being able to dispatch a victim quietly and quickly by strangulation with a noose. The victim was robbed and buried in such a way as to speed up decomposition. This was a way of life and survival for many men and women, and indeed boys as young as 10 were welcomed into the sects.

    Sir William Henry Sleeman began investigating the cult methodically and between 1830 and 1841 his police captured at least 3,700 Thugs. They were tried and imprisoned and as many as 500 were executed. These purges supressed the cult extremely successfully, even though doubt has subsequently been cast on so many aspects of the whole affair. It is of course where we get the word thug to describe a violent destructive person.

    I’m glad to report that you can still find wine at the former Sleeman’s store, also beer, spirits and delicious food at what is now our friendly sailing club as well as an active social life and the opportunity to take up sailing!

    Sailing takes place all year in dinghies and cruisers with a regular racing, regatta and training programme. It is also a very popular venue for National Championships and has been hosting national competitions nearly every year since 1960. It has a thriving junior section and encourages sailing; the club owns a range of club boats (Optimists, Fevas, Teras, Junior Toppers, Lasers and Wayfarers) which can be used by club members.

    The club is open to non-members, although members receive discount on food and drink purchased. The club balcony overlooks the harbour; there is nowhere else in Tenby so well placed to enjoy the seaside vibe and a glorious sunset! Come on down to join the party; the club is open daily in the summer months, but weekends only in the winter.

     

    by Marion Davies & Ted Lewis

    Holiday for the holiday hosts

    Well in reality the season has come to an end, or gotten so substantially quieter generally speaking, that the lowly self employed sole trader can finally embark on their own holiday. Obviously this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while as I try to enhance my visitors and clients vacations through the summer, but what to do come November? I mean of course usually one would be thinking about Tenby Blues Festival for a start, but this year it is something different . This year the destination has been selected for me,  I have thrown out the boat and am enroute to Barbados as we speak.

    BARBADOS STEPPING OUT

    Let me just qualify by saying this is a friends wedding I am go to, so not my first choice (Bognor Regis), but I think in a few minutes or so I will come to terms with it. Like everyone, I ran through the usual rigmarole as I walked to the train, did I turn off the lights/turn off the alarm/change the times on the central heating/ put the rubbish out and turn off the iron? I don’t know why I worry about the latter, the iron hasn’t been out of the box since 1996, it’s almost vintage. I LOVE YOU SPANDEX! I packed everything I need, and a few things extra, knickers obviously, more clothes than I will wear and a few things to read…. Probably…, although one book is a bit work orientated…. I may glance at it. Having slept for nearly two hours before the taxi arrived to get us to the airport it was relatively trouble free, apart from the return journey to retrieve the forgotten items….. it was only a few miles across London.. 

    Interestingly the alcohol is free on the plane! We are not travelling Ryan Air! Naturally I felt obligated to have a G&T, and it seemed churlish not to have the wine…Generally speaking, if I were presented with a main meal, that measured 10cms x 8cms and a pud that I was only 3cms sq and less than 5 teaspoons of culinary delight, I might feel cheated, and consider that nouvelle cuisine had sunk to new depths of incredulity, but because it is on an airplane it seems utterly acceptable. Is that the wine speaking I wonder? (as I consume the accompanying pack of 6 pretzels?) Nah! I think I am finally on holiday!! Whoopee!

    Across the aisle is a two year old child with her iPad. Normally of course I would ask a teenager, but, I think she may be able to help me with some social media issues I’ve been having, I’ll wait till she’s finished her kiddie meal….BARBADOS POOLSIDE

    Plygain and Poems at Christmas in Tenby

    Plygain means ‘morning light’ and was a traditional religious service held in the local Parish Church. It commenced at 3 a.m on Christmas morning to watch the daybreak of Christianity and commemorate the coming of Christ.

    The service would attract large crowds, even though they may have to walk several miles in the dark and cold.

    In Tenby the young men of the town would escort the Rector with lighted torches from the rectory to St Mary’s Church for Plygain. On arrival they extinguished their torches and left them in the porch.  The service consisted of prayer, praise, thanksgiving and carols were sung.CHRISTMAS STORIES

    After the service the torches were re-lit and the congregation escorted the Rector back to his home with the church bell ringing continually until the time of the usual morning service.

    The rest of the day was devoted to pleasure, including hunting hare, woodcock and especially the squirrel.  Games of football were played and old quarrels ended.

    Unfortunately disorder brought about by men under the influence of alcohol put an end to Plygain in most places!

    Perhaps the very early start and the hangovers might be a little hard to deal with on Christmas morning nowadays although of course not uncommon, but something we could resurrect are the carols …. It seems that in days gone by, the local bards might be expected to compose a carol, indeed a poet was not considered a poet unless he could sing a carol! I think we should get our talented local bard Nicky Lloyd to pen something festive for us this year!! We could all join him for a sing-song in a local pub or pubs?…Sounds good to me!

     

    The Pembrokeshire Promise

    For those of you reading this blog and who have perhaps moved into the area you will inevitably eventually come across the Pembrokeshire Promise sooner or later.

    PROMISEIn order to give you newbies an example (and whilst I could not say definitively), I think some of the people who know and cultivate the art of ‘the promise’ best of all, are trades people. I refer here to electricians, plumbers, builders etc. They promise they will turn up next week on such and such a date but fail to show. When at last you manage to get hold of them they are full of apologies and promise to come the following week and so on. Although it can seem very frustrating you have to understand that they mean no slight upon you.

    They are not being deliberately difficult. They have every intention of doing the work, it’s just that next week is not a definite date. Actually any named day can be altered to suit the weather as well as more pressing jobs, which have certainly been subject to the same promise some weeks ago…

    The Pembrokeshire Promise is not a new phenomenon, and in fact even in the twelfth century Gerald of Wales, the great writer and cleric wrote at some length about it, remarking that with regards the Welsh, ‘ a formal oath never binds them’ and  ‘They are always prepared to perjure themselves to their own convenience and for any temporary advantage which they hope to gain by concealing the truth’.

    You see it is a temporary situation. Behind the scenes they are working to an agenda that will mean that when they are down to the wire, suddenly it all falls into place, everyone turns up in order to fulfil their promise so that suddenly the job comes together and it is done with speed, skill and a smile. Well in my experience anyway.

    Another example of the ‘promise’, I stated unequivocally that I would complete this blog by the 17th– oops!

    World UFO Day – 2nd July 2018

    Although it maybe hard to believe, in 1977 one of the most famous series of sightings in British UFO history became known as The West Wales flap and refers particularly to the ‘Broad Haven’ or ‘Dyfed Triangle’.

    Subsequent to some earlier sightings in 1976 a local UFO expert predicted that this would herald a spate of similar events in West Wales. However no one could have imagined that on 4th February 1977, there would be a mass sighting of a silver cigar shaped UFO by 15 school children at Broad Haven Primary School.

    Aged from nine to 11 years, the children claimed that they had seen a silver man with pointed ears emerge from the craft that had landed in the fields behind their school. Initially dismissed as fantasy, their head teacher eventually asked them to draw the UFO. He was amazed at how similar each of their pictures was.

    The event became an overnight sensation with journalists and TV crews flocking to the Welsh coast from all corners of the UK!

    A variety of other events compounded the phenomenon including the terrified Coombs family at Ripperston Farm who were plagued with repeated close encounters with UFOs and their occupants which resulted in a number of chases, apparitions, burned out cars and TV sets and horrendous electricity bills! Not to mention a herd of cows that were inexplicably teleported from a locked field into to an adjacent farmyard!?

    Subsequently, documents released in 2005 have revealed that a secret military investigation was launched into claims that alien craft and their tall humanoid occupants were taking a particular interest in the Welsh coastline.

    Obviously, most of us locally are engaged in tourism and I personally welcome interest in the area by extra-terrestrial beings. My main concern is that they will be bringing their own accommodation and not actually increasing the per capita spend in the immediate locality. I can see this would be a challenge in the local supermarkets and indeed restaurants, but I have certainly enjoyed a few out-of-this-world delicacies at a number of local eating establishments. I think as ever we will rise to the challenge.

    Suffice to say, that on World UFO day on 2nd July many of us will be scanning the skies for signs of life and any suggestions as to where we can send the brochures will be gratefully received!UFO