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:

  • 2020 a Leap Year – Why?, 16 Feb 2020 in Culture&History
  • St Valentine Who?, 08 Feb 2020 in Culture&History
  • Mince Pies, well when I say mince…, 20 Dec 2019 in Culture&History
  • Christmas Stockings, 02 Dec 2019 in Culture&Heritage
  • 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

  • 2020 a Leap Year – Why?

    Every four years another leap year comes round. It is clearly an inconvenience and disappointment for those people born on the 29th day of February and yet on the up side, it’s a talking point and they can celebrate their birth on a day of their choice, because in a way, the day they were born simply doesn’t exist three years out of every four. For their colleagues, friends and family it’s a win, win situation as this means they are really only obligated to cough up for cards and presents on the same number of occasions….

    BRIGIDFor young women it is traditionally an opportunity to propose to their boyfriends. A bit outdated nowadays, but this is apparently a tradition that goes way back to the 5th Century, when it was probably a much handier proposition, literally. It is said that St Bridged of Kildare asked St Patrick for help to enable women to propose to long term suitors and get them to the altar!  It is however, a little known fact that the small print relating to the granting of this favour meant that the women concerned had to wear a scarlet petticoat or breeches. I guess today trousers and shorts might do? …

    The whole malarkey with Leap Year is ancient. Julius Caesar first introduced the concept into the calendar over 2000 years ago. Alas the failure of successive generations to include an extra day at correct times meant that in 1752 with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar several days had to be lost that year in order to realign the calendar with the seasons.

    It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds, to circle once around the Sun, (a tropical year which starts on the March Equinox), but the Gregorian calendar only includes 365 days a year. These few hours, minutes and seconds equate to an extra day approximately every 4 years, hence, 29th February.

    It is worth noting that in parts of Wales including the Gwaun Valley in Pembrokeshire, there was never an acceptance of the calendar change in the mid 18th Century. Even to this very day, there are still people who use the old Julian calendar and celebrate national events on different days to the rest of us. I bring to your attention New Year. Whereas most of us celebrate on the 1st January, in Gwaun Valley they celebrate the event on the 13th January. Brilliant! Legitimatish reason for two parties and that’s just January! Take into consideration Bessie’s pub and I mean, what’s not to love?

    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.

    Mince Pies, well when I say mince…

    Mince Pies like Christmas pudding were originally filled with meat, most usually lamb, although beef, veal and goose have also been used.

    MINCE PIES

    The origin of the ingredients goes back to the 13th century and the crusades when pilgrims and crusaders went to the Middle East and experienced food which combined meats, fruits and spices. For Christians this unusual combination represented the gifts given to the baby Christ by the biblical Magi and accounts for the original shapes of the pies being oval or oblong like a manger, sometimes with a representation of the baby Jesus on the top. During Stuart and Georgian times they became a means of winning friends and impressing people and came in a range of interesting shapes like stars, hearts and flowers, sometimes even fitting together like a jigsaw or a knot garden. Pastry cooks of fancy festive treats became very sought after and expensive.

    Known by various names over the years, most commonly the Christmas Pie, they were banned at the time of the civil war during the mid 17th century as a reflection of Catholic Idolatry and unfit to occupy the plate of a clergyman. In an essay published in The Gentleman’s Magazine the popularity of the ‘Christmas Pye’ being perhaps to the ‘ barrenness of the season’ and the scarcity of fruits and milk. The author of the article also refers to the Quakers who objected to the treat as an invention of ‘the scarlet whore of Babylon, a Hodge-Podge of Superstition, Popery, the Devil and all his works.’

    Frankly I feel they may not have tried mince pies with clotted cream or Brandy Butter, these two additions may well have quelled their objections.  As one who was raised by a catering lecturer, I must confess that I have had more mince pies and petit fours than hot dinners, although they also featured high on my mother’s dinner/lunch repertoire. Raised on the college restaurant surplus and demonstration visual aids I still appreciate a really good mince pie. This year with my mother having retired some many years a go I will be sampling the Christmas delights of Loafley – their Frangipane mince pie being a culinary delight par excellence – what a combo!!!

    Ps Mum, I still love you x

     

    NB

    If you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (5th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months! (Well according the tradition of the middle ages)

    Canned mince pie filling during Prohibition-era Chicago saw its alcohol levels spike to more than 14%

    Don’t forget to leave one out for Father Christmas along with the carrot for the reindeer! OO and the brandy…for father Christmas not the reindeer…

    Christmas Stockings

    The months are winding down to the end of the year and Christmas time looms again.

    Like every year, I hang out my Christmas stocking in the hope that Father Christmas will bring me that ticket to Rio and my two front teeth….

    So far, no luck, but then perhaps this is the year? CHRISTMAS STOCKINGSI mean, after all, the whole meaning behind the stocking was in fact to help person or persons down on their luck. I’m borderline…

    Historically it seems that St Nicholas the Christian Bishop of the early 4Th Century  (of Greece or Turkey but not Lapland) was born into a wealthy family. After his parents died he began to distribute their wealth to people who were less fortunate than himself.

    Some of the fortunate who were beneficiaries of his generosity were three young women. Their distressing plight surrounded their fathers in ability to pay for their dowry in spite of their considerable beauty and the conundrum was being discussed by local villagers. Upon hearing this issue and discovering that their father was too proud to ask for help or accept charity St Nick (of Greece or Turkey but not Lapland or the other one!!!) decided to intervene.   Apparently he saw the freshly laundered stockings of the three women hanging by the fire to dry and threw three bags of gold, one into each of the girls stockings. The following morning when checking their laundry, the young women were thrilled to discover their newfound wealth. Each one was able to enter into an advantageous marriage.   Their father was overjoyed to off load the three women.

    It is interesting to note that gold foil covered chocolate money, like oranges, still often makes an appearance in stockings of today, although not normally those hung by the fire. Any real gold coins making an appearance in a young woman’s stockings is likely to be attributed a completely different meaning, as is anyone’s interest in a woman’s undergarments including their stockings…although I believe you can sell used ones for a fortune on eBay.

    Happy Christmas everyone.

    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