The flight, the last time I visited the United Kingdom, from the West Coast was long and uncomfortable. I had a window seat and although I had a blanket, being next to the bulkhead was extremely cold. By the time we disembarked at London’s Gatwick Airport, I was frozen to the bone.
It was about noon when we checked into the hotel where we immediately hit the bed and slept soundly until about seven that evening, getting up just in time to have a quick supper.
The next morning we hired a car and set out for Wales, sightseeing along the way. We stayed in Aberystwyth, my home town, for two days before heading north to Dolgellau. The weather, true to British tradition was awful. It was windy, cold, and poured down rain. Unfortunately by the time we arrived at Dolgellau, I had come down with a miserable cold/flu, the result, I’m sure of that horrible flight. My head felt like old newspaper just removed from the bottom of a bird cage. My throat burned, and I ached from head to toe.
We pulled up at a very inviting appearing hotel, one that had been recommended by friends. Since we didn’t have a reservation, Ginger went in to see if they could accommodate us. She returned to the car minutes later. “You’re going to like this,” she said with a big smile. “It’s just what the doctor ordered.” Now since I had not seen a doctor, I wondered if she really knew what she was talking about. All I really cared about was slipping into a warm bed and sleeping the clock around.
I followed her into the lobby and immediately spotted the biggest fireplace I had ever seen and with the biggest fire roaring away in the hearth, It was surrounded by several comfortable looking easy chairs. I felt my bloodshot eyes light up. Since it was off-season there weren’t too many people around, but a sign board at the entrance had indicated afternoon tea would be served at four. That sounded like something I could live for…strong hot tea.
Before Ginger finished with registering us as guests, I had made myself comfortable in an enormous easy chair with my feet propped up on a poof (Hassock to those less familiar with British terms) The stone work around the hearth was festooned with highly polished brass fireplace tools. This was truly Hestia’s Hearth and I felt her arms around me as the warmth from her brightly burning fire penetrated deeply into my aching body.
Soon Ginger joined me. She was, I know, concerned about my feeling so bad as well as the fact that I was visiting my native land for the first time since I had left there so many years before and not being able to enjoy the experience. We had only a limited amount of time; ten days vacation. As bad as I felt, I worried that I was spoiling her trip, her first visit ever to the United Kingdom. She, I knew, had looked forward to this for some time.
My thoughts were pleasantly interrupted by a pleasant, red headed young woman with a thick Welsh accent. She pushed a tea cart with a pot of hot tea, cream and sugar, delicate assorted sandwiches, chocolate covered biscuits, slices of fruit cake, and Victorian Sandwich Cake. How could I not feel better? Ginger did the honors while I allowed myself to be pampered.
Later, that evening, in our room, I discovered the towel rails were heated…what luxury. Hestia’s doing I’m sure. The four days we spent there in Dolgellau were Hestia’s gift to me and I am grateful to this day for her presence on that day.
The embers glow in Hestia’s hearth,
Waiting and welcoming
All weary travelers
Who cross the threshold,
To stop and visit,
To watch the flames
Rise and crackle
And the sparks
Dance until exhausted
And disappear like the stars at dawn.
©July 28, 2009