Happy Saint David’s day! Dydd gwyl Dewi Sant hapus!
However you say it, it’s St. David’s day today, the national day of Wales, a place I called home for 10 years of my life. The only place I’ve lived in for longer is London, my birthplace, but Wales is the only place I’ve ever felt homesick for.
I moved to Cardiff in 2000 to go to university after falling in love with the place on an open day. Although much smaller than London, it was still a richly diverse city with a great social buzz to it and everything a young man of 18 could desire. Although illness prevented me from finishing my degree, I still managed to walk away from uni with some amazing friends, fantastic experiences and a girlfriend who was to become my wife.
The future Mrs Beardy and I moved in together in a studenty area and got jobs, gradually became more grown up (ish) and moved into a more family-friendly area of South Wales, where we lived happily and turned into a family of 3. Our daughter was born on Welsh soil and that cemented my love for ‘God’s own country’.
However, nothing can stay the same forever and it was time to move back to England and be near to family and to grow our 3 into a 4. Our son was born in an English hospital just like his mum and dad, making our daughter the odd one out. Not that it bothers her. She’s 3 and has greater concerns such as whether she’s having toast or cereal for breakfast, or if it’s an odd sock day. She doesn’t remember Wales.
I do. I remember walking her around Cardiff castle, driving through the snowy valleys, exploring the trails behind Tintern Abbey. And that’s why I feel hiraeth. There isn’t a direct translation into English for this word as it’s Wales-specific. It means homesickness for Wales, Welsh culture and the Wales of days gone by; a nostalgia trip that leaves a hole in your heart, one that can only be filled by going home. To Wales.
So happy St. David’s to you all, but mine will be spent in sadness instead of celebration.
Cymru am byth.