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Guard that which is precious!


I was on Coastwatch duty with Jeff yesterday and, as the causeway was within an hour of flooding and the island populated by only the 63 resident sheep, we were in for a quiet time. It was the first time that we had been on watch together and we soon discovered our mutual fascination of words, place names and history.

It is relatively recently that I have become interested in history, it was always a dry subject for me in school and I don’t ever remember being taught our own history which resulted in my knowing the significance of 1066 but unaware of the importance of 1282. Historical novels sparked my interest (beginning with ‘There be Dragons’ by Sharon Penman) and I have found that the more I learn the more, it seems, there is yet to learn. But having such knowledge in your head isn’t really enough, the real thrill is in sharing it with a fellow enthusiast. And so it was yesterday.

The writing of history is always the privilege of the victor so there is inevitably a bit of a bias. I remember reading about the Roman writer Tacitus describing the early Celts as ‘an aggressive people’. Well, excuse me, Tacky old fruit, but don’t the words ‘pot’, ‘kettle’ and ‘black’ spring to mind?

We talked about the various invasions that our islands have had to suffer and in particular all that raping and pillaging from the Vikings. Thank goodness we eventually saw those off! But I had recently discovered that the Normans were only Vikings that had been allowed to settle in Normandy in the hope that they would quietly settle down. So there you are – these Norse people just never give up!

And as we had reached this point in our fascinating discussions a gentleman strolled in and excused us but, he had a couple of Norwegian friends outside and would we mind if he brought them in so that we could tell them about NCI? We agreed of course and glanced at each other with an exchange of invisible grins.

“Here they come again!” we thought while he trotted outside to fetch his group. It turned out to be five in all including a young and genial Norwegian couple. As though he had anticipated our silent fear the gentleman was wearing a Cymru hat. Well, chwarae teg after all, isn’t it!

We had a very interesting conversation and before they left the lady had her photograph taken with Jeff and myself on either side – a rose between two thorns!

It was all smiles as they left, it had been an enjoyable interlude and, lest you should be concerned –yes, Jeff and I still retained our closely guarded virginity!

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