Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

29 Nov 2015

A child's Christmas in Wales

When Dorian invited me to stay at his cottages in Wales I couldn't wait.  In my life as an international promotions manager I visited countries around the world, continually on the road traveling with artists, in all those years I was hardly ever home in my London flat, I was in Japan, South America, Hungary, Mexico ... you name it, I went there. 

Two things happened as a result, when it finally stopped I wanted to be at home as much as possible and the thought of getting on an airplane was about as exciting as getting on a hopper bus. The second thing was a longing to explore the UK more. Also now bored to death of hotel rooms, I find myself a rather curmudgeonly guest if the service isn't brilliant and the decor is drab.

For me now the absolute ideal is to have a beautifully decorated, tastefully and sensitively adorned, home from home, why would I want to stay somewhere that wasn't as nice as my own house? Well, at times it's necessity so cost and surroundings reach a compromise, but then that is just a place to sleep. What I really yearn for is an experience. I want to be impressed, I want to be romanced by my surroundings. I want the possibility to explore a new area, to take photographs and be educated by the history, this to me is the only sort of 'holiday' that makes sense.  Hell for me would be to be on a sunbed in a resort full of English people. 

I knew, I just knew, that the Welsh House would be perfect, I could see that it ticked all the boxes and I wasn't wrong. I had the idea to do some Christmas styling so packed up a few decorations and off we trotted.  

I don't know a great deal about Dylan Thomas and this is something I intend to rectify, so when Dorian produced the most beautiful edition of "A child's Christmas in Wales" the last piece of the puzzle fell into place.  Influenced by that idea I bring you these photos and some quotes from Dylan Thomas 

I found some beautiful music to accompany this post ...

"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six ..."

one of my hand knitted socks, my favourite thing is to knit socks

"All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find"

don't forget to leave out mince pies and milk for Father Christmas

then off to bed you go and try to sleep

"Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steadily falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept."

“I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.” 

And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days...”

outside the fairies live, dancing in the moss and lichen, vibrant greens and leaf strewn paths invite you to a magical world

There is magic inside this place, it feels other worldly. It is a place where your mind can be free to dream, like a child waiting for Santa.

I'm not going to write here about Dorian's work here because you should go for yourself, sit and read the cuttings from papers in his folders of information.  Photos from a re-enactment where dressed in traditional Welsh costume, Dorian and surrounding neighbours built a traditional house in one day.  It is a work of brilliance and no words or photos can do it full justice. 

Quotes by Dylan Thomas. Photos by Janice Issitt. Location - The Welsh House, blankets from Holy Cow Home 
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