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A stone in my wallet
a beach in my mind


Photo of Traeth Llyfn beach

I want to tell you about my favourite beach in the whole world.

It’s called Traeth Llyfn, and you’ll find it on the north coast of Pembrokeshire, facing directly west into the Irish Sea. There’s no direct access by car. You have to walk north from Abereiddi Bay, or south from Porthgain.

I managed another visit there this summer, just a brief stop as the family did a much longer coast path walk. But the memories overwhelmed me. As we sat on rocks and munched our sandwiches, I felt tears welling up. I love this place so much.

When we were kids, my brother and I spent chunks of our summer holiday with our dad, and those chunks usually included camping holidays in Wales. Pembrokeshire was the best bit, of course, and Traeth Llyfn was the best bit of Pembrokeshire.

I remember:

Another photo of Traeth Llyfn beach

The memories aren’t the most important thing, though. They’re nice memories, yes, but the nostalgia is a happy side-effect. Traeth Llyfn is one of my actual, real-world happy places. It’s one of those places where I feel comfortable, where I feel utterly at ease, where I can decide to not feel anything else.

On our visit this last summer, Kate could see me getting all emotional. She could see that having arrived, I didn’t want to leave. I felt like the stones we were sitting on were the exact same stones I sat on as a child, 35 years ago.

“Why don’t you take a stone with you?” she suggested.

Photo of the sign welcoming people to Traeth Llyfn beach

A good idea. I picked up two stones. A large one to keep in my garden at home, and a tiny slim one to slip into my wallet. I carry it with me now, a tiny piece of my favorite beach in the whole world, tucked between the debit cards and the train tickets and the tenners. When I’m sat on those trains and I wish I wasn’t, I can pull out that tiny piece of grey stone – something vaguely volcanic and Ordovician, I reckon – and let it tumble between my fingers. Like a skinny tanned kid tumbling in the waves, and looking forward to his sandwiches.


(15 Oct 2017)