1. It’s technically part of the UK but feels like a foreign country. Not only is there a different language, but the landscape is definitely other-worldly. It’s filled with gorgeous wilderness that slopes down to dunes and the sea, with a smattering of quaint towns and villages. Every time I go for a walk in the hills, I expect to bump into Jon Snow and Ghost; a band of hobbits; or, I don’t know, some sprites or pixies or something.  Especially if it’s foggy, misty, rainy or sleeting. Personally, I’d prefer Jon Snow any day.

2. The symbol of Wales is a big red dragon. A FREAKING DRAGON. This clearly trumps the heraldic symbols for England (lion) and Scotland (unicorn). You don’t mess with a dragon. There are red dragons everywhere, adorning everything from pubs to the national flag. “The Red Dragon” translates to “Y Ddraig Goch” in Welsh. Formidable indeed.

3. The language. It’s the same alphabet. It looks like it shouldn’t be too hard to pronounce. But boy, all those consonants make it hard going. I’m staying in Llangbyi. How lovely. But, prepare yourself: it’s pronounced “Clan-gubby.” I’m a no-hoper. I no longer attempt to pronounce place names without hearing someone else do it first. The accent is pretty heavy too. After four weeks of catching the bus into town, I still cannot understand the bus driver – and he speaks to me in English.

4. Houses aren’t numbered, nor are there any street names. Each home or farm has a unique name and a sign out the front announcing it. Usually carved in some sort of lovely northern hemisphere wood. It’s like living in a fairy tale land.

5. Speaking of, the postman drives to each home and personally drops off the mail through the front door. I am still not used to turning around, suds to my elbows in the kitchen sink, to confront a smiling member of the Welsh postal service. NB: I now make sure I am not in my pyjamas singing loudly without apparent reason.

Walking in Llangbyi, Wales.

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