The ferry crossing from Rosslare to Fishguard is only three hours. But I was acutely aware how our school curriculum teaches us so little about our neighbours. Irish language and history is, of course, mandatory. But we learn nothing about Welsh, not even how it hooks up to our language, if at all.
And we rattle off all our counties, lakes, rivers and mountains, the MacGillycuddy's and the Mournes, but learn nothing about the Brecon Beacons or Snowdonia, which sounds impossibly Narnian for something so close to home. So Wales, though near, is far from familiar. And my childhood holiday memories are too fragmented to lend a hand. But I loved it there and the mountains are unlike any I've seen, all nubby as if knitted and laid over the land.
We made a lovely journey to Melin Tregwynt Mill. Even my parents, who have a strange immunity to roads with lovely turns and nested stone houses, said this is a beautiful setting and wanted me to tell them how I learned about the mill and came to stock their blankets in my shop.
And the mill is tiny so that I wondered myself and when I told the ladies in the shop that I sell their blankets in Canada, they opened their eyes wide and lilted "Canada" in their lovely accents, but tentatively, like it was a faraway place and they couldn't imagine their blankets all the way there.
Last week, the temperaturedropped and in the mornings I pull on socks as I make my way through my apartment in the dark. There's something delicious about these hours, even when it's cold and dark and the monitor hurts my eyes a little. I pull my own blanket around me and tuck my toes beneath and light a candle too because sunrise by candlelight is a special thing.
And I can make a lot of noise about knowing who makes something, where it comes from and how that changes the quality of it, making the experience of wearing or using it a sort of reverie. But I really believe this. And when I sit there wrapped up in my Welsh blanket, shedding words onto pages, I feel it deeply and am glad we went out of our way to find the mill.
Melin Tregwynt blankets are available in my shop.