At home with Dylan Thomas continued (2)

By Gareth Huw Davies, Mail on Sunday

Last updated at 12:20 17 February 2003


The fishing village of Mumbles

Centre of gravity for Dylan mania is the Dylan Thomas Centre, opened by another fan, former American President Jimmy Carter, in 1995.

This is a fulsome homage. I liked the love letter to Caitlin on a cheque stub.

From here I took the trail west around his beloved bay to the fishing village of Mumbles, passing places close to Dylan's home which he knew well: the Patti Pavilion (the Melba Pavilion in his stories) which was built for Italian operatic diva Adelina Patti; the grand Brangwyn Hall, with its splendid tapestries; nearby is the memorial to the life-saving dog, Swansea Jack VC.

Beyond is Gower which Dylan described as 'one of the loveliest sea-coast stretches' in Britain. In 1956 it became Britain's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Later I drove to Laugharne, 30 miles west, his 'timeless, mild, beguiling island of a town'.

People come here for the graves of Dylan and Caitlin, but far more uplifting is the Boat House, Dylan's only real home, where he wrote Under Milk Wood.

Some prankster Dylan would have applauded had turned the sign from the car park through 180 degrees, sending several people - including me - the wrong way.

By the time I rounded the headland to find the tucked-away building clinging to the cliff, the custodian was locking up.

No matter. I gazed over the estuary as the light seeped out of a grey West Wales day and an oystercatcher rasped a raw lament.

I understood why Dylan loved this beautiful, melancholy place.

Travel facts

For details of trains to Swansea call national train inquiries (tel: 0845 748 4950).

Gareth Huw Davies stayed at Morgans Hotel, Somerset Place, Swansea SA1 1RR (tel: 01792 484848).

For more information, contact the Dylan Thomas Centre, Somerset Place, Swansea SA1 1RR ( tel: 01792 463980) and Swansea Tourist Information ( tel: 01792 468321).

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