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Steps back In Time:Mari Jones And Her Bible.
A Welsh Love Song. Myfanwy.
Where do we go???
We haven't had a bad summer at all this year and to cap it all today was also a beautiful sunny Sunday.
A day for exploring we think!!
Myself and Dai are sat by the kitchen table trying to decide where to go....................................!!!
"Why don't we go to Dolgellau or Bala up in North Wales ?" Dai suggested, " I could then go and have a look at some fisheries up that way." "I have been meaning to do that for a while now."
"Well why not !" I agreed. I really didn't mind as wherever we went I loved it.
Travelling side by side to our beautiful welsh coastline! Natural and unspoilt and this beauty that makes one appreciate our homeland.
We sat in companionable silence letting the bewitching magic envelope us, leaving us with a comforting layer of serenity. As always I wonder at people that travel abroad each year for their holidays and how many of them had actually explored the beauty of our homeland.
Had they experienced the bewitching magic that is always in abundance in our Welsh scenery ??
If not they really were missing out on so much!!
Now then we had by now travelled another 17 miles and were leaving the next seaside town of Aberystwyth behind us and were travelling on towards Dolgellau.
When we were a mile or so away from our destination I spotted a signpost with the words; LLANFIHANGEL-Y-PENNANT. For some strange reason I felt compelled to stop here, the pull was so strong that I asked Dai if he would stop the car.
I sat there for a moment before turning to my long suffering partner saying. "Do you remember me telling you that story about Mari Jones the 16 year old girl who walked 25 miles in order to have her own copy of the bible."
"Yes I do remember," Dai replied ,"Wasn't it in the 18th century?"
"As far as I remember yes." I suddenly thought of something that I would really like to do. "Are you in a hurry to get to the fisheries?" I ask Dai.
"Not especially , why what did you have in mind?"
The cogs were turning at a great speed inside this energetic head of mine now.
"I just thought it would be brilliant if we followed Mari's footsteps , the time she went to get her bible." "She would have started off from here somewhere, look there's a sign over there showing the way." "WE can follow the road in the car, I wasn't suggesting that we walk!!" I added hastily.
"Oh thank goodness for that!!" Dai pretended to wipe his forehead with his hankie in mock relief.
"I'm not that bad !" I say with feigned indignance, before we both burst out laughing.
Now then back to the matter in hand:
"Fine by me ," Dai replied. I walked down to a plaque which pin pointed the start of Mari's walk.
I got back into the car and we drove slowly on the road that this young girl would have taken all those centuries ago.
We followed the road for about 20 miles without seeing a soul, there was something very bewitching about the moment and neither of us felt the need for talking at all.
All of a sudden I had this strong urge that I wanted to get out and walk the remainder of the journey.
"Would you mind terribly?" I again ask my poor long suffering partner.
"Of course I don't!" was his ever calm reply. "If your sure you'll be ok, why don't I pick you up in Bala." "I will have had plenty of time to look round the fisheries by the time you arrive there." "Give me a ring and I'll come and pick you up." "Are you sure you're going to be able to walk the remainder of this walk." " You have about 4 to 5 miles to go."
"Oh yes I'll be fine!" "Oh thanks ," I gave him a quick hug before he drove off .
I walked along for a few moments before a strange feeling came over me and I was enveloped in a rose scented mist .
I sat for a moment by the side of the road to rub my feet!!! Oh dear they were very sore!! Well they would be wouldn't they, I had been walking a very very long way in my bare feet.
I'd better introduce myself , I am Mari Jones from Llanfihangel-Y-Pennant. My parents are Jacob and Mary Jones and as I said I have walked many many miles in my bare feet. I am on my way to Bala to pick up some copies of the Bible from The Rev Thomas Charles. They are very scarce in our village and I had to borrow one from a neighbouring farm when myself and my family needed the use of one. That farm was two miles away and I could not always get over there.. It is now October 3rd 1800 and I will be 16 years old on the 16th of December.
My parents are devout Calvanistic Methodists, and I professed the Christian Faith at 8 years old. I have been saving for the last six years for the honour of owning my own bible. I feel very lucky in my life because I was taught to read and I can assure you that not everyone around these parts can!! I say a very big thank you to the Reverand Thomas Charles who organised a few schools in this area.
I love the countryside at this time of year, everything is a golden maturity, all the trees are shedding their golden leaves in preparation for the purity of the winter.
I love to talk to people , my mother says that I am noisier than the ever cackling hens, but I know she likes my chatter really.
I really would like to take my hat off as well but if Mam knew I was walking bare headed she would be so cross. I can tell you now , you don't want to see my mam cross!!! I don't anyway!!!
Welsh bibles are very very scarce and I really do hope he has three copies left as I need an extra two copies. One for Anti Martha and Wncwl Jac, as well as my Mamgu and Dacu.(Grandmother and Grandfather))
At home I get up very early every morning to make breakfast for us, because my mam has to help Dad to milk the cows. He can't get a farm hand in because we are very poor but we are one very happy family and that is more important than money. Then I collect any eggs that Betsy Clwc Clwc, our hen and her family may have. We have been very lucky because that horrid old fox hasn't taken a fancy to Betsy because he's killed all of Idwal down the road's hens. Oh if I got hold of him , he wouldn't go near a hen again for a very long time if ever!!!
Oh I cannot believe it but I am now walking in to Bala, I am here!! Oh dear I might faint I am so tired!!!
I am now on the doorstep of the church where I hope the Reverand Thomas Charles will be!! Oh I am so tired I can hardly lift the knocker. Knock!!! Knock!!! Knock!!!
The heavy door creaks open and the Reverand Charles looked at the young girl in amazement. He took her into his arms as she looked just about ready to pass out.
"Where have you come from my dear??!! "How far have you walked?"
"My name is Mari Jones from Llanfihangel-Y-Pennant sir. "I have walked all the way here to buy three bibles from you. I have the money here!"
"Come inside and rest my dear , you must be so weary!!!" "You have nothing on your feet either bless you my child" "You need fret no more I have three copies for you." "Even if I didn't have them i think i would have found them somehow!!" "Such dedication in one so young!!"
Oh dear this mist is taking a long time to clear. It does eventually thank goodness!! I was sat just outside the church in Bala. I reached for my mobile;
"I am ready whenever you are." I said to Dai. "I'm sat just outside the church."
"Ok babe on my way,"
He soon arrived "Did you have a nice walk?" he asked.
"Oh yes brilliant!!" I replied, taking a final look back at the church. I was sure that Mari was stood in the doorway waving to me with her treasured bible in her hand.
The Journey Home .
It was a glorious evening as we travelled home. The late Autumn sun was casting a jewelled beam over the calm sea, nothing less than a writer's paradise , and all on our own doorstep.
We do not realise just how lucky we are to be surrounded with all this intriguing history and the beauty of the Welsh scenery. 'I am very proud to be Welsh 'I think to myself.'
Oh what a lovely ending to a very special day. I mentally reminded myself to look up Mari Jones' story in the morning. Even though I had known the story briefly I hadn't known what had become of her afterwards.
I closed my eyes and snoozed away the remainder of the journey. Zzzzzzzzz.........................
The Next Morning.
I was up bright and early the next morning feeling totally refreshed. I rushed to get a few important 'must do' tasks done and it wasn't long before I was sat in front of my faithful friend googling for information on Mari Jones.
I really had to find out if her true story was step by step with my experience of yesterday.
I am sure that you have all guessed by now that it was precisely and uncannily so.
There would always be a special place in my heart for this beautiful town and Mari from now on.
Today in Bala stands this monument in memory of Mari.
I hope you enjoyed today's visit and will join me again very soon.
Take care and lots of love to you all from my little corner of Wales.