Jan 25th coming up, St Dwynwen’s day. It’s cold outside but it’s warm in your heart, and maybe you’re feeling the need to ask a certain question of that very special person, on one knee, whilst brandishing a ring containing the most expensive stones you’ve ever displayed …
Okay, so when you’re on your knees before your princess of Wales, your question will be “A fyddwch yn priodi mi?” And she will reply “Ydw.” Yes, she will.
And where should you do it? It needs to be memorable, right? A mood suited to the occasion. My husband proposed on the platform of a train station, which was wonderful, but I can’t say that I swooned. You can do better than that, can’t you? Yes, of course you can.
So here’s my little list of fabulous places you’ll want to consider taking your cariad before displaying your stones to her.
1. Well, she does like a spot of romance…
First off, why not do it at the spot where St Dwynwen’s all started? St Dwynwen was a fourth-century princess from the Brecon Beacons who founded a convent on the Anglesey promontory, Llanddwyn island (actually, it’s only an island at high tide). The remains of her chapel still exist.
And a lighthouse.
And sea birds. Loads of puffins, cormorants, gulls and all sorts of other birds. And uninterrupted views of the wide blue Irish Sea. So if she doesn’t mind a buffeting in strong winds, Llanddwyn Island could be the place for you.
2.A bit windswept for her taste…
Henrhyd Falls, in the Brecon Beacons national park, then.
Waterfalls are always cool. Waterfalls where you can actually walk behind the water are even more cool.
Waterfalls where you can walk behind the water and that featured in a Batman movie are coolest of all. Henrhyd Falls in the Brecon Beacons national park is best seen following a heavy downpour, and you’re likely to have had one recently on January 25th. There is an open cavern behind the water where anybody can enter and look out at the wide world through the water curtain. And if it looks a little familiar, that’s probably because it was the entrance to the Batcave in The Dark Knight Rises.
Now don’t get carried away. The cavern behind is not nearly as big as the one in the video, but the upside is that the cavern in Henrhyd Falls is accessible on foot, doesn’t required abseiling through the water curtain, and isn’t full of bats. And just think what all your friends will be thinking when your better half tells them, “My husband proposed behind a waterfall!”
3. She’s not so much into Batman…
More a Hobbit/Lord of the Rings/Fantasy type of girl? Glyder Fawr is a peak in Snowdonia, more than a kilometre high, featuring assemblies of jagged boulders that make it look, in the sunset, like, well, something out of a fantasy artist’s craziest imaginings — except it’s real!
4. I think she’d prefer the symbolism of “taking the leap”…
Huntsman’s Leap, near Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire. Technically, it’s contained within a military artillery training ground, so your proposal could produce, ahem, great balls of fire, while a passing tank would certainly make the ground move, but the public are usually admitted to view the Hunstman’s Leap. It’s basically a huge crack in a cliff, stretching dozens of metres into the mainland. Legend has it that a hunter escaped his pursuers by leaping the gap, but, on realising what he’d just jumped over, promptly died of shock.
5. On second thoughts, she’s more a hold-hands-and-marvel-at-the-stars kinda gal
The Elan Valley, covering 72 square miles, was the first place in Wales to be awarded official dark sky status, criss-crossed with endless trails past lakes, abundant wildlife, lakes, jaw-dropping scenery, lakes, all very, very quiet, and very, very unspoiled, and full of lakes. Airplanes? What’s an airplane? Oh look! There’s a lake!
6. A bit cold on Jan 25th. Isn’t there anything indoors?
Cardiff is well blessed with shopping arcades, filled with all manner of specialist and off-beat outlets. Want a kilt? An antique book? A Thai face mask? Vine leaves farci? Take her down the Morgan, Royal, Castle or Duke Street Arcades, where, in Victorian splendour, she can spend hours and hours browsing one fascinating shop after another.
Did I mention they have jewellers in the arcades? Quite a lot of them. Could come in handy if there’s anything you’ve forgotten.
7. She’s more a culture vulture. Music, dance, theatre, that sort of thing…
Dear me — in Cardiff, just how long are you planning to wait before you get on your knees? Cardiff must surely have the highest concentration of theatres for any city its size in the United Kingdom: from the small-scale New Theatre (actually more than a hundred years old)…
…to the Sherman, specialising in modern and experimental theatre…
…to St David’s Hall, for concerts and musical performances of all kinds, home to the National Orchestra of Wales…
…to the Millenium Centre, home to the Wales National Opera and the National Dance Company of Wales, big enough to accommodate the most-lavish West End and Broadway spectacles…
So you could take her to a lunchtime concert at the Millenium Centre, head over to New Theatre for a matinee, and still have time for a restaurant before heading to the St David’s Centre for a recital…
8. Talking of restaurants, what’s for dinner?
You want to make her swoon, right? Does anywhere beat the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel which, on a swooniness scale of 1 to 10, scores several million?:
Or, if you’re taking in a restaurant between those theatre stops in Cardiff that I mentioned, Bosphorus is Turkish restaurant that juts into the Cardiff Bay on its own pier, providing terrific all-round views of the waterfront
On the other hand, if you fancy taking her somewhere that’s … memorable, rather than romantic, as such, you really have to try The Clink. “The Clink” is slang for a jail, and yes, the restaurant is in Her Majesty’s Prison, Cardiff, and the staff are all convicts. Your waiter is serving time, your chef is pending Her Majesty’s pleasure, the decor is a classy side of morbid, and the food is fantastic! After enjoying your dish of grilled sardines and chargrilled baby gem with samphire, vine roasted tomatoes and salsa verde, you’ll go on with your proposal, and your waiter will go back to his cell!
9. How about in a castle? I’ve heard there’s a few in Wales
Just the odd one or two, yes. As William Gilbert wrote: “There’s a fascination frantic / In a ruin that’s romantic…” From the opulent interiors of Cardiff Castle:
…to the desperately romantic Castell Coch, with shadows of medieval damsels escorted by gallant knights (and maybe just a fairy or two fluttering about those towers…):
…to the magnificent pinnacles of Conwy:
…to the ivy-covered walls of Tonna:
10. How about just in a hotel? So we can, y’know, just getting on with, ahem, displaying the stones…?
Dear me! Young’uns today, just got no patience. The place for you is Llanthony Priory: not just the ruins of a priory, but a hotel contained within the rooms and towers of an old manor house, and they can marry you. So you can take her there, propose, marry her, hold the reception and, ahem, display the stones all in an afternoon! Job done, as we say in Wales!
Go on! If you had to pop THE question, where in Wales would YOU do it, and why? Tell us in the comments!