[Today’s post is by John H.Parker, co-author of the newly released book, Abide With Mepublished by New Leaf Press. This account is from the travels of John and his co-author/photographer, Paul Seawright.]

Journeying through Wales is like stepping into a time-travel machine, setting it on minus twenty years, and punching it in to stay. For one thing, the scenery of rolling hills and generally low mountains remains unspoiled and likely to remain so. There’ just no evidence that some mega-developer is going to open a golf course with five hundred $800,000 homes around it. Few people here are likely to have the money to spend on them—at least not in liquid assets—and fewer still would seem to want to. So the  beauty remains not only unspoiled but unthreatened.

Brecknock, Wales

Brecknock, Wales

The villages also seem, if not frozen in time, at least on long pause there. They haven’t changed much in a hundred years, and don’t seem interested in changing now. Such is Brecknock, a town that we passed through Sunday, July 6, 2006, about 2:00 p.m. We stopped for a while on the main street at a little park. Nobody much home. Or maybe everyone’s home and so no one is on the street except a couple of men chatting on the corner.

A narrow, clear brook runs by the park. Probably it was the reason someone chose the site for a town several centuries ago. On a little platform there’s a bench with an inscription:

“Presented by Brecknock Borough Council 1974-1996 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the End of World War II.”

That’s actually the English translation. The Welsh original is below it, that beautiful language seemingly impossible to learn, with words some thirty or forty letters long.

That’s another experience that comes from traveling in Europe. To most Americans, World War II was an event sixty years old and an ocean away. To these people it wasn’t “away” at all. Bombs were falling on London not much over a hundred miles away. Commemoration to them is very personal.

We don’t stay here long: we have sites to photograph. But I remember that quiet village well.