Summer, this year, will be very different from previous summers, for instead of flitting from place to place on trains and busses around Britain, to visit with family and friends to chat over cups of tea ( or something stronger) at familiar kitchen tables, my husband and I are going to park ourselves, for the entire month of July, in a quarryman’s cottage in Corris, an out-of-the-way village in Wales.
Corris has a post office that opens for eight hours a week, a small grocery store, that in addition to stocking milk and eggs, doubles as a cultural gathering place for the villagers where a variety of events are held, ranging from live classical music evenings, to 70’s disco that spill onto the street. There is also a pub, The Slaters Arms, that opens each evening and serves real ale, hearty meals, good conversation and water bowls for your dogs.
Although remote by some standards, Corris is on a bus route that links to a train line that connects travelers with towns and cities all over Britain. London, for example, can be reached in about five hours.
The appeal of Corris, however, is not so much its location at the southern tip of Snowdonia National Park, a place of exquisite natural beauty, but the warmth of the local people who have a tradition of welcoming the stranger.
It was the welcome extended to me last year when I spent three weeks at Stwidio Maelor, writing. The first question posed to me when I popped into the grocery store for a coffee was, “What’s your name?” From that moment on, as locals came into the shop, I was introduced to each one by my name.
Now, no longer a stranger, I felt the invitation to be part of the community, albeit temporarily. From then on, each time I was greeted by name, my sense of being a stranger diminished. A smile and a seemingly superficial, though friendly, enquiry about how my writing was going became the foundational blocks to cultivating relationships.
And so I return to Corris, this time to introduce my husband to the people who welcomed me as a stranger, but because they chose to call me by my name, I feel at home.