Advent: December 16th

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Visitors to North Wales won’t need this one explaining! This is the Menai Suspension Bridge which spans the Menai Straits – the fast flowing strip of sea between mainland Wales and Ynys Mon or Anglesey.

I love this bridge, such a beautifully elegant piece of engineering. It was built in 1826 by Thomas Telford as part of his commission to build a road from Holyhead to London. The A5 road he built ran past my childhood home in Shropshire and the house he stayed in whilst working on the Anglesey section is near where we stayed in on holiday so Thomas Telford is a name I grew up hearing a lot (not least because of the “new town” named after him where my father worked in planning for a time).

The Menai Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More personally for me it was the exciting gateway to family holidays as a child. (now I enter Anglesey on the Britannia Bridge next to it)

It also carries a memorial to the victims of the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago this past October where many children in the South Wales village of Aberfan so tragically lost their lives along with teachers and other adults when a coal spoil heap collapsed and engulfed a portion of the village that contained the school. One thing I notice most about the warmth of the Welsh people is how they gather around to support those who are suffering or grieving to carry them through the dark valley. So it seems entirely fitting that a North Wales island should carry a memorial to such a tragedy for their cousins in the South; Wales grieving with her own wherever they are.

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