STEPHEN WEBB goes on the trail of the revered poet Dylan Thomas (and pants)during a trip to The Gower in Wales 

HERE'S a quote for you...

When it is rain where are the gods?

Shall it be said they sprinkle water

From garden cans, or free the floods?

Dylan Thomas, August 1933

And here's another...

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

Oh, I do like to be beside the sea

Oh, I do like to stroll along the prom, prom, prom

Where the brass bands play tiddley-om-pom-pom

John A. Glover-Kind, 1907

And finally (in a sing-song Welsh accent)...

What have you done with the sunshine? It's been lovely here all week.

Receptionist at the Worm's Head Hotel, Rhossili, July 27 2018

And that just about sums up our weekend visit to the Gower region of South Wales - it was the weekend the glorious British heatwave of the summer of 2018 came to an end, amid howling winds, torrential downpours and a dip in temperature that wouldn't have been alarming had I not only packed shorts, T-shirts and sandals to wear.

And we were staying in a hotel overlooking a beach that has been voted the best in Wales and the third best in the UK. I say 'overlook', but all we could see when we drew back the curtains on our first morning was a veil of grey, plus the drops or rain that the wind flung at the window.

But were we disheartened? Not a bit of it, we had a busy two days ahead of us that would take in seaside towns, a medieval castle, fabulous restaurants, a trail dedicated to the aforementioned Mr Thomas, and weather permitting, a spectacular clifftop walk.

Indeed, the weather did permit. As we enjoyed breakfast by the dining room's picture window, we watched the clouds and rain retreat out to sea and the sun shone. It was a cue for us to bolt down our bacon and eggs and try to get as up close as we could to the landmark known as the Worm's Head.

If you imagine the Gower peninsula as a mini Cornwall, then the Worm's Head is it's Land's End. It's a striking promontory whose name has nothing to do with those slimy things found in the garden; it was in fact named by the Vikings, with their word for dragon being 'wurm'. That makes sense when you see the headland at certain angles.

We enjoyed a bracing walk as far as we could before the sea cut short our expedition. At low tide, braver souls can venture further - another mile in fact - taking advantage of the causeway that appears to clamber along the rocky dragon. Be warned though, there is a window of two and a half hours before the tide comes back in - if you're still there when it does, you're stuck; negotiating the treacherous seas to return to the mainland is not advised.

Duly invigorated by that energetic walk, it was time to head to the The Mumbles, the delightfully named, delightful little town snugly fitting into a corner of Swansea Bay.

Now, there are a couple of things I should mention here. First, when I said I'd only packed shorts, T-shirts and sandals, I wasn't kidding - because I forgot to bring any underwear. I was hoping there was somewhere in The Mumbles where I could buy some. Second, my wife is ornithophobic, ie she has a fear of birds. She's not too fussed about the little ones in the garden; it's the larger ones like chickens and peacocks she hates. Earlier, on one of the country lanes we were negotiating, someone had erected a half-jokey sign that said: 'Warning: Peacocks crossing'. "Hmm, they should just run the b****y things over," my ever-caring other half said.

So we were both a little pre-occupied when we arrived at The Mumbles. I parked the car, and took in my surroundings.

"Peacocks!" I exclaimed.

"Where?!" my wife exclaimed back at me.

"Over there, next to the bank," I replied, slightly puzzled at her over-reaction to my having found a shop that in all likelihood would have pants for sale.

Now, in the past we have visited the Wiltshire town of Corsham, where famously peacocks do roam the streets. In Mumbles, she probably thought there were a couple strutting in front of the local branch of NatWest, and became a shivering, near-tearful ball of anxiety.

I put a consoling arm around her. "No dear, not peacocks - Peacocks," I said, pointing. Her relief was almost palpable. And so was mine after my purchase and I was finally able to put my Peacocks pants on to keep out that chilly seaside breeze.

A stroll along the prom-prom-prom and a hearty lunch was followed by a visit to Oystermouth Castle, which is just a short walk from Mumbles' main shopping street, nestling comfortably on a hillside.

Oystermouth is one of those ruined fortifications that is great fun to explore, allowing you to poke around in all sorts of nooks and crannies, and climbing narrow stone spiral staircases to wander the battlements, where as king of the castle you can look down on the dirty rascals, and ahead at the stunning view laid out before you.

The castle was built soon after 1106, when the Normans took over The Gower. It's had a typically colourful history, has had a fair bit of money spent on it for restoration - and even boasts a ghost.

Time, weather and a table booked for dinner put paid to any further travel on this Saturday afternoon, which was a shame as I’d like to have explored the Gower further. Rhossili Bay may have the beach with all the accolades, but the peninsula is laced with fabulous sandy beaches which when the weather is kind, are perfect for family days out.

The area is also perfect for thrill-seekers – name a sea/beach activity and you can probably do it here. And clearly whatever the weather – the rain may have been pouring and the wind howling, but the sea at Rhossili Bay was always populated by surfers.

We preferred something a little more sedate, but then putting one foot in front the other over some of the terrain hereabouts can only be good for you. This is great walking country, and you never know what you may find – there could be a dragon lurking in the next bay.

THEY'RE proud of Dylan Thomas in these parts - and with good reason.

The poet and author - the man who gave us that majestic "play for voices" Under Milk Wood - is revered not only in his native Wales, but around the world. A certain American singer even changed his surname from Zimmerman to Dylan in tribute.

On a grey Sunday morning we pulled up in front of a seemingly unremarkable semi detached house in Cwmdonkin Drive, in the Uplands suburb of Swansea. A plaque on the wall, however, told us this was a very special house indeed. "Dylan Thomas, a man of words, 1914-1953, was born in this house". And after he was born here, he lived at the address for another 23 years, beginning his celebrated writing career.

We were met by Geoff, on the surface a quiet, unassuming gentleman but on the inside is someone who is passionate about Dylan Thomas. Indeed, such is that passion that, dismayed to see how the building had deteriorated, Geoff bought it and set about restoring it to pretty much how it would have been in 1914. "When we took the house on it was rather like a run down student bedsit and as we uncovered more it got no better," Geoff said.

Inside, the place oozes atmosphere. We sipped tea and nibbled Welsh cakes in the living room ("This is where Dylan spent his Christmases and every Christmas we do it up as he described it in A Child's Christmas In Wales," our host told us) before Geoff gave us a tour, and we marvelled at the detail and craftsmanship that helped celebrate a remarkable man.

It was a special visit for us - my wife an I had both been involved in a sixth form production of Under Milk Wood many years ago - but for Geoff it's clearly a labour of love. "Why did I do it?" he said. "Because I'm mad - mad about Dylan's writings and mad that I didn't have the chance to restore the house sooner."

A little later we met someone younger by no less passionate about Dylan Thomas. Charlotte helps run the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea's Waterfront area and gave us a quick tour of another extraordinary tribute to the poet.

No stone is unturned in delivering everything there is to need to know about Thomas's life and work - the good, the bad and the controversial is all here in a fascinating interactive experience, where you can sit down and listen to readings, some by Thomas himself in his unmistakable mellifluous tones.

Charlotte spoke almost reverentially about the writer, and was as moved as we were when we got to the section about his death in New York in 1953, at the tragically young age of 39.

"Somebody's boring me. I think it's me," Dylan Thomas once said. Well he didn't bore us on this memorable Sunday morning.

YOU are spoilt for choice for places to dine out in this part of the world. Here are a few we'd recommend...

Verdi's, The Mumbles - a busy seafront eatery that serves a wide range of Italian dishes, plus ice creams to die for. Try the Signora Bianca, a white chocolate concoction that's heaven in a sundae dish.

King Arthur Hotel, Reynoldston - as traditional and friendly a country inn as you could hope for, with equally traditional and delicious home-cooked food. The village is set in delightful surroundings in the heart of the Gower.

The Swigg, Swansea Marina - a quirky and again very friendly restaurant that serves "small plate" dishes, ie tapas, but with a twist, combining a unique taste of Wales with flavours from around the world.

Visit Swansea Bay URL –