Most recently, watching episodes of a TV show called “Escape to the Country”, two shows featured people moving to Wales in the UK. Wales is known as the land of song and rolling green hills. I still have memories of the beautiful sound of the choirs as they sang in Welsh and English. I recall sitting enthralled listening to my grandfather telling me stories from his homeland, the smell of his pipe and the smells associated with his tailor’s shop.
Featured in the show was our ancestral home, Merthyr Tydvil which has a mixed history. On the positive side - Howard Winstone MBE, who became a world champion featherweight boxer and a statue to him now sits in the village. Gustavius (Gus) Payne an acclaimed artist who painted from the heart. On the negative side of course, the 1831 uprising was sparked when bailiffs attempted to seize goods from the home of Lewsyn yr Heliwr (Lewis the Huntsman). Iron workers struck against redundancies, rising prices and bailiffs. They were dark times.
Not far from Merthyr Tydvil was another place mentioned in the show, Aberfan. It’s another small Welsh village with a tragic past. On Mynydd Merthyr, directly above Aberfan were several tips with millions of cubic meters of mining debris and waste from local coal mines. On 21st October 1966, after days of torrential rain, there was subsidence and the tip moved down the hill at a rapid rate, swallowing a farm, several houses and a school. The death toll was high.
Another TV show was about trains and the various locations those trains went to around the world. It took me back to Pont-Y-Cafnau which has the world’s oldest surviving iron railway bridge. It also showed steam railways in Wales and mentioned the little-known handmade boat called a Coracle. This triggered memories from childhood again in that I recall men carrying these weird little craft to the river.
I seem to have drifted off topic again and wandered into a history lesson!!!!