My favourite building is a library

Thursday November 1st, I visited my favourite building in the town where I live the library, Bargoed library is so busy with happy things and events going on and also are other libraries throughout the Rhymney Valley and this good and positive. I left with 3 books and decided to walk the long way home. The side of the graig, parallel and looking down on the Cwm Darran Trail. The light was stunning from the downing sun and the colours mesmerised me to inner peace, I truly do live in a wonderful area.

 

As I walked home I remember the time when I found  my local library at the bottom of the Grand Avenue near the Cowbridge road, Ely, Cardiff. I had just taken my younger brother Sean for a ‘Boston hair cut’ at the local barbers, when I noticed a building that looked like a big shed but with a front door. I pushed open the door and before me were all the books in the world waiting for me! I rushed my brother back home and ran like the wind to my new best friend. Aged seven scabby knees and tied mark neck I skipped to the oak counter and stammered to perfection at the Dragon librarian. “Ca ca ca can I I take take a book out?”    She told me to be quiet and pointed to the silent sign so I whispered “Ca ca I I take a book out?” She replied “No you need your mother’s permission” I gushed “Mam wont mind she wants me out the house” The dragon blew smoke and tutted and in her claw was a card for my mother to fill in. I did not want the librarian to know I had to wait for my mams happy mood to come along. Every day for nearly 2 weeks I asked to join the library. I thought in my infinite wisdom if I asked many times she might give in and let me join. Alas my mams happy mood came back and I joined and have belonged to a library for 50 years! We were poor we never had books we had the ‘Beano’ and the ‘Dandy’ at Christmas time but these annuals were shared between me and my 4 siblings.

The library was my saving grace.  At school my hand writing and spelling was atrocious yet aged seven I had the reading age of a thirteen year old. I would read anything I simply devoured books . At home I have four bookcases full of books and to this day I still do not own a kindle and never will!

Libraries are wonderful buildings full of knowledge. I used the library to study for my O levels and A levels. I also read poetry in my local library and in Cardiff central library, recently read poetry at the Handpost, near Newport, at the Cwtch, and the Cwtch was once a library too. Today Bargoed library and other libraries throughout Rhymney valley are not so quiet, they are full and brimming with happy things, wonderful events and children’s laughter. Our great-granddaughter Paisley aged 22 months, attends Bargoed library on a Friday.

Did you know?

Libraries known as the Miners Institutes were once the pillars of working class communities across the Valleys and helped to bring knowledge and education to those same communities. Miners’ institutes were a staple of villages across the Valleys at the turn of the 19th/20th century which were built using the contributions of miners themselves. Learning buildings for those who were not so well off.

When did you last visit a library?

 

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” Mark Twain

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I long for a time when life was more sensual and simple

Paisley rounding up sheep and havesting lavender 006

I am allergic to the chemicals Parabens and Phthalates that are used in soaps, deodorants, washing powders, make up and shampoo, I can only use natural products. I do not wear make up, never use deodorants and do not shave under my arms or colour my hair.

When I was a child I lived in Chartrist Road, Ely. Cardiff, my next door neighbour was Rosie Bratcher and in her garden were beautiful red roses that looked and felt like velvet to me, the scent was wonderful. The roses climbed over the brick wall that divided our gardens.

At the time my great-grandmother Beatrice Cheeseman had died, she lived in Queens Road, Penarth. She was known as Beattie, she was eccentric and would collect anything. Her house was three stories high, nearly every room was cluttered with what she picked up, bought or had taken. I was given old glass bottles  that were Beattie’s by my Nan who was Beattie’s daughter.

With Rosie’s permission I was allowed to pick the roses and I would carefully take the petals  apart and place them inside the glass bottles, adding water ( Corporation pop it was called back then) then tip the bottle upside down, left to stand for a while. Later I would unscrew the top of the bottle releasing the perfume, the smell filled my senses.  The glass bottles mesmerised me and so did the scent from roses.

Today I grow my own roses and they are scented and I look after them as if they were my children. However,  Lavender is my favourite and I have a lavender border in my front garden and out the back garden cum yard, called a yarden I have lavender in pots. I prefer English lavender to French lavender, reason being the scent lasts a lot longer and so does the lavender flower, English lavender is very sturdy and needs to be in our four seasons in one day weather.

Paisley rounding up sheep and havesting lavender 008

I have been harvesting lavender for many years and I infuse lavender into  tea, use it in the bath, make lavender bags and pot puree. I find working with lavender wonderfully therapeutic. This morning I gathered the dried lavender and rose petals. First I hand-pick the flower, then for the remaining I use a wooden rolling-pin and roll over the whole lavender, the flower is crushed away from the stork. The roses I only pick if they are weather-beaten, either by the hot sun and now the heavy showers. I find this chore a labour of love and so relaxing. I feel I am reaching out to an ancient past, and where my ancestors along with others, used lavender, roses, others flowers and herbs to spread on the floors of their dwelling. I feel the same when I smell wood smoke I am taken back to a past  where maybe life was  more sensual and simple.

PS I always leave enough lavender and roses for the bees, moths and butterflies.

“The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live”

So far it’s not been a good year for me regarding tickets to plays, sport & literature events.

I booked tickets to see the performance of “The Merchant of Venice” by Everyman Theatre (Following Everyman Theatre for years) in March 2018 and it is they only Shakespeare play I have not seen. I booked tickets for Thursday 21st June. I was really looking forward to the play at Sophia Gardens. I heard Ed Sheeran was in Cardiff from Thursday 21st June to Sunday  24th June. I thought that Irish comedian done well, four nights in Cardiff and sold out too. Then I was told a pop star named Ed Sheeran not Ed Byrne. Dear reader, how or why I got the names mixed up I will never know. Ed Sheeran is a Yorkshireman with an Irish surname and I was told he is a good song writer with a beautiful voice but I had never heard of him. I do not venture past BBC radio 3/ 4. I listen to CDs Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, bit of Eva Cassidy and some folk and classical music and the last time I listened to BBC radio 1, was in the 1980’s. On the said day, Thursday 21st June, roads were closed, bus routes moved, no trains, the last trains home from Cardiff to Bargoed was 9 45pm, the play did not finish until 11pm and very sadly on the same day a nasty car accident on the M4 with tragic results. I did not go and gave my tickets away to a friend. PS Alas “Merchant of Venice” is being shown at Abergavenny Castle, Saturday 4th August.

The next was a book reading at Griffin Book Shop Penarth on Friday July 6th, I called into the shop and bought my ticket to hear Ursula Martin read from her book “One Woman Walks Wales.” I have the book my dear friend RT bought for me. However, being a keen lone walker, I wanted to hear the authors thoughts. My eldest brother who lives in Manchester decided to come and visit with his two daughters, my beautiful intelligent nieces Tamarah and Nadine and because of this I decided not go.

Weeks ago I booked to see Glamorgan and Kent play cricket at home in Cardiff, today 29th July 2 30pm. I love cricket like I love football. (I had my first black eye when I was wicket keeper aged ten, my eldest brother the one above, threw the leather ball and it whizzed past the batsman and smacked me in the eye. My eye lid closed over and a green-blue purple bruise spread down my left cheek, this did not deter me and I carried on.) Weeks of glorious wall to wall sunshine and today it rained. I do not have social media on my phone only a good camara, I have a computer in the study at home. All morning I have been a prisoner to my computer checking twitter and web page of Glamorgan Cricket Club and the dam weather web page. At 3pm today the game was called off. This booking tickets malarkey has cost me a lot of money and a belly full of frustration. PS just had an email from Glamorgan cricket I will get a full refund!

 

Anniversary of the NHS and Nye Bevan

I was born 1961 on St Davids day at St Davids hospital, with acute bronchitis and was hospitalised. A couple of months later an adult gouched my face while I was living at Green farm hostel, Ely for the homeless. I had skin craft at Morrison hospital and I was lucky to have survived. I never realised I had so much in common with Nye Bevan. I did not talk until I was gone four and half, when I spoke, I spoke with a terrible stammer, my thigh became my sounding board and I would punch my thigh to perfection, words raced out from me all jumbled up and I sounded like a seal. I attended St Francis RC school and I remember the winter 1968 aged seven. The teacher asked us to write a story. I wrote a story with a twist, a nightmare that I woke up from. Despite my stammer I read my story out to whole class and I won. Later the teacher Mr Pearce had left the classroom and we children unsupervised went mad, Danny Daily pinched my red balloon and I ran after him, Linda Desmond pushed me and I fell teeth first onto the oak desk, I went one way and my teeth the other looking like two pearls without their shell. I had gone from being elated to deflated and I failed miserably at school. My hand became my smile and my thigh a sounding board. Thanks to the NHS aged twelve, I had an appointment with a speech therapist at the Ear, Nose and Throat hospital in Ely.  later I was treated by NHS dentist and my hand no longer became my smile. Nye Bevan was born with a stammer and his stammer ruined his schooling. However later in life he retrained and became a great orator. Much later than Nye I retrained gained qualifications and became a performance poet. I still sometimes stammer if I am upset but I control it better now I am older. I worked in the public and private sector in my career as a nurse, care worker and nursery teaching assistant. My grandmother worked as a nurse in a cottage hospital at Llandough before Llandough hospital was built, later she nursed at Ely hospital, Ely, Cardiff, so did my sister, cousins, aunties. One cousin Dr Pamela Savage, was a Doctor of nursing at the Heath Hospital. Cousins worked at Whitchurch hospital, Cardiff. John’s grandparents Louisa and Harry Pritchard were with “St John’s Ambulance” all their lives and both personally knew Nye Bevan. They inspired many including their grandchildren, one was Catherine, John’s cousin, Catherine later taught nursing and her daughter Sharon became a nurse. John’s sister Pat became a nurse later on in life, her son Chris became a nurse too.

Sometimes mistakes are made. I was told I was a carrier of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy the inherited disease that’s  in my family on my mother’s side. Women are the carrier’s and pass the disease to boys. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a disease of the muscles and every muscle waste away, you stop walking, cannot feed yourself, suffer night cramps and eventually die at a young age.  My great Uncle Melvyn died aged 18, Uncle John died aged 25, my brother Sean died aged 19. Sean for the last eight years of his life never saw a doctor and even now I find this incredible. However, today some people fain illness and waste a lot of NHS money and time by not being ill at all. In 2006 I was told via a phone call and in tragic betrayal circumstances, I was not a carrier. I went mad for a couple of years, filled with grief over a decision I made. I found out through seeking wisdom. The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live. I wanted to live a good life, free from blame, bitterness and regrets. No I never sued the department of Genetics at the NHS, how can you sue? It is immoral, money cannot bring you happiness!

Commitment to poetry has become less to the art its self and more for promoting a cause but not your own cause.

Yes it is good to write poetry if you feel aggrieved my politics, war, forms of injustice and abuse but should not be used for slogans, headline poetry, to promote you and not your words that I sometimes see today. I was asked if I wanted to write poetry on the Grenfell tragedy. I could not find words to write poetry on this subject. Sometimes no one is to blame and just a tragic mistake that should never have happened and something we should all learn from.

Today some follow like sheep to fake news not real news.

It is a wise person who makes their own decisions, yet some people tend to believe in things just because everyone else’s does They do not search for proof, they just search for approval from everyone else. This is how I see the dreaded social media of today. Two weeks ago sat in my garden among the lavender and jasmine, I saw my first Humming bird moth, what a delightful sight. Also ten different types of bees, many moths and plenty of flutter by butterflies. It is good to take time out to be at one and aware of your surroundings.

The yearly event that I run at TARAGGAN a gathering of poets and music was very good, it rained but we remained not fair weather performers all-weather performers.

 

I do enjoy the radio and this years Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4 was the best ever.  Canadian Margaret MacMillan “The Mark of Kane” and the subject was “War” A very thought-provoking program. I am pro peace not anti this or anti that, I am against all wars. History is there to learn from but we never take the time to learn, some make slogans, headlines and follow like sheep, lambs to the slaughter of the social media.

Below my poem “Peace” I wrote in 2010 and published in Red Poets 2010

Peace 

Am I glad to see the rain, photo recently taken of the Graig looking dry, dusty and pale yellow. To the arsonist (and if caught and I hope you are) Arson is a criminal offence and is there for life and the likelihood of you getting a job with a criminal record for arson is nil, so think on!!

 

Breathe deep and become beautiful!

Always stand up for what you think is right.

Dear reader,

Some of the content in this blog might be upsetting.

Sunday June 10th I was  a volunteer at the Cardiff Processions 2018. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote.  It was a beautiful warm, wall to wall sunshine day, parked the car off Sloper road and made my way to Cardiff City football ground. I remember the old ground Ninnion Park and where I watched many a game down the Grange end and nicked in a few times too. On the day I met some lovely people Suzanne, Sian, Evelyn, Irene, Pat, and John. The person in charge of the volunteers, was the beautiful and quirky Lorena Rodriguez. Lorena came from Spain and she was inspiring, she never stopped smiling or working from the time I arrived 9am to the time I left 4-45pm. At 11am, Cardiff Cities new football ground soon began to fill up with laughter, chatter and the colours of purple, green and white. Purple represented loyalty & dignity, white for purity and green for hope.

a photo of me and some of the volunteers before the march.

In 1918 Emmeline Pankhurst leader of the Suffragette and others, achieved the vote for women over 30, In 1928 it was extended to 21. I am Welsh and Irish and on the Welsh side of my family, I could not find any radicals only myself. Yet, in Welsh history, I found Amy Dillwyn a Welsh Industrialist, novelist and author of “Rebecca Rioter” Rachel Barrett Editor, Political organiser, Elizabeth Andrews, was the first woman organiser of the Welsh Labour party. No doubt you the reader will know more Welsh woman heroines.

My Radical Irish Side. However, on my Irish side my Grandmother Margaret (Maggie) and her sister Christina (Chrissy) were both radicals fought in the 1913 Lockout in Ireland and took part in many dangerous demonstrations, the right to join a Union and against British rule in Ireland. I mention this in my (at the moment unpublished) novel titled “Maggie’s Ireland” I came across Charlotte Despard, Charlotte was President of the Woman’s Freedom League, Woman’s Peace Crusade, and the Irish Franchise Woman’s League. A member of Cumann Na mBan, Pacifist, she refused to become involved in the British recruitment campaign 1914. She was a suffragist, Sinn Fein activist and an Irish republican, novelist. A Socialist and a Labour party member.  What a woman what an inspiration too!

Summer of I976, I worked down Bessemer road on a Sunday selling Falmer and Brutus Jeans. One Sunday the Asian owner asked me to go to the back of the van to get more merchandise. In my innocence I did as I was told. He followed me into the dark hot van, that stank of fenugreek and tried to molest me. I punched and kicked him and manage to get out from the van. Fuming I called him a pig and demanded my money for that days work. He threw the £5 note at me and I walked away aged 15 with dignity.

Out Maggie, out, out!

I voted for the first time in May 1979 and I voted Labour, Maggie Thatcher got in. However, Callaghan Labour Prime minister at the time, was given a poison chalice from Tory leader Heath and because of this it was so obvious Labour was not going to win the 1979 election. 1980 I marched up to London and took part in “The right to Work March” I was with the NUTGW and Len Murray was our leader, many saw him as weak, I saw him as a gentleman. I can go back further than Len Murray. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I walked the streets of Ely, following George Thomas pushing my brother Sean who was disabled through Duchen Muscular Dystrophy. Shouting “Vote, vote, vote for Georgie Thomas!” The George I knew then was a good man. I was unaware of the betrayal by George Thomas regarding the people of Aberfan and he a son of a Miner too! I remember Aberfan as if it was yesterday. I wrote the poem “Autumn Mist” and read the poem at the Red House, Merthyr on the 50th anniversary of Aberfan. Below my poem.

Autumn Mist

Above an autumn mist, below slipped away

to a flow slide tsunami.

Springs and streams flooded

the houses and river Taff.

Dividing the village of Aberfan

where the earth moved to bare hands.

Betrayal born of a miner’s son

and robbed by a lord from the national coal board.

Trees bloomed and blossom in the gardens

where class rooms once were.

Lay bare not to be forgotten

seeded fruitful, planted to live on in our hearts.

Mam’s tears, dad’s sighs siblings grow old

yet they will remain forever young.

Julie Pritchard

 Cannot tolerate any form of unfairness, injustice or racism.

In 1973 I was 12. I flew like the wind out of the school gates, breathlessly I ran to my home. With an envelope in my left fist, inside the envelope was a form for my parents to sign for me to go on holiday with the school. To exotic France, Belgium and Holland. Holding my breath in excitement I gave the envelope to my parents. My eldest brother by one year went the year before and I was so enthralled by the stories he told. I stood in front of my parents, what seemed like hours but only seconds and then my mother spoke “No you cannot go” My heart stopped beating but my mouth was not closed.”Why?” I pleaded. Then my father spoke “Because you are a girl” “Yea and what as that got to do with going away with the school?” “We cannot afford for you to go” I shouted “This is unfair if one child can go all the children can go” I stormed into the bedroom I shared with my three siblings swallowed my bitter, salt tears and wished for a modern thinking Mam.

In 2009 I organised a bike ride for charity from Caerphilly to Cardiff docks. The bike ride was along the Taff Trail. There were 30 of us, 20 were children. As we got to Canton bridge I cycled behind the group, in the distance on Taff embankment, I saw a black bag billowing and I thought how strange there is no wind. As I drew near I could see it was a Somali woman wearing a Niqab she was astride a young boy. The boy was her son and he was having a fit, and no one stopped to ask why? The woman who was evidently in a crisis was being ignored. I stopped the bike and shouted to the others to stop. I went to the woman who needed help. I soothed and made calm the boy who was about 16, he came to with serenity and grace and looked into my light eyed face and I asked him if he was okay, he nodded yes. We found out the woman lived near and a family member came to help. I was sickened by the lack of empathy and compassion for the Somali woman and the boy.

Summer of 1999 Cardiff, 3 months earlier I was voted in as a Labour councillor. I was at a Bryan Adams concert with two friends from work. It was a glorious warm sunny late afternoon not a cloud in the sky. We made our way to the Castle grounds, inside was a sea of colourful people, laughter hung in the air. It was hour and half before Bryan Adams would be on the stage. I left my friends and wondered to the stage area and was caught up in an innocent brawl. A young dark-haired woman who was drunk accused me of jumping in front of her. I disagreed with her but unbeknown to me she knew the male event security guard.  Suddenly I was pulled over the metal barrier by the over weight thug. I was fuming at the injustice and refused to move. I stayed put arguing my case at the unfairness  of it all. A tall over 6 ft police officer with white blond hair, muscled bound physic, shouted at me to leave the premises. I refused he grabbed my 5 ft 4 inch and size 14 body from behind twisted my hands and hand cuffed me. The pain was awful it seared through my fingers pain and wrists. I wanted to be sick and use the loo at the same time. Then this brute of a police officer threw me in the back of a police van. I fell in face down and could not get up, he left me there in the heat for 20 minutes knowing I could not get up. Then the van moved and I was taken to Cardiff main police station at the Civic centre. There is video footage of me being taken out of the police van, I am very distressed but worse was yet to come. I am pleading for the handcuffs to be taken off me and wanting to go home. I have never ever been in trouble with the police before and did not know the procedure. The hand cuffs were taken off my blood-red stained hands. I looked deeply distressed and I was wearing green cotton shorts, white tee-shirt and walking boots. I was searched by a young female police officer and then a photo was taken of me, later I was put in a cell and the door locked. There is video footage of me still wearing my walking boots, hysterical, crying pleaded for the door to be left open because I suffer with claustrophobia. There is video footage of the door being flung open and four police officer beating me. Today 23rd of June midday 2018 I still cannot connect with the horrific video of me being beaten I am so traumatized I cannot remember. I was left in a bad way but still found the strength to plead my innocence. After 2 hours the door was finally open by police staff not a police officer. I was accused of beating 4 police officers up and for violent behavior at the Bryan Adams concert. I did not know about the video at the time and I pleading not guilty even though I could not remember what the police did to me. I had the bruising, broken finger, battered and bruised body as proof. After being released I went to my own local GP, a lovely Indian doctor, who broke down in tears at my physical and mental being. I later went to the hospital and at the hospital, a white Welsh doctor said “Don’t tell me I know who did this the police!” Three months later I was at the magistrate court, off Newport road and where I pleading not guilty to beating up four police officers and violent behaviour at the concert and I was still unaware of the video. A friend of mine and John’s ex CID, told be there were camara’s at Cardiff central police station. We got hold of the footage and I watched in horror at a 38-year-old woman being beaten and did  NOT register that it was me. It took me 2 years to clear my name and one by one the police officers dropped their charges, they only person who did not drop the charges was a female security guard, not the male thug who pulled me over the barriers but a woman who I do not remember ever seeing at the concert. My case was adjourned 3 times, my main witness was sent home and then later the court went on with out my main witness. The police brought in a male barrister, and with dignity, honesty and grace I floored the barrister (May I add not physically)  The police on that night did not listen to me pleading my innocence and they knew I did not have a police record. Why did you not let me go? Why was I beaten and locked up for no reason? I survived 1999 and went on to see Bryan Adams at a later date. I am still deeply scarred by the experience and have no respect for the police.

2003 I resigned as a Labour party Councillor over the invasion of Iraq. I stood alone at my local Labour branch and Caerphilly County Borough Labour Party too. To this day some Labour party people still do not speak to me.

I took part in the Syria march in Cardiff I was next to a Muslim woman who wore a Hijab we were walking down Mill lane passing a crowd of national front racist, one threw a pint glass full of larger at the Muslim woman but it went over me. I reacted angrily and called the ignorant thug a racist pig, later I was interviewed and on the news. The ignorant thug and others were arrested and sentenced.

I marched against Racism, against the invasion of Iraq, against invasion of Syria and marched for politics and peace.The march on June 10th, I was a volunteer not a marcher and I enjoyed every part. I stood at  the corner of Sloper road, to guide the procession onto Leckwith Road. I  raised my voice and said to the women, children and some men. “Breathe deep and become beautiful “The response was wonderful. Many were dressed up just like Suffragette’s, others in flamboyant costumes, girls on roller blades, babies wearing the rosette of the suffragette and men took part too. I saw people who recognised me and I saw others I knew among the purple, white and green. We ending this historical march at Bute park and I sat among a sea of humanity tired but filled with joy!

Photo of me and some of us volunteers at the end of a wonderful day.

 

Lorena sent us all a thank you. Thank you!  

Saturday June 16th I read poetry with the Red Poets at the “Hope not Hate” demo at Merthyr town centre. It rained, Mike Jenkins played the mouth organ. One bloke complained about us being loud so we became louder! I am on the right and the only woman again!

 

There are two things that I find abhorrent, indifference and  to know the truth and hide behind concealment.

Remember breathe deep and become beautiful.

Getting lost and Human Kindness

 

Monday 21st May 6 50am it was wall to wall sunshine, a baby blue sky and the birds sang. As I waited for the 7am train from Gilfach Fargoed to Cardiff. I do like a train journey, even as a child when with my mother and my siblings, we would take the train to places like Penarth, St Mary’s Well Bay and Barry Island. “Do not put your head out the window” my mother would cry. Too late my head was out there, breathing in the diesel and taking in the scenery flashing by.

The Rhymney Valley line is the direct line to Penarth  so I changed at Cardiff Central, for the Barry Island train. At 8 25am I made my way to the sea front at Barry Island and breathed in the familiar air, looked at the bare beach and  thought back to when I was younger. To the time when me and my siblings would be in the background of every photo taken with Pedro the donkey from 1966 to 1973.

Tracks left by the most wealthiest Council in Wales, Vale of Glamorgan. I see the sign “No dogs on beach from May to September” and I think some dog walkers cannot read.

Barry Island Rhoose and getting lost 001 Towards Whitmore beach and where as a child we picked cockles for tea. I recall one time, when we were at the beach at 8am in the morning and my father said it was our own beach and I believed him, until later when 5,000 strangers joined us. See the coal grains staining the sand.

Barry Island Rhoose and getting lost 002

“Barry-Porthkerry-Rhosse Point-Porthkerry-Barry.

The walk starts at the car park at the Knap and is a circular.

Coastal path, Fields, meadows and a busy pavement.

OS maps 1:50 00 Landranger Sheet 171, 170

1:25 000 Explorer Sheet 151

7  and half miles long.

 

I have wonderful childhood memories of Cold Knap and I was heart-broken when they closed this fab outdoor swimming pool. My parents did their courting at Cold Knap in the 1950’s. I use to nick in through the metal turnstile as a teenager and yes I was that skinny once! In my teens I remember walking to Cold Knap with old school friend from Ely, Gail George. Leaving memory lane behind.

There is no cliff foot path, you walk up a steep green hill, head down and backside up look behind to this splendid view.

 

Making my way towards Porthkerry another childhood haunt. If we did not travel by train, we went by bus, and if my father was not working we piled into his sky blue Bedford van. Sat among bags of concrete, lump hammers, spirit levels, shovels and spades, not a seat belt between us. Up Port Road we would shout “Go faster dada” Looking back I think he did 40 mph but that was fast in 1960’s.

Stunning green tunnel guiding me to Porthkerry.

 

These steps were dangerous,  hand rails were missing, steps uneven and you have to be super fit to walk up or down these steps. Vale of Glamorgan wealthiest Council in Wales, please do something about these steps. At the bottom I found these beautiful flowers.

  

To my right the view of the viaduct, this viaduct was built between 1894 to 1898 and has 18 piers and is over 300 meters long and spans across the valley. I winked, waved at it and told it I would see it later. What a stunning sky!

 

Path was good, a nice breeze coming off the channel, the sun behind me and I felt happy.

 

The walk consisted of meadows, open fields, coastal paths and an ugly quarry that was once owned by “Blue Circle” At the edge of the quarry sat new modern houses.

Making my way towards Rhoose I did not know that Rhoose is the most southerly point on mainland Wales, I thought it was Lavernock Point?

The air was alive with birdsong, bees buzzing, butterflies fluttering. Since I left Barry Island at 8 25am I had only met 3 people to say hello to.

Leaving Rhoose point I head for the coastal path that brought me to a caravan park. No coastal path here, you walk through the caravan park and it was very boring. In the distance Aberthaw, Aberthaw was once a busy port and in the 17th century  traded as far as the West Indies. Limestone was the main export and in the 1756-9 Eddystone lighthouse at Plymouth Hoe was built with the limestone from Aberthaw. There is no longer a port at Aberthaw, the power station covers much of the Leys burrows where the port once was. I looked around me and thought about the Severn estuary with its second highest tide in the world, the first being the Bay of Fundy Canada, and the surrounding area. BP Plastics down the road, in front Aberthaw Power station, across the waters, Hinkley Point A and B and a shudder went through me.

 

I turn right over a railway line and into the village of Rhoose and walk the busy pavement. I pass Rhoose airport, I have flown from their many times mostly to Ireland. I hear the roar and I look up to the underbelly of an airplane and fall on my knees in fright. Yes I am walking the international flight path into Cardiff airport. I encountered another four international airplanes . Terrified I looked to my left to distract me and saw waves of grass, this cheered me.

 

Trembling I walked down the lane which is covered in cow parsley. I do enjoy lane walking but not with the shadow of the beast in the air following me.

 

The lane led me to the village of Porthkerry and its 13th century church.

Past the church I took a left into a woodland and it was good to forest bathe and breathe in the wild garlic.

I go under the viaduct.

The second part of the walk and where I got lost!

I walk through the dappled and shade into another meadow. I saw the sign to go left into a wood but I looked at the Vale Circular sign and headed east into the sun instead. Onto a busy road, my gut told me to go back, my minds eye took me back to the sign and where my ignorance said carry on. Into the knee-high buttercup field. Where I saw two farmers in their tractors looking busy.

 

In the distance I saw the Wenvoe mast. In 1971 I was ten and decided to walk from Ely to visit an auntie who lived in Pencoed, Pencoed is a couple of miles from Bridgend. I walked it with my cousin Kim, Kim and I would walk anywhere, climb any tree and swam in rivers and outdoor pools in the middle of winter, we were tough. I led the walk because I knew the way from sitting in the back of her van and looking out the window. noticed villages like Bonvilston, St Brides Super Ely, and the shadow of the Wenvo mast (She was a delivery driver for Cardiff’s famous pie Clarke’s for over 30 years) She was stunned when we turned up sweaty, red-faced and hungry. My first longest walk was a conversational piece in my family for many years.

I walked 4 miles the wrong way

I now know I have come too far I take a swig of my honey water, eat an apple turn around with the sun on my face. I swear, shout and rage for a couple of seconds and then make my way to the farm. At the farm, I am red as a tomato, hair wet stuck to my head, I saw the four men in the yard and ask where am I, they tell me I am near Penmark. I sigh and politely ask for a lift to the busy road, the oldest man laughed and said no. A young good-looking man name Rees Jenkins. Rees offered me a lift in his tractor. Silly me thinking there were two seats in tractor. I sat undignified on the wheel arch and still wearing my back pack. I made conversation with the lovely gentleman Rees. At my destination I jumped down and thanked him, Rees then gave me directions for the correct path.

I arrived at the place that I earlier ignored and where the grass cooled my calf’s, that were bitten by stingy nettles and scratched by brambles.

 

Into the wood and the old ruin where. I ate my banana and drank some more honey water, sat and seeking wisdom and stopped telling myself off.

 

The viaduct again from another angle.

 

I cannot find the stile that supposed to be at a slant on the left side of the field. It has gone, lost, into the midday sun. I do not like heat at all and never sunbathe either. I need to get out of the midday sun, and I only have a small amount of water. After walking up and down and across for 20 minutes, I have to admit there is no stile. I do not mind being lost, I see it as a challenge. Walked over the Pyrenees, Coast of Ireland, Hadrian’s wall alone. I am never afraid.  I forced my way through the brambles, stingy nettles and free fall into the woods. I am covered in moss, cuts and stings. I am now concerned because if I fall and hurt myself no one knows where I am. So I sing the song “Water is Wide I can’t cross o’er” and felt slightly better. I came through and I am in Porthkerry Park and where I  tried to walk with dignity and grace towards the rangers cottage. I saw three cheerful male rangers eating on a picnic bench. They see me and look concerned. I wave and laugh (and beg for help ha ha) and ask for a lift into Barry town. A young man with kind eyes and wearing a beard, came to my rescue he offered me water, sun block and a sit down in the ice-cold cottage. I apologised that I got lost. He tells me off and tells me to stop beating myself up. Refreshed the young man whose name was Scott Giles said to follow him into the car park. I walked towards a white van, he nodded and said “No we are going in the buggy.” It was thrilling, we chatted and I found out his father’s family came from Ely and I knew them. Photo of Scott inside his buggy

Scott dropped me off a mile from Barry Town train station. I limped but smiled at the human kindness that was shown to me from strangers. Thank you park rangers at Porthkerry Park especially Scott and a thank you to farmer Rees Jenkins.

The walk was 7 and half miles long and would normally take me 2 and half hours. Add on 6 miles, I walked 13 and half miles. The length is not a problem, I can walk 20 to 22 miles a day. The heat was my problem. What can I learn from this walk? Listen to your inner voice and your gut instinct and remember.

Human kindness is the golden chain that keeps society together.

 

 

Is it me or are many going down the route to having fake grass and not real grass?

Sunday May 20th 7 15am and realise it is not all about blue bells, there are buttercups, ragged robin, celandine and yellowing gorse. I think on Poetry and writing. I am back on the bicycle of words and now they wheel through the spokes of my mind and I peddle away into verse yea!

Saturday night May 19th John and I walked out to see the stars in person, we saw the old moon sitting in the lap of the young, pure joy! The night air was intoxicating and then the bats zig zagged before us, what a life hey!

 

Saturday 19th May and my  Grandparents wedding anniversary, Maggie and Dick married May 19th 1921. I have written a novel titled “Maggie’s Ireland” I write about the wedding in the book. 7am I left the house wall to wall sunshine and a baby blue cloudless sky. I walked to the top of the common near Maerdy, I have my old Russian binoculars with me. It is such a different world through the lens of binoculars. I spied a buzzard being pursued by a crow, the buzzards under belly markings reminded me of an  Apache Indian outfit. Watched the beautiful long beak of the curlew, there were a pair and their haunting sound went straight to my soul. Then I heard  the cuckoo. I knew this crafty bird was near so I dropped down past the farm got out the binoculars and there in front of me,  with its beak opened wide Cuckooing away. I have heard the cuckoo for years but had never seen this cunning bird until now. Holding my breath trying to stop the bincs from shaking, it was breathtaking, suddenly another Cuckoo, two in one day, beggars belief. The cuckoo wacked the other cuckoo off the branch. What a comical sight.  The bird is at the top of the small middle tree.

Look the wild ponies are back.

Towards the farm I found these handsome brutes and where I sat and stared at the wonderful view.

  On to the old Deri road and watch the swifts swirl, dive and dart about, caught skylark hovering and its liquid sound. Talking about cuckoos what did I see? A pair of meadow pipits. Yes that selfish bird the cuckoo, takes advantage of the small simple pipit and leaves its own behind IN THE PIPITS NEST. Above me on a post, the finch like corn bunting, do I live in paradise? Yes I do. I was at one and breathed deep and became beautiful.

Alas the walk did not end well. I saw the three dogs in the distance, none were on leads their owner a woman, who was wearing cut down denim shorts, hair like a bird’s nest and wearing builders boots, she was talking on her phone. As I walk on the grass of the open space beauty, the dogs lunged at me. I shouted “get your dogs off me.” She ignored me, I turn my back and hoped my back pack would take the pain from the three sets of paws. I shouted again she looked at me as if I was a nuisance and shouted “Oh shut the fuck up there only dogs” Now I bared my teeth and shouted “You get these dogs of me now you excuse for a dog owner.” She called them and they came but as she walked away she cowardly called me more names. I told her she was a hater of nature and an ugly fiend. She asked me to repete what I said so I did. She laughed loudly like the witches in Macbeth.

Photo of the excuse for a dog owner.

I do not allow people like that stupid nasty woman to upset, I had others things to think about, like the sheep that escaped from the broken fence (The fence is broken often by the other haters of nature, illegal off-road bikers) I wave to my spiritual friend Brian and shout “Come by” to the sheep and yes they all came back safely. It was I who asked CCBC for the kissing gate, to prevent the haters of nature illegal off-road bikers getting onto the common and it worked but not for long. Haters of nature will find another way, so they destroyed farmer Powell’s fence in their pursuit of happiness. Terrifying live stock, wild ponies, birds nesting, humans and churning up this historical land.

Thursday 17th May Walked the road way to work and it was madness. The road leading to Llancaiach Fawr is dangerous, why CCBC can not create a path? is beyond me, there is space to create a bike and walk way. Anyway, waving my blue mans handkerchief to let car owners, lorry drivers and bus drivers know I am human and walking. No problem until a car driving who was driving towards Gelligear, with a load of wood that was once a  garden shed on top of his car. As he drew near the door from what was once a shed, flew off just missing me. I stopped and guided the traffic around the shed door while the driver tried to retrieve his loss and he did. I carry on walking and waving my blue mans hankie. a considerate car drive drove round me. ( In real life pedestrians have the right of way over cars) As the driver went round me, an impatience woman in a blue mini over took and just missed a lorry coming the other way. Still I carry on to my place of work. A  huge cement lorry was crawling up the road towards Gelligaer with a queue of good car drivers behind him. There are many blind spots on this road. The mad woman driving the blue mini, is coming back and yes foot down, she over took the 4 cars and the cement lorry and was heading towards my me. I screamed and swore and the cars beeped. She just missed me and the Asda lorry that was behind me.

 

Tuesday 15th May while walking before work in the beautiful woodland at Penallta Parc when I nearly trod on a small thrush fledgling, what a beaut! The fledgling tried to fly but to no avail. I guided the young bird to the a shrub area hoping its mam will find it

  

Tuesday evening May 15th walked to witness the sun setting just missed farmer John rounding up his sheep but caught them afterwards. I do like watching this very old tradition of rounding sheep. Farmer John is eighty and I wonder what will happen to his farm when he goes, to where we all go eventually. The evening sky and Farmer John.

 

Monday May 14th Went to the dentist to see the hygienist while in the waiting room, I turned the volume down on the day time television. I find it so vulgar to have a TV on in daytime. I spoke to a nice man named Eric. We spoke about music and people  and I told him that me and John dance to music on the weekend under the veranda. He told me he likes Owen Money radio program and the soft music he plays and now Eric is a widower he takes his wife’s photo and dances with her. Eric left and another patient  came in, a woman we chatted and she said it was refreshing to have a conversation because no one talks to you today. Those of you who have read last weeks blog would know about the dentist story. Kate the lovely hygienist told me I have flappy gums inherited from one of my parents and my age too. The lovely Kate used water to clean the pockets that have grown from my receding gums. Every thing is going south what I can I do? I know what I will do. I will not grow old gracefully! I will wear many  outlandish colours, always question things and remain a naughty outsider. I came away with another scale and polish my pockets empty and my purse too. Keep smiling, keep shining.

Monday took an evening stroll and caught the light between the beech trees and breathed deep and became beautiful.

We can make the world with our own thoughts.

 

 

Signs and Cries.

 

Saturday May 12th This morning I left the house at 7am, what a cold fresh morning, it was like walking into the sea. Photo of my special tree, for the past 26 years I have waved, winked, hugged, told all my sorrows and blown kisses to.

 

This tree was also on the front cover of RARA’s second poetry anthology, that I helped to edit in 2014.

 

The times I have tied my boot laces on the rock and keep forgetting  it is a fossil stoned in time.

Down the frost path where I bumped into an old neighbour which I knew as a boy. Chris Pizey, we chatted and it was good to see him.

Onto the Graig and the dragon’s breath making its way to Deri. What a view!

I saw Gatchie in the distance, his two dogs making circles of joy on the frosted grass.

Up to the rocks I hear farmer John giving orders to his dogs and cows. I breathe in the silage wonderful. splendid old gnarled tree and the view from the edge of the rocks.

 

 

I noticed last week a quietness hanging over the common, lambs are now separated from their Mams and gone to slaughter. Did you know the Ewe will cry for 24 hours sometimes more over the loss. I walked towards Cascade to see the swifts but I am ahead of myself, I am early though the swifts are here, but their chicks are still being developed. I saw this sign on the gate leading to Hospital Road, a very good sign, not sure if it would deter but you have to try. I have asked Caerphilly County Borough, to please put the same sign on the gate near Heol Ddu School. Just in case any flytippers are reading this blog. Sofa’s and mattress can be picked for FREE if  you phone CCBC!

I look towards the lane and beam a smile at this beautiful green canopy.

 

I and my friend Alma went to Talgarth walking festival, at Talgarth, what a lovely town Talgarth is. I had never been before and will visit again. We heard the very talented author Horatio Clare give a talk in the new school at Talgarth. We had a wonderful welcome and the view I had from where I sat lifted my spirits. I watched clouds casting shadows on the Brecon Beacons. Horatio Clare is not only a good writer, he is a real gentleman and spoke so well on his subject and it was refreshing to hear politeness in a man.

I walk many paths before I go to work and this beauty I found under the rock at Parc Penallta. Breathed in the bluebells and became beautiful and among the light and shade I forest bathed.

Went to my old town Cardiff and my fave bookshop Waterstones, to pick my Colin Thubron book “The Hills of Adonis” I saw the lovely Juliette Llewellyn we chatted sending Juliette positive vibes regarding her father. Also to hear Cardiff writer Peter Finch read from his latest Cardiff collection. Peter is good on what he writes about Cardiff past and present, his walks are good too. He was interviewed by John Gower, Peter was witty and informative and so was John Gower. I had the company of the lovely Kath Eastman. It was good to see Amy Wack, Norman Swenck, who I have known for years. Norman introduce me to granary bread back in 1988, when I lived in Penarth. Saw Clair Potter, Ifor Thomas and Mick Felton. A good evening well done Waterstones.

Visited the dentist for my six monthly appointment, where I have been a patient for 20 years, the Dentist told me I had a build up of plaque and he suggested the hygienist. I asked why? He replied “She can show you how to brush your teeth properly.” I looked puzzled. I am 57 years of age and I have not been brushing my teeth correctly after all theses years! I will inform you regarding what the hygienist has to say!

I am not keen on the television, I prefer the radio but of late there have been some good TV documentaries especially  BBC 2 “Civilisation”  and Simon Sharma “Story of the Jews” This beautiful program made me weep. Always remember and never forget the tragedy of the Jewish people.

I also watched BBC 4 “The Road to Palmyra” Dan Cruickshank and Don McCullin. This program ripped my heart out and threw it back broken. Syria, damask rose, herbed oil, is no longer the beauty of the desert.

War, War we never seemed to learn from the past and empires  like the one we once had, the Greek, Roman empires, do I need to go on? It is so obvious WAR does not work and sitting in a room with your hand on the joy stick of life called the DRONE adds distance from humanity, empathy, compassion and love. Please do not bring religion into this, leave religion at home where it should be, religion is a personal choice. If you knowly set out to kill,  it is called murder! Take religion out of schools, replace religion with philosophy and have children as young as  five debating. Greed and religion will always feed and breed a fanatic.

Those who have the power on greed sit like Greek gods and goddess on their fluffy pink clouds of hate, looking down on the masses and choosing who lives and who dies. Making life cheap that we forget the true value of how to live.

Kindness is the golden chain that links and makes a good community

World is a bridge do not build a house on it.

We do not own the world we are only passing through.