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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 I mention this in my (at the moment unpublished) novel titled “Maggie’s Ireland” I came across Charlotte Despard, Charlotte was President of the Woman’s Freedom League, Woman’s Peace Crusade, and the Irish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.

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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.

Racism is the Disease of the ignorant

 

I do not understand a racist or comprehend people who think the world is blue-eyed and white. Where I grew up 1960’s in Cardiff in the area of Ely, it was and still is multi cultural and I remember some of the Windrush men as bus drivers. My next door neighbours were from the West Indies, the music and food was out of this world. All my Catholic schooling was multi racial. When my Irish Grandmother had to leave her Ireland 1921 and came to Wales, she was greeted with No blacks, No dogs, No Irish I write about this in the biographical novel of my grandparents titled “Maggie’s Ireland” My Sister in law Yasmin, her parents were not British, her mother Julianne was Italian, her father Hamid was from Pakistan and they were beautiful hard-working people and their combined culture and cooking was wonderful too.

May is worse than Thatcher. I lived and worked under the Thatcher regime. I never thought there would be anyone worse than Thatcher. May lacks compassion, empathy, honesty and integrity. May alone gave permission for the papers of the people who spent the best part of their lives in UK to be destroyed. When I was writing my last collection of poetry titled “Spirit Cracked not Broken” I needed to see my own medical records. My medical records from 1961 to 1979 had been destroyed in the 1990’s, when paper medical notes were to be uploaded on to computers. Mine was thrown away by the private company who had the contract and I was devastated. This was insignificant compared to what happened to some of he beautiful people from the Windrush and others. It is unforgivable and apology is not enough. May says she is an Anglican a practising christian. Please she was Home Secretary and she alone allowed the behaviour of those from Home Office, to instill fear and terror into people who have been here and worked here most of their lives. Amber Rudd is the scapegoat, May should go and go now and let’s have another election!

For the past week at 5am I have been woken by the loud singing of the tiny but beautiful, wren, followed by the symphony of the dawn chorus. The trees are budding and the flowers are blooming.I spied 3 Queen bees looking for appropriate nests.

Spring in green and petals of ice-cream cream and pink.

 

I do love the scent of lady smock and the colour of cowslips.

I walked through my secret meadow and saw the hobby again. I now know where the hobby is nesting but I will not tell where.

Sunday April 29th I left the house at 7 30am to wall to wall sunshine but this was deceiving, it was freezing. I was wrapped up for winter but the north wind still got through. I heard the cuckoo and 7 55am, saw a pair of red kites above floating, soaring looking for breakfast, and the lambs still teating their mams. The sound of the curlew and skylark filled my ears. I met my friend Clive, Clive is riddled with arthritis and still runs his way every day.

I watched “The Story of the Jews” by Simon Schama, the episode I watched was titled “Rainbow” I wept from a deep well of sadness. “The Story of the Jews” should be in every school throughout the world. Jeremy Corbyn who I met at the Nye Bevan Stones was accused of being anti-Semite. Jeremy wants Palestine to have a country of its own and there are many Jewish people who think like Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy also wants a united Ireland and so do I, does that make us IRA sympathisers? I DO NOT THINK SO!  Did you know? Chaim Herzog Israel president from 1983 – 1993 was born in Belfast and educated in Dublin, later immigrated to Palestine 1935.

Last week I spotted a double rainbow, I first saw a double rainbow when I walked the coast of Donegal 2013, the second time I was out walking when it began to rain, then sleet and hailstones that hurt, when suddenly out popped a double rainbow. I used the photo for the front cover of my collection of poetry titled “Healing Garden”  2016 published by BBTS Est. Feb 2012

Double rainbow after a storm.

  

Double rainbow from my front door.

The coast of Donegal

 

Saturday April 21st 7 am and a glorious morning wall to wall sunshine. I am going  out to hear the cuckoo, I say hear because I have never seen a cuckoo only heard the bird. I saw Gatchie and his happy  spaniel. I worked with Gatchie’s wife and we spoke about the Lapwing I saw the other day. He told me when he was younger there were loads of Lapwings on the common and if you drew near the adult bird, it would make out they had a broken wing, to direct you from their young. I noticed a grey BMW it had a broken wing mirror, the young man seemed to stare at me. He was parked where the skunk and cannabis smokers park, to smoke their crap and mess up their minds. I said goodbye to Gatchie. I  made my way to hear the cuckoo and at 7 35am I heard the cuckoo. When the young man in the grey BMW accosted me. I made small talk and walked on, he drove off and then came back stopped and spoke to me again he did this twice. I said “I am a woman on my own and you are making feel UNCOMFORTABLE!” He apologised and then asked me about his car and what I though of it. I pointed to farmer John’s farm and replied. “Mate I am calling at that farm there, now go away” I felt angry more than nervous and the reason being because of the way the law is relaxed over skunk and cannabis. I do not know if I am dealing with Dylan the rabbit character from “Magic Roundabout” or a psychopath. Did you know it is illegal to smoke cannabis and skunk  and drive a car.I made my way back home to where the swifts were waiting on the wire of anticipation and I welcomed them back from Africa.

That afternoon I went to a classical concert organised by Rhymney Valley Music Club. I listened to Laura Snowden a classical guitarist who teaches at the Yehudi Menuhin school. Laura played music from  John Dowland, Bach, Fernado Sor and Hector Vila Lobos. The funny side was, when Laura had finished John Dowland and was tuning up for Bach. I began to cough, a dry nasty cough. Bright red I left the room for the loo but when I turned the door handle it echoed and sounded like something from a horror film. Inside the loo was cold and I coughed more. I was so pleased when a baby with its Mam began to cry, then wail. Two suckie sweets and glass of water, I was fine embarrassed but fine.  Meeting up with two old friends Audrey and Mike Phillips and the talented 28-year-old Laura Snowden made up for the man in the BMW.

I had a set back this week at the age of 57 am I still too old to be naive? I  am concerned when some people see my kindness and nativity as stupidity. I go to the deep well, the ancient well inside us all called wisdom, and I felt better but the situation left me with head cold and an infection.

I have organised a poetry and music night at TARAGGAN Friday July 20th. For the past 5 years I have organised a poetry and music night at this wonderful organic, open space oasis where swifts join in.

Recently I  found out that The Rhymney Brewery have bought the Capel and Claire Bennett who was the landlady is now the new landlady. I will open poetry open mic at the Capel in June or July. The event will not include paid guest readers and will never be on FB. All are welcome to share their words and music in a happy atmosphere.

 

 

I recall the day in 1981 when I found empathy. I and an ex boyfriend from Iraq and two friends from Iran and one from Syria went to see the film Gandhi and we all cried over the film. It was a truly remarkable moment, and it taught me tears of empathy are world-wide.

The world is not a colour, or a religion.

kindness is the golden chain that keeps society together.

PS Pass the message on.

Message to people who dump mattresses, three-piece suites on the open space beauty of Gelligaer and Merthyr common. If you phone Caerphilly Borough Council they will pick the waste up for FREE!

 

From my town to my old town

Monday 16th April, I took the 8 20am train from Gilfach Fargoed to my town Cardiff, the place I was born, schooled and grew up. I was picking up a Freya Stark book, from Waterstones. On the train I noticed I was the only person in carriage reading a book, everyone wore buds in their ears no one spoke, it was unsettling. I tried to make a conversation with a female passenger who got on at Caerphilly, she nodded smiled then plumbed in her mobile phone to her buds. Train arrived at my destination and the weather was dry with a westerly wind. I walked down the Hays, to Bute Street. Where my Great grandfather Stephan James lived in 1861, he was an egg merchant and a Welsh speaker. Onto the dock past where my grandfather James Scantlebury ran away to sea aged 14. To  the dock area where my Great great-grandfather John Scantlebury was a dock hobbler, when younger he was  a rigger. His father Abel Scantlebury was a master mariner and he came from Cornwall via Swansea, sailed the copper boats and sometimes ill-gotten gains.

I remember Cardiff docks went it was a dock, the smells, sounds and the night life. Especially The Big Windsor & Little Windsor, I had many a good night there. I do not like the Docks now all concrete, tall glass buildings. I like to capture the old dock’s, pontoons and old dock gates as in the photo below.

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My great, great- grandfather James Griffin, who came from Ireland was a dock gate man. I felt spits of rain and I put my waterproof back on and my blue beany. Made my way over the barrage to Penarth Dock. My mother when she was a young girl would walk the underground subway from Penarth to Grangetown. The subway is still there but has been closed for over 50 years.

Flat Holm, Steep Holm, Penarth head jutting out, round the corner Penarth pier in the greyness of Mor Hafon.

My town to my old town 010.jpg Cyclist pass, dog walkers and tourist. My mother’s family came from Penarth. My Great great -Grandfather William Cheeseman left the green of Dorset, to become coal trimmer at Cogan dock, a dirty underpaid job, the coal dust smothered his lungs. Remnants of Penarth dock beach is still there and I loved sitting here listening to the tide turn, lapping the old dock wall.

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I sat a while and echoes of the conversation I had with my friend Steve King came to my mind. While out walking to hear Cuckoo Sunday 15th April. I was told by my bird watching friend Lee, that Steve had died. Steve was a manager of Bargoed library a socialist like myself and a big Bob Dylan fan too. Steve left Bargoed library suddenly after Christmas, some said he took early retirement. In my gut I knew it was an illness. Steve was good at his job and I always enjoyed our chats. I used to run a debating group at Bargoed library but CCBC needed the money so they hired the room out that I used, for other projects. Steve supported me in my poetry,  my published work and events that I organised.

Remnants of Penarth dock beach.

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I spied a wren as I crunched on my apple. I walked towards the cliff face holding Penarth Headland up and was shocked to see it so fragile.

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Is it me, I see more dog walkers now than ever. I am not keen on dog owners who leave their pets off their leads (a dog is a pet not a little girl, boy or baby, a pet! it is there to guard the house to protect the owner)  Silence is broken by a woman who talked loud into her mobile phone, her two dogs were off the lead and were running wild. The one nearly tripped me over, then jumped all over me. I shouted “Get off the phone and control your dogs” Dog owners your pet should be on a lead AT ALL TIMES!

Walk up to Penath town. I was living in Penarth before I moved up in the world, to the Rhymney Valley. To St Augustin church, this church sits on the headland of Penarth and many years ago was a good beacon for sailors. In the distance among the tree branches and the concrete of Penarth and Cardiff, the beautiful Rhymney and Sirhowy valley

My town to my old town 015.jpg A very old, now not used, public drinking fountain outside St Augustine and the church itself. Merthyr song writer Joseph Parry is buried here.

 

 

I walked down church lane, I used to enjoy walking this lane in autumn, the colours were stunning. The lane from both ends.

 

From the lane I walked to Cliff park I really love this park and when I lived in Penarth, sometimes in the summer I would take strawberries and cream and eat while looking at the view. The sun light glittering on Mor Hafen touched me deeply. The Holm Islands and Breen Down. beyond the pier, Lavernock Point and North Devon hills.

 

Past Bradford place and my old flat, down Beech lane, through the Kymin and the stick thin legs of Penarth pier.

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As a child, I spent many a happy time at Penarth, St Marys Well Bay and Sully.

 

The photo below reminded of the view I had from my bedsit window, when I lived at Bradford Place. A poets view but back then I was young and lacked wisdom.

My town to my old town 023

Up through Alexander Park where my siblings and I in the 60’s played roly poly and run amuck, while our Mam looked lovely, looking like Grace Kelly, roasting away in her homemade amber solar. Bluebells among the buttercups and a carpet of wild garlic. I breathed the past and smells and I felt good.

 

Looked above and there was a Jay, left branch.

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Up the dolly steps

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On to my favourite cafe, Foxy’s cafe, run by Sian Fox. I  read many poems there. The food was good, coffee delicious and the welcome was lovely too.

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On the train journey home, I had a text from my birdwatching friend Lee Taswell. Saying he heard the cuckoo 8am at Mardy, on Gelligear & Merthyr Common. I got off at Bargoed train station and despite having walked 7 miles around Cardiff and Penarth, I walked 3 more miles. Up Parc Cwm Darren trail past the dam, to hear the cuckoo. all I heard was a westerly wind and lambs bleating.

Saturday April 14th I walked out to hear the cuckoo I saw a pair of Housemartins and my first ever pair of Lapwings. I cried with delight. I watched as they synchronised each other and their courting song went to my soul and my spirit soared.

 

Remember be mindful not mind full.

My heart breaks for Syria, where is empathy, compassion, PEACE!!!! I resigned as a Labour Councillor in 2003 because of Iraq. We have not learnt from the big liar of weapons of mass destruction. There would be less destruction in this world, if we had leaders who were more sage like, positive thinkers who believe in PEACE like Jeremy Corbyn.

Empathy is your pain in my heart Syria.

I wrote the poem Leila three years ago and it was published in Red Poets magazine 2015.

Leila

Underneath tiled history
below Tamerlane bloodied earth.
The beauty spot on the desert
herbed oiled, damask rose.
Now, among the rubble stands Leila
blood trickles down her right cheek
hair matted covered in dust.
Above Sky ablazed scorched orange,
slashed, scarred land, gaping hole exposing souls.
The smell of cardamom cakes is not there, neither is her mother
Bewildered, eyes full of confusion and despair.
Ears deafened to the screams, sirens and bomb blasts
Now she stands among what was once her home.
Tear stained cheeks she wipes snort from her nose,
lips cracked and dried her dress stained by
the blood of others is torn and dirty.
While the West waits for the dust to settle, sea of death to dry up.
Waits for the monopoly of this essential commodity called
GAS.
Leila stands on top of tiled history, Tamerlane’s bloodied earth.
The beauty spot of the desert,
herbed oil damask rose as been replaced with hate.

 

Julie Griffin Pritchard 2015