I'm sitting here watching the sun set behind the mountains, it's calm, chilly and beautiful. I Let property in the Heritage status mining town of Blaenavon and that is where I headed this morning when I drove over those mountains, I gasped at the fantastic view before me, it always has that affect on me (possibly because the air is thinner), yet when I was a child, that part of the world was filled with gigantic machinery. There were steel cables across the roads, bits of coal dropping from the enormous buckets that moved along them, wobbling, precariously. The air was full of dust and soot and I can not remember much about strong daylight, it was always twilight or dark.
I moved to South Wales when I was a child because my father bought a large house at auction by mistake.
It's quite true. He only went to buy some furniture.
There was a rather noisy domestic when he broke the news to my mother about their predicament. They had little choice, when the hammer goes down at auction, the contract is legally binding. They quickly sold our nicely renovated cottage and we moved into 'the valleys'
I couldn't understand a word anyone said to me with their strong Welsh accents, and they couldn't understand me either. It was all very scary. I didn't really know who to turn to, my parents were clearly insane and my sister couldn't understand anyone either. The only thing we were actually certain of was that our neighbours were called the 'Fritter's'.
I had to get on a bus and ask for 'a half to Hafodyrynys' (try that with your milk teeth falling out), but it always cost one whole pence. I never understood why a half cost a whole and my mother would tell me to shut up and get on the bus.
I remember walking to the local playground with my little friend, the Fritter, the mountain was on fire and our way back home was blocked by flames higher than us, the mountains always seemed to be on fire, it was a bleak place to live.
We moved into Herefordshire within 18 months and watched the mountains burn from far away, it felt much safer.