More Of North Wales

This morning we prepared the rooms upstairs in readiness for the Christmas hoards. The first task was replacing the towel rail and cabinet and cleaning the bathroom that Aaron has redecorated. Our friend, who is A.P. Maintenance, would have come back to carry this out, but we encouraged him to stick to his well earned holiday. The three spare bedrooms were then cleaned and their beds all made up. After this came the hoovering. My role could best be described as supporting and carried out somewhat tardily.

After lunch YouView stopped working on the TV. I grappled with it for a while, then calmed myself by scanning sixteen more colour negatives on Agfa film from the 1983 holiday in North Wales. Fortunately, the equipment required for this functioned satisfactorily, and whilst I was working on this, Jackie informed me that the BT service had returned to normality.

We stayed in a farmhouse near the home of our friends Ann and Don whilst their own property was being renovated.

Hillside

Hills like this were all around us.

Houses in valley

Here is a broader view of the houses lying beneath the heaps from the discarded slate mine featured in ‘Aberfan’. As always, clicking on the images gives more detail, such as that of the children’s playground indicating the family nature of this fairly remote community near Cerrigydrudion in Corwen.

Village in the valley

A second picture shows rugby and soccer pitches alongside each other. I wondered which was the more popular game here.

Landscape

This view looks across the further side of the valley,

Jessica and Matthew approaching cattleJessica with cattle in farm field

above which nestles the farm at which we stayed. In the first of these two pictures Becky and Matthew approach the cattle. Jessica replaces them in the second,

Footpath to farm

The farm was approached from this rough track.

Louisa and cow

Louisa made the acquaintance of the inquisitive local fauna,

Louisa working train

and tried her hand at bringing life back to the train in the disused mine.

Barbed wire on post 1

Barbed wire attached to a weathered wooden post in front of a large boulder exemplified the rugged nature of the landscape,

Thistle

to which plentiful spiky thistles spoke,

Foxgloves

and in which foxgloves managed to survive.

This evening Jackie cooked a chicken jalfrezi for the eighteen people she will be feeding on Boxing Day. Eyes streaming until she created a through draft by opening the kitchen doors to the 40+ m.p.h. prevailing winds, I peeled and chopped the onions.

Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our own dinner with which I finished the malbec and Jackie drank Hoegaarden

Aberfan

Dawn 1Dawn 2

Despite temperatures in double centigrade figures, apart from the enticing dawn skies, today was very dull with gale force winds. This meant that our afternoon drive around the forest was not conducive to photography. We finished up Christmas shopping in Brockenhurst.

Before that, I scanned another batch of negatives from the 1983 North Wales holiday.

Sunrise

It is perhaps appropriate to begin with mist rising at sunrise across a valley in Corwen.

Cottages in landscape

Later views across the land were much clearer.

Matthew, Sam and Becky

Here, Matthew, Sam, and Becky explore the fields around the farmhouse at which we were staying;

Matthew and Louisa

and Louisa is enthralled by something Matthew has pointed out.

Scrap metal 1Scrap metal 2Scrap metal 3

Blending so well with the rugged hillsides were the rusting metal of a car scrap yard,

Abandoned machiery 1Abandoned trucks

Disused slate mine 1

and the abandoned artefacts of a disused slate mine, itself adding heaps to the mountain terrain.

Becky, Louisa, Jessica, Sam and MatthewTerraced houses 2Terraced houses 3

In the foreground of this picture, Becky carries Louisa, and Jessica leads Sam towards another visitor in the doorway of a mine building.

Terraced houses 1

It was only in revisiting these images of terraced and semi-detached houses, perhaps once the homes of quarry workers, that I thought of Aberfan.

‘The Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults. It was caused by a build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale, which suddenly started to slide downhill in the form of slurry.

Over 40,000 cubic metres of debris covered the village in minutes, and the classrooms at Pantglas Junior School were immediately inundated, with young children and teachers dying from impact or suffocation. Many noted the poignancy of the situation: if the disaster had struck a few minutes earlier, the children would not have been in their classrooms, and if it had struck a few hours later, the school would have broken up for half-term.

Great rescue efforts were made, but the large numbers who crowded into the village tended to hamper the work of the trained rescue teams, and delayed the arrival of mineworkers from the Merthyr Vale Colliery. Only a few lives could be saved in any case.

The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and its Chairman, Lord Robens, for making misleading statements. Parliament soon passed new legislation about public safety in relation to mines and quarries.’ (Wikipedia, on which there is much more information.)

This is one of the abiding memories of my young adulthood, and, indeed, parenthood. The whole of the UK, and possibly much of the world, was in shock, especially because the school had borne the brunt.

Succulent pork loins baked with a mustard and almond topping; piquant cauliflower cheese; mashed potato; and crisp carrots, Brussels sprouts, and green beans were the items on our dinner plates this evening. We enjoyed eating them. Jackie finished the chardonnay, and I started on a bottle of Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2015.