My “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, and it is dear to me. It’s where I was born and spent my childhood, and it’s where most of my family still live.
I don’t get back as often as I’d like, but when I do I have a great time. As well as family visits I try to tour about. Sometimes revisiting childhood favourites, other times searching out places we never got around to visiting back then.
It’s curious when you go back. Memories are tricksy and places can be not quite how they live in your mind. Then there’s the size conundrum, places which seemed huge to a child have now shrunk.
And then some places simply are different.
The village I grew up in was an industrial one, though surrounded by wooded hills. At the base of the valley were the coal mines. They closed in the 1990s , and you have to look hard to find any trace of them today. The “red”river, now runs clear and is home to fish.
One thing which hasn’t changed is the coastline. It’s as beautiful and enticing as it was back then. Those days , when we jostled over who would be first to shout, “I can see the sea!!!”.
It’s even better these days as you can walk all along it on the Wales Coast Path.
I learned to swim in the seas off that coast, Porthcawl, Mumbles, Langland Bay, and my favourite Rhossili. I swam every chance I had. Summer, Easter, it didn’t matter. I braved the waves; my family sat on deckchairs wrapped in layers.I had my own layers, of fat to keep me warm. but also I didn’t care. I had to be in that sea.
Lately I’ve just paddled or walk along those beaches. But never say never.
Ah. One other thing has changed. We weren’t so good at football back then.
Things that change, things that stay the same.
A welcome in the valleys. When I go home to Wales.