Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The first day in the life of .....

At last, yesterday we could truly rig the van and head out.

First for the magnetic signs:

Then for the homely bit:

Our windows looked wonderful....just look at our views!

In accordance with our plan, we could see both the Valleys and the Big City, Cardiff, together. The snippets we collected last week in Cardiff were very provocative about the Valleys. Here's a flavour:
When we played them to Valleys people at our first stop, Llanhilleth Institute. Sure enough, they did just what we wanted: they raised hackles and got people talking.

Then off we went to see who we could find, and what they would say.

First up was Mike the Greek, selling luscious looking fruit and flowers beside the road.

Matt's getting his story ready, so come back later for that.

We thought we'd try and find somewhere we could park up in Abertillery, but the van was too tall for the car park and we found ourselves travelling further and further out. We decided to follow a sign for a picnic area, thinking we'd find people with more time to chat there, but when we arrived, the glorious sound of bells was filling the air.
We had to find those bell-ringers. There they were.....a tiny church almost hidden by trees.

A twisting drive up the hills - that van can turn on a sixpence - took us to where crowds of school children were crocodiling along to what must have been an end-of-term service. Up and up the hill to find a parking place, where we happily diverted from the hunt for the bell-ringers as all our ideas of valleys houses went out of the window. Glorious homes, with views you couldn't beat anywhere, and evidently proud to be Welsh.

We were even invited back by a friendly householder who gave us a lead to a friend the other side of the valley, pointing out the house we needed to find. So maybe the stereotype of friendliness is true. No myth to bust there?

At last we went into the churchyard, and heard the children singing.

What a mixture of hope and sadness, care and neglect.

Winding back down the hill following our trusty OS map and the signs from the friendly householder, we found his friend's house. The barkiest dog in the world greeted us, but after that we were set for a long chat, a lot of stories and a richly rewarding afternoon. But you'll have to wait for another day to hear those stories.

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