Sunday, 29 April 2018

Why We Moved to Wales - Part IV

A photo of the Cothi in spate.  I think you get the general idea . . .

I can still recall our last night in our old house in Dorset, left with just a mattress and bedding to sleep on, a cot for little T, breakfast and a kettle.  Scary.  We were going to live in what was basically another country, as although we hadn't realized it at the time, Welsh was the primary language spoken in Carmarthenshire.

The journey seemed to take forever.  There was none of this "Collect the key from the agent at X o'clock" - we just picked up the key from the Farmer at his house.  We were there sooner than the two removal vans - neither of which could fit across the narrow bridge over the river, and one of which promptly broke down on the spot at the thought of it!  That was still there the next morning, when it finally got fixed and brought in another way.

Needless to say, dusk falls early in March, and so we found ourselves unloading furniture and belongings in the dark.  Only the barest basics were sorted that first night - T's cot put up (in the little room where I type this) and our bed in the larger of the two front bedrooms, next door.  At some time in the past, someone had put up a shelf on the wall in this bedroom, using 6 inch nails and not much else.  There was a carrier bag on it.  We were beyond noticing the niceties by this point and fell into bed, exhausted.  In the wee small hours I was woken by the sound of a carrier bag rustling.  Well, more than rustling, something was making quite a racket.  Somehow a mouse had scaled the wall into the carrier bag (or perhaps it had set up home there) and was doing a Jane Fonda style workout.  My husband finally lobbed a shoe at the wall and silence descended again.

Next morning, husband and daughter fed, I set off up the hill to give my old dog Tara a walk.  I can still remember reaching the top and looking at the view across the Cothi valley, towards Black Mountain in the distance.  It quite took my breath away - and still lifts my spirits today.

So we set about getting the essentials sorted.  We had a Rodent Problem in our new house.  One night that first week I was sat in the very green bath in the very green bathroom and a mouse came out of a hole in the wall and began a wash and brush up.  If it was aware of me, it wasn't the least bit bothered - talk about bold as brass!  Oh, and those baked bean tin lids on the skirting boards?  That was to stop the rats coming out into the room!!!  Sadly, all the cats we had in Dorset had died on the main road in front of the house. I might add, all these cats came unbidden to us (much as they do here in fact) - I would never have chosen to have cats on such a busy road.

So we went on a visit to one of the many rescue centres in our area, Ty Agored Animal Sanctuary near Cribyn.  We picked out a - very pregnant - black tortoiseshell queen that we called Blackberry. The Sanctuary said that they would rehome the kittens for us, and subsequently did so.  Whilst we were there, looking at cats and trying to make up our minds, we were aware of a very loud purring from a box which turned out to be coming from a small scruffy hairy black and white cat.  "Oh that's Grandma" one of the helpers said, laughingly, and later told us she had been with them a week or so and because she wasn't a pretty - or young - cat they expected to have her forever.  Instead, she came home with us, and with Blackberry.

Above, Blackberry and below, dear old Tatty.

One of the first things we did in the house was to reinstate the bricked-in fireplace in the kitchen.  We always call it an inglenook, although really it isn't wide enough.  Anyway, it took a lot of work digging it out and finding a replacement bressamer beam.  That was it being excavated anyway. (Apologies for sideways photo).

Anyway, this was a year or so on from moving in, and I know that because Blackberry's gorgeous big ginger son, Bumble, is curled up in front of it.  The Hergom stove was multi-fuel then and we burned anthracite and big logs in it, to run the central heating, but boy, did it gobble up wood and my husband found he was forever cutting up logs for it.  After a few years we had it converted to oil (it seemed like a good idea at the time . . .)

What we HADN'T realized until we got here was that the weather was quite a bit different to Dorset.  There was a bit more rain for starters . . .

This is the lane in front of our house, and what happens when it rains so hard that the run-off from the fields turns it into a fast-flowing stream . . .  It doesn't happen very often, and soon abates, but it looks dreadful at the time.

Sorry about the glare from the window in these, but I think you can get the gist.  Below is the river far right, with the run-off water a foot or more deep, hurtling into the river at the bottom of the hill.

Below - this is flooding further downstream at Pontargothi.

Yes.  We were beginning to find that life here was quite . . . different!


  1. But I guess the scenery makes it all worthwhile BB

  2. Well, it rains everywhere - we just get it first, and more of it (although I suppose Ireland gets it before us!) When the river comes up over the bottom lane we just come and go by the top route over the hill.

  3. Oh my. Thank goodness you weren't washed away.

    God bless.

    1. We walked down the hill in wellies to take the photos - so it looked worse than it was. It just followed the path of the lane, and didn't come on our property at all. It's the run-off from the saturated fields.

  4. Oh My Goodness, what new excitement and worries come with moving into your new home. Love that the first thing you got was some much need cats. I rather like Tatty !

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Tatty was SUCH a darling and amazed us by giving birth to a litter of kitten, despite being geriatric! We kept one, Foggy, who lived to be 18 and was an absolute darling too.

  5. I knew you had done wonders in the way of renovations and repairs--but didn't realize how drastic until reading these three installments of the move. It sounds utterly daunting! I've always loved reading 'we moved to the country' sagas--and tales of reviving old houses, but, oh dear, we need youth and stamina on our side to tackle such herculean tasks!
    The years of our lives are delineated by the cats in residence from one decade to the next. In addition to dealing with the resident rodents, Blackberry, Tatty and their offspring must have given an air of comfort and serenity to your work in progress.