Diving deep back in time

A self-indulgent day. Diwrnod i’r Brenin (day for a king) as we say in Welsh. This morning we walked down the Mount, past Ysgol Glan Morfa, Maes Canol, under the expressway and onto the beach.

On the way back, I met a woman from Tanygrisiau, who’d lived in Abergele most of her life:

“I’m leaving Abergele; I feel like a stranger here. There’s a woman from Birmingham living next door to me. She feeds the seagulls; she actually leaves out a loaf of bread for them. The poor woman next door had just hung her washing out. I’m off to live in Powys. ”

After lunch, I walked up Tan y Gopa. It’s called Coed y Gopa or Coed y Cawr more often nowadays and it’s owned by the Woodland Trust now. They’ve been thinning out the trees and this has revealed the Iron Age fort that crowns the hill. There are some really high walls to the fort which I hadn’t appreciated until today. Good to see the wild Stinking Hellebore still thrives here too.

The Romans are said to have mined lead from the hill. There’s one really long and deep fault called Ceg y Blaidd (wolf’s mouth) – I hope I’ve remembered that name properly.

I’d gone to Tan y Gopa looking for a cave I remembered playing in when I was a child. I usually walked up Tan y Gopa with William Jones (Broadway) and Huw Watkins (Eldon Drive) through Mr Matthews’s farm fields. These fields have now been developed into housing estates.

The cave has two entrances: the first is 20 feet up a sheer rock face, the second drops down from the grass above. I did have to ask directions. The squeeze through the second entrance was tighter than I remember but sitting inside, I imagined I was back again with my childhood friends, Huw and William.

I really enjoyed revisiting the cave. Thanks to the Woodland Trust for taking such good care of Tan y Gopa.

Yr Allt cottage, Tan y Gopa
Yr Allt cottage, Tan y Gopa

Tank traps on the beach

I’ve just been speaking with my dad’s neighbour Brian Haynes. As someone who grew up in Pensarn and Abergele, he’s a mine of info on Abergele’s local history. He just let me scan an old photo of his. It shows Pensarn Beach just after World War II. He says there were tank traps in the sand and pill boxes along the coast and, in this photo, just behind the car, you can make out where the tank trap had recently been filled in.
Pensarn Beach just after WWII. Copyright Brian Hayes.

Dwi’n Dod o Rhyl

Have you seen the video of a group of young friends taking it in turns to scream “Dwi’n dod o Rhyl” (I’m from Rhyl). The original’s viewable ‘by invitation only’ now, although you can still watch the answer films on YouTube.

dwin dod o rhyl - screengrab YouTube

BBC Radio Cymru has a fantastic series called Sesiwn UnNos – where musicians are locked in a studio overnight and are only let out in the morning when they’ve recorded an EP-worth of songs. I was thrilled to hear last night’s session – by MC Mabon, Tesni Jones, Ceri Bostock, Ed Holden and David Wrench – featured an audio sample from the original YouTube video: Dwi’n Dod o Rhyl. Track 3 on this page.

Felicia Dorothea Browne at Gwrych Castle

“Felicia Dorothea Browne was born in Duke Street, Liverpool, on the 25th of September, 1793. She was the second daughter and the fourth child of a family of three sons and three daughters.

“Her father, who was a native of Ireland, was a merchant of good position. Her mother, whose maiden name was Wagner, was the daughter of the Venetian consul in Liverpool.

“The original name was Veniero, but as the result of German alliances it
had assumed this German form. Three members of the family had risen to the dignity of Doge. The first six years of Felicia’s life were spent in
Liverpool. Then commercial losses compelled her father to break up his
establishment in that city and remove to Wales. The next nine years of
her life were spent at Gwyrch, near Abergele, in North Wales.

“The house was a spacious old mansion, close to the seashore, and shut in on the land side by lofty hills. Surely a fit place for the early residence of a poetess of Nature.

“Besides this advantage of situation, she had the privilege of access to the treasures of a large library. The records of her early days show her to have been a child of extreme beauty, with a brilliant complexion and long, curling, golden hair.

“But her personal beauty was not the only thing that arrested attention. Her talents and sweetness of disposition retained the notice which her attractiveness had obtained. The old gardener used to say that “Miss Felicia could ‘tice him to do whatever she pleased.” And he was not the only one who fell under her gentle constraint. She was a general favourite.”

– from an old book called Excellent Women, author: Various