He could smell the wool, almost taste it. Even from several feet away.

Alison put her arm around him.

“Don’t fret my love. I know that it’s hard for you, but you did the right thing. No-one could have expected you to carry on by yourself. It wasn’t possible.”

Less than twelve months ago, Gavin Hughes had been a fourth generation mill owner. His forefathers had passed down the tradition through the years, instilling the love of the fibres, bestowing upon him the skills and secrets learnt over scores of years, until it all ended. With one son running a successful construction business in Australia, and the other studying a PhD in Genomics at Cambridge, there was no-one to take on the heritage. No-one to be the fifth generation. No-one.

Alison would tell him that it was not his fault that neither child had seen a future in wool, that other factors left the business untenable, but Gavin had a strong belief in “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. He knew that he hadn’t done enough to encourage Mathew, whose love of anything mechanical was ideal for keeping the Victorian machinery working. But the boy was more interested in fast cars and local girls, and too many heated exchanges had burned that bridge. Owen was too bright to be tied to the Teifi Valley. That was clear from an early age.

The local wool museum had offered apprentices, but Gavin’s stickling for tight timekeeping and short temper resulted in a high turnover in staff (unlike the sales) and the supply of willing volunteers ran dry.

As did the Teifi, several times a year. Perhaps those loony-leftie tree huggers had a point about global warming thought Gavin. A watermill cannot run without a water, and if there wasn’t a drought, there was a flood, overfilling the mill pond and spilling past the head race. Feast or famine. Drought or flood. Not biblical proportions, but enough to wonder if someone up there had it in for you.

As a child, Gavin had been fascinated by how shaggy fleeces had been turned into soft blankets of many colours. The willowing, turning the washed fleece into fine wisps like the hair of the angels. The fierce looking carding machines, aggressively drawing the wisps through an intricate route around their enormous drums. The click-clack-thwack as the shuttle shot across the loom, only to be returned with equal ferocity, then back again.

But now there was only silence. The fleeces were gone, the machines had been sold as scrap and the shell of the mill awaited the property developers. They said the conversion would be sympathetic to the history of the area. Gareth didn’t care. He had betrayed his ancestors and deserted his trade. He would live a comfortable but troubled retirement in Beaumaris, and never return to the Teifi.


Ref: Writing101, Day 9 Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.


The Panda Cow And The Fridge Shelf

Well, after perfect navigation (moi) and near perfect driving (him) including braving the scary single track road!!!!, we have arrived at our base for the week.

We are close to the Welsh village of Tregaron. We know little more about it at this point, because we a too scared to go back down the scary single track road. Maybe tomorrow. Or when the food runs out.

The ‘cottage’ is well appointed, and has lovely surroundings. The adjacent fields boast lambs and a mixed herd of young male cattle. Including one with panda like eyes, who I shall not call Bernard. He is not my favourite bullock and I shall not be talking to him.

We have been entertaining ourselves by reading some of the entries in the visitor book. This evening’s gem comes courtesy of the Esbachs and Bennett of Marple and Todmorden (by the way, there was an unnecessary apostrophe, but we have removed it to protect their identity). Their observations included

“the broken fridge door tray was frustrating”.

It has taken us quite a while to find said tray. In fact we believe it to be a shelf. Charmingly repaired it is. Frustrating it is not.

Frustrating is the lack of concern for spelling and correct grammar. The non-words “wonderfull” and “definately” make frequent appearances.

Never mind, we are glad not to live next to either the Esbachs or Mr/Mrs/Ms Bennett. They probably would not like us either.

It’s the black fly in your Picpoul de Pinet
(not A Morrisette)



Wet and windy

It’s just beginning to get light here…

here is North West Wales. We are taking a short break not to far from home base, arriving yesterday.

Yesterday’s journey was fun, but it’s taken me a little longer to wind down. Probably because this is our first break away for over 18 months, and recent annual leave has been utilised more than enjoyed as study time.

But the hunched shoulders are starting to relax and the opportunity of a walk on the beach is pulling me out of the daily grind-mind-set.

When I say the beach, I mean choice of the many fine beaches only a short drive from the cottage – sounding like a holiday brochure there, but it’s true; this area has several just a stones skim away.

Yesterday we visited Dinas Dinlle (apologies to Welsh speakers if misspelt). Previously known only to me as a venue for ‘pleasure’ flights in rickety old planes. The other half was completed blown away (we both nearly were) by my open-eyed wonder at what to him has always been just the end of the runway. A mixture of salty air, pebbles, sand, waves and being able to see for miles towards Anglesey and beyond signified the proper start of our holiday.

This is my first blog entry away from home base, using an unfamiliar set up, but I’ll try to load a picture onto this one.

…… and breathe …..