Monthly Archives: April 2014

Sarwat Chadda Merthyr Visit

On 27 March 2014, two hundred pupils from Ysgol Santes Tudful and Cyfarthfa Junior School enjoyed a morning of hilarious entertainment from Harper Collins author Sarwat Chadda.

Hosted by Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil, the whole of years 5 and 6 from the two schools enjoyed an interactive mythical quiz, and created and acted out their own fantasy drama before buying copies of his books, which Sarwat signed and illustrated for each pupil.

Sarwat Chadda has lived and travelled throughout the world from China to Guatemala. He’s been lost in Mongolia, abandoned at a volcano in Nicaragua and hidden up a tree from a rhino in Nepal. Throughout his travels, Sarwat soaked up the myths, legends and cultures of far away places. Now with the Ash Mistry series he brings these unfamiliar tales of ten-headed demons and blue-skinned heroes back home and puts them beside the exploits of Achillies and Thor.

The Ash Mistry books are breath-taking action adventure novels for eight to twelve year olds. Ash Mistry is a reluctant hero who faces ancient demons and comes into an astonishing, magical inheritance.

Rhys Davies Residential

  

In recognition of their dedication and enthusiasm during Rhys Davies workshops with Rachel Trezise in Summer 2013, nine young people supported by Valleys Kids enjoyed a residential weekend of workshops at the Literature Wales writer’s retreat, Ty Newydd in Llanystumdwy , Gwynedd.

In the beautiful house set in the stunning landscape of the Llŷn Peninsula, Ty Newydd, writers Tom Anderson and Lucy Christopher led a weekend of workshops exploring sense of place, character formation and setting.

Valleys Kids  is a charity based in South Wales with a 34-year track record of working with disadvantaged children and families. Their  work is about changing lives for the better. The Rhondda  Valleys now rank in some of the most deprived areas of Europe. Valleys Kids works alongside local people to improve the lives of children and families in these communities, helping people to help themselves.

Lucy Christopher said:

” I adored working with Valleys Kids up at Ty Newydd Writers’ Centre.  The participants were open, willing, extremely positive and great fun to be around.  The weekend felt valuable on a number of fronts: in terms of opening up possibilities for these young people to expand and appreciate their skills in creative writing, as well as for taking these young people out of their ordinary environment and showing them something new.  It was time out for them that seemed much needed.  It was also time where these young people could see a different, and very beautiful, part of their own country – I heard several of these young people remark that by being in Cricieth they had found a new kind of pride for their homeland of Wales, seeing it in a broader light. Personally, I found the weekend extremely enriching, stimulating, and inspiring.  The kids made me laugh every day and their love for my writing was touching.  It was a joy to work with Tom Anderson  – so pleasant and clever and sensitive to the group’s needs.  All in all, a wonderful wonderful weekend that I would repeat in a heartbeat. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Examples of work:

Samantha’s Story

Around me

Around me stands a tump of mountains over shadowed by the dense clouds layered on top of each other. In the distance stands the derelict castle, which is in the stillness of the land.

The apocalypse

I watched as it raced through the sky disrupting everything in its path. Out of control the object smashed into the obscure blue sea causing the waves to rise beyond no mans land. In no time the water attacked causing despair everywhere. One by one everything disappeared into the darkness.

As I tried to fight my way through the night I realized my world would never be the same again.

The sounds of the screams that echoed in the distance made me more aware of what was to come. Who was left? Who was alive? How was I going to survive?

The next morning I woke into a calm and silent land. The wind slowly eased above my battered and buried knees. As I gazed into the distance I realized that it was only me towering out of the big black sea.

Dumped

I remembered when I first laid my eyes on her. A tall, blonde with beautiful sparkling blue eyes. She walked over to me and said “you are coming with me” From that moment on we were connected as she was soon inside me.  It felt so right not even a smell came from that size foot. We were meant to be just like Adam and eve.

Now 2 years have passed and she has ruined me. I’m no longer the jewel in her eyes as I caught her cheating on me with another size 5.

Lost beyond redemption – Leah

Chapter 1

Around me stands a long forgotten place where many tragedies had occurred, the grass in which I stand on has overgrown as far as my knees, flowers have wilted long ago leaving a decomposed trail to the once thriving hospital. I look up to find the glass windows shattered, doors unhinged. I take the first step forward and feel the crunch of the autumn leaf under my shoe. The colourful leaves rustle across the grass as the wind begins to howl. The chill of winter has come early I see… as the last of the light rays disappear I can see my breath taking form, I huddle into my jacket for warmth as I drag my legs through the entangling weed leading to the abandoned building, I pause at the door I look up at the horrid place. Good riddance I hope this place burns to the ground I thought. secretly this place was a insane asylum where people were horribly tortured here, no wonder those things are in there I was close enough to already see inside. The dark gloom seems to seep out of the building making goosebumps appear on my arms making me come to a stand still. I know something will be lurking behind these walls, waiting for me.

“Getting nervous tiger lily?” I swerve around to find Niklas Dedrick Stark’s smug face looking at me.

“What in the world is the matter with you! I could’ve killed you with you sneaking up on me like that, and I told you to stop calling me that.” I put down my crossbow which could’ve easily put a arrow through his chest. The confident smirk didn’t leave his face for even a moment

“Oh you knew I was coming so stop complaining and what you call sneaking I call walking tiger lily” he smirked at his own comment. How pathetic that he still laughs at his own jokes. I roll my eyes.

“Niklas the dress code is fully black you cant add you’re red scarf to everything you know” I sigh in exasperation as he looks down with a questionable stare

“Hey I choose to look good even in boring black clothes” he smirked giving the waggle of his eye brows, I try to bit my lip as I feel a smile form but I lose control of my boss exterior and burst out laughing! Ah Niklas always had a way to make me laugh even in M.E academy and no its not a modelling agency its a academy for monster extermination. Even in the beginning of M.E academy he had always worn that scarf refusing to take it off even when the teachers threatened to take him off the campus but he had his way. I thought he was a bit weird even if all the girls fell for his charms, his looks were passable looking at him now I see that his black hair is formed perfectly over his face which made his blue eyes more dramatic, His smile was always genuine which was a hard thing to find these days, his build was sturdy and looked more lean and muscular since the last time I had seen him. He’s really smart as well we both passed as one of the top ten students. What he lacked was seriousness which is why I dread working with him. We work in the Dorset team which is usually bearable. But working with him alone? Id rather teach a monkey how to work a gun.

prologue: Janet

 “Sirens. Flashing lights. Getting closer. Running. Stumbling. Falling. Screaming. “HELP!!” Blacking out..

*

          Beep. Beep. Beep. The heart monitor. Why wouldn’t it shut up? I just wanted it to stop. As I slowly started to open my eyes, a blinding light made me snap them back shut again. I didn’t want to be here. All I could keep thinking about was him. His sweaty hands, roving all over my body, making me want to bathe in bleach to get the feel of him off me. The smell of his foul breath, catching in my throat, making me choke and want to vomit. I could picture his long, dark, filthy hair, hanging over his eyes, making me unsure if they were dark brown or black, making me feel as if I was looking into the pits of hell. To distract myself, I started humming a tune, any tune that came into my head, starting off just random notes, turning into one of my favourite songs, Bring me to life, Evanescence. It was one of mine and Tammy – Jo’s songs. Tammy – Jo; my twin. Who I’d never get to see again. All because of that Bastard. All of a sudden, I became aware of someone screaming, distant at first, but getting closer and closer, louder and louder, confusing me. People were closing around me shouting, running, telling others to calm her down, whoever “her” was;  while the person kept on screaming, louder and louder, until I couldn’t hear anything else. Then it dawned on me. It was me, screaming so much I could feel my throat burning, screaming so much it felt as if my vocal chords were going to tear at any moment. But I couldn’t stop. I could only picture him attacking, stabbing, ripping, and tearing away at my sisters body, so ferociously, blood was splashed up the wall and across the ceiling. I faintly felt a pinprick in my arm, and I was out again.

*

This time, I dreamt. I couldn’t remember if I did last time, but if I did, I remembered this dream more vividly, much more vividly. Probably because it wasn’t a dream; not really. It was a memory.

Chapter 1.

 

The sound of laughter coming through to the hall was infectious to all that heard it. Martha chuckled to herself as she walked up to the living room and peeked through a crack in the doorway to catch her twin daughters watching Mr. Bean “in secret” again. You could hear them laughing from anywhere in the house, but when asked what was so funny, they would share a look and just reply “Nothing!”

“Honestly,” Martha thought. “When those girls are going to admit they still love children’s programmes I’ll never know.”

Just then, the front door slammed shut, a male voice carrying out to the kitchen where Martha stood debating what they should have for tea.

“Look Edmund, just do what you’ve been told, and get it sorted. I’m off duty now, so report to Sergeant Ingram unless it’s a matter of life or death. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Donald Williams walked into the kitchen, just about fitting through the archway without having to dip his head. He silently walked up to his wife, wrapped his arms around her waist and snuggled his head into the crook of her neck, inhaling the flowery scent of the perfume he favoured most.

“Rough day darling?” Martha inquired, giving him a worried look.

“Another girl has gone missing.” Donald sighed in reply. “Roughly eighteen, taken from the streets, same as the last two. Friends reported her last being seen a couple of nights ago. No known family, and no known boyfriends on the scene. That’s three missing girls without a single solid lead. I don’t know how long we can keep this from the press. I think we should tell the girls, just so they can be extra careful.”

“Now Don, we can’t make any rash decisions. What if those girls have just ran away? Wasn’t the second girl a runaway anyway? It wouldn’t be unusual for her to go again. It doesn’t mean that there is someone out there taking girls off the street. There’s no one out there who has said that they’ve seen anything. Can we just not tell them for now? You know Amelia – Rose is a worrier. Something like this will keep her awake at night. And lord knows how Tammy – Jo will react.”

“Martha, they’re nearly 18. They’ve got good heads on their shoulders and they look out for each other. There joined at the hip! Even though they look completely different, people still think they’re twins.”

“I know, I’m just so scared that they’re growing up too fast. I want them to stay as innocent as possible for as long as they can be…” she trailed off, getting too emotional to carry on.

Don led Martha to the study and sat on an arm chair, pulling her onto his lap and into a tight embrace, trying to comfort her as best he could.

“They’re not little girls any more Hon, they deserve to know. They’re smart girls, probably figured out that there is something’s wrong already. We just have to let them know what it is”

***

Having watched the last of Mr. Bean, Tammy-Jo and Amelia-Rose turned the channel over on the TV, still giggling about the characters antics. The girls were just sobering up, when a chorus of “Baby got back” by Sir Mix A lot started playing from down the side of the sofa and started them off all over again.

They were still laughing when their parents walked in with an incredulous look on their faces, wondering what on earth could be so funny it made their daughters behave in this bizarre manner.

The girls straightened their faces and tried to look serious when their parents walked in, but the looks on their faces cracked the masks they had barely formed, and within seconds the twins were rolling on the floor, tears running down their faces, Don supporting Martha as she clutched her sides in pain through laughing at the girls.

Don seated his wife in the seat Tammy-Jo had recently vacated and snorted something about coffee as he left the room, trying to hide his laughter behind coughs and clearing his throat.

Martha took a deep breath, and tried unsuccessfully to turn her expression into one of seriousness.

“Girls, what is so funny? Your dad and I thought that you may have taken something you were laughing so hard! Surely at least one of you came close to wetting yourselves during that bout of hysterics?” Martha chuckled to herself, unable to get the image of her daughters’ blonde and brunette hair fanned out around them, clutching each other’s hands in a bid to stop the laughter.

They shared ‘the look’, shouted “Nothing!” and ran up the stairs laughing manically to each other.

Don entered the room then, carrying two cups of coffee. Accepting a cup, Martha giggled out “Puberty!” while wiping a tear from her eye.

Giving his wife a knowing wink, “Girls” he chuckled in reply.

 

***

Tammy-Jo and Amelia-Rose were the twin daughters of Sergeant Donald ‘Don’ Williams, and his wife Martha. Although they were unidentical twins, they looked and acted enough like each other that people could always tell they were sisters.

Tammy-Jo donned what she liked to think was a punk rock chick look, keeping her blonde hair in a short feathered bob, slightly spiking the ends, and occasionally dyeing the tips different colours, depending on her mood. She wore little make up, preferring to stick to eyeliner and mascara to bring out her piercing green eyes, and just a light blusher to bring out her pale complexion. With her near constant skinny jeans and tight vest top to show off her body, and fake stretcher earring to complete the look, Tammy-Jo almost looks like the complete opposite to her sister.

Amelia-Rose admires her sister confidence to express herself through her appearance but always felt that she could never pull off the look herself. Instead she liked to emphasize the ‘casual’ look that people so often complemented her on. She kept her naturally curly hair just below her shoulders, cut so that it came away from her face, revealing the soft brown eyes that most models craved. Like her sister, Amelia-Rose loved her skinny jeans, but would prefer slightly looser t-shirts and hoody, always with a pair of pumps or her favourite old pair of converse daps.

For the pairs 18th birthdays, they went and had matching butterfly tattoos on opposite ankles, Tammy-Jo’s on the outside right, and Amelia-Rose’s on the outside left. They also each had a ring off their parents, which Tammy-Jo wore on a thin chain as a necklace pendant, and Amelia-Rose wore on her right ring finger, along with a ring she had off an old boyfriend.

After running into the bedroom that they shared, they flopped down onto their beds, still giggling slightly under their breaths. Tammy-Jo rolled over and reached into her bedside cabinet, unwrapped a red lollipop, stuck it in her mouth and closed her eyes, breathing out a sigh of contentment.

They had been lying there silently for a while, too comfortable to speak, when Tammy-Jo’s phone rang, blaring out the chorus of “dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy, one of her favourite bands.

Taking the lolly out of here mouth, she put the call on loud-speaker, answering

“Hello. Tammy-Jo cannot take your call right now. She is too busy rocking out to the sound of her awesomeness. Please leave a message. Beep!”

Which was replied with a shrill screech which could only belong to her best friend, Harry Davies, followed by a click as he hung up the phone she called him back, again putting the call on loud-speaker so that Amelia-Rose could join the conversation. Harry answered with the campest “Hey Girl!” he could muster, trying to contain his obvious excitement.

“Har, I know I’m your best friend and everything, but it’s still rude to hang up on me!” Tammy-Jo sniffed, feigning hurt, tugging on the heart strings only she could.

“I’m sorry, but your voicemail impression was sooo realistic! I was surprised you actually answered, considering I just scored four free tickets to see P!nk at the O2!!” He started screaming again, until his voice caught and he started coughing and spluttering. Amelia-Rose started laughing at him while Tammy-Jo stared open mouthed at the phone screen.

“How did you manage that?” Amelia-Rose hiccupped, overcoming her laughter.

“I know people…” He replied mysteriously. “And Kat has already said she’s up for it if you two are?” He turned cautious, hoping that Tammy-Jo wouldn’t realise that he had spoken to Katarina before calling her.

She did.

“You’ve spoken to who already?!” Tammy-Jo exclaimed, swishing her lolly to emphasise “who”.

“My mum,” He spluttered, knowing he was just digging himself a deeper hole to climb into. “She said I could go as long as someone comes with me.”

Tammy-Jo sniffed while Amelia-Rose tried in vain to keep from laughing, resulting in a snort that sounded so much like a pig, it stopped her giggling immediately and she snuck out of the room to call Katarina and leave her sister to the row he was undoubtedly going to give.

 

***

 

“I still can’t believe you asked Katarina before me. Me! Your most favourite person in the world! I mean, I still love you for getting these tickets and everything, but that’s not the point. As my best friend, you have a duty to inform me of any major events before anyone else. I am just down right hurt.”

Tammy-Jo concluded her rant by facing Harry until he turned to look at her, and then turning her head away quickly after poking her tongue out at him.

In return, Harry chuckled under his breath and ruffled her hair, messing up the carefully styled spikes that Tammy-Jo had carefully dip-dyed pink the night before to celebrate the occasion.

“Patience, young grasshopper. If I didn’t ask Katarina first, we wouldn’t have been guaranteed a ride to the concert. It’s all about perspective.”

Harry sat back, feeling smug. He knew Tammy-Jo would be more focused on trying to fix her hair than to carry on arguing.

“I swear, you two are like a married couple.” Katarina laughed, looking at Tammy-Jo blushing through the rear-view mirror.

“I don’t see why you two don’t just get together. I think it would be really cute…” Amelia-Rose added, blushing herself, knowing that Tammy-Jo had never been in a relationship before. Tammy-Jo took a lollipop out of the packet in her bag, and noticing it was green, she threw it out of the car window.

“Oi! I don’t want any fines, thank you very much. It’s a new car and I would appreciate it if you treated her with respect.” Katarina finished by nodding her head sharply to emphasize her point.

Tammy-Jo carried on as if she hadn’t heard a thing.

“I just need to find… Ugh! For the love of… Kat! You need to pull over! Emergency!”

Katarina instantly flicked on her hazard lights and pulled smoothly up to the curb, just five minutes before they were due to hit the M4. The motorists behind them beeping their horns and shaking their fists in crude gestures as they drove past.

“Tammy-Jo Williams. If you tell me that the big emergency is that you have no more bloody red lollipops, there will be big trouble!”

Katarina turned to face Tammy-Jo, mock fury plastered across her Filipino features. With her dark hair fanning out over her shoulders, and her dark eyes shining with mischief, she tried to glare at her best friends’ twin.

“I seen an Aldi about half a mile back. I’ll give you more petrol money…” Tammy-Jo put on her most sheepish facial expression – the one her and Amelia-Rose perfected to show their parents if they ever got caught doing something that they shouldn’t have been.

Katarina smiled, knowing that there wouldn’t be any petrol money to begin with, let alone any extra for getting lollipops. Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud pig-like snort coming from the passenger seat, which could only mean that Amelia-Rose was trying to hold in a vast amount of laughter.

It didn’t take her long to crack.

“I’m sorry!” Amelia-Rose snorted. “I… I wanted to see…”

She snorted again. Now she was in hysterics, and unable to talk without coughing and spluttering; so she threw her bag to Tammy-Jo in the back seat, causing more than a dozen lollipops to spill onto the floor.

“Oh, that’s fine.” Tammy-Jo said with an air of arrogance. “I’m glad I took your make up out of your suitcase now.” She added smugly.

WHAT?!” Amelia-Rose screamed, instantly sobered, and jumped out of the car.

She ran around to the back of the car and wrenched open the lid of the boot. She returned to find the rest of the group giggling several minutes later, red-faced and silent.

“You act all shy and innocent around people, but when it comes to throwing your knickers around in public, you’re more confident than I am!” Tammy-Jo squealed in laughter, as Amelia-Rose climbed wordlessly back into the front passenger seat of the car.

“Let’s just get this bug car to the stupid concert.” Was all she could think of as a reply.

“It’s a beetle, not a bug! A proper Volkswagen one, look! I got the sunflower in my window and everything.” Katarina pouted, defending her beloved car.

“And P!nk is not stupid!” Gasped Harry from the back, sounding completely aghast at the very idea, and sending the girls into more fits of laughter, as Katarina indicated to pull back onto the road, and started the rest of their journey to London.

Haunted by her past

Standing on the cliff watching the sunset. The sun descending in the distance, making the sea glisten like diamonds. The sea smoothly rocking back and forth, gently placing itself on the beach. Ashlyn can hear it calmly brushing and seeping through the rocks of the rocks. The warm wind gently brushes against her rosie cheeks, her long brown hair swift from shoulder to shoulder. Three beautiful birds with wings spread wide disappearing into the sunset. The scenery took her breath away. She didn’t know how beautiful it would be. She thought a new home, different scenery and a fresh start would be sole destroying. Heading back to her new home, to help her parents unpack, she came across a long forgotten path. She looks at the path and thought should I or shouldn’t I. But something deep down made her feel uneasy of taking the path. She heads home to finish unpacking. Most of the night the path was bugging her, Ashlyn was trying to think, to where she saw the path before. Standing at the beginning of the path. She nervously looking to see where it leads. She couldn’t see in the forest as it was covered with enormous trees, bushes and overgrown brambles, which made the forest dark and dank. It was giving her the feeling of death and mystery. The wind swiftly making the tree branches hit each other and bushes rustling. The look on the forest was giving her an eerie feeling. Crossing her arms, rubbing the triceps, she looks up the bike path to her house and from the forest she hears a blood curdling scream. Her head quickly turns back to the path, she held herself tighter and her heart is pounding. Ashlyn steps back and doesn’t know whether to enter the forest or go home to tell her family. Another scream is screeching through the forest, Ashlyn decides to enter the forest to investigate the noise. Walking on the path after trekking for matter of two minutes, she came around a bend in the path, in the distance was an house, most of the wall was covered in vines and with old fashion windows and doors. Slowly creeping towards the house, something caught her eye. Looking up to the dusty old window, on the top floor left window, she saw a silhouette of a woman, which then she disappears. Then another silhouette appears, this time a man, on which it looks like a weapon of some sort in his hands. The matter of seconds, before the other silhouette disappears, there’s another crying scream. Ashlyn opens the door and automatically she was placed in the bedroom, where she saw the silhouettes. She couldn’t see the woman in the room, The man she saw was sitting on the ottoman at the end of the bed, with his head in his blood smothering hands. In the corner of her eye, she catches sight of something. Ashlyn turns her head and notices a little girl no older than 3 years, wearing a pink dress with shoulder length brown hair, standing in the door way. Everything was frozen in time like a painting. Ashlyn turns around and heads for the door. Her eyes wide open lying in her bed, she realizes it’s just a dream, but it felt real for her, like a past event or something. She shrugged it off. She got dressed, headed downstairs, quickly taken a piece of toast of the table. She shouted to her mam “I’m of to school” “ok” her mam loudly replied from another room. Coming down the bike path, she came to a halt and turned her head to the forgotten path. She wandered if there was anything at the end of the path, like the house that she saw in her dream. A few second pause, she shook her head, thinking to herself dreams aren’t real, just a fragment of a person’s imagination. Most of the day at school, she couldn’t stop thinking about the dream and what it meant. By the time school finished, she forgotten about the dream. A few nights later she had the same dream this time, the father wasn’t sitting on the ottoman, instead still frozen like a picture, he was leaning on the fire place, with one hand on the shelf and the other hand on his hip. He was staring into the fire, like he was staring into hell. But still no sign of the mother. The girl still in the same position like a statue. Exiting the room, Ashlyn wakes up and remembers that she had exactly the same dream nights before it just changes at the end or its added more to itself. She wondering to herself, what if deep down there something trying to tell her about what lies there and if there is truth to her dream. But she keeps shrugging it off, she tells herself it’s just a dream, it’s not real. The next night, her dream appeared again, this time the little girl wasn’t there. The man moved towards the side of the bed and Ashlyn notices a hand coming from the side of the bed, which her had was dripping of blood from her fingertips. The guy picked up the womans lifeless body and left the room. Ashlyn followed to see where he was taken her. A maid came out onto the landing with a mop and bucket “Can’t believe he done it” the maid muttered underneath her breath, whilst she was mopping the drops of blood of the floor. Ashlyn continued down the stairs to catch him up. Only to find when she got to the bottom, she saw him locking a door. She waited for him to leave before she heads for the door. Soon as he was out of sight, Ashlyn heads for the door, somehow it wasn’t locked, even though she saw him locking it. She entered the room, she noticed the body of a woman on the floor. Ashlyn removed the hair from the woman’s face. The woman’s glazed brown eyes wide open, didn’t even flinched. Blood spattered over her face. Ashlyn hears her whispering something, she leans in closer. The woman muttered the words “My beautiful daughter, look how much you’ve grown. You look just like him”. Ashlyn was shocked and confused on what the woman said, before she could say a word, Ashlyn heard a bang from behind her. She looked and saw the man standing there. Ashlyn let out a scream, which woken her up. Her mam came into the room “Ashlyn are you ok” she franticly asked. “I’m ok mam, just some nightmare” “Must be some nightmare for you to scream like that, what is it about” her mam quietly asked. So Ashlyn told her everything about the dreams she was having and how the path she walks past every day seems so familiar. Her mam had that look to her face like she knew something. “Mam are you ok” Ashlyn asked. Shaking her head “I’m ok, I better get ready for work” her mum nervously replied. From her mother’s repsonse, Ashlyn knew that her mother was hiding something from her. Leaving the house Ashlyn came along the path looking at it, she weren’t sure if she wanted to go in the forest to check what lies in there. After a few seconds, she decided to go into the forest and walk the path to see what’s at the end. Ashlyn comes around the bend and notices something in the distance. When she got closer, she realizes it’s the house from her dreams, she couldn’t believe it. She thought it was her imagination playing with her. Every brick, window and door was exactly the same, with no vine out of place. She noticed crime scene tape over the front door. She wonders to herself on either to enter. But she wanted to see if everything inside was the same as her dream. She removed the tape and entered the disserted home. She noticed the door on which she saw a man locking in her dreams. But she wanted to look upstairs to see if it’s the same. She nervously walked upstairs and entered the bedroom, the furniture was still there, but it was all covered in dust and cobwebs. She just can’t believe that everything she was dreaming is becoming almost a reality. Heading back downstairs, she heads for the door, she opens it. She looking around with her eyes and notice the stain on the floor. Only to realize, it was in the exactly the same spot which she saw the woman lying in her dream. She ran out of the house. Ashlyn couldn’t believe that everything she dream, is staring at her in reality. She wanted to learn more on what happened there, to see if there was a little girl there and what happened to her. She went to the archives to find any newspaper clippings on a murder that happened. Looking through the clippings, she came across a newspaper article about a murder that happened in the house. A woman aged 30 years got brutally stabbed by her husband, leaving behind a 3 year daughter. Ashlyn learnt the father is alive, but spending life in prison. She kept on the looking for more information on the daughter’s whereabouts and what her name was. But she couldn’t find anything. Ashlyn remembered that in her dream was another woman. She went to ask the assistant about the murder. But she couldn’t help. Ashlyn took a stroll thinking to herself, there’s no way that it’s just a dream. She thought that maybe she was that little girl and it might be her memory, that by moving there somehow triggered a memory for her. She went home told her mam on what she was feeling. Her didn’t know what to do, so her mum decided to tell her the truth. She told Ashlyn, how when she was only 3 years old, she witnessed her father murdering her mother, that when she took Ashlyn in as her own. Ashlyn couldn’t believe it, she ran out of the house crying didn’t know what to believe. “I want to remember, I want to know why?” Ashlyn asked with tears rolling down her rosy red cheeks. “You don’t need to remember Ashlyn, it will only bring you pain and you don’t need that” her mam anxiously replied. “But I do I need to know why he done it” Ashlyn questioned. Tara decided to take her to the therapist to get some answers and to find see if she could regain the full memory of what happened. Sitting in the waiting room to go in Ashlyn rubbing her hands, turns her head to her mum. “Do you think I’m doing the right thing about finding out the truth” she nervously asked. “It’s not up to me anymore, it’s your choice now Ashlyn” her mum replied. The therapist calls her in. Sitting in the room, she asked about helping her to regain a memory that happened so long ago, she knew that it be hard to reach for that memory, she didn’t have no other choice. The therapist helped her, he told her to relax and set herself back to that day, when she was only 3 years old. She remembered, her parents arguing, Ashlyn in her pink dress ran from her room and snuck into her parents room, she saw a man, her father, with what it looks like a knife, stabbing and cutting her like you would an animal. Beating her like a poor defensive animal, she stood no chance. He took her down stairs after a few minutes of thinking to himself. Ashlyn remembers walking downstairs and watching her father sitting in a chair covered in blood, just looking out the window. No care in the world. Ashlyn wakes up and said she remembers everything. She wanted to know where her father was prisoned. Only to find out the prison he was in was only up the road from where she lived. She decided to visit him and ask him, herself why he did what he did, these questions were going through her mind. Didn’t he love her? Didn’t he care what would happened to me? Did he love me? Why would he do this? Before she went she decided to write a letter, to give to him

Dear Dad
I came back to live the crime, my past. Which I didn’t know at first. To find and to know the truth. Don’t think that I don’t remember, It’s starting to creep back. I watched but you never knew I was there. I witness her blood weeping from her fingertips. Bathing in the windows light, you sat there with no remorse sunk and fixated with the stillness outside. The woman you vowed to protect and love with your life, you picked apart in a beastly fashion. I stood there numb like a deserted cub in this baron to rain. You be walking home now passing the delleric stain shed, gathering the shit on your heel. I leave now. You never give a damn, but I always find delight in calling you the bastard that you are
Yours truly Ashlyn

She took the letter and walked to the prison, walking inside, she asked the guard which one was Mike Johnson. The guard pointed to a guy sitting on his own, bald head, slim athletic built, with stubble on his face. She stood there taking it all in. She thought how can a guy that looks so peacefull can do a horrific crime. He looked up and looked at her. Ashlyn was thinking that he might recognize her. She walked over to the table. “Do I know you” he asked “you don’t remember me, well you should. You left me motherless” she angrily replied. His face went all sympathetic. “Ashlyn” he said “It’s me” she replied. He kept on about how sorry he was on what he done. But Ashlyn didn’t want to know. After long pause she handed him the letter. Stood up “When you killed mam, you killed me too that day” Ashlyn angrily said and she walked off.

Rachel

Fresher’s Start

If I think back on the things I’ve seen, done or through I never thought I’d be here now.
Growing up in such a town with only small, stone town houses, with the slate glistering in all weathers. Only that one straight narrow, street which was barely breathing with business, and all uneven surroundings with hills. It might sound like someone’s perfect retirement spot butt it was frustrating to be in a lifeless town because it made me feel so lifeless. I never really had them people such as real friends my age to enjoy my life and live it up. Support of my family wasn’t really there either only had my grandparents. I had Tara who was a good friend but she was a lot older than me. Anyway I’m going off the story a bit, but the day I left my town was a fresh start for many reasons.
REASEHEATH COLLEGE! Well what can I say best three years of my life but not only for the good stuff but the bad things that happened as well.
When I stepped off the bus there was only fields some stood small and still others flowed like a small stream as the wind breezed through the barley crops. Then I took another step as the bus rushed off as if it was late for an appointment. There it was well not just only one but, 3, 4, 5 maybe 10 too many to count and not one looked the same. Tall, short, wide, narrow, white, brown, red and brick. It looked like a maze and I was an amazed.
I walked towards a smell of fumes, which have backfired, from the bus I could taste the fuel. The sound of the tractor dot further away while the laughing became louder, but I was afraid it was at my expense. The buildings got taller and more prettifying, or it was me getting smaller and feeling out of place. I knew I had to face it all or I wouldn’t ever get stronger and anyone let alone myself inside wouldn’t be proud. As I walked through the maze of colour and standing fixtures. I felt like I was walking in slow motion taking my entire surrounding in. trying to remember my path. White glass, wide but short buildings full of books. Then an old but looking like new as when it was built, with veins coming through the rough stone. Across from the mature building was a lake where the water looked like a soft blanket untouched. Behind the lake there it was my destination. Well only the beginning of my new route in life. So I walked up to the animal centre, didn’t look like I thought there was a white and red bricked building with green windowsills it looked out of place. Everywhere else around me was what looked like old barns falling down, abandoned but no that was my classroom. I looked around it started to look more like a safari park with animals roaming around their new surrounding for the first time. There were groups of monkeys, lions and some elephants and there was one kola bear that stood away from the crowds. Yes that was me I didn’t fit in with others, kept myself to myself, afraid to become someone’s prey or become someone’s predator. Then I heard a call, wasn’t a call from and of the animals I saw not even a call from me but the keepers of us all. The tutors were trying to get order from all of us. The noise soon got quiet. Names were called, we all moved one by one. Then my name got called. I walked over to the tutor she looked very friendly with her bright smile there was something about her smile feel warm inside which made relax in that very moment. When I was standing there waiting to go to my class room time seemed to be getting slower and slower yet the people around me started to get faster. It was a strange feeling it didn’t feel like it was possible; everyone knows time can’t go fast in one place but go slow in the same place. I was so happy to finally go in and sit down my knees were shaking enough from fear let alone holding my weight up. This is when I met my good friend Bex for the first time it wasn’t intentional we just got put in to a group. Holly my tutor called my name again I moved to the back of the class I was standing next to some really old dusty books. It was like the students here in the past never learnt anything from these it was that thick you could drawing a picture or even write your name with your finger on them. How did I know this yes Bex did it? When she was called to stand over by me. Bex was short skinny biggest smile I had ever seen and always giggling to herself a real happy friendly and bubbly person. So we got told what our year would consist of and then finally the tour of the animal centre I thought to myself I have already seen one Safi park today. We walked through these steel gates they were huge at least as tall as a house and they felt so cold and heavy. If I’m honest it felt like I was walking into a prison accept it was it was pretty on the eye, loads of bright colours and full of life. Soon as you walked through the gates these little bundles of joys bouncing around from tree to tree and rope to rope greeted you. And their tails just stood out like a zebra strip black and white. These lemurs where awesome and not frightened of us at all think some of us were more scared. If you looked to your left there was a big enclosure it was just like you was at a zoo trying to see a wild cat but he was hiding behind rock and bushes as if he was hiding ready to pounce of the fresh meat what was in front of him. There was loads of ducks and chickens scattered around the place. As you walk around you come to the aviary, there was birds of prey staring at you and giving you them eyes as if to say welcome but I’m the one in charge. Friendly look but stern. Then we walked past Henry didn’t even realize he was there we thought it was someone in the background taking but no it was Henry talking away to us as much as saying hi to us all. Just when I thought I saw it all I swear I was seeing things in the large field there was a giant guinea pig well I thought it was but it was a capybara. I was seriously thinking I was going insane or they fed a guinea pig way way waaaaaay to much food.

Carla

Nightmares Don’t Hold Back

The sound of a slight breeze was invisible to my ears, but not to my eyes, with the swaying grass and bushes and flowers. Candle light flickered shadows onto the ground, flowers and grass, dancing to their own ritualistic jubilee. I could hear the soft creaking of floor boards as I walked towards the polished door, like someone was tiptoeing around the silent house.

Around me was a neat garden, with green grass that would put the Queens garden to shame. In front of me was a 18th century house, large in size, and despite it’ design it looked brand new, with cream stone walls, and light brown window frames. Candle light is evident and the curtains don’t stop the warm glow, but despite it’s warmth, the cold stone walls brought no welcome, and the brand new feel of the building gave off the aura of hollowness, a hollow home for unsettled ghost’s.

My breath deepened as a cold shiver ran it’s way up my spine. It’s warm here, but I could see my breath freeze, strained swirls of grey, like death had left his cold aura in his wake. Something had infected the air of this once inhabitable place, a place which filled days laughter echoing it’s corridors, and filled hearts with heart felt welcome and love.

It’s cursed.

I wanted to turn and run but my feet only wished to move forward and I couldn’t stop it.

A huge groaning of wood and splinters awake the warm night air as I take a cautious step and reach for the jewelled door knob, the house was screaming in the night. The paint started to flake, dropping off its foundations, dying, falling to their death. Suddenly the once proudly polished and painted door, cracked in half, a lightning bolt crack, the life of the paint and polished dulled and chipped.

The cracked door swung open, halting the onslaught of noise and anguish, and at that exact moment, the candles, only source of comfort and warmth, blew out, and left me in the shadows of the haunted premises.

The moment of terror had past, I was terrified of the death trap in front of me, but my feet only halted for a half a minute, as if waiting for me to take everything in, before slowly shifting me forward towards my untimely doom.

The smell of damp and musty wallpaper hit me like a hammer hitting a nail and was just as sudden as the front door swinging open. The air was dry, like something had sucked the oxygen out of it. The dust, disturbed by my boot, flew into the air, as if to reach for whatever oxygen was left, as if fighting for their last breath.

The house groaned loudly with pain and effort, a delayed but violent reaction to the violent opening of the crumbling front door.

I took another step forward.
I wanted to turn and run back out, but I could only keep going, some sort of nagging thought moved me forward, a truth I needed to know, a secret that needed to be set free, could only be found in this house, and by me.

A scuttling noise and a darting shadow averted me. Scratching caught my attention to the open door way to my left….

Letter to a Friend
From One Vampire to Another

5th June 2013

Dear Natalia

It has been a long time since I have wrote to you and for this I am truly sorry and I must apologise.
I have found a place that I know would stir unwanted memories from their slumber if you were to visit me.
It is an old house, I’m not sure how old it is, but I am sure it would have been thriving around about the time I met you and Ed’.
I sit now in its highest point, a large bedroom, with royal blue carpets and simple wooden beds, about three of them, but there is also another mattress and bed frame under the bed nearest the toilet, which could easily be put up in this rather spacious room without getting in anyone’s way.
I have the window open. It has a design a lot like the windows of the house I was brought up in, which then I thought the glass panes and wooden squares were a cage. How naïve could I have been? To think I was caged into a horrible place and terrible home? How could I have been so wrong? I look at the window now instead of the beautiful sea view in front of me and pine for a home I can never go back too, or ever find again.
The sea view is something new, as you very well know the house I was brought up in was surrounded by fields and the nearest beach was at least a good five hours away by horse and carriage.
I am glad I can see it. This place is enough like home for me to miss it and to feel comfortable, but it’s different enough for me to feel content and not send me into a panic and dramatic episode, where I would be a complete nightmare for at least 3 days.
The breeze through the window is a comfort to me. I can smell the sea salt in the air.
It would be better if I could not hear the traffic, a constant drifting hum through the peaceful countryside and reassuring waves, you know how much I hate technology and vehicles.
It is a very unwelcome change, as well as this fire place beside me which looks like it’s come straight out of a distasteful 1940’s/50’s junk yard sale.
I am sorry my friend for my moaning.
I guess it’s my old age, or maybe I am just missing home and the 18th century, I miss you too.
Just to let you know that I am well as I ever will be, and that I hope to cross paths with you soon.

Yours Truly
Elizabeth

Madison

Torfaen Waterworks

Waterworks is a heritage lottery funded project to restore 1.5km (1 Mile) stretch of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, in Llantarnam, South Cwmbran. The project is for three years initially from 2012-2015. Within the 1.5km section of restoration there are eight lock chambers to restore a well as a number of listed bridges and pounds.

The project is a partnership between Torfaen County Borough Council and the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canal Trust and involves a number of training organisations including Coleg Gwent, Torfaen Training, ITEC Training and Rathborne. The Canal restoration project is led by community volunteers and provides training in canal restoration and heritage skills to help sustain the canal in the future.

In March 2014, volunteers at the Torfaen Waterworks restoration project enjoyed three workshops with local poet Ric Hool.

Workshops explored the local environment, tools of restoration works and emotions related to working in the local environment.

Poems:

The Canal
A canal is a motorway of water
During holiday times
With families swapping land-lives
For a few weeks on the water
Josh

Canal Life
A small brown bird balances on a reed
That spikes the sky
A neon flash is a kingfisher
Spearing minnows
A canal, where Nature meets engineering
Luke

Canal Speed
There is a place
A country lane of water
Where joggers on the tow path
And narrow boats on the canal
Move at the same easy pace
Gareth

The Works
Digger driving
Mud working
Making tea
Wood working
Rain working
Making tea
Stone working
Carpentry
Making more tea
Mud
More mud
Going home
Muddy
Gareth

Canal Locks
Locks are
Thunderous waterfalls
Watery prisons
Boat lifts
Watery puzzles
Making sure
The canal works
Craig

Canal Quietness
Narrow boats move
Like thoughts over water
Sewing themselves under humped-backed bridges
That cast a reflected eye onto the canal
As each boat chugs past
Steve

Lump Hammer
It’s square-ended
Heavier than a claw

It dresses stone with a sound
Like throwing pebbles at a wall

Each strike one big vibration
Steve

Chainsaw
Put on the protective gear
Jacket, trousers and gloves
Five times tougher than leather

Choke on
Yank the starting cord
Until it kicks in
Then, half-choke only

It buzzes like a 50 cc motorbike
Vibrations tingling my arm
And I feel like a king
Doing an important thing
Jack
Canal

It’s not a place for water sports
It’s more of a place for water thought
It’s a country lane of quietness
A bathing pool for moorhens
And mallards afloat
With sleepy heads under wings
It’s not a place for football crowds
It’s not a place for shouting aloud
It’s a slice of peacefulness
It’s a canal

Jack

From A to B

Started here late
August early
September

The first day
Got along
With everyone

Not something
I’m particularly good at
– meeting people

Learned awesome things
Mixing mortar
Block pointing
Hacking
Hedging
Hooking
Fencing

This is my chance
To return full-handed
With a Constructions Skills Certificate card
To work once more
With my dad
Canal Autumn

It’s autumn
The mist is sitting on the water as the dawn breaks
The birds are singing high above
and the ducks are foraging in the water
A squirrel runs across my path

The sun emerges
Flashes of colour highlighted against the sky
Red, gold, brown leaves rustling as I walk
A buzzard whistles overhead searching foe prey
A cyclist sails by on his way to work

It will be exhausting
Trudging through mud raking out weeds,
cleaning, pointing and rebuilding stonework
I will get filthy and smelly
but this is where I work.
What a joy!
Liz

Restoration

Early morning
mist rising
birds singing
ducks swimming
dawn is breaking
all is tranquil down on the canal

boys are gathering
kettle’s on
mixers churning
diggers moving
tool assembling
noise rising down on the canal

work commences
hammers thwacking
stones cracking
mortar bonding
walls emerging
job progressing down on the canal

time to clean up
tools away
tired and filthy
bones aching
back breaking
exhausting day down on the canal
Liz

Canal Storm

It won’t be shorts and T shirt today
Layers
Lots of them
That’s what’s needed
We look like Michelin men
in bright yellow suits
Helmets on
and gloves
Don’t forget the safety goggles

A cry goes out
Someone’s stuck in the mud
One or two go to help
but the rest just look on
We’ve all been there
Muddy foot back in the boot
Nothing to hold on to
while you ease your foot free
Tricky business

The battle begins
Duelling chainsaws chop away
Down they fall
Now the hackers start
they cut off every limb
Then the loppers take their turn
Thrashed to pieces
the remains are thrown onto the fire
Only the large blocks are saved
To die another day

It’s getting dark
The mountains have disappeared
Prepare yourselves
Wind whipping up
Large pellets battering down
The fire roars back
Flames leap into the air
Anger raging at the storm

Time to shelter
Race to the cabin
Kettle on
Tea all round
Did anyone collect the spuds?
Wrapped in their silver coats
We undress them
A bedraggled group huddled together
seeking refuge from the squall

Respite comes
The storm abates
Return to combat
The fire has waned
but fights back as new morsels arrive
Saw, cut, chop, burn
the skirmish continues
but it’s getting late
We’ll not reach our target today

Time to retreat
Mud-spattered faces
Gloves soaked and torn
Scars of battle embedded in our hands
Yellow suits now black
Unrecognisable
We return home
Aching and sore
But we’ll return to battle again tomorrow
Liz

Rhys Davies update

      

Throughout February and March 2014 young people from Merthyr Tydfil, the Vale of Glamorgan and Neath Port Talbot enjoyed a series of creative writing workshops as part of the Rhys Davies Education and Outreach project.

In partnership with Merthyr Valley Homes, the Rhys Davies Education and Outreach Project created a cross-art form intergenerational scheme involving creative writing, rapping, music and film. Young people of Forsythia Youth, Gurnos and residents of sheltered Housing complex Horeb Close, Penydarren enjoyed a series of workshops exploring views of the local community.

Initially each group worked independently – Horeb Close with author Mike Church, Forsythis Youth with Rufus Mufasa creating poetry and rap songs exploring issues such as communities now and then, councillors, work, discipline, bullying, relationships, education and perceptions of one another through memories, aspirations, concerns and hopes.

Participants were involved with all aspects of the project, writing, performing, playing instruments and editing. Each session was full of laughter, stories, rapping, acting and composing offering individuals an opportunity to experience new art forms, whilst also challenging perceptions of living and growing up in Merthyr Tydfil.

The project was celebrated with a ‘Film screening of the film Silver Hoodies on 2 April at the newly renovated Red Hoiuse, Merthyr Tydfil. Everyone who took part attended the event as well as many local councillors, local council officers and management of Merthyr Valley Homes. Each individual also received a copy of the film as a lasting celebration of the project.

Pupils at Ysgol Bro Morgannwg enjoyed two days of creative writing led by Gwennan Evans. The project linked with the Vale Libraries digitization project and pupils explored archive photographs of the local area and enjoyed a visit from a member of the local Tabernacl to help bring the pictures alive. Vale libraries will also assist the pupils in creating their own online story presence as a lasting celebration of the project. Gwennan Evans said: ‘Everyone involved were a pleasure to work with.’

 

Pupils at Cefn Saeson Comprehensive school enjoyed two days with celebrated author Mike Jenkins. The young people explored how to create a sense of place and character to enable them to create stories with a strong setting and character voice to move the plot further. Head of English Leighton Davies said: ‘Always a pleasure to have Literature Wales author’s visit us. I think that the workshops went really well. Mike Jenkins identified some really talented young writers and we were pleased to be involved.’

Publishing Poetry

In the year celebrating the centenary of Dylan Thomas, Publishing Poetry offered  a perfect range of poetry performances, workshops and the opportunity of a one-to-one session with Seren Poetry Editor, Amy Wack  at the recently refurbished Gwyn Hall, Neath on 1 March 2014.

Gillian Clarke, National Poet delivered the keynote speech celebrating Wales and Welsh poets. The day also included an interesting array of workshops with: Damian Walford Davies, Paul Henry, Emily Hinshelwood, Jonathan Edwards and Rhian Edwards.

Rhian Edwards was winner of Wales Book of the Year 2013, the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry 2013, the People’s Choice 2013, as well as current winner of the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry, she is a rare poet who successfully bridges the gap between page and performance poetry and delivered an inspiring workshop called Making the Abstract Concrete.

Produced in partnership between the South Wales Literature Initiative, Literature Wales, Neath Port Talbot libraries and Seren Books, the day appealed to all with an interest in discovering more about how to create poetry and publish their work, all on St David’s Day the celebration of Welsh culture and history.

Residential Homes workshops

    

Throughout November 2013, February and March 2014residents of Spring Gardens Residential Home, Newport, Llys Ton, Bridgend and Cliffhaven, Parkside and Ty Gwyn, Penarth enjoyed a series of workshops with poets Ric Hool, Mike Church and Phil Carradice.

Bridgend County Borough’s first Extra Care housing scheme Llys Ton, managed by Valleys to Coast Housing Association is a purpose-built complex in Kenfig Hill, which provides high-quality specialist homes for 70 older people in 39 units.

Spring Gardens is a residential care home owned by Newport City Council, located in the Pill area of the City. It caters for the needs of 34 elderly people with dementia. In exceptional circumstances the Home will take people under 60 years of age.

Parkside Care Home, Penarth is registered to provide residential care for a total of 39 people who are elderly or dependent. On one floor they have a secured area to provide specialised care for up to 12 residents who have been diagnosed to suffer from dementia. Ty Gwyn Care Home, in Penarth, is a forty-five capacity service designed to suit the daily lives of older people with care needs. Cliffhaven Care Home also is a residential home specialising in support for people with dementia or alzheimers and accommodates 19 people

Residents enjoyed relaxed workshops exploring memories of childhood, school. Their local environment and hopes and fears. The discussions were crafted by the poets into the poems below:

Spring Gardens with Ric Hool

Meeting Christina

I like the word, ‘worser’
because I’m not getting any, ‘worser’.
The ones that are I swear at…
and cuddle. They are the ones
battling through each misty day.

Fifty-one years married but separated
now, my husband, blind and deaf
can’t look after me, nor me him,
so he visits, he’s here today
my butterfly and I’m his favourite flower.

Christina’s Haiku

Pinky-salmon pill.
When I take that one I’m off
to La La La Land…

Spring Gardens 3: Christina in Australia

I was a singer
Had gowns
Had the body
Sang in hotels
Did some TV
Wore a yellow dress
In a film
Was going places
As a singer
As good as some
Better than others
‘Autumn Leaves’
(Nat King Cole)
My favourite song
D’you want to hear it?
I’ve still got the voice
Derrick’s Holiday in Torquay

I remember the hand built wooden boat
flat bottomed to easily beach,
getting in to play a pirate, the older boys
pushed me off, out to sea. Who knows

where I might have sailed, The Spanish Main
certainly, had it not been for the woman
tucking her skirt up into her knickers
wading out to rescue me.

Llys Ton with Mike Church

Holidays and Friendships
Packing the suitcase
Knowing what to take
What not to take.
Childhood holidays:
Some of us never had them.
In the old days
It was Chapel days out
Some days ‘Mystery Trips’
Booked on the train
That excitement of leaving home
For the first time
The Boys School Camp at St Athan
With tadpoles in the swimming pool
And pillows of straw
Rugged holidays they were
Mouths washed out with salt on stage
A display of humiliation to all
And you never forgot
The only holidays you were glad to get home from!
Then the Girls Group in the band
And we’d go potato picking or tomato picking
To earn a few bob on holiday
And for some never a holiday at all
But people mucked in together
And we were happy
Some shipped out to Cardigan to avoid The Blitz
The Guard on the train watching over us
All the way to Fishguard
Then there for the summer
Holidays that brought lifelong friendships
Meeting youngsters from another world
Or friends that took you to Buckingham Palace
And a first time in London
Saving up a penny in school
Three shillings was a lot of money in those days
We never had much
But we were content with what we had
In those old days
We’ll never forget

Growing Older
Growing Old
There’s the pain
The lack of mobility
The frustrations
The loneliness
There’s simple things you can’t do anymore
And regrets for those things you never got to do
Time now seems to go on so long
And you can’t do the things you want to do
It takes six hours to do a two minute job
Like making a cake
Every time you brush your hair
There’s more left on the brush than there is on your head
You look in the mirror and think ‘Who’s that?’
We can’t keep up with the gadgets
But then there’s the family
The children and the grandchildren
The photographs
And those yet to come
A sense of pride in what youngsters do
Growing old
You lose your sense of inhibitions
Or sometimes you develop them
The youngsters hold doors open
You notice the kindness and care
And you get to know your doctor well
But everything takes longer
And someone has to make you a cup of tea (usually Carl)
There’s the physical chore of putting your socks on
All those things you took for granted
Some people sail through
But growing old…
You never thought it would happen.

Courting and Nights Out

We’ll tell you about courting
We used to go to the Ranch House Cinema
With double seats at the back
Walking home from the cinema then making another date
Meeting boyfriends on the school bus
My father had a frying pan for those times
I missed the last bus
There were dances held everywhere
Clubs taking turns to put them on
And girls never drank back then
If you did you were the scarlet lady
My mother never went to the pub in her life
My grandfather resigned from the Committee
When women were allowed in the Club one Sunday a month
There was no binge drinking
We never had the money
Or the inclination
We had to get back for the nightshift
Mothers would buy jugs of beer
At the back door of the pub
For pitmen to have at home after a shift
The Town Hall was the centre of everything
Young Farmers, Girls Brigade and a dance each month
We had the Ambulance Hall and the Snooker Hall
And we liked our entertainment face to face
With bags of chips and a fritter
Crackling and a pennorth’s worth of scraps of fish
Faggots and peas was a good night out
And when the courting got serious
It was a best tea, best dishes and meet the family
Getting your feet under the table
We could tell you something about courting
And nights out…….

Welsh Rugby

The rugby brings the Welsh camaraderie
You can talk to everyone about it
We can all share how terrible the game was
And ‘What do you know anyway…you’re English!’
You’d never see your husband on a Saturday afternoon
But the women are worse now
It’s entertainment for everybody
It’s patriotic
Children dressed up, painted faces, waving flags
In Cardiff it was the Bluebirds
But rugby was the man’s game
I remember the TV broke down
We had to get another in two hours
It cost £25 but we did it with no online shopping then
And the shouting went on
I remember Erica the streaker
The day I hitched a ride in a helicopter
I remember the Aussie team staying in the Seabank Hotel in Porthcawl
Everyone packed the cinema in the night they went
As they always sat down together those huge men
And the seats always collapsed
The locals laughed
The rugby is when people meet upagain
We all know Barry John, JPR and Gareth Edwards
An they’re like us
All in it together all part of Wales
You’re obliged to ask how the team got on
Even if you hate sport
It gets Wales on the map
But only when we win
And if they don’t
Let’s not mention it at all
To be born Welsh
Is to be born privileged
With poetry in your head
And music in your soul

Childhood Memories

Childhood changes
There’s a bigger range of food now
We never saw bananas
In fact we went pinching them from a boat in the docks
The family went mad for them
And people ate them peel and all
We didn’t know
Rabbits too were big foods for us
Shot and shared
We’d buy them for sixpence
Childhood changes
If we were lucky we had a Sunday best suit
There was row upon row of children
Reciting their times tables
When we were older some of us would bunk off
If we could
We had orphanages, church and chapel
Children sent to Australia overnight
Horrific tales of almost slavery
Childhood changes
We had the war and the constant sirens
Hopscotch and hula hoops
Marbles and home built bikes
There were no cars then
We walked to school and played in the streets
And everything was shared
Childhood changes
An outbreak of polio in the river
And the police would chase us out
We had coal tips to play on
Spending summer holidays up the mountain
We stayed in tents by the pond
Come home and raid the pantry
And we’d catch starlings and sparrows in fine nets
And BBQ them at night
But we’d never touch a crow
They always stank of soot
Childhood changes
Picking primroses and blackberries
And scrumping apples
Everyone had allotments
And the sheep would get in
If you caught them you could keep them
Slaughter it and share it out
We had to have food back then
Childhood changes
Now it’s phone in one hand
Computer in the other
Children not safe to go out
Everything risk assessed until the fun has gone
We played wild
Childhood changes
Is it better?
We’re not convinced…

The Suitcase

Inside might be the string you need to tie it up
Everything needs string eventually
Holding suitcases and lives together
There might be a toy motorbike
Or a thousand labels from a thousand countries
There might be childhood memories and family photographs
Yours and mine
Or perhaps there’s just another smaller suitcase
Who knows what awaits you inside the suitcase
Maybe a pair of earrings
Or all my worldly possessions
Perhaps a pack of sandwiches and a flat iron
Or a ladder to god knows where
Maybe to catch sparrows and starlings
Who knows what awaits you inside the suitcase
A bottle of pop, sausage roll, toad in the hole
Or the key to a special place
And toiletries to travel?
Maybe there are just two pairs of dirty socks
And some foreign coins
Maybe you’ll find the cogs of a working mind
Perhaps the last thing on your mind
Who knows what awaits you inside the suitcase
You might find a blanket and a stolen ashtray
Or words and thoughts for your future
Let’s open the suitcase
And appease our curiosity
And find out who it belongs to
Or shall we just leave it there
And keep the mystery and illusion going forever?
There’s no community anymore
People used to help out
Even in residential settings community means different things
In the Valleys of old I had 60 or 70 aunties
Doors were left open
Never needed to be locked
Nothing to steal too
But is there any community anymore?
I used to get babysat for a bottle of guinness
Mrs Whitfield would babysit the whole street
Industries created community
Bonded at the core
But is there any community anymore?
People stayed in one place
They didn’t have the money
Everybody pulled together
Everybody equal
Nowadays you don’t always see children playing
And sharing in the street
In the old days every lamp post doubled up as a wicket
And we had rope swings around them too
We’d dress up and hold concerts
We had sing songs together
We had community spirit
But is there any community anymore?
A proud Welsh nation
Who are now texting as they’re talking
With phones and ipods and ipads
When you lose your sight
You become invisible to the younger generation
Time was when people would respect the elderly
There was a real sense of belonging
But is there community anymore?
You tell me

Poems from Penarth with Phil Carradice

Poems from Cliffhaven

Dad

Dad was delicate
although he smoked
just like a chimney.
We’d go to town
and he’d light up –
Don’t tell your man, he’d say,
she’d have a fit.
It didn’t stop him.

I used to whisper
Got a fag, Dad?
And he’d smile.
But he never gave me one.

I remember it
with so much love.

Mice

Mice; the house
was full of mice.
Mum would sweep the table,
throw crumbs onto the floor.
And mice would come,
so many mice,
to eat it all.
Nothing left.
Only the mice.

In the Air Raid Shelter

I remember
our air raid shelter,
in the cellar, warm as toast.
My Mum would wrap us up so snug,
my younger brother and me,
and down we’d go..

Not Dad – I’m not
spending half my life down there
he’d say. I’d smile
at him so sweetly.
I’d be far happier
if you came, I said.
He never did.

Those years, so rich,
so full of love.
Safe

It was safe, back then,
safe to run around. And warm.

My Dad was kind, I loved him.
He didn’t go anywhere,
do anything,
but he always
took me with him.

Until he died.
I remember him
with so much love.

The Bus to School

A big red bus to take me
off to school, from my house, each day,
my house just opposite the stop.
Everyone would shout
and I’d come running out
to catch the bus to school,
the big red bus.

The Stream

Outside the school a stream, a brook,
and giant conker trees.
Fish in the stream,
conkers in their rough green jackets.

And in the season we’d wade in,
water swirling round our boot tops
and our ankles.
We didn’t care, not then.
Anything for conkers.

The Bus to Cardiff

We’d go to Cardiff on the bus,
getting off at Kingsway.
I’d stand there, on the bridge
to watch the men go fishing
in the river as it curved away
from the castle walls.

I don’t suppose they
ever caught a thing.

Barry

Barry was a part of me,
I was there so many years
just growing up.
All of my childhood was Barry.

You’d see the ships
from every part of town,
in the dock, out in the river.
Barry was all sea, really.

And Barry was a part
of me.

Poems from Parkside

I Remember

I remember colours blending,
nature with its green grass and trees.
The sky so blue above.

I remember
father with his kettle,
brewing tea, sitting on the beach.

I remember
walking in the woods,
tying primroses together
using coloured string,
for gifts to take home.

I remember always smiling
when the sun came out
and the fields so green and fresh.

Pride

I was so proud,
those wartime years.
My father’s medals,
silver and gold,
glinting in the sunlight.

The pride shone through,
it shines through still,
my father’s medals,
silver and gold
in the sunlight.

Penarth

Penarth is calming, soothing.
Time was the docks
were full of ships
and bombing every night.
But now Penarth is calming,
sitting on the beach, the pebbles
round and hard beneath your body.

Penarth is calming.
Painters on the sea front,
decoupage and 3D landscapes.
Penarth is calming.
From the West Indies

I came from the West Indies,
Grenada where I lived.
I been gone a long time now.
But Grenada, all them fruits –
take what you want, anytime.

I came to Cardiff,
working on the docks.
All changed now, them tenements
all gone – and the old timers,
they gone, too.

Some ships still come.
Not many though,
not like they used to,
the docks all changed.

I came from the West Indies,
Grenada where I lived.

Memories.

Memories?
I had dolls but didn’t play with them.
I played with my friend Glenys.
Or maybe watched TV
or listened to the radio.
The war?
Oh, I remember it
but only vaguely.
It didn’t really register with us
all that much.
Too young, I suppose.

My Dad

Dad was strict – he had to be.
Eleven children, wife dead in childbirth.
A big, big family, me stuck in the middle.
Yes, he was strict.
He had to be.

Church on Sunday

We always went to church
on Sunday, sitting with the Vicar’s wife
in the front row.
I loved the singing, the reciting,
all the books of the Bible –
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
and the rest.
I can say them even now.

I learned them
for a competition,
me and the Vicar’s daughter.
She got them wrong – I didn’t.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus
and all the rest.

Band of Hope

Band of Hope in the evening,
Church on Sundays,
everything around the church.
I loved that Church,
part of my life, it was.

We learned so much.
I still sing the songs –
“The best book to read is the Bible.
If you read it every day,
it will help you on your way.
The best book to read is the Bible.”

Oh, I loved that Church.

Swansea Market

Swansea town, so lovely.
All the shops, the market.
Cockles and cakes
from the market stalls.

And the man with the jar
of broken sweets.
Dad would buy a bag.
We’d share them out.
So much cheaper
than the new, unbroken ones.

Oh yes, the old
Swansea Market stalls.
Poems from Ty Gwyn

Play

I remember all the plays we did,
bits of acting, bits of dancing.
Six of us singing
“Impudent Barney, none of your blarney,
Impudent Barney O’Hay.”

I remember rugby out on Llandaff Fields,
playing hooker – stupid, stuck there
in the front row like a man on a cross,
open for anyone to punch.

I remember playing wooden tops
in the middle of the road, the tops
spinning, whirling in the roadway.
No traffic in those days.

I remember it all so well.

Ten in the Family

Ten in the family –
no TV back then.
Church each Sunday,
miss it at your peril.

Bloody good living,
Cardiff in those days,
all the enjoyment
of the family.

The Brass Plaque

On the pavement in front of our house
a big brass plaque – Portland Cement, it said.
A woman from the office,
close to where we lived,
she polished it each week.
She was so proud
of that big brass plaque.

It disappeared, that plaque,
when the cement works got closed down.
I often wondered where it went.

Below the Stairs

We had a space, beneath the stairs.
During the war we slept there every night,
us little ones.
A tiny window opened up
into the shed.

When the raids had ended
we climbed out that way,
over old potato sacks.
Like escaping
from a prison camp.

Bombing.

Bombs dropped, falling
in the fields
across the way.
Craters everywhere.
Walking through the trees,
bombs falling all around,
the noise so loud,
explosions in your ears.

A Good Life

A great, good life when I was young.
Milk from the farm, fresh food.
We’d ride the hay carts
as they cut the hay, the men,
in the field across the road.
Then stroke the horses
and roam the hay fields.
Yes, a great good life
when I was young.

Scarlet Fever

When I caught Scarlet Fever, they put me
in the isolation hospital at Ely.
There were air raids all the time
and so they’d carry us, wrapped
up in blankets, through the trees.
Bombs dropping, we ran towards the shelter,
the noise so loud
it hurt your ears.

Waiting

Waiting, always waiting.
We lived in rooms,
shared a kitchen.
It was horrible.
Six years we waited
for a Council House
and picked up the keys
on my thirtieth birthday.

A Nasty Blighter

My father was a nasty blighter,
loved to beat my Mum.
It sticks in your mind, all that.

Mum couldn’t leave, do anything.
She had the kids, us children.
She had to take it.

Sport

I had toys, Minnie Mouse and things.
But I loved sport, netball and athletics.
They were my thing.
They were what I played.

WPC 6

WPC 6, I was, when I joined the force.
I wanted the excitement, on the beat
night and day, walking or driving
in the squad car.

Arresting people?
Not that nice – unless
they needed it!

Music

I loved music, still do, I guess,
listening and singing.
The Ink Spots, Platters,
Mills Brothers and Bing Crosby.
Anything a bit sentimental, loving.
I still sing, even now.

War

I remember seeing people
walking up the lane, with soldiers.
And soldiers,
American soldiers, marching.

You’d hear the bombs,
whistling as they fell.
Then the explosions
as we say, shivering,
in the Air

National Tree Week

In November 2013 pupils from Pilgwennlly Primary School visited Belle Vue Park, Newport and worked with poet Ric Hool to create poems inspired by the landscape of the park.

The pupils explored the cultural geography of the trees in the park, many of which originated from Asia, China, Australia and Africa. They also created poems exploring the history associated with old trees and the ancient druidic cultures associated with them.

The pupils were invited back to Belle Vue Park during National Tree Week on 29 November and performed a selection of the poems to local Education Officers, the Park Manager, Friends of Belle Vue Park and members of the local council and media. The pupils also planted a new tree as part of the celebration.

Examples of poems:

Oak Tree Memory

I remember a time when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up James 1st in parliament, The Gunpowder Plot.
I bear in mind the black rats brought the plague to London, the plague doctor, big hat, pointy stick, a long nose, scary creature.
I recall when the angry great fire burnt everything in its path, people running, houses falling, children dying, all because of a mistake.

Aman

Oak Tree Memory

I remember a time when the Germans attacked Britain in World War 2, many people lost their lives fighting for continued freedom.
I recall air raid shelters to protect people from the German bombs.
I think back to the destructive air raid sirens warning the people that the Germans were here.

Karan

Oak Tree Memory

I remember the horrible World War 2, Germany and Britain at war, explosions, people screaming, solders marching and air raid sirens.
I bear in mind the Great Fire of London where houses and buildings no longer stand, people dying and many mistakes made.
I recall Guy Fawkes plotting to blow up the houses of parliament, caught in the act, tortured until he told.

Teresa