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 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; 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.

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 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.


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 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.


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


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.


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, 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.


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, 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!


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.


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