Sunday, August 12, 2007

Penygraig adventures

(taken from notes, Sat July 21)

It's too hard to write here, no nice sitting room! No table either! It's 11 am and we're on the train to Tonypandy. There's massive flooding everywhere, due to torrential rains. Yesterday Cardiff had 5" of rain in a few hours. We were caught in it and got soaked so had to go to a gas station to call a taxi to get to Cardiff Castle.

Two large blops of rain hit each of my shoes as I was walking and my shoes and socks were immediately drenched!

The countryside here is lush and green and the rivers we pass are very high. It would be beautiful if the sun would come out! We bought "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in a little shop near the train station before we left this morning. It's the last book in the series and I wonder how it will end. I finally read book #6 just before we left for Europe so who knows when I will read this one!

It's too difficult to write now and we've just arrived in Pontypridd, which is pronounced "Ponytprith". We left at 10:36 and it's now 11:03 so that's not bad. Our stop is just ahead.

(later) It was a bit tricky finding Wyndham Street in Penygraig. We asked for directions in a little grocery store on the main street. There were rain clouds in the distance, raining quite heavily on the hills so we didn't linger.

I knocked on the door of # 15 on Wyndham street, to make sure it was the right house. My grandma grew up in this house, and previous to that, in a house in Trealaw. I was amazed at how nicely the house was kept up! A woman answered my knock and seemed surprised to see me. I had a copy of the picture of Grandma with her mom and brothers, standing in that same doorway, and I showed it to her. She was very interested. She let me peek inside, and I saw the fireplace where my great grandma used to cook, and the staircase leading up above where my grandma and her family used to climb to go to bed each night.

It felt surreal! It was really nice, and the present owner said the whole house had been re-gutted 12 years ago. The ceiling had an embossed design on it. There was nice furniture everywhere and I was pleased to see it looking so good.

Unfortunately the woman had to go out for an appointment, and we couldn't stay to talk. I took a few pictures, and was so happy to get a chance to see the house at last. Of course, nothing is ever at all like I imagine it will be! She pointed out Trealaw cemetery to me, in the distance, nearly in line with the view from the doorway.

The surrounding valleys are so green and pretty but the town itself is quite depressing. I quickly gave up the idea of going to the cemetery to find baby Stanley Palmer's grave, as the looming rain clouds dampened my spirits exceedingly. If I had to live here I'd die, unless the sun shone for at least 3/4 of the year. It might help. Welsh people don't look anything like the Dutch; they are pale and have a pinched look about them.

Most of them are friendly and I love how they talk, like singing. The inflection goes up and down. I think I'd have a pinched look with all this rain too! It's the wettest summer on record. We went back to Cardiff around 1:30 and caught the train to Bath which took 1 1/2 hours. Now Bath is a really neat place!


Anonymous said...

Oh you can make me laugh! When I read about your soaked shoes. Did they dry out quickly when you put them near the beautifully warm, clear flame of the coals in your hearth? Did you bring a lump home of your 'roots'? Will you put it in Matt's stocking for Christmas or burn it to amuse Ash and Jam? Down below it looks like I have to interpret a welsh word...nboiutbl

Janice Crider said...

It was nice to find your web page. My mother grew up in Penygraig. My grandmother and grandfather had a store there. It is still open but my family doesn't own it anymore. Not sure exactly where it is but could find out from one of my family members. I still have family in Ton Pentre which we do visit often.
My mothers name was Thelma Williams and my Grandmother was from Cornwall area her maiden name was Liwall.

Janice Crider
Fort Wayne, IN

Janice Crider said...

Oh I spelled my Grandmother's name wrong. Her name was Ethel Lilwall.