Monday 30 April 2018


One year, instead of travelling on the Great Western Railway, my father hired a small, half-timbered Morris Minor estate car to visit his family home. The little car was just fine for two adults, two small children and the family's bags, and gave us unprecedented freedom.
One day the inevitable rain stopped at Beech Terrace. In response my father announced a trip to take his wife and children to the beautiful Gower Peninsula, a world away from our valley. But then he was dismayed to find that everyone else wanted to come too: Grandma, Grandpa, and my young uncle and aunt Gerald and Geraldine, who then still lived at home. They all presented themselves on the doorstep, grinning in anticipation.

But the Morris was tiny; quite unequal to carrying such a load. Of course father had to declare that he could only safely and legally take one other outside his immediate family. Yet when the moment of departure came both grandparents appeared in their Sunday best. There was an impass, then they sternly retreated to the kitchen. After a short while Grandma was left weeping on the doorstep. I don’t suppose my grandparents ever had a holiday away from Cwmcarn, before or after.

The drive seemed interminable but the Gower was a welcome oasis of green after the coal-stained and iron-clad world of the valleys and Swansea. The sands were bright, warm and endless. But on the south side of Rhossili Bay the rampant rocks of Worms Head gazed grimly to seaward. It was easy to see that to storm-bound sailors they would look like a giant sea monster, its head raised, sternly watching the approaches to Llanelli, eternally displeased with the crowded terraces, the mines and the heavy industry, ready to take revenge on any sailor foolish enough to pass close by.
But the sea sparkled and the sands of Gower were warm and endless, much as my grandmother’s tears.