A couple of days ago, I was walking a couple of clients’ dogs along the beach road. It was a gloriously sunny day and as we walked, I glanced across the water. The tide was out, the Welsh hills clear and you could see as far as the Clwydian Range. Proud amongs the peaks, Moel Famau was visible and it reminded me of all the days we spent walking in Wales.
Both sides of my family were Welsh, and my maternal Great Grandmother lived in Connah’s Quay until I was about 16, when she came to live with us. At various times during the year, our family, dog included, would go and stay for a weekend, and my brother and I would stay with her for a week during the school summer holidays.
Not far from my where my Great Grandmother lived is a road bordered by woods. Drive up that road and you smell the wild garlic that has seeded itself. I used to wind down the window and inhale deeply. I loved the smell and still do. It is probably the predominant fragrance of my childhood. That and wet dog.
The dog used to paddle in any puddle she came across, and by puddle I mean any body of water – rivers, puddles, lakes and I swear to you she couldn’t pass a pub. She used to get as wet as she could which of course meant we drove home enveloped in eau de chien mouillé. Lovely.
One of the places we would visit regularly was the Ceriog Valley. It was here Dad was evacuated as a tiny boy during World War II. His family would visit Glyn Ceriog for holidays, and his grandfather considered buying a house there at one point, so they knew it well. When war was declared, Dad was sent to live with an elderly lady they knew. He had a ball. One of his childhood friends was also sent to Glyn and the two built a little dam over the Ceriog River using stones. This survived, albeit shrinking every year, until the 1980s and Dad loved to go back and check on it.
One of the things I remember most is going for lunch at the Golden Pheasant. They had a Mynah Bird which fascinated me and I would always go and say hello. Lunch was always a simple sandwich affair before we went off for our afternoon exploration.
Dad hated to follow the crowds and liked to follow the path less travelled. That often meant taking detours just to see where a road would take you. It has rubbed off and I love the wander along a road I have never been down before just to see what is there.