When Lyndsey suggested that I write something for the Llansadwrn website, I must admit that my first reaction was a cautious ‘ooh, I don’t think so’. What would I have to contribute that might be of interest to the wide variety of people who live in and around the village? But then, I thought, that if it hadn’t been for Covid, Phil and I might have got to know many more of you by now. Instead, one way or another, since we resettled in Llansadwrn in July, there have been few occasions for socialising with the result that opportunities to meet have been scarce.
While we came to live here from Gloucestershire, this is, in fact, the third time that we have settled in Wales. Some of you will know that we bought Troedrhiwgadair around fourteen years ago but after living here for several years, work took us away to England and it is only now that we have (theoretically) retired, that we have had the opportunity to come back.
The first time we moved to Wales, though, was in 1974. We bought some land beneath Carreg Cennen (Llwyndewi) from Phil’s parents in Trap (Phil’s grandparents ran the bakery in Glanaman), built our own house and farmed around 200 acres of hill land. With 400 hefted sheep, a suckler herd, a jersey house cow (that needed hand milking every day) pigs, chickens and two little children, we had plenty to keep ourselves occupied. We tried to be self-sufficient but we had to earn a living too. Our son and daughter spent the whole of their primary years at Trap School which had 14 pupils in the whole school when they started and the grand total of 44 when they left! A baby boom had taken place! It was a brilliant education, and I am pleased to say that they have both thrived ever since. What with the school, the shop, the Cennen Arms and the Post Office, there was a very strong community and we were all sorry to leave. We had set up Brecon Waters (a story in itself) but having sold it on, along with the farm, we decided to move to Gloucestershire.
Coming back to Llansadwrn, in many ways, feels like a homecoming. It has given us the opportunity to reconnect with many old friends and start making new ones. What with our free ranging pigs that have stuffed themselves on apples and acorns* (they are now on a diet!), a dozen or so calves, an assortment of chickens and cats and a growing vegetable garden, it feels a bit like the 70s all over again. While nearly 50 years have passed and a lot has changed, it feels more right than ever to come back to the land. What with the pandemic, global heating and whatever will fall out of Brexit we are lucky to be able to live in this beautiful part of the world with so many interesting and down to earth people who are simply getting on with life.
A particular joy has been the discovery of Mandy’s Bookshop. It is impossible to visit without coming away with a fascinating book or two. Recent ‘finds’ have been ‘English Pastoral’ by James Rebanks (applies as much to here in Wales as it does to the Lake District), ‘#Futuregen’ by Jane Davidson and Jonathan Porritt’s latest book ‘Hope in Hell’ about the Climate Crisis. All good stuff.
I do hope that there will be opportunities to meet many more people in the New Year. Phil and I are hugely grateful to our near neighbours who have all been so good to us over the years – and we are delighted to be back.
If anyone wants any free range, heritage pork, do get in touch
Virginia Isaac November 2020