LEAVING DIBLEY – AGAIN
The last time I left “Dibley,” (my pet name for the charming Welsh countryside) for a length of time, my mother was ill and I wanted to be with her. I was away for three months, returned to Wales, and headed back when my father’s health declined. That visit lasted six weeks. Now we’re leaving again, only this time we’re taking the furniture and dog with us.
Yes, it’s all my fault. Funny how it seems that everything is my fault. If I hadn’t wanted more adventure in my life (driving around the world and living in a green Land Rover when I was in my 20s was just the tip of the iceberg), we’d have never left Wellington, Florida and moved to Wales. But living in another culture, one I was familiar with having married a Welshman and having visited the country several times, well, living in another country held an allure. It didn’t help that my friend Vickye and I were producing a website www.achangeoflifestyle.com that was aimed at people looking to move away from the U.S., Canada and Britain and experience their own change of lifestyle. So, the bug caught me, we moved to Wales, and now, after two-and-a-half years, were going back to Florida.
Back to the heat. Back to the sun. Back to the traffic. Back to our friends. Back to our daughter, son-in-law and two delicious grandsons. They’re what we’re going back for. I miss them so much and don’t want to be out of their lives any longer — at least until they want us out, which should be in about ten years when they head off to college!
Yes, it’s all my fault, but I’m lucky. I happen to be married to a man who has a bit of “Ruth” in him. He’ll go where I go.
Our first stop in Wales was an idyllic cottage, perched on a hill overlooking three mountains. Between us and the soft peaks were velvet valleys, salmon-fed streams, silver birch trees, hedgerows, narrow country lanes and sheep. Living in The Coach House brought my dreams of life in Wales into reality.
Our second home lasted all of one month. Larger and located along the Usk River in the town of Usk, I felt like I was back in New York. (OK, that’s a stretch of the imagination, but think “living in town.”) We could walk to the post office, the grocery store, the hairdresser and several restaurants. The downside was that we had a landlord who ignored a major plumbing problem, saying he’d wait until it fixed itself! We didn’t wait. We were out of there, fast!
Our friend Malcolm found us a gorgeous, huge, American-ized house in the hills above the town of Blackwood, in the Welsh Valleys. Now, this part of Wales isn’t posh. It isn’t trendy. It’s working class and dotted with old mining villages where the century-old terraced houses snake up and down the hills in long lines. But what I love about this area is its history. Everywhere you look are remnants of the past. A past that put Wales on the map.
The old coal mines and iron works that we overlook fed the world and made industrialists rich, while Wales and the Welsh starved. Our friends in Cardiff all talk about their grandparents living in this area when they first emigrated to Wales from wherever. And like many immigrants, they became financially comfortable and moved to the city. We did the opposite. We relish living in the working Wales, where the people are friendly, warm, generous, helpful, kind, sweet and neighborly.
When we lived in the posh part of South Wales, not one person knocked on our door to say hello for nearly a year and a half. Here, neighbors stop by to tell us our garage door is open, to say hello, to have a “cuppa” and a piece of cake. To talk about the black bunny that lives across the street, or the red fox with the white-tipped tale and his family that meander across the street and down another slope. Children ride past on their bicycles and wave to our dog, Breeze, as she sits in the window and watches. And yes, we have a view of rolling green hills and sheep, thousands of them! This is the Wales I will miss terribly.
I’m not stopping this blog. I still have a lot to say. Until then, farewell to Dibley. I’m so glad you welcomed me and let me be a small part of your history. Stay tuned…