I know no adjectives to describe properly the joy I felt – and still feel – from our drive to and from Wolverhampton yesterday. But this inadequate description will record the trip.
We left Old Cardiganshire, passing through Radnorshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire to get there. Each stretch of road and country lane provided different views and vistas, and we passed through villages and hamlets each showing its own, individual history.
Indeed, wherever we go, it is often a ride through history for me.
We saw evidence of the Roman occupation of Britain and followed many stretches of the routes they used, straight and true. We saw buildings put up centuries ago, their architecture still intact. We saw newer buildings erected in the last few years.
All signs of communities growing and changing.
Alas, in places there were vacant shops, and even pubs which had closed. I feel particularly sorry for the smaller villages and hamlets which have lost their local, often tiny shops. When I see them vacant, I think on the closeness of communities in times past. They were places where neighbours could chat about all sorts of things. Fortunately, many of those shops have become private houses, but retain the shop-window as a reminder.
We are indeed fortunate to still have one shop still serving the community in our village. There were four grocery-shops and a butcher’s when we first came to live here . . .
But back to our trip! As we travelled, we saw – lovely in the Summer sun – the scenery changing. The narrow road from Cwmystwyth to Rhayader wound among the mountains, passing the remains of the lead-mines which must have been remote from anywhere when they were in full production. A hard life.
Then, grand big, green hills as we went towards Offa’s Dyke. Driving into England, we saw many “blue, remembered hills” across the flatter – but equally lovely – landscape: the Clees, for instance, and even (perhaps) a glimpse of the Malverns where we spent our honeymoon.
And those who think Staffordshire shows only the scars of its industrial past are quite wrong. It was not until we went past the “City of Wolverhampton” sign that the beauties of the countryside slowly abated, the transition being helped by some well-kept gardens full of flowers.
It was so good to chat with Rosie’s brother and sister. They, like her, are down-to-earth, get-on-with-it people. And I was so glad to hear that the old Black Country dialect is still spoken!
The return journey, which omitted only Herefordshire, was as uplifting as the outward route. Even from the M54, one can see (if one averts one’s eyes from the road momentarily!) the Clee Hills and glimpses of the Cheshire Plain. And there, straight ahead, we could see Breidden Mountain just across the border of our now-native land.
A quick fuel-stop in Newtown – which still has the Pryce-Jones building standing proudly – and then it seemed we were soon crossing the Plynlimmon Pass (still complete with its Elvis Rock!) and back into Old Cardiganshire. A brief visit to our daughter in Devil’s Bridge, then home to a well-earned meal and a bit of relaxation.
Another Day To Remember among several which we’ve enjoyed this year. The world is a wonderful place – and is still there for us all