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This report is taken from PN Review 204, Volume 38 Number 4, March - April 2012.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
Last August, while the grandchildren from Greenwich were with us, a rare spell of dry weather gave the opportunity to visit Gilfach Goch. I volunteered to take them and their Caerleon cousins up the mountain to the highest point, actually a 'trig point' on a beautifully symmetrical hill rising above the moor at the top end of the valley - 416 metres. I wanted them to view Gilfach as it is and handicapped myself for the stiffish climb with the weight of a couple of books containing photographs of the way it was when I was a boy and three working collieries filled the valley floor. The coal industry has gone, the close community it engendered has gone; neither will ever return. My sense of personal history, of rootedness, has become more demanding as I grow older, and with it my guilt and frustration that I did not ask my parents all the questions about their parents and their younger days that leave me now searching hopelessly for answers. I want our grandchildren to have the chance to avoid my mistake. I feel very strongly that, whatever route they take through life, they should know at least where the Welsh side of their ancestry comes from. That is why in recent weeks I have been trying to recall what it was like when I was young.

I was three when I followed children on their way to school. They drew me from our front garden, past the corner and ...


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