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This article is taken from PN Review 158, Volume 30 Number 6, July - August 2004.

An Afternoon with R.S. Thomas Grevel Lindop

August 1997 was an exceptionally hot month, and on one of its hottest afternoons I found myself following a faint footpath across rough sheep-pasture in the north-west corner of Anglesey, heading for Llanfairynghornwy.

I was in a state of trepidation, and not at all sure I was doing the right thing. The sweat induced by a slow progress uphill, over the acres of long dry grass, through rusted iron gates and over stiles built into dilapidated grey stone walls, did nothing to raise my confidence as the horizon shimmered and the village came into view, straggling along the side of a low hill. I plodded on in a spirit of grim determination.

For several years I had come with my family every summer to stay on a farm at Cemlyn, not far from Cemaes Bay. It was, in good weather, a quietly marvellous place. The sea was five minutes' walk away. The roads were tiny and led only to other farms, or petered out by the shore, so cars were a rarity. A lighthouse, spectacular at sunset, blinked on the horizon in one direction; in the other, gently rolling fields stretched away to the skyline, dotted with sheep and the occasional house or ruined, enigmatic stone farm building. Seals groaned and hooted in chorus from the rocks, or lolled in the shallow offshore waters, occasionally lifting a round, doglike head to return one's gaze, relaxed and supercilious. Children could be left to run wild over ...


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