My First Summer Holiday

A Memory of Blaenrhondda

A miner's family from Blaenrhondda - Watkins - were lodgers in the late 1930's with my parents living in Colindale, Hendon, NW London. I was born in 1926 and when I was ten the idea came for me to stay for a holiday in Blaenrhondda. I had never had a vacation except day trips to Southend, Margate and Hastings.Mmy dad was unemployed most of the thirties, my mum cleaned other peoples housees - that paid my fare to South Wales. I stayed all the summer in a miner's house - two up, two down - on the single street of the town, which ended at the colliery at the top. From there only led a donkey track over the mountain pass. I have vivid memories of that summer. The night shift of colliers walking up the street at about 4 am every morning, singing. The mistress of the house scrubbing the back of her husband, sitting in a tin bath in the front downstairs room, getting the coal dust off him. Flocks of sheep walking down the street, some with collars and bells on them. Going to the pithead and looking down.They would not allow me to descend but I spent hours watching the cage going up and down a very, very deep pit. Falling and badly cutting my left elbow, the doctor put two stitches in and dressed with with tincture of iodine. I can still feel that and the big scar is still black, with residual coal dust. Food was good and simple - I remember lamb (of course) and dumplings, and the well-fed house dog - a fox terrier.
I had never seen mountains before, and now surrounded by them - I could walk but not climb. My first girl-friend, Margaret, must have been 13 or 14 years old. I learnt a few words of Welsh such as the numbers up to 20's and heard a lot about rugby, which I began to play the following year when I started senior school in London and continued through to university.

A memory shared by Sidney Holt , on Feb 9th, 2014.

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