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U3A Writing: Fifty Years In South Wales

Herta Puls is less than enchanted with developments in the Welsh countryside.

"Moving to South Wales, into dirty poverty stricken coal mining areas, where it rains all the year round, oh, please God, no!"

It was this, or no job, so we moved. What a surprise, there were lush mountains as well as spoiled valleys, a fascinating rocky coastline with beautiful warm sea. And castles! Mostly ruins but full of history.

We settled in the countryside with fields on three sides and a bus stop right outside the front gate. The children travelled to school and we began to know all the things which made life pleasant. A very good amateur theatre, a flourishing Women's Institute, and many events arranged by the employer. We liked it here!

A steelworks was built on the river front, we could just see the condensers and now and then a band of red dust sweeping across the sky. After many years the Firm (British Nylon Spinners) changed hands and a job became available in London. To our great surprise we did not want to leave this so familiar and by now loved area. So we kept the house, bought a flat in London and commuted every weekend.

What a relief to breathe fresh air and enjoy the garden (with hard work!). Travelling through the country all the year round brought many surprises, with roads blocked by snow and seasonal floods. It became much shorter and quicker with the Severn Bridge and when the M4 was finished.

After eleven years we were back for good - or is it>

The M4 has been widened and the traffic noise is incredible, constantly day and night. Trees have been removed and we can see the cars now and monstrous blue motorway signs are visible summer and winter. There are still three fields around us, but we cannot see stars anymore, everywhere is lit up, and the M4 all the way and all the roads around us.

Building in the village is going on all the time, with more and more traffic and the newcomers show little interest in village affairs, there are no facilities for teenage children to go to, e.g. no cycle path, no places for playing ball games.

There was just one bright event, when three years ago, the 'University of the Third Age' started in Caldicot.

Must we now look forward to the Theme Park and a quick flight to New York from the new Severnside Airport?

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