Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Serendipity is a wonderful thing

Forty-four years ago this summer, almost entirely by chance, DH and I made a move which would change our lives forever. He was close to completing his professional training and was looking for his first qualified post and I had finally decided that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher (my first choice of profession) and would become a librarian instead.

Our children were still very young, but it wouldn’t be too long before DS would be old enough to go to school and we wanted to be settled before this important stage was reached. So in the winter of 1972, I began to apply to library schools and DH began to apply for posts in the areas in which those library schools were located. I was lucky enough to receive several offers of places and we waited anxiously to see if and where DH would be fortunate enough to be offered a job.

Two of the library school places were in cities: Liverpool, in the north-west of England, not very far from where I was born and had grown up and Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east, where DH had spent his childhood. The third was in Wales, just outside Aberystwyth – terra incognita for both of us. Indeed my first ever visit to Wales was for the interview for my library school place – arriving on the milk train from Shrewsbury.

Despite my tiredness and the tension of the forthcoming interview I can still remember how bowled-over I was by the beauty of the landscape through which the train travelled between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth and also how impressed I was by the brand-new college of librarianship at which I was interviewed. Now the question of where DH would be offered a job acquired a new urgency for me, as yet again I had fallen in love with a place at first sight, though this time it was a landscape, rather than a city.





To cut a long story short, DH was offered a post about 40 miles from my library school (but what a commute!) and in the summer of 1972 we moved to Wales. After a very demanding but happy year at library school, I was offered my first professional post in the same local authority area as DH and we moved across the Cambrian Mountains to put down roots in the quiet, beautiful and unspoiled part of Mid-Wales where we still live.








It may have been a lucky chance which brought us to Wales, but it will always be home to us now.  Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! Happy Saint David’s Day to you all.




48 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    ...ac i chi!!! No sign of any daffodils up this way yet (middle of another 'car wash' all day), but I sure hope you have some for the day. YAM xx

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    1. Daffodils have been coming out down here for some time, Yam, and even earlier further south, with some flowering as early as December! Wet and windy here too, but my little tête à tête daffodils don't seem to mind. :)

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  2. I am sitting here writing this with tear running down my cheeks. My Welsh blood is proud of my land and of my ancestors. I could write a post about your post, and perhaps tomorrow I will if I can find the photos I want and the time to write.

    Serendipity! Yes, I do believe in it. You were sent to the Mother Land as my grandmother used to call it, or sometimes, she would call it the Old Country. I too first entered Wales by going from London to Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth via the train. I was stunned at the beauty as the train wove its way towards Aberystwyth. The year was 1994. I was on a trip to the UK to study Theater in London with a group from my University, but I traveled through Wales first. I had a friend studying at Aberystwyth. I spent three or four days with her exploring the town and surrounding area.

    My family was from around Pontypridd. They were miners. They came to the United States in the late 1880s. I grew up on stories of Wales. My birthday is the day before St. David's Day. Daffodils have always been my favorite flower. I never knew the connection to my heritage daffodils had until I traveled to Wales.

    Thank you for this post. The beauty of the Wales makes me long to see her again.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post, Sally, despite the tears, and that it brought back so many memories for you. both of your childhood stories and of your visit. I knew you had stayed in Aberystwyth and explored the area, which was a wonderful introduction to the stunning coastal and mountain landscapes of Wales. I'm sure you would love the gentler scenery of our area too.

      I don't know south Wales very well, but I'm sure your ancestors would hardly recognise the Valleys area from which they emigrated. With the demise of coal-mining the landscape has become green and beautiful again, though sadly unemployment is high, as it is so difficult to replace the skilled jobs lost when the mines closed. Wales is very beautiful, but she has her problems too.

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  3. It certainly sounds like you and your husband found the right place for your family. I understand that recognition of a landscape. I think my ancestors felt it when they reached Cape Breton Island from Uist.
    Aberystwyth - I am glad to say that I can actually say it!....the son of a dear friend went to university there.

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    1. We really did, though we didn't set out to look for it at the time. But once we moved here we felt completely at home, especially in this inland area where we finally settled.
      Having just googled images of Cape Breton Island I can see exactly what you mean. It must have been hard for your ancestors to leave their families and the beauty of the Hebrides and that sense of recognition would have helped soothe their homesickness a little.
      Well done on your Welsh pronunciation. It isn't actually as hard as I first thought, once one learns how certain letters are pronounced.

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  4. A lovely story of how you came to be where you are. I really enjoy reading things like this. I am a very happy transplant to where I now live and I hope to live here for a very long time to come. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Perpetua.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Jennifer. Yes, you and I are both transplants who have taken firm root in our new earth, though your move was much further than ours and meant you had a new climate as well as a new landscape to become accustomed to.

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  5. So much in life is chance. Thank you for those wonderful photos and the anthem. I just love Wales and will be phoning one of my cousins on the Welsh border in a couple of days for her 92nd birthday - I just love hearing her accent.

    One of my uncles taught me to say Llanfair PG as a child although my pronunciation is hopeless.

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    1. The amount of chance in life can be almost frightening, Susan. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and anthem - one of the most moving anthems I know. I know you have a strong connection to the Welsh border area and it's the landscape where I feel most at home. The accent is less marked than in north or south Wales, but still very distinctive. As for saying the long version of Llanfair PG, I can do it with the word in front of me, but certainly not from memory. :)

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  6. Stunning pictures as always Perpetua. I am glad Wales has adopted you:-)

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    1. Glad you like them, Ray. Yes, it does feel as though the place has adopted us, rather than the other way around. It has certainly made us very welcome for many years.

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  7. Happy Dydd Dewi Sant, Perpetua! As you know, I was adopted by Wales for three years - 1975-78 & I'm pleased to have BA Wales after my name. It is also where I became an Anglican being confirmed by the Bishop of St. Davids in the Church in Wales. I very much look forward to seeing you & DH, in your Welsh home, next month.

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    1. And we're very much looking forward to welcoming you, Ricky. I knew of course that you had studied for your degree in Wales, but not that you became an Anglican and were confirmed here, which is exactly what happened to me not long after we moved here. :)

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    2. Yes - I love telling people that I'm not a confirmed member of the Church of England :-)

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    3. Ha! Just think, there were two of us foreigners at the same time in Shelswell. :)

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  8. And a very Happy St Davids Day to you!

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. I enjoy making tribute to my adopted country. :)

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  9. And because you moved to mid-Wales, and I always so enjoyed my visits to you, in the fullness of time I too bought a little house in the area (in 2000)and then retired to live here full time when The Husband took redundancy in 2012.

    Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

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    1. Ac i ti, Marion. I love the thought that our moving to Wales eventually brought you to do the same and that you both feel so at home here now.

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  10. What a lovely post, Perpetua. You live in such a beautiful part of the world. Sometimes I think we almost appreciate our surroundings more when we've been transplanted into them than we do when they are our native land. That's how I feel about my little corner of the world, too.

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    1. Your feelings about your new home come across very clearly in your posts, Kristie, and I can completely identify with them. I've been fortunate enough to live at different times in rural Lancashire and on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria, but Wales captured my heart as soon as we moved here all those years ago.

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  11. Gorgeous landscape. I can see exactly why you fell in love with that part of the country.

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    1. It's so beautiful, Vic - gentle and unspoiled, but with an edge of wildness up in the hills. We never tire of it.

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  12. How beautiful is Wales, Perpetua, and thank you for the interesting story of how you come to be there. I also love that you have two other places to transit to from time to time. Best of all worlds :)

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    1. Wales is extraordinarily beautiful, Patricia, and also very varied, with mountains, hills and valleys and also a glorious coastline, as well as some wonderful historic buildings. Scotland and France are wonderful too in their different ways, but Wales is home.

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  13. What a happy post....but I could feel your anxiety for your little family as you hoped to be able to make your future together.
    You could not have asked for better, though,could you?

    I don't know Wales...but did take a steam train trip from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth so can see why the scenery entranced you.

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    1. Well spotted, Helen. It was indeed an anxious and unsettling time as we waited for job and library school place to coincide. After all there was a 2 to 1 chance we'd end up in a city for a while at least, so the offer of the job in Wales was a dream come true. We are NOT city people.

      If you've travelled from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth, you'vve seen some of the best Wales has to offer. OK, we don't have the grandeur of Snowdonia, but apart from that Mid-Wales has everything.:)

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  14. You were meant to live in Wales. Your photos show stunning views – what a beautiful landscape. After we were married we took a trip to England before going to see my parents in France. We rented a car and drove to the Cotswold. But we had a friend in San Francisco who was from Wales and suggested that we visit his hometown – Betws-y-coed. So we went there and stayed at a nice lodge. I still remember it as a lovely place. After the Cotswold villages, so small and neat, Wales showed immense views – wild and beautiful, not cozy like the little English villages – we loved Wales.

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    1. That's what we like to think, Vagabonde. We certainly feel completely rooted here, however much we may travel at times. My mother-in-law lives in the Cotswolds and we know the area well, so I know just what you mean about the contrast between that 'domesticated' landscape and the wild and rugged beauty of the part of north Wales you visited. I'm not surprised you loved it. Mid-Wales is gentler than that, but still much wilder and more varied than the Cotswolds.

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  15. Love the landscape!! I am sure you have never regretted the move to Wales:)

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    1. It's a gorgeously varied landscape, Shirley, and no, we've never regretted the move for an instant. :)

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  16. I can see why you were bowled over. A belated Happy St David's Day

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    1. Thanks, BtoB. Even in the early morning as the train headed towards Aberystwyth I was hooked and since then the attraction has only grown stronger.

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  17. Such wondrous beauty, Perpetua. A place it seems that you were meant to be.

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    1. Yes, it's a glorious area, Bonnie, and wonderfully varied. It certainly feels as though we were meant to be here.

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  18. Amazing the blessings that come to us by chance! You live in a gorgeous area. I can see why you would choose to stay there for all these years -- and for years to come!

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    1. It really is amazing, Kathy, and I never forget to be thankful that we ended up here. However much I enjoy our peripatetic life at present, I truly cannot imagine living permanently anywhere else.

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  19. Lovely post and yes I could see the anxiety there too. Sorry I've been dreadful at keeping up with blog reading just lately. Mine is being neglected somewhat too xxx

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    1. It was a tense time until it all came together, Ayak, and we were very lucky things worked out as they did. I'm another who isn't keeping up very well with blog reading. I got behind when I was away and haven't caught up yet...

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  20. There are beautiful places everywhere, of course, but I can understand how you must feel about Wales, its landscapes and the fact that it's home to you. I think deep down we know that a certain place is where we're called to be at a certain time in our life.

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    1. The photos on your blog show that there are indeed beautiful places everywhere, Linda. :) Before we moved to Wales, we lived just outside the Lake District and loved its grandeur, but the gentler beauty of Mid-Wales really captured our hearts. It is still very unspoiled and will, I think, now always be home to us.

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  21. Oh, how wonderful this is to read and to see your remarkable views. I can see how it was, is, to fall in love at first sight pretty much says it all, Perpetua. Good for you and for you DH for finding a way to work this all out some 44 years ago.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Penny. I love this area so much that I'm always ready to show off its beauty. We still feel very fortunate that DHL managed to get a job here, rather than in the cities which were the other options back then. I sometimes try to imagine how differently things might have turned out and then count my blessings all over again.

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    2. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Penny. I love this area so much that I'm always ready to show off its beauty. We still feel very fortunate that DHL managed to get a job here, rather than in the cities which were the other options back then. I sometimes try to imagine how differently things might have turned out and then count my blessings all over again.

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  22. Looking at those photos, who could fail to fall in love with the place? So beautiful!

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    1. Jean, I think Mid-Wales is one of the UK's best-kept secrets. Wonderfully varied and unspoiled scenery and very sparsely populated. The biggest town in the whole of Powys only has about 13K people!

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    2. Jean, I think Mid-Wales is one of the UK's best-kept secrets. Wonderfully varied and unspoiled scenery and very sparsely populated. The biggest town in the whole of Powys only has about 13K people!

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