The sky is white like milk in contrast to the black spikes of the pine trees along the top of the hill. No sun, hardly any wind. The cold is hanging in the air, manifesting itself as white ghosts escaping from the mouths of children playing.
This landscape has changed dramatically since my childhood. Back then, all along the valley, huge heaps of slag topped almost every hillside. The air was sometimes thick with black dust, you could taste it, “black gold” my Dad would say…..
Coal, it was the blood in the veins that were the South Wales valleys. It sustained the people, took the breath from the lungs of the miners and every so often, caused tragic accidents that wiped out the menfolk of whole communities.
Nowadays the coal has gone and as I look around me, it is difficult to remember the coal buckets which crossed from the pit on one side of the valley to the tip on the other, where the bucket would drop its black waste 24 hours of every day.
The slag heaps have now taken on a green mantle of mosses and weeds; skinny trees are sprouting from the ground like cocktail sticks and birds are singing as they perch precariously on needle thin branches.In the valley the Ebbw River, which is actually little more than a brook in my part of the valley, now runs clean and babbles its way down the valley to eventually join the Usk River and further on, flowing into the Severn Estuary. When I was a child it often ran black as the slurry pools overflowed in the rain and spewed into the river. There were never any fish then.
Recently, Otters have been spotted and children are often found fishing on its banks or paddling in the shallows. The quality of air in the valleys bears no comparison to the air when I was a child and hopefully we have seen the last of the mines which scarred the valleys and caused so many men to suffer chest problems, locally referred to as “the dust” (pneumoconiosis).
When I was eight years old my Grandad said “one day these valleys will be green again”….Grandad was right, pity the dust killed him before he could see it …..Granny
- Please help #Freecycle win a 2000 donation from @DirectDebitUK; please visit http://t.co/nMQW5KBkQq & cast your free vote! #DT @Freecycle 1 day ago
- @lukeassirati thanks first time on here for ages. flat out all the time...living the dream :-/ 2 days ago
- RT @VGoss_Holt: My son Giles is missing - last seen Monday lunch in St Albans, may have caught train Pls RT to everyone. http://t.co/lIfLy7… 2 days ago