We've recently returned from a trip to Mid Wales that didn't go quite to plan. Whoever would have thought that a walking expedition in Wales in August would have to be abandoned not because of rain but because of the heat?! We did manage two further shortish stretches of our Wye Valley Walk project but, when the temperature rose above 30 degrees and kept rising, discretion was the better part of valour and we opted out for the time being. That should have freed us up to carry out some research in the area for a new non-fiction book I've started working on (loosely based around my husband's family history) but of course all the relevant archives were closed because of the Covid-19 situation ...
In the event we actually had a very useful time pursuing some research from a rather more personal angle, and meeting some distant relatives in the process; that's led me to rethink the approach I'd planned to take quite considerably - and it will probably be a far more interesting book because of it! We met some very knowledgeable people and came upon some unexpected, fascinating places - none more so than the mill my husband's great great great grandfather worked in 1856! Hidden in a remote dell, miles off any beaten track, from the outside it looked virtually derelict; to our amazement, when we ventured up a rickety ladder, we found almost the complete workings still intact and looking as if they could be coaxed back into action tomorrow.
Going rather more to plan has been the preparation of my poetry collection, which should see the light of day this autumn. It's had a long gestation and I'll be glad to see it safely delivered now. That has a poem in it about a mill, Clenchers Mill near Malvern, which has been beautifully restored and is occasionally open to the public - well worth a visit should you have the opportunity.
Give us this day …
Except for days like this
when history, briefly resurrected,
leaps into life to catch us unawares,
they’re stilled and silenced now -
wallowers, brayers, bridge trees, tuns.
Alien to our generation,
those names our great grandparents knew,
whose daily bread depended on them -
stone nuts, runners, damsels, shoes.
But in this soundscape of the miller’s world -
the clank of wheel, the scrape of stone -
we haul them back like sacks of grain,
dust them off, reclaim them for the moment -
launder box, penstock, layshaft, flume.
Copyright Gill Garrett 2020.