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16 October 2014

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Nan and I

By Gareth Owen
October 2001, Rhymney
A digital story from Capture Wales

Old photos

Gareth tells us about his grandmother Hilda, who moved from Wales to Cornwall and then to Zambia, where her father was a miner.

"This is my grandmother. Her name is Hilda. When I was growing up I affectionately called her Nan.

When she was a child she moved from Wales to Cornwall for a couple of years and eventually moved onto Zambia in Africa. Her father was a miner from Cornwall who had a manager's job out in the Tin Mines in Africa... interesting place to work I'd say.

When she lived out in Zambia, the family would go on holiday to Durban in South Africa. The hotel that they would stay in was called the Grand Hotel... my Nan said it was almost the same as a British holiday resort but not the same weather... a bit better than your average family holiday I would say...probably a lot warmer also.

They used to go out to the beach in the days and sunbathe and swim in the sea. I bet it was a cleaner sea than any British sea.

While they were out in Africa they also went on cultural visits too. They visited sites like Cecil John Lord's Monument and the Mutopa Hills or the Valleys of a Thousand Hills, as they were alternatively called.

I learnt these old stories by looking at old photographs and asking my Nan what they were about. She lives about three doors away from me and I have always gone to the house a lot. She makes me a cup of tea and I ask her about her family and history. Because of this, I know so much about her life... such an inquisitive child I was. I love my grandmothers old stories and these are very special to me.

I think that storytelling is not so much widely used as it was years ago. I think that young children now should talk to their elders and find out about their family history because it is fascinating.

Every family has an interesting story somewhere down the line. I hope one day I can tell interesting stories about my life to my grandchildren and carry on the family tradition."

Gareth Owen

You seem very fond of your Nan.
Yes, she lives a few doors away and I often go round for a cup of tea and look at photos as we talk about the family history.

That's important to you isn't it?
Yes, I think young children should talk to their elders and find out about their family history - it's fascinating. I learnt my stories from looking at old photos and asking my Nan what they were about.

Your comments

"Hi GarethYour story resonated strongly with me for several reasons. Yes, we all regret not asking our families more about their lives and experiences. I found out rather late in life that I had two grandfathers fighting on opposite sides in the Boer War 1899-1902. I would have liked to have known more but they were both long dead before I thought to ask them personally and I never thought to ask those family members who knew them for details either. Secondly I grew up in Zambia, then Northern Rhodesia, and our family also went to the South Coast for holidays. This was a considerable journey which took days by car. Great excitment for my brother and I when we reached the sea, as Zambia is landlocked. Lastly, the Matopos are in Zimbabwe while the Valley of a Thousand Hills is in Natal/Kwazulu.Your Nan would have passed the Matopos on her way to South Africa and may even have gone to look at Ceil Rhodes' grave which is situated there. Keep up the family research, you will be both rewarded and pleased later in life." Lindsay Owen, Wanganui, NZ.

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