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16 October 2014

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Muesli and Digestives

By Liz Todd
June 2004, Machynlleth
A digital story from Capture Wales


Pronouncing 'Machynlleth' for the first time is quite a challenge for a lot of people. But for Liz Todd, this was just the start of it...

"I should have realised my destiny when at my first student social event I spent the evening learning to pronounce Machynlleth. Five years later - and by now the proud owner of my husband and son - the name Machynlleth caught my attention again on the late evening news.

This was a time of the worldwide oil crisis and growing concern about the finite nature of oil, a small group of crazy idealists were trying to create a more sustainable way of living in an abandoned slate quarry near Machynlleth. Our imaginations were fired. We wanted to get involved, so we came to Wales, volunteered and then moved permanently with our two small children - James and Julia - to work on the project.

The early days were spent digging slate; living on van loads of donated chocolate digestives and muesli... and putting nappies through a mangle.

Parents and friends asked us, "Why? Why? Why give up your life in Southampton - jobs, house, security... to live on five pounds a week?"

My answer's always been the same. It seemed better to take a risk than to feel years later that we had a fantastic opportunity, but never took it.

I'm very proud of the Centre for Alternative Technology and our part in its development. It's grown from strength to strength and many of the radical ideas of the 70s such as wind power, recycling, solar energy and above all sustainability are now widely accepted.

Twenty-nine years later, I am still living in Machynlleth with my husband and in our house not far from the centre. My commitment to the vision that brought us here is still as strong but my life has broadened and I've become part of this vibrant community.

I am very glad that I learnt to pronounce Machynlleth all those years ago."

Liz Todd

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Sheffield and moved to Southampton when I married. I came to Wales first to study librarianship in Aberystwyth and then with my husband and two small children to work at the Centre for Alternative Technology. I now run the local library.

What's your story about?
How I first heard the name Machynlleth as a student and found myself actually living here with my family when we came as pioneers to found the Centre for Alternative Technology. The decision to do something unconventional has added an important dimension to my life. I am very pleased I made the decision to tell this story.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
The workshop was totally inspiring in every aspect. The warmth, expertise and commitment of the staff was outstanding and learning how to decide on a story and make the film both challenging and exciting.

Your comments

"This wonderful story reminded me when I fell in love with Wales. As a university student in Wrexham, I had a ecturer of ecology who insisted that every thing we ever needed to learn about this wonderful earth on which we live, could be learned here in North Wales. Everything covered during my 3 years of study was backed up by practical experience of the wonderful awe inspiring environment of North Wales. I relocated to study here and was planning on relocating again after obtaining my degree. But I fell in love with Wales, its environment and the people. It is the most wondrous beautiful place to me, the dedication to the environment and the desire to sustain it is so much stronger in Wales than anywhere I ever ventured to before. Museli and Digestives just about sums up the vey spirit that drew me here and keeps me here now and for the rest of my days. I really do feel I am in God's country." Emma - Llansantffraid.

"'Muesli and Digestives' took me back to our visit to CAT while train touring through Britain during the Summer of 2004. Many thanks!" Tim Blood, Oregon, USA.

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