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16 October 2014

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My Love for Ynysowen

By Sheila Lewis
September 2006, Aberfan
A digital story from Capture Wales

Everlasting love

Ynysowen is a valley that has been living and changing over the years and for Sheila it's never lost its beauty.

"The first time I saw the valley, it had been snowing. The mountains and coal tips were clothed in white... just like the Alps.

I took a deep breath and fell in love.

Later, as a young married woman, I came to live in a colliery house with my husband. Gradually, we turned our little house into a home. We were blessed with three children. We were content. I made many friends and I began to feel truly at home.

Behind our little house was an old wooden bridge spanning the river. It led to stone steps that took you up to the top of the village. Many times I watched the miners using the steps waking to and from their shift work.

The village grew because of the colliery. It was six months before I got used to the noise - night and day. With the boiler house opposite issuing loud hissing noises together with the sounds of the hooter I would not be able to hear myself think, let alone sleep.

But over the years I got used to it and in fact when the colliery closed down, I couldn't sleep because it was too quiet!

The valley has always been beautiful for me, through all the seasons, the mists, the snow and of course the rain. Even in one day a change of light can alter my view so that I have never taken it for granted.

Now we have lived most of our lives here, through the good time and the bad. Of course, we enjoyed the good times, and during the bad times walking the length and breadth of this special place helped me heal.

Where else would I wish to live?

The valley has helped make me what I am today. I am blessed."

Sheila Lewis

Please tell us about yourself ...
I am in my 70s, married to Gwyn for many years. We were blessed with three children and we also have four grandchildren. I am very interested in photography, art, and storytelling.

What's your story about?
This story is about the place where I have lived for many years. The other one - My Brother and I - is about my early years adventures with brother Billy. These stories are very dear to me, and are part of my life to this day.

What did you find the most rewarding about the workshop?
I found the experience both stimulating and pleasurable. I enjoyed every minute of the workshop and I would recommend to anyone with a chance of attending a workshop of this nature to go for it!

Your comments

"I thought Sheila Lewis's story was excellent. She spoke so well and expressed herself eloquently. I lived in Sebastopol near Pontypool for a few years and loved the exploration of the small lanes leading to the mountain and the wonderful walks to Twm Barlwm. Yes, Sebastopol was rather drab but the surroundings were still lovely and Sheila saw that in her valley also and said it so well that my memories and feelings about Wales came flooding back. You have a star there!" Robert Hemming, Houston, Texas, USA, Dec 2007.

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