Wimberries & ferns for our Guy Fawkes

By Joan Rees, Cwmaman

We spent hours profitably up the wimberry fields that surrounded Fforchaman Colliery. The whole family, cousins, aunties as well! The wimberries grew on the mountain (which was almost our backyard). It was right behind our houses.

We did not worry about any snakes or insects at the time, but were fascinated by the grasshoppers. We would be sprawled amongst the heather excitedly filling our containers and our mouths with the purple berries (We must grow timid as we age because I think of all the creepy crawlies now and would not dare go up there!).

We collected pounds of the delicious fruit for bottling, tart making, stewed fruit for tea etc. Some families preferred blackberries and spent hours amongst the brambles lining the railway tracks down to Aberaman, etc.

When October arrived each year and the weather got colder and the ferns died off and painted the mountain in a rich brown, our thoughts would turn to bonfire night. We begged the shopkeepers for empty potato sacks, and would fill them with ferns in preparation for the bonfire.

Also these ferns would be used for stuffing of the Guy Fawkes (if we managed to get old clothes to stuff!). Indeed, clothes were not as plentiful then. You had your school clothes, limited choice of play clothes, and your Sunday best for Church.

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