Judy and I moved to Cwm Du in August 2011. We were no strangers
to the area, having visited on and off for nearly 30 years. We
had many holidays in the area and were first introduced to it
by a family friend, Gwyn Gittins, whose own family had lived in
Glasbury many years ago before moving to Brecon.
Judy and I had been teachers in Hampshire since the late 1970s
and had planned the move many years ago. When all of our three
children had left home, we finally retired from the jobs we loved
and moved here immediately. Our decision to retire early was further
encouraged by the unending onslaught of government initiatives
which were in our view undermining and narrowing the rich and
creative school curricula that we had invested so much in. Judy
was a teacher in a school for 70 pupils aged 2-19 years with severe,
profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex medical
needs. Stephen was a Primary School teacher.
In the years before we moved, we lived in the centre of Denmead,
a village 12 miles from Porstmouth and close to the birthplace
of cricket in Hambledon. Villages on the south coast are often
very different from those found in Powys. Relatively small until
the 1960s, Denmead grew rapidly with new estates springing up
around the old village centre. Its population when we left was
approximately 6000 but in some ways it was a village. There was
only one primary school and this brought the community together
as did the very busy Community Centre, Scouts and various football
teams which catered for all ages. The village had a handful of
shops including a convenience store and several pubs. We lived
facing the village Green and Stephen worked in the village school.
We knew the area very well and it was our hope that we might find
a property in the Glasbury area that “ticked all the boxes”
for us. We wanted a large area for gardening and after many years
of being encountered in our garden by inquisitive pupils and their
curious parents, a more isolated location did appeal. We were
amazed to discover Cwm Du was available. We must have driven past
many times on our way up to the Begwns over the years and to live
such a short distance away (admittedly, up a rather steep lane!)
was very appealing.
We made our first visit and knew even before the agent arrived
to let us in that this would be the place for us – bar any
insurmountable problems we would encounter inside the cottage.
The position, the location, the garden, the dingle - they were
all that we had been looking for. Being keen walkers and adverse
to using the car unnecessarily, it was good to see that there
were many footpaths criss-crossing in every direction around the
cottage and the views were sublime. We moved during the school
holidays in August and when our colleagues were beginning their
new school year, we were already feeling well settled in.
We learnt from Steven at the Waun and Aubrey at Llywnpenderi that
the cottage had been uninhabited by the 1960s and had been used
as a store. Since then it had been rescued and extended and had
three owners, two of whom had used it as a holiday home. Despite
this and even perhaps because of it, we had a few necessary jobs
to attend to. The roof needed attention as the asbestos tiles
on the extension were leaking and the slates were in need of relaying.
New floors, staircase, bathroom and kitchen soon followed and
central heating was installed. The chimney proved to be in need
of attention too as it leaked badly and had to be rebuilt, this
time with the necessary lead sills.
We feel very much at home at Cwm Du. Neighbouring families have
been very welcoming. Aubrey and Ruth loaned us a fridge freezer
when ours was damaged when lightning struck an old hawthorn across
the lane and we always appreciate the swedes kindly given to us
by Glyn Arrowsmith. We have made good friends at the Harp as regular
quizzers and enjoyed the fact that Graham and Robert behind the
bar quickly learnt our usual choices and reach for the appropriate
glasses as we walk in the door. Quiz night is always great fun
and so much more than a potential chance to win the entry fee
of £1 back as part of a winning team. The quizzers are a
great bunch and they have made us feel very welcome.
We belonged to the local Wildlife Trust in Hampshire and now support
the much smaller Radnorshire Wildlife Trust. Stephen is a Trustee
and we both turn out each week for the Volunteer work parties
who help maintain and develop their nature reserves. We are voluntary
wardens for nearby Llanbwchllyn Lake and we have been involved
in identifying and surveying the ancient trees in the area. As
a result of the latter, The Ancient Tree Forum held a training
day at Maessllwch Castle which attracted over 50 people from around
the UK. Another interest is lepidopteria, focussing upon moths.
Recording through the temporary capture of moths in our moth traps,
we have currently recorded over 400 different species in our garden
including three which were first records for Radnorshire. Our
records are passed on to the County Moth Recorders, Pete and Ginny
Clarke, who live in Glasbury.
Keen on all aspects of wildlife, we have spotted an otter in the
Cilkenni Brook and been very pleased to see that Tawny Owls, Pied
Flycatchers and Grey Wagtails among many other birds have used
nestboxes we have put up and Dippers nest regularly in the Cwm
Du dingle alongside our cottage. The increasingly rare Spotted
Flycatcher has nested twice above a window in the cottage, returning
from a 16,000 mile return trip on the same day each year.
The only downside we have discovered to living here are the voles
and the squirrels which seem determined to eat all of our tulip
bulbs seedlings and young plants in the garden and polytunnel.
We are very happy at Cwm Du and hope to spend many more years
Steve and Judy Mullard
04 03 2015