the time had come for me to venture forth to the ' big ' school,
Builth Wells Primary. O! the look on poor Juno's face that first
morning, even after all these years I remember it well. He stood
there, his tail wagging as the car collected me at the gate at the
top of the valley. Then once inside I saw the forlorn look, as I
told him to "stay". It may have been the first time I
had ever done it, I don't remember. But I do remember him slouching
down onto his all fours, I still don't know who was hurt the most.
before you ask, he was there, when at about at 5.30 pm I arrived
back. Out of the bracken he came, jumping up and down on me to lick
my face. The same act he was to perform on my homecoming from school
right up until his latter years, when as an old dog he was not able
to run and jump.. Then he used to put his muzzle in my hand and
give it a gently lick. I remember his cold wet nose so well.
came that final day, the day when Juno passed away. We had started
off up the valley side as usual that morning, but he kept sitting
down and looking up at me, as though he was etching the details
of my face in his mind. Knowing this was totally out of character
I returned home, Mum began to scold me until she saw the look of
worry in my eyes. I asked her if I could bring Juno in. He had never
stayed in doors, he had always preferred to stay in his box among
the hay in the barn. Having got his box and put it up against the
warm boiler in the back kitchen, I set off for the cowshed to get
some warm milk from the bucket that Dad was using to milk the cows.
When I got back, Mum was outside crying. I knew instinctively that
Juno had closed his eyes for the last time.
Yes throughout my life I have remembered and
I have no hesitation in saying I always will, the day Juno died.
Remain in peace my faithful companion, for you earned the right
of it O so well.
time for the chickens. well it was supposed to be
pool on the river, just fifty yards from the back door,
miles by car it was down the valley to the bus. Three miles of torture,
for you had to have springs in your bum as well as the car on that
road. No seat belts in those days. I used to bounce up and down
and go from side to side on the back seat, just like a jack in the
box. Still they put Tarmac on it before I finished going to school,
then I used a push bike to go up and down.
the car it was twelve miles by coach, looked after by ' Ann Erwood
Hall ' who had promised the family she would keep an eye out for
me. How old was Ann, just a couple of years older than me. The mothering
instincts of women I suppose, she soon gave up on me though ha ha.
waiting for the school car. Note the road, none of your tarmac highway.
Pure stone, built for the three miles down the mountainside by the
' Stone gang ' and a 50 ton steam roller. Later the road was extended
to serve other small farms which were dotted about in the valley.
Note as well the old oak tree, it still stands, well it did when
I last went back in March 2002. Sadly the old barn and sheds have
gone, the result of progress I suppose, they probably became uneconomical
it was that, at Eleven years of age, I left the Primary school and
crossed the road to Builth Wells Grammar. On doing so it was for
me, the beginning of my journey through my teens. Cricket, football
and sport I loved. Also it was the start of my love for history,
taught to me by Harry Bicknell. All teachers then as do the ones
today, have my respect, but non can match that which I had for Harry.
came the many many days of seeing the world, thanks to the armed
forces. All of which has left me able to recall some fantastic memories,
now that I lead a more subdued and peaceful life. However, non of
the memories from those days compare with those that I have of those
early days in 'my valley'.
when the smell of Mum's fresh bread wafted through an open window,
when a cock pheasant's alarm call would reverberate off the valley
sides. Days like those when Juno and I fought with Custer and the
7th Calvary, with Montgomery in Europe and McAthur in the far east.
Days when we fought with those legends at the Alamo and Juno got
out and brought relief by means of the army. [ He didn't really
- usually he had had enough messing about after an hour or so and
went home to the farm for something to eat ].
Days when the fish seemed to commit suicide on the bent safety pin
on the end of my line. Then there were the days when, in my little
pool, I swam and won for Wales. Pulled on a Welsh rugby shirt in
the orchard and played my heart out to win, [ Yes! you always won
in those days when you competed for Wales ].
when muggings, shootings, killing of little children were unheard
of. Days of glorious sunshine, when my faithful companion and I
roamed the countryside with its fantastic colours and sounds. Thank
you God for letting me be Welsh and thank you again for letting
me grow up in 'YOUR' own special country --- Wales.
again Thank You for visiting my website dear visitor.
May your road through life be a happy one, and the journey of it long.
Hwyl [ Cheers ] from me Ole R.D.
--- The Red Dragon of Wales