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So long Gwaelod, hello Radyr…

January 2008

"The advancing years crept up insidiously, almost unnoticed, until I realised that the stone stairways in my terraced gardens had become more awkward when I was burdened with lawn mower or bags of wet compost. Ingress and egress from the garage drive to the steep, 'unadopted' mountain road seemed to wax more complex and the seventeen steps between kitchen and car more arduous when I was loaded with shopping or buckets of soil washed down the lane onto the drive during heavy rain.

I had been watching the building of a new McCarthy and Stone "Retirement Home" on a leafy site at Radyr a few miles to the South - beyond the Taff Gorge through the Border Ridges which delimited the coastal plain. At the age of 86, I felt the time was ripe for a move. The problem was, how to sort the accoutrements acquired during forty five years of residence in six sizeable rooms plus kitchen, scullery, bathroom, cat annexe, outside loo, spacious garage and garden shed into two not particularly capacious rooms augmented only by kitchen, bathroom and two small annexes.

Instead of stepping out into floriferous gardens with crazy stone paths and rockeries, cherished over decades by my own muddied hands, I looked down from a balcony to a sloping flower bed shared with a score of others. the way between was along a carpeted corridor. Where does one wash the muc off one's boots with only a balcony, or feed the birds without being accused of attracting rats?

No matter. What is to be must be. My Christmas houseguest was cancelled and I moved into a cluttered life style of general pandemonium, spiced by finds of objects I had not set eyes on for decades. The cliche, "If you haven't used it during the past few years you don't need it" had never cut ice with me. "Things" have a way of becoming old and worthless and then antique and valuable.

Friends rallied round to fuel the treadmill of packing and stacking and of transport to other outlets. First and foremost, as always over recent years, was my printer and handyman friend Clive Thomas, helped now by his wife Lynne. They were there with moral and practical support at both the packing and unpacking stages.

Robert Hubbard commuted from monknas on the coast, bringing collapsibleplastic book crates which proved invaluble. Naturalist friends Andy and Rhian Kendall carted away box after box of books, displaying prodigious physical strength in their transport from Cottage to Museum or appropriate storage dispersal points.

The South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre made two journeys to salvage technical data encompassed in twenty or so Eastlight files and metal index card trats of coloured slides recording past natural communities. They conjured up a place to store them and a person to convert my old fashioned ramblings into the succinct computer data required by this modern age.

Madeline Beswick graduated from acquaintance to friend as she wrapped and packed, sieved and sorted and ferreted out the rear entrances to the Sally Army, Oxfam and other like empora.

Clive and I, with the aid of a roll of graph paper passed on to his little daughter by my father in 1928, measured rooms and furniture, juggling a quart into a pint pot as my old mother used to say. I chose carpet, curtains and fire place and admired the view from my abode to be. This was not so very different from the one I had enjoyed through the years."

Taken from Moving Out And Moving In, Chapter 1 of Wildlife Watching in the Slow Lane.