Adventures with Alfie Day 11

21st December 2012

Today is our last adventure before Christmas. It will be 2013 before we have another one. Today is my son’s birthday, it’s the shortest day of the year and at 11.10 am the sun was at it’s most southerly point in relation to the earth…so from now on it’s longer days all the way until June. Happy days!! I hate the dark dismal days of winter; the past few day have been particularly dark and grey… at least I should say that I used to hate the dark days of autumn and winter, now Mia, Millie and Alfie are three bright rays of sunshine which brighten up every day. I read once on a calendar that ‘perpetual sunshine produces a desert’. How true is that, how can we appreciate the sunny days without the rainy days that go with them! Now I can, like the Selfish Giant in Oscar Wilde’s story, appreciate that the winter is just the Spring resting.

Alfie came over at half past seven and the good lady of the house wasted no time in getting him ready for the day. Great excitement always erupts in our house when the grandkids visit! I heard her telling him that she wished she could miss work today to go adventuring. When I first saw Alfie he looked like Burglar Bill, one of the stories I loved reading to my kids in school.

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We took her to work and then came back.

Alfie was not terribly interested in his early morning nap, he had missed three adventuring days thanks to our travels to France and Africa, and the excitement was building!

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We had decided on visiting Caerphilly, which meant a trip over the mountain! For me it was a trip down memory lane as at one time we drove regularly through this small busting, interesting valley town on our way to our very first home in Gelligaer, and at one time the main way home was through Caerphilly. They were happy days those early married life days…it’s funny that excitement has increased down through the years and I don’t half still love the old lady who shares my life and makes it so good!.

Caerphilly is a town in the county borough of Caerphilly, located at the southern end of the Rhymney Valley. As of the 2001 Census the town has a population of 30,388. It is a commuter town of Cardiff and Newport, which are located some 7.5 miles and 12 miles away, respectively. It is separated from the Cardiff suburbs of Lisvane and Rhiwbina by Caerphilly Mountain and it is the largest town in the county borough of Caerphilly.The town gives its name to Caerphilly cheese, which originated in the area. The most interesting part of the town is the huge castle.

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Caerphilly Castle is a mediaeval fortress. The castle was constructed by Gilbert de Claire in the 13th century as part of his campaign to conquer Glamorgan, and saw extensive fighting between Gilbert and his descendants and the native Welsh rulers. Surrounded by extensive artificial lakes – considered by historian Allen Brown to be “the most elaborate water defences in all Britain” – it occupies around 30 acres and is the second largest castle in Britain, second only to Windsor Castle. It is famous for having introduced concentric castle defences to Britain and for its large gatehouses. It has a wild leaning tower; the South East Tower has split vertically at an angle producing a very noticeable lean, which manages to out-lean even the Tower of Pisa known as “The Leaning Tower”.

We arrived quite early and made our way through a little shopping mall to the jewel in Caerphilly’s crown, more important even than the castle, Glanmor’s Tea Rooms.

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It’s an exquisite little place with table service by waitresses of all ages, who wait on the tables, dressed all in black and wearing little white aprons. Highly civilised and much appreciated by me! I was saddened when I went in though to be told that there were no child seats. (Russell please note!)

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So I had to look forward to my pot of tea and custard slice with Alfie balanced on my lap!

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Not good!

I ordered Alfie hot buttered toast and we had a great time. The waitresses all loved him and he was on top form, pointing and shouting and getting excited about nothing in particular. The tea was great, Alfie’s toast was devoured hungrily and words cannot describe how much I loved my custard slice!

After we left we strolled over and had a look at the castle. We both enjoyed it. It was a lovely day, the only nice day of the week, Alfie day.

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The sun was shining and the sky was blue. As we left, I took Alfie to see the very first school I ever taught in, Twyn Junior School. I was there on teaching practice in 1970. I was there for six weeks and my class teacher was Roy Noble, now a famous radio personality in Wales. I met him recently; sadly he had no recollection of me, but I am proud of my little claim to fame and the wonderful journey that was my teaching career, started in this lovely little valley school.

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The building has a look of Colditz Castle about it but the school itself was a warm and friendly place and a great place to teach. I remember it with great affection.Inside there is a garden and all the classrooms lead off this garden, along outdoor corridors…may have changed now…

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We drove from here back over the mountain and stopped off at the Thornhill Farm Shop. This was a particular favourite haunt of my dad and mum, who made many visits to the shop and café, usually after their coffee morning on a Thursday. Things were much the same as I last visited with dad and mum several years ago. We had a beautiful time together Alfie and me. I ordered him child’s snack box, it had cheese sandwich, a cake and some sultanas in a box and a drink. He nearly burst with excitement when it came.

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After food we went out and visited their nativity barn. Alfie loved this bit even more than his snack box! It was a warm sweet smelling place, full of child friendly animals; there were some sheep, chickens, some piglets, a couple of huge bulls and some reindeer. We strolled round with Alfie shouting and pointing as he does at regular intervals.

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The Christmas story was portrayed around the barn and there was a DVD playing Vegetales. It seemed the perfect way to round off our adventures for this term.

ImageOn the way home we past Thornhill Cemetery and Alfie and I popped I to look at his great grandparents grave, it was touching being there with my little buddy.

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Already I am looking forward to new adventures in a new year when Alfie will be growing up and bringing more joy to the lives of all who know and love him!

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Happy Christmas little man! See you soon!

4 Comments

  1. Roger, I’m totally confused. I thought you just arrived in Lesotho December 19. But here you are playing with Alfie in Caerphilly on Dec. 21. Would you like to explain?

  2. Hi Kendall I visited Lesotho from 3rd – 14th December, took notes and will blog them when I get the chance, sorry if I confused you. Chapter two of the Lesotho visit coming soon.
    Is your friend still alive? Mpho M’atsepo. I still love the book at read it regularly.

    1. Oh, now I understand. Thanks for that. Astonishingly, M’e Mpho is still alive: about to turn 83 and still the matriarch, still ready to go any time she is called, still not receiving the call.

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed this delightful day in Caerphilly with Alfie. We lived in Caerphilly on one of our trips back to the UK for 10 months in 1970. There wasn’t a mall or Glanmore’s there then but there was a wonderful second hand cum antique shop called The Curiosity Shop. The children went to Caerphilly Jnr School (was it called Twyn? – can’t remember) which was bi-lingual. Thanks for the memories, Rog. Little Alfie is such a lucky little fellow to have you as a Granddad. Looking forward to reading more blogs, one by one, during the coming weeks.

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