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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mike Harding visits the bar Aug 1982

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Friday, 19 October 2012

French Journalist Lost in Wales

I wrote this 3 years ago but somehow it got misplaced: A customer brought a French publication into the bar for me to read entitled 'Midi Olympique Magazine'.dated Oct 5, 2009. Apparently Hirwaun is in the heart of the Rhondda Valley at the extreme south-west of the Principality where all the mines were called The Big Pit, the mine owners were English and every mine had its rugby club. 120 miners died in an explosion at Hirwaun in 1966 and 114 died in a flood at Cymmer in 1975. Newport, Llanelli, Swansea & Cardiff are the economic lungs of the west coast. They headed towards the Brecon Forest and along the way they stopped at a pub at the side of the road in Trehafod called the 'Royal Oak' which translated means 'l'Aigle Royale'; it is part of an industry that will never know a crisis in Wales, that of hops. Inside the pub they were told a story of a university educated coach who warned the local rugby team of an imminent match against the French who were renowned for their rough play, the miners in the team laughed, they knew all about violence, for hadn't they only recently lost 120 fellow workers in the bowels of the Welsh earth! I think that this reporter was in a post-match drunken haze then lost his notebook & memory, nor did he expect a Welshman to read his article.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Sept. 1979 > Jan. 2010: Running bar in Breton countryside.
Jan 2010: Pub burnt down, stupidly not insured for loss of earnings, under-insured for contents, used spare time to photograph Brittany
Aug 2010: Money ran out, advised to contact social worker, continued to photograph Brittany even managing to sell some photos at market but lost others plus two tents to wind & rain.
Jan 2011: Ferry paid for by Rhys so I could go to funeral in Wales.
2011: Strict regime, eating once, sometimes twice a day, no socializing at all, not even the Lorient festival, occasionally food bought with the help of friends.
2012: Light at the end of the tunnel, pub being rebuilt, spent two days at the interceltic festival, Lorient.
Sept 2012: The person usually asking for help (me) was asked to play the Good Samaritan in Portugal as unpaid adviser for the re-opening of traditional bar, with board & lodge, had to borrow money to travel 2000km, petrol re-imbursed, lorded it for a month, expenses incurred, wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Oct. 2012: Back to Brittany, reality & rain from Portugal, Sagres (+ Guinness) & sun, finding it difficult to re-adapt.
13 Oct. 2012: Enveloped myself in the best of Breton culture, forgot my problems for an evening at an excellent fest-noz in Prad in aid of Diwan Lannuon, Diwan being the Breton language schools organization.
14 Oct:  Terry the phantom barber from Ebbw Vale visits me.
 On the bright side, I come out of this long dark tunnel for the official Spring re-opening  March 1, 2013; D/J-167

Monday, 8 October 2012

A Month in the Sun

I received a call from Gareth in Cardiff to go to Portugal as an unpaid consultant but with board & lodge and petrol re-imbursed in order to help his girlfriend Dale who was starting up a bar at Tavira in the Algarve. I waited until an advance came through from Rudi then on Sunday 2 Sept. I answered the call, stopping at Gourin for the pipers' championship, then on to the Nantes periphery where I pulled up to sleep in the back of my estate which is conveniently long enough to place a sleeping bag. About 3 o'clock in the morning I was awoken by torchlight of one of  3 policemen asking me to get out and what was I doing there, after I told them I was on my way to Portugal they told me that I shouldn't be sleeping there and had I been drinking, to which I answered in the affirmative and waited for the breathalyser, the first policeman took my keys and drove off in my car, the second told me to get in the back of the police car which followed till we turned off into a service area where I got out and was advised that this was a better place to sleep, leaving with a wisecrack about the chances of my old Opel Astra making it all the way. If they had tested my breath there may not have been any trip nor driving licence especially as I only have one point left.
    I woke up driving on past Niort, Bordeaux, Saint Sebastian, Burgos, Valladolid, Salamanca, Merida, Seville, Huelva, Tavira; 48 hours later on the Tuesday evening I arrived after 2000 km (1200 m) and a few stops at service stations.
    Gareth had told me that my consultancy would be between 9.30pm & 2am (3am Sat/Sun) with nothing to do during the day and a beach on the doorstep, he forgot to mention the lock-ins and a boat to the beach. I quickly set in to a routine, mostly with Gareth, every day we'd go to the same café on the square for a large  coffee with milk, followed by a Sagres or Super Bock; a walk around the village taking photos, or a trip to the beach, would be followed by a visit to the 'Black Anchor' Irish bar. Sometimes we would say hello to the Dutch & English bars, but it was mainly to the Black Anchor that I went for my liquid refreshment before going to offer my advice evey night except Mondays for a month, and who would have thought that it would take a visit to Portugal to experience the all-Ireland Hurling & Gaelic Football finals. One day we didn't go to sleep till 6am, although that was an exception there was a lock-in almost every night.
  My daily routine, the local architecture, and the village boundaries brought to mind Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner' at Porthmeirion. I enjoyed visiting the locals in their little corner bars, I made new friends, particularly Des & his wife, Kev, Dave, Jao, Paolo, Renato, Karen & Dave; the beach was magnificent, I visited another beach down the road at Cabanas, which made me think of my friend & Merthyr rugby coach Terry Cavanagh, which also had ferry access, we ate at little Portuguese restaurants, drank Portuguese wines & beers, + the digestives were voluminous & cheap. I was impressed by my temporary change in life-style, I've never really eaten in restaurants except for our Indian & Chinese back in Merthyr, so I was also happy to have lamb curry in the two Indian restaurants on the square.
     After I'd helped Dale change her address I took a day off before leaving the village after exactly a month; my last night saw me staying behind at the Irish bar at the bequest of the Irish landlord & landlady, after a discussion in good company I left to spend my last night in the back of my car, Dale having moved. The following day I went back to the café for my daily coffee and to say goodbye before driving away from Tavira forever.
     I couldn't drive back to Plouye without looking for a place that Gareth had previously told me about further east going by the name of Taffy's Bar, the problem was that I couldn't remember the address, so I drove down to Amaçao de Pera in the hope of finding it there. I wandered around the beach for a while, no ferry needed, before going to a pharmacy for a new pair of spectacles, where on my mentioning 'Taffy's Bar' he looked it up on the computer which gave its address as Praia da Rocha a further 20km to the west. Off I went straight away to get to the beach area of a highly commercial built up town, bars, hotels, restaurants everywhere, I parked my car and followed the promenade overlooking yet another beautiful never-ending beach with steps leading down everywhere; I'd convinced myself that this was the place but I was walking on and on passing in front of every kind of bar & restaurant from Japanese to Irish, hope draining until finally at the end of a long walk, there it was 'Taffy's Bar & Grill'. I took a few photos before entering, ordered a pint of Guinness, the landlord is from Treorchy, there were screens with that night's matches as in the Irish bar in Tavira, it was quiz night, I helped a Welsh couple and I had a long chat with a miner from Aberdare working in Aberpergwm, about Eddie Thomas, Howard Winstone, Malcolm Price, and Decker from Swansea Road; happy to have been there I went to my car, slept, and the following day it took me 31 hours to drive back the 1,991km. the same road as I came on, keeping a vigilant eye on the engine temperature, but although I had to pass over the Pyrenees the magnificence of which I missed twice by driving at night, I needn't have worried because it's more tunnels than actually climbing. It had been brilliant sunshine, and was to Bordeaux, the first clouds showed themselves near Vannes, then the dark clouds approaching Lorient, an hour later I was glad to get into my bed, only to be awoken by Elise wanting to know when I'd arrived, after she'd left I got out of bed and observed wet traces on the floor leading outside, so I opened the door to see the rain, I was well & truly back.

Annie Ebrel & Nolwen le Buhe

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Born Aug 3 1951, Merthyr Tydfil, Cymru/Wales.Moved to Brittany Sept. 1979.I run a rustic Bar in a village of fewer than 800h.Real ale& best whisk(e)ys.At the moment I'm occupied with photos, flowers and music. For more information look up my site & blog: my story: my photos:    my photos: http://patrimoinebreton/    a.n.other:



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