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  • Writer's pictureDan Brown

The Last Summer Day of Childhood?

In a welcome break from the bleak weather of Autumn, last week we were blessed with two days that felt as if they should have been sat in the middle of a beautiful August heatwave! (This post is from my 2018 Archive, reflecting on a surprisingly pleasant October day!)

After meeting with a friend in Oswestry, we had a random walk around the town, a quick walk up to the top of the Bailey Head (the last bits of the old castle in the town centre!) which gave us the the view seen in the photo above.

Looking out across the rooftops to the fields in the distance, my friend suggested we go for a walk around one of our old routes, out past the back of the school we once attended, past a place known as "Pont Duncan 2" before finding our way to the "original" Pont Duncan!

So off we went! The sun in the sky almost immediately making it a "coats off" job, we wondered out of the outskirts of town. As we passed by The Marches school, my friend mentioned the terrifying fact that it was now 20 years and 1 month since we had first gone up to "big school". The fact that two decades had passed since then was not only alarming because of the amount of time and "life" that has been and gone since then, but also because of how recent and clear some of my memories of that first day of school seem to be.

We soon discovered a break in the hedgerow that gave us a view over a small valley that holds one of my favourite buildings in the area "Penylan Mill" (seen above). Everything about the old mill conjure up an image of a rural industrial past, you can practically see the smoke rising from the chimney and hear the sound of horse and cart and early engine sounds echo down the country lanes. It is also a great location as it is sandwiched between the "Two Pont Duncans!"

We continued our walk with a very nostalgia heavy conversation. I have often been accused of living in the past, but I always say that my past was a great place to live! This living in the past really came into its own when we reached Pont Duncan. My friend sat on the style crossing the fence and we chatted away while I slowly crossed the fallen pylon above the water.

Without really thinking about it, as we moved slightly downstream, I grabbed a small stick and threw it out into the shallow water to see it follow the bubbling current... after a moment or two it became stuck on a small rock, so I was of course honour bound to start throwing small stones to try and free it!

It did not occur to me until a short while later, (when the stick had become stuck on the fourth obstruction it had faced), that I had just been completely engrossed in seeing a small dry stick make it all the way downstream. While absent-mindedly talking to my friend I had been scouring the bank for stones to repeatedly free the stick, at one point throwing a larger log in, hoping that it would have the inertia to both free the original, as well as head downstream itself!

When I mentioned how we had been so focussed on the most meaningless of activities for the last fifteen minutes or so, my friend was keen to point out that it was "I" rather than "we" who had been giving it their all!

But that aside it was one of those moments that, just like starting "big school" two decades ago, I had done with my grandad even earlier in my life. I can remember throwing sticks over the small Pont Duncan bridge and racing them against my grandad and dad well before the scary prospect of Big School had entered into my life, I imagine I may have memories from that place by age 7 at the latest.

Yet there I was, almost 25 years later, literally doing the same thing, still a kid at heart... and you know what? It was awesome!

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Until the next time,

Keep it boatworthy,

Keep it interesting,

Have a fantastic day, and farewell!

Dan... onboard Abel's Ark

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