BACK STAGE AT PEPPERMINT IGUANA HQ: Gigs, Festivals, Parties, CDs, Books, Protests, travels, photography and Cardiff City FC

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I GOT A CAMERA AND I AM GONNA USE IT: A lazy Sunday wandering around Abersychan with me camera

Two posts in one day, don’t get too used to it I can’t imagine the impetus will be maintained. Especially as I have better things to do than sit here blogging. I should be preparing for the interview I have later in the week or working on the proper Peppermint Iguana website, or doing household chores (and lord knows there’s a few of them going undone!). Apart from the fact that I have better things to do, I don’t really have anything interesting to say… but I am gonna say it anyway, just cos I like writing.

STICK ‘EM UP MOTHER F*CKER, WE’VE COME FOR WHAT’S OURS… Sorry, getting carried away, I am listening to ‘How To operate With A Blown Mind’ by the low Fidelity All Stars and trying to avoid opening my birthday present CD.

Anyway, took the kids back to their mother early, they are off to the annual food festival in their hometown of Abergavenny. I decided to take a scenic route back, well.. not sure that scenic is the word I am looking for, but I found plenty of interest to take photos of.

I bought myself a digital camera a few months ago and never leave home without it now. I like the beauty of digital, you can snap away to your hearts content and if the photos come out crap, just ditch them without the expense of getting them printed. I am comparatively new to all this but just snap away trying to get something resembling art (whatever that might be), taking photos of anything that catches my eye, whether it be a landscape, building, sign, car, animal, or any random object that catches me eye, looking at them all from a variety of angles. And because of the advantages of digital, the law of averages means I am bound to get something decent eventually.

I find that I have started looking at the world differently; even just sat in the office I look and think ‘now there is an interesting stapler’. Everywhere I look I am looking for photo opportunities.

Today photography provided me with something else, a bit of exercise. I stopped at The British, Cwmgarw, which is between Abersychan and Varteg, on the road that leads over to Brynethel (no, I am not making these up). It is a desolate wasteland of a place, an industrial scar on the side of the mountain. There are odd buildings scattered around that hint to days gone by, though no real clue to what they used to be. Only the fact that we are a few miles from Blaenavon, the town that gave birth to the industrial revolution, gives the hint that they were probably connected to the iron industry.

There are also abandoned coal tips, a familiar site through out the valleys. At some point, probably late ‘50s, early ‘60s some attempt was made to hide the tips by covering them with grass seed. I guess at the 50s/60s because since then more thought has been put into reclamation and tips that have been landscaped in the last three decades don’t look quite so obviously to be old tips. But these coal tips are obviously coal tips, with a bit of grass on them. Attempts to disguise them have not been helped by the constant stream of dirt bikes that have taken to riding up and down them over the years. They have been at it for as long as I can remember. As I stood taking photos, I could hear the unmistakable tinny noise of Japanese engines in the distance, and after hanging around for a while, on cue, a scrambler appeared on the tip in front of me.

A little wander revealed some old abandoned buildings that seemed to defy logic. Anywhere else and they would have been knocked down by now, or restored as part of some heritage project, but they were just there, left to nature to reclaim. I can’t imagine it will be too long before they are gone forever and replaced by some soulless collection of brick shoe boxes thrown together by Barrats or some such other money making conglomeration that throws up dwellings with no concept of the word community; although they are probably going to build on all the green fields before they start here.

Oddly, in the middle of this wasteland there is a little row of cottages, probably built when the area was still churning out iron. Every one of them habited and lovingly looked after by the inhabitants. A strange little place to live but I would imagine a strong community spirit in the handful of residents in this little row of cottages surrounded by a moonscape.

Anyway, I will post some of the photos I took later and put a link here. The picture I have posted here is a view from inside an old brick chimney looking up to the sky.

In the mean time, I have better things to do that sit here blogging.

Photo, looking up inside an abandoned chimney of some sort, The British, taken by me today.


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