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Friday, April 21, 2006


Looking through a window into another dimension

Went to visit Coed Hills ‘Rural Art Space’ today. It is tucked away in the countryside just off the A48 near Cowbridge and is not the easiest place to find, but when you find it is quite a treat.

I was not quite sure what to expect, but it was certainly far more laid back than I expected. Their website makes it look very slick and professional and the Rough Guide to Wales even refers to a ‘wholefood shop’ and a ‘superb organic café’. Don’t be misled by any of this, there is no shop or café and there is nothing slick about the place. The car park will accommodate about three cars, there is not formal reception area or anything, you just turn up and have a wander, finding your own way around. But I think this laid back approach is what makes the place. Not really sure what the set up is but it seems like it is a bit of a commune and the people who run the place also live there.

Gerty, our guide for the day

There is a building that has a sign outside saying Café, but I think it is just their kitchen. When you go in they are more than happy to make you a cup of coffee and toast and have a chat with you. It is at this point that you discover how friendly and laid back they all are; there were no barriers at all and within seconds I felt like I knew them all. One or two of them appear to be ‘New Age Fundamentalists’ but even they were interesting to talk to.

The whole place is run on wind and solar power and next to the old farmhouse and barn there is a permaculture garden, complete with compost toilets, which the youngest member of the Iguana tribe found fascinating. Dotted around the site there are examples of alternative technology, such as buildings made from straw bails. There is also a bit of a playground with a slide and trampoline to keep the younger element happy.

The main attraction though is the 80 acres of woodland. We strolled into the wood taking Gerty, one of the sites many dogs, with us.

Beasts out of thier skulls

There is a path that leads through the wood to a pond which, at this time of year, is host to many tadpoles starting out on their journey through life. There a re a few sculptures along the path including wicker men playing tennis by the pond. Wandering off the path is the real treat though. The wood is full of hidden treats, pieces of ‘art’, sculptures and little wooden buildings.

Church windows, but no church!

We managed to find quite a bit but definitely got the impression if we had more time there would be more to find. I loved the aspect of getting lost in the wood and finding all these things. Someone told us that there are plans to extend the pathways so people can find their way around easier, I am not sure if that will be a good thing or a bad thing because I loved the mystery of it all and the thought that I had discovered something no-one else had ever seen before… apart from the people that built it and live there!

I been through the woods on a horse with no name, cos in the woods, there aint no body to give you no name

In the summer they have plans for workshops the kids can get involved in (pot throwing, wood turning, iron casting and yoghurt weaving type stuff) and there was mention of an exhibition of stuff that Rhodri Morgan (tosser) will be opening so no doubt we will be back down there before the summer is out.


At 9:23 pm , Blogger anne said...

are you following me around or am i following you - think it may be the latter! Check out my site for reports on our family visit to Coed Hills, walk on the blorenge and further back pics of southerndown beach. Reckon we both have excellent taste!


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