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Another brilliant day out in Bronllys

After the storms in the previous  few days, a slightly overcast day in Bronllys was far better than expected. Whilst the sun didn’t shine ,we were able to get out and walk twice! Anyone who thinks people from hotter parts don’t know how to cope with Welsh weather, need to meet our visitors who always come ready to join in with everything we suggest and even ask to go out to explore whatever the weather.

Royston Hall in Bronllys is one of the smaller halls in the area but the welcome is always good and the people very generous. Many of us recall our first trip here when the hall kitchen was unfinished, with   a tap onto a hosepipe for any water and a trip switch that triggered every time we tried to heat up anything..Now the kitchen is perfect and the hall is a great place to have fun!

Steve with a bottle of ‘Buzz Light beer’, Sue, Tim and others in the kitchen

Just over 30 people made the journey from Swansea and were welcomed by almost as many when they arrived soon after 11 am. Drinks, biscuits and fruit  were consumed whilst everyone chatted. Then Gez outlined the plans and activities on offer. Christina had brought knitting , Selina, Tara and Ellie prepared to show and teach calligraphy and  Douglas and Suzie arranged to sing and Suzanne to play the harp throughout the day. Many people quietly enjoyed being in the hall throughout the day, knitting, writing or chatting. At least one person commented upon how much they liked the peacefulness of the area. People found their own spots in and around the hall to ring home and show off the area, to meditate, to knit and to chat.

Christina with knitting, Gez announcing, a drawing by H, Suzanne giving a harp lesson to a visitor.

Gez led the walk  to explore the moated site of a medieval  manor house  whilst Lynne,Sue, Tim, Val, Steve, Ellen, Adil, Anna, Carola and others tidied up and prepared lunch. We’d resolved  in September to trial using hi vis vests for walk leader and back stop  to help with keeping the walking group together. Initially we had some reservations about whether this might revive memories of border guards or Gilet Jaune protesters – we needn’t have worried. The vests were seized upon and worn by guests who were delighted to help lead and keep an eye upon fellow walkers. Indeed one has already disappeared  to Swansea where we hope it might keep someone safe walking at night. It was good to see young R wearing his vest demanding people keep up and stop dawdling! We admired the views, ate black berries , watched sheep, barked at dogs, took loads of selfies and arrived back just as lunch was being served.

A selfie stop/ tour guide announcement and O and Phil acting as back stop.

Lunch was a magnificent combination of hot stews, pasta and sauce, salads, felafel [ they froze well!] hummus, raw vegetables, dips,  delicious vegetable pasties [ Thanks Harriet!] and Alex’s bread [ as wonderful as ever] . Harp music and singing accompanied lunch and then we had some singing of rounds and songs that were African based. O from Somalia who has been seeking asylum for many years is a singer and joined in with enthusiasm. You can see his YouTube video here.  Those who know about these sort of things say the video has not been very popular but it was nice to meet a pop star who was so pleasant and polite!

Lunch and the singers planning strategy.

After everyone had enjoyed singing ,another walk was requested to visit Bronllys Castle. A previous visit there had felt rather scary as people hung  out from the top of the tower [ imagine the risk assessment for that ]  but on this occasion our guests settled for playing music on top. A girl quizzed us about how old the castle was [900 years] and why it was there [ to keep the Welsh away from French controlled lands]  and planned to go to school to tell her teachers that she’d been in a castle.

storming the castle

Meanwhile back at the hall, many conversations were taking place. Anna’s baby Carys was passed around and loved by everyone. We heard how a  lost mum had been found and congratulated others on being given their papers. Maria, Antje and Phil were kept busy with solving problems and cake was cut up and more tea and coffee served. And then the day drew to an end. The bus left with people ready to attend a fundraising event for Swansea Asylum Seekers Support Group on a bus laden down with donations of  cake and fruit  that could be shared out with people who hadn’t been lucky enough to come.

The whole day is perfectly summed up by Sue ‘A fabulous day made possible by friends and supporters who gave so generously of time and donations. And a huge thank you to our friends from Swansea for allowing us to share a little bit of their lives through song, through talking, through drawing and writing and knitting.’

Thanks to Sue and Gez for coordination,

To our supporters for all their help and enthusiasm.

to Selina, Tara and Ellie for calligraphy.

to harpist  Suzanne and husband Douglas.

to Suzie our lead singer

to Honey Cafe, Heather at Anchorage Shop Bronllys, Aldi and Talgarth Coop for generous support.

to Royston Hall committee for use of the hall at a special rate.

Thanks From Maria on behalf of the visitors

Saturday 12th October
More than thirty people from all over the world, having left their homes and travelled thousands of miles to escape horrors of different kinds, boarded a coach in Swansea City centre for trip to Bronllys near Brecon.
Many did not really know where they were going, but trusted the friendly faces at one of Swansea’s Refugee and Asylum Support groups , who asked them to turn up at 9.30am on Saturday and have a lovely day. Some people had been before, but there were a significant number who new to Swansea.
They were not to be disappointed – what a warm and enthusiastic welcome they received at Bronllys Village hall by a large group of HBTSR supporters. Bunting had been put up and tables laden with drinks, fruit, biscuits and other goodies awaited.
Sue and Gez Richards who live in the village were coordinating the day. Gez was on top form and led two wonderful walks during the day. Sue was more quietly, in control of the whole operation. The weather was better than anticipated and nobody got too wet. Chatter ( in several languages) and laughter filled Bronllys.
For those who did not fancy a walk, there was calligraphy, knitting and a chance to chat. One older lady from Pakistan who had recently arrived in Swansea and spoke no English ,looked content knitting in a corner outside, sitting in her traditional way
Lunch was a feast- so much work had gone into this day, many contributors were undoubtedly unseen. Alex’s famous sourdough bread is becoming somewhat of a tradition.
The afternoon was filled with music which is an international language. It was all meticulously coordinated and you could not fail to be touched – seeing people who had not spoken much before, get up and lead the crowd . A harpist joined the afternoon and the sound was something special.
The gorgeous Baby Carys deserves a special mention- thanks to her relaxed mum Anna, and to her placid nature, she brought a smile to many faces, allowing herself to be cuddled and admired. The admirers formed a queue…..
Tea and cakes ( homemade and delicious) were a perfect way to conclude the afternoon. More than thirty smiling people boarded the bus back to Swansea, fresh flowers in hand. Boxes and bags of fruit, cake and other donations were packed in a car to distribute to the wider community this week.
As you know, I limit those individually thanked for fear of missing someone out. Huge, enormous thanks to everyone who contributed towards such a successful day, you know who you are!
For those of us who see our friends on a weekly basis, it is uplifting and heartening to see their stress dissipate for a few hours. Many use the word ‘isolation’ ‘alone’ ‘fear’‘depressed’ ‘stressed’, when describing their everyday lives. When asked to describe their day on Saturday, the words I heard over and over again were ‘smiles’ ‘comfort’ ‘hospitality’ ‘ no stress’ ‘lots of joking’ ‘ kindness’ ‘wonderful’ ‘welcoming’ ‘ fantastic’ ‘ I’m happy here’.
What a testament to HBTSR! We cannot thank you enough.

Maria ( on behalf of all who enjoyed the wonderful day on Saturday)

And Finally I challenge you to read these and not feel moved.