by Peter Richards
Trearddur Bay memories … early 1950's.
“The Bay” was considered, by those who didn't know much about anything, to be where the wealthy folk lived; people with a bit of cash who were mostly English. They dressed and spoke in their own style and were always viewed by others with suspicion, like foreigners.
(My Grandmother suffered from this suspicion of outsiders. She was known as 'Irish Mary' although her maiden name was Lewis and she was Liverpool Welsh. Her parents were from Caernarfon and in the 1901 and 1910 census she was the only member of the family of five that could speak both English and Welsh. Speaks English … highly suspicious!
Back to the Bay. I started delivering Sunday papers as a small favour, “just to try it out, nothing permanent”. I ended up doing it for over four years, every Sunday without fail, rain or shine, the equivalent of over a thousand trips with a heavy shop-cycle with a carrier back and front, loaded down with heavy newspapers.
Almost every house and farm, down every side road starting at Kingsland Mill to the outskirts of Four-mile-Bridge depended on “that blonde boy” from Holyhead.
The reward for all of this was ten shillings, plus tips and for the first few months this was all taken by my mother so that all that I was left with was a nice tan and strong legs and a fierce determination to be more like the “Bay people”.
Some things stick in my mind as I write this … the two elderly ladies that shared a large double-bed, curtains always open and they would see the bay as their first sight of the day. They wore bed-bonnets and slept almost in the sitting position and gave me the impression that they may have been life-sized dolls from Edwardian days. There was a retired doctor and his wife, (I never met them), who, like most, left their door unlocked in those far-off days, leaving the money on the table for me to collect. Their kitchen was always filled with the smell of freshly made coffee and the unseen couple may be responsible for the fact that I love 'real' coffee and that two of my five wives were doctors. The Brigadier's wife, (cake and orange juice), was later to
become my unnoficial banker, holding my tip money that suddenly increased when winter storms still saw the populace's beloved newspapers arrive at their front doors. Thte Bay Hotel was my half-way point and the staff spoiled me rotten. Thick buttered toast and jam, washed down with best quality tea and even a few biscuits stuffed into my pockets, “ to keep you going Doll”.
The Cliff Hotel was closed at that time although the bar was open. The annex at the rear housed Pilot Officers from Valley. The big house nearby, owned by a Lord but watched over by a gentle Welsh couple that always gave me an apple, would always seem sinister in the winter but, with the sun shining become a quite different place, just like that.
There were a number of BBC people dotted about the bay and Peter Dimmock, the well-known sports commentator had a house off Ravenspoint Road. The large house facing Porth Diana was owned by Lord Lever-Hulme and his housekeeper, Mrs. Smith, was always lavish with cake and tea. The Ravenspoint hotel always seemed to be a bit of a mystery to me at that time simply because there were gorgeous looking young ladies that seemed to be spending the weekend there with their fathers!
Another mystery, in my youth and innocence, was why the lady at the pottery always answered my knock with a towel clasped to her bosom. “You caught me in the shower again, you naughty boy”. Note that, due to the vagaries of wind and weather, there could be an hours difference in my arrival at her house but I always “caught her in the shower”.
Yes, the Bay People were quite different to the rest of us. They were polite and generous, soft spoken and trusting. Times change and now I can't imagine anyone going out without locking their doors and, as for leaving money on the doorstep, well, what a silly idea!
I can still see the bay in my minds eye, the sound of it too and the sweet sea-smell. I can still feel the sand in my toes from even earlier days and remember my knitted swimming trunks, stretching when wet, becoming huge and falling down at the blink of an eye. Happy days yet again, a long time ago.