Sunday, 28 June 2009

Tales of Welsh tractors

Nige relates an accidental adventure in which he and his companions are rescued from a Welsh bog by a tractor-mounted, melted-cheese-eating angel. I'm working my way through Borrow's Wild Wales, which provides a much better (if now probably outdated) model for tramping across the Principality: no OS maps, instead relying on the natives for directions whilst engaging them in talk of bardic traditions and the quality of the local ales (mostly not up to much according to Nige).

But tractors aren't always good news. My cousin M__ (of Pen-Y-Bryn) used to ride over to the pub most nights, get leglessly drunk, be slung across his horse which then, trusty old thing, would find its way back home, by which time he would have sobered up enough to stagger to bed.

One day he traded his horse in for a tractor (or 'tractor' as it's called in Welsh). You can probably guess the rest: he met his end late one night, just after closing time, when his new vehicle tipped over into a ditch. One for the technophobes, I guess.

He was actually a cousin to my branch of the family and tenanted a farm neighbouring the one where I was born. I'd assumed there was bad blood there: I'd been told it was unwise to venture into fields bordering Pen-Y-Bryn as there was a danger of getting shot at. But apparently only my great-uncles were shot at; the feud didn't impinge on our bit of the family, we'd only get shot at accidentally.

M__ was, in fact, an ally. Another neighbour - a Mr Hayball - had a dog that'd been killing my Dad's sheep. When one night M__ saw the creature at work he roused Dad who, grabbing his shotgun, proceeded to chase the dog across the mountain.

He eventually caught up with him at Hayball's farm. The dog was whimpering on the doorstep, sensing somehow what my old chap had in mind for him. Knowing this was a golden chance, Dad shot the poor creature dead. Almost immediately after, Hayball's wife opened the front door, saw all too clearly what had been occurring and proceeded to go absolutely mental.

Hayball apparently played hell. But there were no consequences - I suppose you'd be disposed to tread quite carefully. Golden days. But perhaps not a wholly healthy environment for hikers.


Gadjo Dilo said...

One could engage the locals of Wales in talk and get them to tell you directions? Which part of Wales??

worm said...


Brit said...

A whimpering dog on a doorstep! Dear me, that's hardcore.

Gaw said...

Gadj:Er, good point. I probably should have pointed out that Mr Borrow wheeled out his Welsh when necessary. South Wales is a friendly place though, isn't it? Especially if you adopt a lilt.

Worm: You are very kind.

Brit: It's dog-eat-dog on a Welsh hill farm. Or at least, dog-eat-sheep-farmer-shoot-dog.