I have known Gwyn since April 1979. We worked together at Glenfrith Hospital, a large, multi-sited, hospital for people with learning disabilities. Gwyn was a trainee psychologist and I was an unqualified social worker. We were based in a suite of offices at the end of the long drive up to the hospital. We worked with the same patients, we attended the same meetings, we went on several courses together. We were both young, inexperienced and naive; we both smoked and drank; we both liked Gilbert and Sullivan; we both had parents that lived some distance away. With Pete and John, we often went away for the weekend, especially to celebrate our birthdays; we went to Paris to celebrate Pete’s birthday. Those were good times, with good memories.
It was inevitable, from the beginning, that Gwyn knew about my interest in, and love of, tea towels. If we went to a National Trust property or to somewhere like London or Paris she would see me buying tea towels; she witnessed many of my early purchases. Not only that, Gwyn contributed to my growing collection with some beautiful birthday presents, often with a cat or chicken theme. Latterly, when Gwyn has been to Anglesey on holiday she has bought me a tea towel back from there. I certainly have a wide selection of Anglesey tea towels.
Last year, Gwyn gave me this tea towel with a note:
“Barbara, I know that you have enough tea towels already to write about, but we bought this in Anglesey this year and it comes with it’s own blog (well, almost).
Most of my childhood holidays were spent on Anglesey, staying with relatives (except for one glorious occasion when we went to Butlins in Skegness). For the first five years we stayed with my grandparents in Pen-y-sarn. They lived in a tiny cottage with no running water or electricity, and I have memories of oil lamps, visiting the privy at the bottom of the garden and fetching water from the spring in an enamel bucket. I don’t remember much about my Welsh grandparents, because they were Welsh speakers who both died when I was five.
After this, we spent our holidays in Llanfechell with my aunt and uncle in their council house – much more luxurious. The nearest beach to Llanfechell was Cemaes Bay – a round trip of three and a half miles, which we had to walk carrying all our beach paraphernalia, as neither my parents nor my aunt and uncle had a car. Traeth Mawr (Big Beach) in Cemaes is beautiful but the tea towel shows the harbour and the little beach.
Cemaes is the most northerly village in Wales and has been visited by many eminent people including Dafydd ap Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, in 1238 and David Lloyd George.
In later years, we hired a fishing boat (and its skipper) and set sail for the Skerries but had to turn back because the sea was too wild so it is lucky we didn’t need to call on the services of the lifeboat shown on the tea towel.
Tywyn is a National Trust Cottage.
As you have demonstrated in your blog, tea towels are really exciting and bring back many memories.
I am delighted that my Blog has been able to demonstrate to more people that tea towels are wonderous, memory joggers which can all have a tale to tell, in the right hands.
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum