Part of the Camino 2014

 Leaving St Jean

Leaving Gite Ultreia St Jean Pied de Port, Tuesday 29th April A good sign

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I left St Jean at 8am walked so far with my new French friends. The weather was cold and dry slight wind which was good. We walked up a busy lane, busy with farm traffic and with people. The views were spectacular it reminded me of Wales. I had gone on ahead of my French friends. Wearing shorts a long sleeve top, fleece and a waterproof jacket. Off came the jacket and fleece top shoved them both into my already heavy back pack.The walk was hard, 10 miles head down and backside up sometimes I would look around me and above me and I would see many Vultures circling majestically, I have never seen Vultures before. I stopped for a while to witness their display. Also meadows of wild orchids dusky pink ladies dotted here and there, just like we have in Wales. This beauty belied the truth of how hard it was to walk 17 miles. It took my breath and gave me serenity.

Walking over the Pyreneese

 I was tired but this was replaced by enlightenment, which encouraged me on my journey. To walk paths of history where millions of pilgrims have walked before

Me on the Camino
What a climb! 10 miles uphill!

I met Miriam and Talia from Holland, mother and daughter who already walked many miles before walking the Camino. We chatted for about 5 miles. We stopped at the top of the Pyrenees sat next to the Virgin Mary statue, where Miriam shared her fruit pie with me. The weather had turned very cold along with rain. I put my fleece and waterproof back on, said goodbye to my Dutch friends and carried on with my journey. Through some woods I met Dave “hola” I said “how yer doing” said the cheeky cockney. Dave Sutherland from London had already walked the Camino three times. What a diamond geezer and great company despite being a Millwall fan. We walked together for the last 3 miles down a very steep path, many pilgrims walked the road way, not me and Dave we walked the proper way to the monastery at Roncesvallis. Dave, Maurice, John, Seamus from Ireland and myself shared a good evening together. (Dave left early the following morning. Some people you forget Dave i will remember always). The St Conventus Monastery was very modern and clean. It was attached to a church where I attended mass (after leaving the Irish gang). It was very spiritual. Slept well, was woken by the staff at 6am playing guitar’s and singing Cat Stevens song. “Morning as broken” followed by Everly Brothers “Wake up a little Suzy” it was so funny yet a wonderful wake up call. Left Roncesvallis 7 30am in the rain.

Roncesvallies to Zubiri.

Roncesvallies to Zubiri.

ImageDAY 4 Roncesvalles to Zubiri 17 miles. Leaving the Pyrenees behind, and the wonderful Monastery where they played guitar’s and sang to us at 6am it was wonderful. Walking to Zubiri with Talia for company, her mam Miriam was catching us up later. It was raining and I felt stiff also hungry, no food at the Monastery left without breakfast, only herbal tea inside me. This is something I never do back home I always eat breakfast. This part of the Camino was flat, walking through villages met Amy from Australia. She was walking with two sticks due to a spinal operation. A wonderful spiritual person met Amy many times along the Camino. Talia and I stopped at a local cafe for coffee and breakfast which tasted lovely. 4 miles in I left Talia with her mam never saw them again but they were great company. My deformed toe on my left foot was hurting, I stopped on a grass verge for drink with My French friends and Maurice from Kerry Ireland. Took off my boots and socks wiped and readjusted my sock and boot. My feet were fine but unbeknown to me my boots were not my waterproof trousers were hanging over my boots and allowing the water to drip on to them despite me using protection when I left Wales. My boots were rotting. Hey they took me to the Donegal and Antrim coast in the August and many other walks since so I had my wear from them. This part of the Camino was not strenuous but it had long winding, twisting, paths mostly gravel. the scenery was lush green the house’s looked like Swiss chalets. The path was a good teacher to me it taught me many things. Most of all happiness is having a peaceful mind. I walked the last 4 mile with Kerry from Canada and Seamus from Ireland. Kerry was a strong beautiful caring woman who like me was travelling alone. Seamus I met at the Monastery in Roncesvalles.We met some young French men who were impressed by my walking. I am naturally a fast walker despite looking like a Bavarian farmers wife I can walk 3 to 4 miles an hour. I impressed the French men even further by telling them when I was 19 years of age I refused the French rugby captain Jean Pierre Reeve a date. Yes I did and I do not regret it, we laughed at this. Eric the tall Frenchman communicated with me through the translation on his phone this really touched me and the espresso he bought me too.
We arrived in Zubiri tired and hungry. Kelly, Seamus and I stopped in a local cafe where we had food together.
They left to walk on to Larrossa, I had booked a bedroom en suite at the El Palo de Avellano. Well run and comfortable hotel come hostel, I had a room of my own, which smelt of beeswax the furniture was old and original with wooden floor boards. Showered and changed I opened the sky light window and fell asleep. I was woken by church bells, yes church bells that rang on the hour and the half hour. Went down for the pilgrim meal. The pilgrim meal was a three course meal, normally soup, main course either chicken, or fish with vegetables followed by a desert, yogurt, cake, or fruit. The company was very good Americans Germans, Irish, Italians and French. I was full and ready for Gelli (Welsh for bed). Once in bed I went out like a light but was woken on the hour by church bells so my idea of booking a room with en suite and having goodnight sleep did not materialise.

 Zubiri to Pamplona.

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DAY FIVE 15 MILES FROM ZUBIRI TO PAMPLONA. After a good breakfast, I met with Maurice from Kerry to loan him my book on the Camino, because he had lost his in Roncesvalles. Maurice was walking all the way to Santiago, we arranged to meet up in Pamplona for a drink later that day. I set off on my own the weather was damp but warm within half hour I had taken my waterproof coat off. Caught up with Amy from Australia very calm and spiritual person like me and loves nature too. We chatted for a while, then I headed off at my pace. Met some Italians along the way they were wonderful company. Followed the River Arga this river goes all the way to Pamplona. It was good to hear water and to see dappled shadows I liked that. Stopped at a cafe 5 miles from Pamplona my boots are not good I decide to take them off and put my walking sandals on. I know my boots have had it, but I cannot bring myself to throw them away, so I tied them to my back pack. Will take them home with me and I will plant red geraniums in them to remind me of beautiful Spain. Locals are on bikes enjoying the now warm sunshine, men were sitting on the river banks fishing. Hola I shout or buenos dias. I see the view of Pamplona in the distance among green lush trees but i have a steep climb before I reach the City of Bulls. I walk the rest of the way with Peter from Germany whose daughter shares my name. Peter was very tall and he is walking with two sticks because of a knee operation. We reached a lovely place called Casco Viejo we take photos of the Puente de la Magdalena. Pamplona is not far i walked ahead of Peter. Massive Chestnut trees kept me company, when I saw an elderly man across a busy road wave to me “Pilgrim” he called “si” I say he beckoned me to follow him and he guided me in to Pamplona this really touched my soul. Walked to the main square of the old town of Pamplona. Where i was greeted by a demonstration. It was Labour Day in Spain, a bank holiday that lasts a weekend. They know how to celebrate this socialist holiday unlike back home where most people go to BQ or the nearest garden center. Their colourful banners of their unions held high. This unity touched me because I am old Socialist. Making my way to the old Monastery “Jesus Y Mary” I got lost but found a lovely man from Canada whose name was Gerry, a gentle soul, together we found our way, to the Jesus Y Mary, where there was a long queue waiting to book in. What was wonderful about the queue was that I knew most of the people in the queue. We greeted each other I felt emotional I smiled and wiped a stray tear. The Jesus Y Mary was large and clean and had all the facility’s you need showers, laundry room, kitchen internet, most of all companionship we are comrades on the Camino. Gerry from Canada asked did I have any laundry, this surprised me because I had only just met him his act of kindness that I could not refuse, I bought him a coffee in return. Humanity on the Camino always amazed me. Kelly from Canada had the bunk above me, the Italian couple who I met four days ago had the bunk opposite me. The Italian couple and I could not speak each others language but eyes and hand gestures spoke volumes. Went out that evening with Maurice and Dave from Dublin. We found an Irish bar in Pamplona called O’Connell’s. We walked back to our abode up early tomorrow.

 Celebrating Labour day in Pamplona, Thursday 1st May.

Celebrating Labour day  in Pamplona, Thursday 1st May.

My Camino shell

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Day 6 walk to Cizu Menor

My Camino shell attached to my back pack, to show that you are a pilgrim.Said by goodbyes and shared best wishes, to my new friends I had plenty of hugs in return.Left the Jesus Y Mary Albergue while my new friends got ready for their next long walk. This is where my Camino ends, I do not want it to end, I want to follow the sea of humanity, but I have commitments back home. I called in the pilgrim cafe for an orange juice, coffee and toast. It was raining as I made my way to Cizu Menor.It was cold and I felt sad. Reached Cizu Menor retraced my steps to the Collage then I asked for directions to Pamplona Train Station. I will be leaving early in the morning for Barcelona and I want to book accommodation near the station. A bus driver gave me directions either he was wrong or I misunderstood him but it took me two hours walking before I found the train station.I now looked for somewhere to stay. I asked four hotels they were all booked because it was holiday time in Spain. I stood outside a large housing estate I was cold tired and scared, because I was lost and had nowhere to stay. I saw a young Spanish woman and asked her for directions to the old part of Pamplona. She saw I was distressed and I explained why. This woman I had never met before offered to put me up for the night in her apartment. This touched me deeply and I was humbled. I thanked her for the offer but declined. She gave me directions to the old part of Pamplona, I was 10 minutes away from there but when you are alone and lost and do not speak the language is liken to being the middle of the Gobi desert. This woman was an angel on earth, we hugged and said adios. I remember there was an Albergue called municipal Casa Paderborn, it was situated by the river. I made my way despite being cold my heart was warmed by the Spanish lady’s humanity. There was queue waiting to book in. This was where I met Antonio we got on very well he was a photographer me the penniless poet.The albergue was German owned and run the people who ran this beautiful house were all volunteers. Ursula and Franz were lovely.I shared my room with Antonio from Canada, Ben and Chris from Germany and Julie from Gloucester, England. While I was lost I thought this was for a reason I look upon experiences as a teacher and what can I learn from the experience. When I met Antonio, Ben, Chris and Julie I felt very comfortable and I knew this was why I got lost I was meant to meet these wonderful honest people. I wished I had met them at the beginning of my pilgrim. They invited me out because it was my last night. We had a pilgrim meal at the Cafeteria Palace, where we were waited on by Julio he was amazing character. We had 7 starters and 7 main courses to choose from plus dessert, bread, water and wine all for 9,95e We all had a great time the conversation I will never forget. We all made our way back. Teeth brushed, after much giggling, heads down,then fast asleep. Woke to a lovely breakfast after breakfast Ben from Germany took me outside and asked me to pick a stone which I did, he then asked me why I did part of the Camino and what did I want to get rid off inside of me. I told him what I wanted to get rid off. He turned to me and said “I will place this stone for you at Santiago”. We hugged, I had several hugs that morning.Some people you forget Ben and Antonio I will remember for ever. Made my way to Pamplona Train Station and my 4 hour journey to Barcelona. Where I shared my train ride with a wonderful gentleman named Inaki we talked and discussed many topics and subjects he is a climber of mountains I am a walker of paths. He touched my mind and I liked that. We are now corresponding friends.

My Pilgrims passport

Well stamped

 

My Pilgrims passport to the Camino

Pilgrims passport must be shown at all accommodation.

Leading Walks for Fair trade

Leading Literature walks for Fair Trade March 2017

Saturday March 11th walk where poet Idris Davies walked.

The walk is a 4 mile circular

Meet at Rhymney Library car park

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The walk will start from his home

7 Victoria Road, Rhymney.

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fairtrade campaigners, poets and walkers will be coming together on Saturday 11th March for a walk in the footsteps of legendary Rhymney poet Idris Davies.
The walk is part of the 2017 International Festival of Fair Trade Walks, which this year has “Literary Links” as its theme.
Walks include one in the footsteps of Wordsworth in the English Lake District, and one following a trail in Lebanon following the famous writers of Basinkta. The festival was launched in Wales on St David’s Day, with a Bananas and Bards walk in Swansea, which involved poets and Fairtrade supporters handing out free poetry books and Fairtrade food samples in the city centre.
Local writer Julie Ann Pritchard will be leading the walk. Known as The Walking Poet, Julie has pioneered a series of walks locally highlighting the landscapes of Valleys writers.
Phil Broadhurst from Fair Trade Ways Wales, who are overseeing the Welsh walks in the International Festival said : “I think Idris Davies would be proud to be involved in an international festival highlighting the need for people to support fair trading systems throughout the world. He was very much a man who understood issues of fairness and justice. He was also a truly great writer and so any opportunity to raise his profile with new generations is a good thing.”
The walk is open to everybody, with free Fairtrade bananas and chocolate, courtesy of the Co-Op, who are sponsoring the festival, being given to all walkers.
Meet at Rhymney Library from 10.30am for a 4 mile circular walk starting from Idris Davies’ home in Victoria Road, just by the library, at 11am.

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Information on the Idris Davies walk below.

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Idris Davies was born in the town of Rhymney 1905

“And now the moor is silent,

with rougher winds to freeze

the lips of a Rhymney poet making bargains with the breeze.

taken from Idris Davies poem

“Waun Fair”

Looking down on the town of Rhymney

church bells sat in the middle.

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Idris Davies home 7 Victoria Road, Rhymney.

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“Oh what would you give me?

said the sad bells of Rhymney”

from “Gwalia Deserta”

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Carno Bridge

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Following the River Rhymney

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Walk paths of wonder

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To the top of Bute Town and twisted history.

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I am enjoying the view of the beautiful Rhymney Valley

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Reading Idris Davies book

downloadIdris's book“That is what is so fascinating about the Valleys of South Wales. You can walk miles along rough hills and moors, have great winds blowing around and almost believe that you are leagues and centuries away from modern industrialism”

Idris Davies from his book

“I was born in Rhymney”

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The walk is a circular, with a song from a river through sweet-smelling   meadows and past industrial history.

Call in the Farmers Arms, Rhymney

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Step back in time in The Farmers arms, just like it was in Idris’s day.

Waterfall Country Glyn Neath Sunday January 10th

 

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Dear Reader,

The weather was cold and damp and driving over the top of Gelligaer and Merthyr common I could see snow in the distance. Met with my dear friend Amanda Birch and her lovely dog Sam, Amanda is a keen walker like myself. We met in Amanda’s neck of the woods Glyn Neath. We followed the River Neath to Pontneddfechn Falls. A river walk that led to amazing waterfalls. The path was good despite the awful rain we have had. The river sang a lament. We came across water being diverted from old mine shafts.

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On we walked chatting away, we are both good talkers and had lots to say. The river was now roaring and foaming the spray from the river’s breath was invigorating.

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We noticed catkins were out in full colour but I know a hard winter is around the corner.

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The path was now slippery underfoot but the scenery was spectacular.

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Sgwd Gwladys falls was truly wonderful. Standing on the ledge breathing in the waterfall, I love nature.

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As we made our way back clouds gathered and brought sleet with it.

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It was a great two half hour walk with excellent company.

The start of the walk was Glyn Neath SA11 5NR information centre opposite the Angle pub.

 

Found some photos of me when I walked part of Ireland 2013

I walked Ireland August 2013 here are some of my photos and memories of that wonderful journey.

Glenveagh National Park, County Donagal. Was where I saw my first Eagle a pair was introduced from Scotland I spied the pair of them circling, swaying to the tune of the wind on a metallic coloured sky, it was a truly remarkable moment.

Mist enticing you in on a mill-pond lake.

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photo of one of the many streams cascading

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Giant’s Causeway Antrim, did not impress me at all, it was full of Japanese tourist who all owned square flat cameras (I know now they are called tablets but back in 2013 I did not) It was a steep path down to the Causeway but full of friendly people along the way to distract you from the height. It was a very busy tourist place I would not like to visit again.

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Went to Rathlin island, the most Northern inhabited island off the Northern coast of Ireland. I walked the whole of the island on a blue path lined with heather.

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I noticed a very strong community spirit on the island, I came across the Bards chair with Seamus Heaney’s poem.

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I spent a day in Derry it was very sad but interesting, I walked over the bridge of Peace.

Derry
Derry

I went in to Derry, I visited the museum. It seemed strange to have grown up with the troubles be it in Wales but I am Irish descent and I was fully aware of what was going on. All my schooling was catholic (I am of no faith now) I was bullied in the late 60’s and early 70s at the height of the troubles because of my catholic green uniform. I stood out like a sore thumb in Ely, Cardiff. Reason being there was only one catholic junior school and one catholic comprehensive, in the whole of Ely. I was called IRA scum, stones thrown at me by children who went to a different school to mine, it always puzzled me. Yet when I toured Derry it broke my heart, though the situation is more peaceful now than ever. I sensed a strong sadness and a terrible loss yet there was strength and the need to move forward.
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I left Derry for Dublin where my grandmother was born and made my way by coach, it was long journey but I had good company. The corner of Red Cow Lane where my Nan lived.Photo0051

I stayed in a youth hostel in the centre of Dublin. I had no choice it was a Friday night in August and I found it impossible for me to find somewhere to stay. off loaded my back pack and made my way to Cobblestone pub on the corner of Red Cow Lane, to read my poetry unannounced. After being told to Feck off four times by the host of the evening I did not give up. The host realised I was from Wales not New South Wales. I was allowed to perform, it was a great moment, photo of the musicians in Cobblestones. The crack was one I will never forget.Photo0052

Me looking refreshed from the end of my journey walking Ireland and before I read my poetry.

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Themed walks with Go Green 4 Health

I was happy to have linked up with Go Green 4 Health to lead walks with a theme.

Tuesday 17th November 1pm 3pm. Walking around Caerphilly Castle with Go Green 4 Health and Stroke Association. I will be story telling and performing poetry. Meeting 1pm at Caerphilly Band Stand CF83 1JD

Wednesday 2nd December 1pm to 3pm. Will be walking with Go Green 4 Health and Alzheimer’s Society around Parc Penallta. Story telling and performing poetry. Meeting 1pm at Parc Penallta, Nelson Car park A472

Friday December 4th 11am to midday. Winter warmer walk Nelson cycle trail. I will be leading the walk and telling winter tales along the way. Meeting 11am Nelson Institute Nelson library CF46 6NF

From this I am hoping to lead weekly walks for both Stroke Association and Alzheimer’s Society.

Walking with Go Green 4 Health last Tuesday 17th November. We walked around Caerphilly Castle.

Where I told my Red Gilbert Story (Gilbert De Clare) Owner of  Caerphilly Castle. Did you know the Castle took just 3 years to build? The South Eastern Tower known as the Welsh leaning tower of Pisa, was not because of a massive battle but sadly from subsidence.

The weather was awful but the company was great.  Performing in front of a wonderful audience.

 

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Walking has many health benefits not just physical but mentally and spiritually.

Walking in the fresh, air bird song everywhere, meeting new friends. Conversation Talking, listening learning. Growing and glowing with health. Seize the opportunity and come walking with me.

My Walks.

Welcome to my home page.

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I am an experienced walker and I am CRB checked. I have walked throughout the UK and Europe.  However I specialise in walks throughout Wales. In the past I have led walks for Gelligear Ramblers and was foot path officer for South East Wales.I have walked with people who have Alzheimer’s and led walks for Gofal.

I have been walking for over 25 years and recently completed part of the Camino walk. In the past I have walked parts of the Republic of Ireland and County Antrim.North Wales, including Snowden,West Wales, Devon and Cornwall and so on. I walk every week with several groups in the local area, walking and hiking spectacular mountains of the South Wales valleys. I am a trained walker with map reading skills.

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Walking has many health benefits,

it creates happy endorphins,

to be out with nature is a joy,

not just physically but mentally and spiritually.

Photos  of some of the walks I have walked

 The beautiful Rhymney, Darran Valley and West Wales

Carradoc Bridge, Bargoed Mountain

Above Carradog Bridge, Bargoed Mountain. Photo by Julie Pritchard
Rainbow over Bargoed Mountain

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Lane leading to Gelligaer Common

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Walking with nature with the sun

shadowing your back,

with bird song to lighten your mood,

big skies above to brighten your day.

big skies adore the Welsh Valleys. photo by Julie Pritchard

Colours of Winter in Bargoed Country Park 

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silver sea scenes of West Wales.

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Round every corner there is beauty waiting to be explored.

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Other side of Solva West Wales

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Evening walks

Wednesday February 10th at 4 30pm I left the house for an evening walk. I cannot walk over my meadow it is to boggy so I walk the road way. Past Heol Ddu school and on to Gelligear common. I capture the wild ponies eating grass, yes grass not hay. The wild ponies have been on Gelligaer and Merthyr common for hundreds of years. I have been watching and walking among the wild ponies for 23 years. Last year a man to pity on them and decided to feed them hay. My common use to smell so sweet all the year round now hay has replaced the sweet smell.

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I am making my way to St Gwladys Cross it is bitter cold but I love this weather.

Photo4498 I sit on the surrounding wall of this historical site and ponder and I noticed how busy the road are now, busy with to many cars. It never use to be like this.

5pm I watch the sun go down.

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I look towards Bargoed and see night calling

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Make my way home