| In a Dark, Dark Wood
cottage of A
Time For Silence
a wood near my house,
very beautiful, once coppiced, now full of gnarled oaks and cow wheat
much prettier than it sounds). Pengelli Forest. You can walk in it for
and get lost, which people frequently do.
you can park at
the gate, walk a little way down the road, and turn into a lane that
down, and down, and up and down, past a farm, along green meadows, and
very picturesque little footbridge.
come to a cottage. These days, it’s just about impossible to
miss it. The
public footpath, which was once a morass of mud and brambles is now a
super-highway of hardcore, and the trees that totally engulfed the
the past have been cut back, so it stands proud in sunshine.
derelict. The hardcore
and cutting back are recent. The dereliction is old. I first came
cottage about 25 years ago. I climbed over a farm gate at the bottom of
garden, crossed a field of cows, wriggled under some barbed wire, and
down through mysterious woods, losing a boot in the mud in the process.
there was the cottage, lost in gloom, heavy trees crowding round it.
cottages were still being
snapped up back then, and done up as holiday cottages, but this one was
probably too lost, too forgotten, for anyone to think of grappling with
it. And it would take a lot of grappling. The walls were split, the
gaping, the upper floor was collapsing as its beams rotted, the
floorboard handing in mid-air. I could see, peering through the window,
inglenook fireplace, with a battered pan or two abandoned on the old
was full of mystery, full of
shadows and secrets, and it settled firmly in my memory. It was the
my mind’s eye, when I wrote A Time For Silence, about a girl
who comes across
the old cottage once owned by her grandparents. You can’t see
a place like
that, without wondering who had once lived there.
of the mystery is gone now,
thanks to the clearance of the trees and hedges. The fireplaces are
there, empty and greening, the metalwork rusting, but the chimneys have
probably considered too dangerous to passing hikers. The collapsing
has gone too, although the post holes where the beams had once fitted
visible. No sign of the stairs. I think I recall it as a mouldering
Now, at long last, the cottage, which once housed a game-keeper and his
large family, is about to be renovated, or, better still, restored.
Let's hope no dark secrets are uncovered in the process.