The video clip above is from a Welsh band called the Blims. The song - Sidesteps and Sideburns - was a hit back in March when the Wales rugby team were chasing a Grand Slam (they subsequently beat France in a tight and tense game to complete the clean sweep and secure a third Grand Slam in eight years - both Gavin and myself got up at 4:30am to cheer them on from Austin). It is a catchy song which I have played a lot, and both Gavin and Dylan love it, sing along with it and regularly request it (Gavin has informed me that when he grows up he wants to play rugby for Wales, and if he can't get in the team he'll play for the USA). The visuals are a tribute to both the legendary Wales team of the 70s and the current squad, interspersed with the everyday people and places of Wales.
So the other day we decided to find some of the more scenic locations that featured in the video. The result was a wonderful drive up the Rhondda valley. We climbed up through old miners villages and little hamlets, winding through the mountain roads until we emerged at the heads of the valley. That really brought me back to my roots.
There is a word in Welsh - Hiraeth - for which there is no English translation. The closest I can get is a yearning for home, and it's something you don't appreciate until you move away. Maybe it's a memory of a Country that, even though it's changed much since I left, and even though I live quite happily 5000 miles away, somehow still feels like home.
|Looking down on the Rhondda valley|
|It's cold on top of the mountain|
|We'll keep a welcome in the hillsides. "Cymru am Byth" - Wales forever|
|Nancy spotted this iconic landmark. Even though it was pouring with rain, we had to stop|
|Nancy, Gavin and my dad. It started sleeting not long after this. "A kind of Rhondda grey" as Max Boyce would say|