So many people are curious why I have chosen to bury myself in a small place in Wales. I dedicate this blog to them and to anyone else interested about living in Wales, more specifically in the Rhondda. I will write about life in Treorchy, places I visit in Wales, learning Welsh, Welsh culture and other related topics.
Most people know the place where I live as Treorchy. Its real name is Treorci, meaning town on the river Orci.
I moved to Treorchy in February 2008. All the 54 years of my life up to that point had been spent in cities: London, Bristol, Zagreb, Sheffield, Nottingham. I was sick of city life, depressed by the faceless suburbs, the concrete, the traffic and the crowds.
I changed all that for this view from my study:
On my first morning in Treorchy, I woke to the sound of lashing rain. Living in Wales means having to get used to rain very rapidly! This was January, 2008, while I was still living in Nottingham and getting the new house organised. I had arrived at 1am and had nothing in stock. Having left the house to hunt for breakfast, I was soaked through within minutes.
As I walked down the hill, I turned and look back up the mountains behind the house. My heart leapt at the view. Being wet did not matter, being cold did not matter.
I was joined in my new home by a man I had loved deeply for many years. He was originally from Penygraig, a few miles down the valley, but had spent decades in England. He was excited at the thought of returning to his roots as being Welsh was a source of great pride to him.
We were not permitted to be happy. A nervous breakdown caused by personal and professional stress together with the grief of being rejected by his adult daughters had wounded him too deeply. Even before he joined me, he had set his life on a course of destruction, which resulted in his death in June 2010.
My first instinct after David died was to flee. I was alone, a long way from my daughters and scared. By chance, just three weeks after David's death, a temporary choir was formed nearby for the TV series Codi Canu (S4C). I love singing and so became a member.
During the first rehearsal, as we sang our way through Cwm Rhondda and Y Tangnefeddwyr in Welsh, I felt shivers up and down my spine. On the way back home, I marvelled at seeing the valley more beautiful than ever before. It was golden in that warm June evening. That was when I knew I was going to stay, regardless of what would be.
Wales has adopted me and worked its magic deep in my soul. I am not Welsh by genes, but take the liberty to pronounce myself Welsh by choice.
I have found my home.