Hydref 2004 October


All letters must be accompanied by name and address of the writers. Opinions expressed in letters to &ldquo:Y Bont” are purely those of the writers, however the editors reserve the right to edit letters submitted.

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Dutch Visitors Already Miss Carrog

The two English courses we ran in your village this August were quite successful, not in the least because Carrog is so beautiful and hospitable. It’s very easy to feel at home when everyone is friendly and patient; where all seems quiet and peaceful, and every look at the landscape takes your breath away. One of our students literally got tears in his eyes, when he tried to describe how he felt about your valley.

So we hope to be back next year, with a fresh load of students!

Our best wishes to all of you,

Marion & Steve

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The following letter has been received from ‘Perree Bane’ (White Jackets) the Manx dance group:

On behalf of the group I would like to thank you and the Committee for a most memorable and enjoyable weekend in Carrog. Some may have been memorable for the wrong reason, but strangely it did not seem to detract from the enjoyment.

You all did everything possible to make our stay a most pleasant one and you certainly succeeded.

Many thanks once again. Best regards.

John Dowling, Secretary.

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Dear Bont

We would like to say how much we have enjoyed Gareth Llan for his well written pieces on his farming life. Keep it up.

Eileen and Glyn Williams

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Dear Editor,

About “a village is for life, not just for Christmas” (July and August issues). Of course I’m an outsider, who knows little about the reality of living in Carrog. On the other hand, I also live in a village - called Vogelenzang and dating back to the 12th century.

What happened there in recent years seems relevant to your discussion.

About fifty years ago, Carrog and Vogelenzang must have been similar in size. Both had a railway station, a couple of shops, a post office, a school and more than one pub. Both were situated in farmland and while we had only one church instead of three places of worship, the communities can’t have been very different.

Then things began to change. The car and improved roads connected Vogelenzang much more intimately to rapidly growing cities. Trains continued to pass through, but ceased to stop at our railway station, which was converted into a shop selling antiques and fireplaces. Twenty three years ago, Marion and I bought a small house in the old main street. The pub and the post office were still there at the time; a few years later, the pub died. Recently we also lost our post office. These “beating hearts of the community” disappeared despite rapid growth of the village, which at the start of this year counted 2,272 inhabitants.

Building more houses seems to have done very little for our community. The old core of the village looks unchanged, but around it you’ll find a faceless suburbia. The two schools (one religious, the other not) appear to be doing fine; the village hall sees plenty of use, and we even have soccer and tennis clubs. But what we’ll soon be left with is a suburb with a few old buildings in the center. The village is passing away.

Village life, I think, may well evolve to deal with the village as a place which most young people leave - some returning when they are a little older, and cities like Sheffield lose their appeal. It may even survive when the village becomes a place to retire to. But it seems to me that what makes a village tick depends on being small scale and far away from big cities, in the countryside. A population approaching 400 sounds about right. Up to such a number it’s possible to know nearly everyone at least by name. All else you really need are a few community-minded people and a few places to meet informally, like a pub, a post office and a shop.

Reviving the shop and making it work is likely to be worth the trouble. Other matters may be less relevant. Holiday homes? Make sure they pay their way if at all possible, but don’t worry too much about them. A few more houses? Perhaps, but increasing numbers proved to be no panacea, here in Vogelenzang.

Steven Bolt, Dutch Visitor.

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