Ffion going away to uni has made me think back to my student days. She, having lived in fairly rural places all her life has gone to the big city. I, who had lived in Leeds for all my 18 years went away to the countryside...
I did 'Crafts' at Carmarthen. The college had a big accommodation list and me and my boyfriend visited endless pebble dashed bungalows in the town, greeted by lovely old Welsh ladies with spare rooms. This was NOT my idea of student life! But there was one on the list that stood out. 'Huge shared house adjacent to the castle with estuary views....'
So we went to visit Laugharne but being thirteen miles from college I didn't think I'd be able to live there so we only peeped over the wall of the big crumbling Georgian mansion and then drove home in the van.
|My memory of Castle House.|
I could not get that house out of my mind and I drew it on the way home. The moment I got back to Leeds I rang the number and asked for a room. I wonder if Susannah remembers me asking for a room with a big fireplace and a castle view.
|(The Town Hall, Castle House and Laugharne Castle.My room was top right)|
In September I knocked on the big black door. How funny that another little old lady answered and said 'Are yooooo the student?' My heart sank a little, my dreams of wild student life fading, but then 'Aunty Anne' took me into Adam and Susannah's kitchen full of cats and dogs and a huge messy kitchen table and everything felt alright.
To this day Castle House is the most beautiful and romantic house I have ever lived in. Alex and Bryan who lived downstairs helped me carry all my stuff up the stairs to my room. I couldn't have been happier. It had a large wood burner, pale blue walls, abstract art on the walls, a chaise longues, a coffee table made out of a chunk of oak and two windows - one with a window seat which looked out onto the castle and the estuary and the other looked out over the town and the rolling hills behind. Not your average student digs!
|(Alfie, one of the Castle House cats used to jump along the crenelations at the top of Laugharne Castle)|
I loved Laugharne. It had a clock tower that chimed every hour, a peaceful estuary with curlews and cockleshells, an old derelict castle which we could sneak into at night through the garden to climb to the top of the tower, woods to take midnight walks through with lanterns on sticks (remember this Anne?), stars - it got properly dark at night, it had loads of local characters, walks, trees, hedgerows, adventures, music, and stories....
Embarrassingly, I didn't know who Dylan Thomas was when I moved there but soon learned that he lived and wrote here and that Laugharne inspired Under Milk Wood. This is the Browns Hotel where he liked to hang out. You can just about make out his writing shed next to the estuary.
Castle House was a world of it's own and I have such fond memories. Laugharne was home for seven and a half years and I made many friends. It was here I had my babies and where the first seeds of my nature inspired creative endeavors were sown.
I hope Ffion has such good student days too.