What I didn’t tell you in my post ‘HALLO AGAIN” – because I was trying to get back to normal!
Or – part of the reason I didn’t keep up with this blog or go back to selling earlier.
All I have managed so far are a few listings on Etsy – but more are coming soon!
I took this photo in March of this year, because it shows the landslip at the back of my house – see the dark area running down the whole hillside – half of my garden went down there! All the hillside used to be covered with mature trees, the ubiquitous Japanese Knotweed and there were no streams – just a culvert at the bottom of the hill, for the old Swansea Valley Canal which was used to bring iron ore for the huge Ironworks that used to dominate this coal rich valley. The terrace of houses you see above were built for the factory workers, and miners. Steam floated up from the Foundry and the noise echoes throughout the valley, several families lived in each house and there were lots of pubs along the terrace!
I was evacuated from the house I have lived in since 1981, with a couple of hour’s notice on 27 February, after the factory down below reported to the Council that water was running through their car park. It turned out that the culvert was blocked by all the soil that had come down the hill, and until Council Officers knocked on my door and told me I had to leave the house – I had no idea what had happened! Several other houses in the terrace were also affected, but not all of them.
It had been raining heavily for several days, and I hadn’t bothered to go out into the garden, nor seen anything unusual, as the houses are built ‘down’ into the hillside. We look like two story houses from the road, but there is a third level below, which has been my cellar, and entrance to the 3 level garden.
So I packed up a few things and had a horrendous and frighting 90 minute drive thro’ a thunderstorm at night along the M4 to the cottage I was planning to move into AFTER the alterations had been made – so it was pretty basic, but at least I had somewhere to go.
I kept in touch with the council and neighbours during the next weeks, but it was frustrating because I didn’t know exactly what was going on, and I wasn’t near enough to pop back regularly. (And long drives kill my osteoarthritic knees!)
the garden wall had fallen onto my steps
On my next visit to Ystalyfera the damage was obvious. The boundary wall had fallen onto my garden steps, and it wasn’t possible to walk down the rest of the garden.
A stream had appeared on the 2nd level of my garden, below a stone built retaining wall, and water had gushed from underneath the house and carved a 4 foot ‘channel’ into the once pretty area, taking with it various trees, and even a heap of stones I planned to build a feature with!
It was also evident that the sewage system had broken in the garden next door, which also had a new small stream running through it, and it turned out that the whole terrace no longer had a working sewage system – so how could we live there without being able to flush the toilets!
So I went back to the cottage, and tried to find a builder to do the work I needed there. I realise now that I was in a state of delayed shock, and nothing I did in those weeks made any sense.
My neighbour phoned in her own state of shock, on the 4th April to tell me that there had been the sound of an explosion coming from my garden that morning, and it turned out that a huge volume of water had gushed out of the hole underneath the retaining wall, and more of my garden had gone down the hill! So back I went to Ystalyfera to have a look and it was truly frightening, and even the Council Officers wouldn’t go down to have a look at the source of the stream, on Health & Safety grounds!
the source of the stream
The Council came up with various schemes, as most of the people didn’t want to have to move out, but none of them seemed viable, and we had a meeting to discuss how they were going to find out what actually happened and why. Despite an article in the local newspaper, hardly anyone was aware that the landslip had happened.
I am writing about this now, because in the six months since the first landslip, various things have happened and after getting various expert opinions, the council decided on the August 8th, to evacuate the whole of the terrace, and the rest of my old neighbours are having to face the loss of their home too, and I feel very sorry for the distress it has caused them, having to move into temporary B&B’s, or stay with friends and relatives.
It has been all over the local tv news this last week, and I went back to see how people were, and to collect some more stock to start listing on ebay & etsy, but I have been caught up in the whole landslip issue again these last few weeks and found it hard to concentrate on selling!
In the light of the news this week, with landslips in Switzerland and India & China as well as elsewhere, and hurricane Harvey in Texas, which have killed many people this is a much smaller event, so don’t feel sorry for me – I am lucky that I already had picked out a new home in West Wales, but its stressful nevertheless, and I had an urge this morning to get it off my chest.
If you want to know more about the situation in Ystalyfera, this is a piece from the BBC website.
And this is one from the ITV website discussing the possibility of another 150 houses having to be evacuated.