Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Pleasant Land of Gwent

I bought an old book yesterday, by well known local historian and writer the late Fred Hando.

The cover of the book is faded and without a dust jacket but the inside condition very good. The lovely couple, Edward and Janet, who I bought the book from, told me there was a poem in the book and on closer examination, I was delighted to find inside the front cover of  'The Pleasant Land of Gwent' which was published in 1944, a beautiful handwritten note and a poem, written for the recipient of the book which was obviously sent or given to him as a present.

It goes as follows:

 To Dear Toby

With my Love

may this book help you recall some of the very pleasant hours spent in Monmouthshire:

Dear Friend, 
I long to walk again,
Along that little lane,
Deep set in banks of ferns and flowers, 
Where we have spent such happy hours.
Each twist of it I know
And often in dreams I go,
To seek and find those lost delights,
The summer days, the autumn nights.
Retracing every step we took,
Across the bridge that spans the brook.
Then past the cottage,
Round the bend,
Do you remember? Dearest Friend

July 27 1945      Evelyn

I don't suppose I will ever find out who Toby and Evelyn, who wrote (well, unless she has copied the lines from someone else of course), this beautiful poem for him inside what is a beautiful book, actually were (if you think you might know do tell), but it touched my heart and I thought I would share it with you. Evelyn's words, and based on those, my own thoughts on who Toby and Evelyn were and the relationship they may have had, through and just after WW2 have inspired me to try and write a song. If it ever gets out of the composition stable I will share it with you on an update to this post. However, I think Toby and Evelyn would be pleased to know that the countryside of Monmouthshire continues to delight people as it did them, back in the 1940's.

Wild flowers growing in a hedge near the Berthin Brook in 2013
As for Fred Hando the author of the book, I am drawing on Fred Hando's work in my own research and I intend writing more about him and his background at a later point. I sense he was a 'blogger' of his time, writing short, interesting, well researched articles about the history, scenery, people and customs of Monmouthshire/ Gwent, with thought provoking insight and illustrations and etchings to entertain and inform his audience. I feel inspired to try and follow (however humbly) in Hando's footsteps in writing and sharing information, observations and images of this wonderful region of Wales.

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