January 2020 Monthly Meeting

Carol Matthews (helped by Bob) talks about Growing up in Merlin’s Bridge

In 2010 when Bob & I were planning our move back to Pembrokeshire our friends in Owlsmoor were intrigued by our address i.e. Merlin’s Bridge.  Although growing up here I’d never given it a thought but after arriving here we began looking into the meaning which we discovered had nothing whatsoever to do with a wizard but was just a derivation of ‘Maudlin.’  We also started looking at the old postcards which my parents had inherited from my great aunts – they were my maternal grandmother’s sisters who had been ‘in service’ all their lives & as I said if my Great Aunt Polly had been alive today she would have been constantly on social media because she was a prolific sender of postcards & therefore also received many postcards! Many of these were views throughout Pembrokeshire which inspired us to go out & try & take the exact modern day views – not always easy as trees had grown up or access was barred due to buildings etc. However, it seems that we all enjoy nostalgia & we still have more postcards to match up with today’s views so when we have time we could possibly do another ‘Memories of Pembrokeshire’!

Carol Matthews

February 2020 Monthly Meeting

The Amazing History of the Coracle

A most enjoyable, amusing and illuminating talk was given by Mr Mark Fowler at our meeting on 5th February on the history of the coracle.  Martin is the owner/manager of the Cenarth Coracle Museum by the Mill.  (I remember buying flour from that mill many, many years ago).  With a collection of old historic photographs displayed on the screen, Mark took us though the ages of the craft of coracle making. It is hard for us now to realise that this industry was first recorded about 1800 BC when it was necessary to move people and animals across rivers.There is evidence that Noah’s Ark (which would have been about half the size of a football pitch by today’s standards) was built in this traditional way, and especially the ‘Moses’ basket which features in our Bible.Martin illustrated (with his caricature friend Dai) how the coracle was developed and built to cope with the different waterways and needs; but always with the flat bottom for stability but evolved with a square front for steering safely. Basically,  they are of wood and bitumen, however in some countries they were lined with animal skins and in Dakota they were traditionally covered with the pelts of bison. When you think that a man rowed a coracle many years ago from Vietnam to Hong Kong, and also a man rowed a Coracle across the English Channel it proves the design and strength they are famous for. 

Back to the UK – coracles were used on the Rivers Severn, Towy and many others, but we have our own on the Teifi.  Martin’s cartoon pictures of Dai were wonderful with great captions, I think the one we liked best was the Dai-li-Lama and Dai from Wales!

Thank you, Martin, for a superb talk.

Barbara Morgan.

December Monthly Meeting & AGM 5th December

Photos: Myles H & Geoff W

For several years we have enjoyed entertainment as part of the Annual General Meeting this year this was provided by The Ukulele Pirates.  Ten enthusiastic musicians who played Ukuleles of varying sizes, guitars, and piano accordion it was an absolute treat.  There were songs of past eras, to which many of our members were able join in and our Chairman took to the floor with a gentleman who had been brave enough to dance alone (caught on camera!) , well done to both of them.  The Venue had been changed so we were warm and the buffet lunch was outstanding a truly memorable morning

Penny Thomas

October Meeting: “Through the years, a full life” Frank Harries BEM

The speaker was Frank Harries BEM whose talk was entitled “Through the years, a full life” and what a full life he led.  His father began his working life as a wheelwright in Pembroke Dock. He subsequently joining the army and taking his family to Gibraltar. Whilst on holiday in the Spanish City of Seville the Spanish Civil War broke out and Frank watched as bombs fell from the sky finding the experience exciting, but not realising how many people were being maimed and killed. Frank showed photographs of his family, Ration Books and Identity Cards issued at the beginning of the Second World War.  Living in Pembroke Dock at this time he became an Altar boy and remembered the American Soldiers billeted in the area.  Joining the army at the age of 18 Frank found himself in the Malayan Jungle searching out communists.  It appears our hero was something of a footballer and played as goal keeper for Llanelli but in the days when footballers had a “day job” this proved too much for him.  In his later days Frank became a referee and in retirement he joined the Rotary and became something of a fundraiser in fact he raised the staggering sum of £200,000.00.  Indeed a very full life and still going at the ripe age of 90 it could make one’s own life seem somewhat dull!

Penny Thomas  3rd October 2019