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November 2009

Tree O'Clock!

Posted by Chris Owen on 23 November 2009

With the arrival of strong winds and heavy rain over the last week or so I am preparing myself for the end of autumn and the imminent arrival of winter. It’s a shame to say goodbye to the mild autumn we’ve been having, I’m going to miss the many warm hues on display amongst the trees of St Fagans. But farewell it must be, as the sudden blast of heavy weather has stripped the trees of their finery and left the leaves gathering in thick layers upon the ground.

Despite this brutal de-glamorisation, trees are to be the focus of my activities over the next few weeks as we celebrate National Tree Week. During the last weekend of November we will be looking at the many different types of tree at St Fagans and finding out the best way to identify them by looking at leaf, seed, bark and bud. The RSPB will also be with us, running activities that highlight the importance of trees to our native birds. Incidentally the bird cam at St Fagans is pretty busy at the moment and you can follow the action via my twitter page

And if you’ve ever wanted to be a world record holder why not join us on Saturday the 5th of December for Tree O’Clock? We will be attempting to set a new Guinness world record for planting the most trees in one hour in collaboration with BBC Breathing Places. And if you enjoy getting into the festive spirit why not stay on and make sustainable Christmas decorations from the Hedgerow at T? Gwyrdd?

Sustainable Christmas will also be the theme of my activities at the ever popular Christmas nights on the 9th, 10th and 11th of December. Be sure to bring a torch and warm clothes as it can get pretty cold here at night!

National Poetry Day 2009 at Big Pit

Posted by Rhodri Viney on 2 November 2009
National Poetry Day 2009, Big Pit

On National Poetry Day in October 2009, Big Pit’s poet-in-residence Mike Jenkins encouraged visitors to contribute to a ‘BIG Big Pit poem’. The theme of National Poetry Day was ‘Heroes and Heroines,’ and contributors wrote about the heroic people who worked in difficult conditions and jobs in coal mines.

Contributions came from 3 schools: Goetre Junior School, Merthyr, Queen Street Primary School, Abertillery and Oldbury Wells High School in Shropshire. Mike awarded a signed copy of his children’s poetry book ‘Poems for Underage Thinkers’ to the junior classes for their inspired efforts.

Adult poets were:

Mike Tanner from Blaenavon, Justin Hamilton from Kilbirnie, Derek Edmondson from Woodford, and Mr and Mrs Gilbert from Little Witcombe, as well as Big Pit staff.

Find out more about Mike’s award-winning poetry and prose by visiting his website:

A communal poem created at Big Pit on National Poetry Day 2009

Underground what will we see?
Underground is dangerous
Ponies hauled dram after dram 
Thrusters and hurriers pushing tram after tram 
Pickers hitting as hard as they can 
Children crying and crying.
The canary was a warning.
Lots of water on the ground
It was leaking into the pit 
Getting deeper and deeper.
It was dark like night when the lights went out,
It was scary. Slippery like water.
The cage went fast then slow. 
Down the pit there were tracks.
Struggling by the light of lamps. 
The axes and sledgehammers were dirty as muddy water.
Some were very old.

The men were heroes because they worked twelve hard hours.
The fireman who risked himself to save his workmate’s face,
After a fall, threw himself down to protect his friend.
The horses were heroes because they saved people.
Masks protected the ponies’ faces, some of the ponies died.
Seventy two worked down the mine.
Many of them became blind.
The miner had to pull the drams. 
The girls were heroines because they helped.
Dad and son worked side by side 
Deprived of sunlight from day to day.
Some men died.
Some men cried. 
Coughing up black dust 
Working like navvies from dawn till dusk.
Mothers sad when there was an explosion.
A message home when there’s no hope left
Scratched into a bottle.
Day and night death always occurred.

But everyone pulled together
Washing away the day’s toil. 
A hot bath, joke and a laugh.
To the hole in the wall, have a fag
Desperate for that first drag.

Figures hunched against the driving rain
Thirsting for the hoppy nectar 
To soothe away the pain.