So I’ve just finished a three day stint with a stall at the Llandeilo Festival of the Senses.
It’s one of those bloomin’ wonderful, and miraculous, feats of teamwork and community that is just mind blowing.
A small Welsh town (where I live), wedged into the hills along the Tywi Valley, somewhere between Brecon and Carmarthen. We had all been feeling the slow slide of a dank autumn turning to a wet winter, with darkness by 5pm. By Friday teatime, the thick drizzle had settled in to stay, ruffled only by that infamous westerly wind boldly funnelling up the valley.
But then something magical happened- the festoon lights hanging across every hidden alley in town glistened in the puddles. Courtyards came alive with chatter and fairy lights – the Cawdor, Pitchfork and Provision, Flows on market street.
Windows were dressed to make the fanciest Cardiff boutique envious- from traditional nutcracker wonderlands to 7ft snowmen called Hughie (the window competition is taken very seriously). People smiled. Some bumped into old friends they might not have seen for years. Connections were made, faces put to names. Glancing recognition, gestures of gratitude. Live music played. Hands clapped. Running santas were cheered. Craftspeople displayed their creations which were ooo’ed over and snapped up. Gin and cocktails were drunk; laugher poured out onto the streets. The chatter of Welsh mixed with English mixed with even a bit of Ukrainian, in many accents.
Even the usually incessant passing of traffic was paused (don’t know how they pulled it off but well done!!), to make way for lanterns, samba drums, and the big Mr Christmas himself to take over the Main Street, throngs of children parading along.
All organised, and run, by volunteers. Who gave up their weekends (plus hours of organising time, not to mention the stress and worry on the tiny details). Ordinary people who; to be frank; you could argue might have ‘better’ things to do – like running their own businesses, spending time with family, or just resting after a week at work. Many of whom will be heading to work on Monday, after working a full weekend. Why do they do it? Maybe because they can’t bear for us to lose our festival, or because of their commitment to community, or because maybe between all the busyness it made them smile. Thank you to each and every one of you lovely people.
Llandeilo- thank you. You literally lit up the dark, warmed up the drizzle and showed what a little town like ours can do. And to be honest, I couldn’t help noticing that the raindrops were reflected by the laser show to a rather spectacular effect.