Llangennith really hasn’t changed a lot in fifty years. The King’s Head is still there and doing a roaring trade on a sunny early July day. The beautiful Norman church of St Cenydd sits below the tiny green, its sturdy square tower, typical of many on Gower, dominates the church and village. The old church is open and I venture inside. Broader than others on Gower, it’s cold and uninviting, and I stay only a few minutes.
There are a few new houses in the village, but most of the old cottages remain. One is now a surf shop, and others have been improved, but in contrast to fifty years ago, there’s an air of affluence about the place.
At the top of Vicarage Lane, the village fountain trickles with clear water, disappearing underground after a yard or so to run under and along the road to a small wetland at the bottom of the hill. I follow the sound of the hidden stream down the road past smart houses, with parked cars containing out of town number plates. Huge sycamores and ash trees line the way, and the hedgerows are filled with buttercups, red campion and wood sorrel. Where the stream resurfaces, the plants change; yellow flag, fading southern march orchids, wild mint and much more cover the ground. In a shaded glade, a spotted flycatcher sallies in and out of a willow patch, it’s the first I’ve seen this year and could be the last, this wonderful little bird is in grave danger all over the UK. The air is a mass of delicately floating dandelion seeds, and along another clear stream, a male chaffinch turns flycatcher, taking midges at will circling just above the surface. A pony and her tiny foal block the lane leading to the back of Rhosilli Down, they look nervous and so I decide not to go any further.
Back in the village I try to remember fifty years ago. Memories can play tricks on the mind, and I can’t really recall much detail. But the sound of wonderful modern jazz in the style of Oscar Peterson and Errol Garner played on the piano by the landlord George Rees will remain fixed in my mind forever.