Coincidental, synchronicity, right place , right time, or what ?

My demonstration corner invaded by aliens, and that Robot. Altogether a jolly fine day !

Angelic or what... a couple of 'dudels' I met this weekend. They were a hoot and 'flowed' on segways ! Those things I first met in DC.

Have you ever had that strange feeling that there is actually a greater force at work, influencing your life, making decisions for you before you’ve even thought of it yourself ?  Well I certainly have and this week some weird ‘coincidences’ of an ‘isn’t it a small world’ kind (‘close encounters of the third kind’ is more in keeping as far as I can see) have hit me smack between the eyes.

You know the thing with the phone, it rings and its the person you were just thinking of ?  You know that feeling you had if you’ve ever been ‘close’ to a dog, when it always seems to know what you’re about to do – especially if it means trying to sneak out and leave them at home – or someone says it ‘knew’ you were on your way home?  My little Molly was uncanny, she always came with me to work and most mornings would have me screaming at her ‘cos she would dawdle as I was trying to go or refused to get in the truck, but, on the rare days when I wanted to go without her – such as going to the Royal Welsh Showground as I did this weekend – despite my best attempts at appearing ‘normal’, she would know and be by the vehicle and absolutely refuse to come back into the house.  This happened without fail each time.

So how does that happen ?  How is it I have three ‘close encounters’ in one week. The first was one morning when I happened to see a friend I needed to speak to, she drove across me as I waited to turn onto the main road at Trecastle.  She was working at the Antique Centre and I followed her in.  We were having a cup of coffee and chatting when a couple came in – now it was before opening time which was clearly signed outside – and asked if it was open.  She told them to come in, and they looked around as we continued our chat.  Then the guy came up to me and said, in a clearly discernible American accent,  “excuse me Sir, do you build rock walls?” (Rock walls are what our U.S. cousins call dry stone walls) How does he know that methinks “yes I do”.  “I talked to you on the National Mall last summer, and we liked the Wales show so much we decided to come see, we’re here for six weeks”.  They were literally just driving through having stayed the night in Brecon and were following the A40 trunk road into west Wales.  What can you say – I haven’t called at the antique centre for weeks, if my friend hadn’t driven across my front I wouldn’t have even thought of calling (‘cos it wasn’t yet opening time) and it takes me about three minutes to join and leave that road.  They could have passed through a few minutes earlier or later, not stopped or stopped and I had gone or, or, or, or  anything else, but they didn’t, I didn’t, we didn’t…. and what was the point of us meeting, except for me to tell my friends in the Wales office that at least one tourist hit resulted from our presence in D.C.

Then, on Saturday, I went back to the Living Willow Theatre (Shakespeare Link see ) to help them celebrate the opening of the nature trail (the gateway to which Whitney and I built back in a wet and muddy November).

'Whit's' gate into the woodland walk / nature trail at Penlanole, the 'Living Willow Theatre (Shakespeare Link)

 I had promised to take along some of my museum artefacts.  A lady of senior years took great interest in them (as did a huge number of the visitors) and we had an interesting chat about her memories of being on the land in the years immediately after the War.  She moved on, slowly for she was using a walk assistor, and made her way to a circle of stones formed from huge boulders that Whitney and I had struggled to remove from the gateway (and which had caused me to snap a tendon).  I followed on sometime later to ‘snap’ her sitting by our stones and she began asking me about my interest in my museum items.  I explained that in fact much of my collection – called ‘The Percy Jones Collection’ – was based on the  tools and equipment of an old farmer who had originated not far up the road at a small village called Llanwrthwl, at a farm called the Tallwrn. Are you ready for this – she knew him, his wife, his brothers  and had lived for thirty years as a tenant of the family.  In fact she was surprised to hear that Percy’s wife was still alive (now 96) and so now I have had the pleasure of re-connecting Nancy with her old friend Helena. “Its a small world”.

'Nancy' sits alongside the stone circle made from boulders removed from the gateway into thewoodland trail.

Well is it ?  A friend of Phil and Sue who run the Penlanole centre was a most interesting fellow.  Rupert Sheldrake, has made a lifelong study of what we loosely call telepathy.

(see  He talked about our relationship with nature and animals, and the numerous counts of ‘coincidences’ he had recorded such as those I have talked of above.  Together with a lady friend of his who was very into ‘chanting’ as a means of good health and soul cleansing – which she demonstrated in the woodland (see – and a fascinating French lady who had spent time in Africa,  I had a very enthralling and perplexing, self-questionning afternoon.  In particular Rupert talked about the ability of dog’s to ‘know’ what their owners were about to do. (see his book ‘How do dogs know their owners are coming home?’)  I found great familiarity with his research and my experiences with Mol.

These little slate signs are dotted about the whole of Penlanole -well it is the home of the 'Shakespeare Trust'

By the time I got home – a difficult decision given the quality of the wine Phil was dispensing and the presence of a French lady ! – I was deep in thought about the notion of telepathy and the ‘what a small world’ syndrome.

The meeting with Nancy, the smallest of statistical ‘chance’, the encounter with the folks from Washington, and the collection of  ‘dog stories’ which Rupert had introduced me to, was all very ‘worrying’.

Then on Sunday I returned to the Royal Welsh showground in Builth Wells where the annual 2 day ‘Smallholder and Garden Show’ was taking place.  I had made a brief visit on Saturday morning and had met several old friends and colleagues (this show, together with the larger 4 day Royal Welsh Show in July, is the common meeting ground for folk involved in the countryside and often it is only here that we see each other from one year to the next, often one year to the next decade, as happened to me several times this past weekend).  On the Sunday I was giving a Dry Stone Walling Demonstration in conjunction with Lantra (the Countryside Skills Sector body) and Adult Learners Week who were sponsoring the demonstrations.

Conveniently situated on a corner of one of the main routeways and ‘rings’ – display arenas – is the office of Wales Young Farmers Clubs and Lantra. Wales YFC is an important element in the provision of Youth activities, particularly in cultural and agricultural competitions, and is a very popular spot on the showground.  The area occupied by the Wales YFC is surrounded by a dry stone wall and, partly due to normal wear and tear and partly due to revelry, sections of it are always in need of attention and provide a good venue for demonstrating dry stone wall building.  Not that much gets done mind you.  I know by long experience not to take too much down, for most of the day is spent talking to visitors (aka The Mall). 

One major ‘disturbance’ was the arrival of several hundred spectators who came to see the most remarkable, and hysterically funny, robot.  It is a real attraction with its voices and music and spookily human movements – it even cries, soaking anyone nearby.

If only he could be programmed to build Dry Stone Walls whilst singing Sam Cook !

A couple of pensioners stopped to chat to me, from the outset there was something familiar about them, her in particular.  We talked around a large number of issues, until I asked where she was from.  It turned out she was from the village of Gwynfe, between Llandeilo and Llandovery on the northern slopes of Carmarthen’s Black Mountain.  Now I know that area like the proverbial back of my hand; its where, for twenty years I have rebuilt walls and studied history and made friends with several fine farmers and their families.  As she and I talked and I explained certain aspects of the history of that area and I asked “do you know…” which quickly became “you know…” I came to a family who farm a number of old farms, “you know Brenda D” at  D…,” yes of course she did, her daughter was married to an adoptive son from there. I said “you mean B…!”  He is a fellow I regard as a friend and we meet often either at the farm or at vintage meets.  well okay, not too coincidental you may think.  Except ten minutes later he came by and we talked about my meeting with his mother-in-law.  He said he had to rush, he was meeting a family friend who lived in the Midlands and who had come to the show for the day.  His friend he said was from Pontypool, that’s my area I said, he was in school in Pontypool he said, so was I, he’s about your age said he, what’s his name I asked, Norman he said, Norman who Iasked…… It turned out his friend whom he had known for twenty years had been my best friend for the time we were in grammar school together, we were inseperable.  What d’ya think? Coincidence, right place right time, or something else….. Its got me thinking.


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