In the little parish of Mochre, nestled in the hills of central Wales, there is intense excitement and anticipation among the little grey stone terraced houses of the village, spreading out to remote farmsteads sprinkled among the green fields and rocky slate covered hills.
For the time of the summer outing is drawing near .
The sturdy squat grey stone chapel situated on a little rise at the edge of the town has organised this treat for as long as anyone can remember, paid for by rich landowner who left a legacy to provide
“An annual summer outing to all the villagers of Mochre and their dependants who are members of the chapel to provide fresh air and a restorative break for mind body and spirit”
The importance of this event is on par with the Christmas nativity play and party for which there is no shortage of farm animals and straw. The competition to play one of the three kings or the Archangel Gabriel is fierce and the cake and squash is welcome but the real draw of summer outing is the opportunity of a rare trip out of the valley to some ‘place of interest’ chosen by the chapel events committee.
The five worthy and respected grey haired and whiskered men of committee prepare and decide in secret .Even their wives and children know that it is no use trying to prise any information out of them. The secret is safer than the crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
The minister, a kindly but stern man. has the casting vote .He attempts to undertake this task like a shepherd leading his little flock. He looks after his sheep with great care and attention and as much wisdom and fairness as he can muster.
As daffodils and primroses of the late spring time fade from the hedgerows the milder weather provides increased opportunities for people to linger on the kerbside and chat rather than hurrying home to the relative warmth of their little houses. Speculation intensifies spreading out from the village square, the school playground, the little village shop and the back gardens, slowly building from a trickle to a torrent as the summer draws nearer.
“I do hope it is the seaside” says Thomas, a sturdy eight year old with red hair and freckles.
“I want to go visit a castle” exclaims David his ten year old brother” With dungeons and armour and REAL battlements”
“No the seaside so I can make sand castles and paddle in the sea” Laura says wistfully her two neat plaits bobbing up and down as she wriggles with excitement.” I do SO want to see the sea”
These childrens’ father like most men in the village is hardworking but poor .There is no spare money for holidays or trips out, Work is found in the coal and slate mines or as labourers in local farms .
Most men have been brought up in the village and have many fond memories of past summer outings
“Tell me again about the time you went to Carnarvon castle” pleads David .
“And how Auntie Susan got left in the dungeon” squeals Laura.
David Senior recounts again the childhood trip in which at the end of the long day , the tired children were counted back into the bus and his little sister discovered missing. A frantic search by the adults in the party found the little one fast asleep on the floor of the dungeon her head pillowed on a cardigan, a little sleeping beauty with long blond hair.
So this story along with others of buses breaking down, people falling in the lake, getting bitten by crabs, being seasick on the boats, seagull stealing sandwiches has become part legends and folk tales told round numerous dinner tables and firesides.
What new adventures will be had?
The announcement of the summer trip is made two weeks before the great event. The pews are packed with excited families in their best clothes. The singing is rousing today and the children shuffle impatiently trying their best to contain their excitement during the longer than usual sermon.
At last the moment has come as the minister gives the blessing at the end of the service and then shuffling his papers, the silence is complete as he says
“Now is the moment you have all been waiting for I will now announce the destination for Mocre’s annual
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