Open letter to U.k government/ environment agency , prince Charles.

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OPEN LETTER TO PRIME. MINISTER, GOVERNMENT, ENVIRONMENT AGENCY, PRINCE CHARLES PRESIDENT OF THE CANAL AND RIVER TRUST. NEATH COUNCIL .

I also run a non profit cancer retreat (soon to gain charity status)
I provide completly free breaks, a soul midwife service, celebrant service, counseling and therapies for patients with life limiting illnesses and their loved ones
Lots of people said I wouldn’t be able to do this completly free, but they don’t know about the magic and support of canalside.
We have been doing it for over two years. Provide lots of beautiful people with a safe happy space to forget about hospital appointments and just to be themselves
To walk on our beautiful canal explore local areas supported by us and our neighbors.
October 2018 were devistated by storm Callum all our hard work and love Ravens retreat was ruined.

To the powers that be.
Prime minister, government, environment agency, Neath council. Prince Charles president of canals & rivers trust.
It’s a almost a week since storm Dennis devistated our little street Canalside.
We are a terrace of 29 old but beautiful cottage as the name suggests we are nestled by the side of the Tenant Canal.
You hear older people talk of how it used to be when people look after each other, you could ask neighbors for help, leave your door open. When there was real communities.
I always smile feel proud and blessed because canalside is exactly that they are describing us. Canalside.
I know everyone in our street.
We are a tribe.
We look out for each other, we remember birthdays, pick up shopping, give lifts when needed, fix cars, we don’t live in each others pockets but we have always got each others backs you get the picture.

But we hadn’t had flooding here since early 90s so we pulled together as a community baled water/ sewage dried out the cottages hacked of plaster dug up floors, pulled out fitted kitchen, white goods sofas furniture clothing toys nothing was salvageable due to the sewage imagine a film.of human waste covering everything you own.
Strangers came to help, we had no electricity for days but canalside residents stuck together unbreakable bonds were made, strangers were now friends .
It took us from October 2018 of storm Callum to June 2019 to recover
The sun shone we welcomed home those who had moved out whilst builders re built their homes.
Ducks, geese , the dog walkers passed our cottage again our community breathed a sigh of relief we were home, together.
Life went on.
We welcomed families for cancer breaks from at Helens , Liverpool, North Wales, Swansea .
A word they often used to describe canalside was magical.

I vividly remember our first group of ladies after the flood Viv and Jule. Were friends from my hometown of St Helens.
Viv had just finished radiotherapy. A mural friend had rang to ask if she could join them with her best friend who was having chemotherapy for a terminal diagnosis.
Everything was arranged and they traveled down together

You see that’s what Ravens Retreat (wish cottage project) is all about.
Fulfilling wishes and dreams giving people hope
We are so much more than a little cottage in a little street.
When Bex Viv, Shaz and Julie drove away at the end of a perfect week the sun shone their car radio blared they sang at top of their voices .

They arrived from Liverpool after a long drive I introduced myself to Bex she smiled but looked quite and lost, she was wearing a back brace and they had wondered if the drive over would be too long but she had been determined to come.
As the four of them looked around our retreat slowly Bex began to smile.
That week was truly wonderful.
They sat by our fire pit, sunbathed on the decking, drank wine laughed lots discussed hopes and fears.
Bex confessed wanting to climb mountain.
Leave it with anything is possible in Canalside.
It was a sunny day when we drove into Swansea to mumbles pier.
We had lunch then
I sat on the beach beside Bex there’s your mountain I smiled pointing at the light house on the hill.
Her face lit up..
I sat in the dun watching her slowly but surely climb up the hill to mumbles lighthouse..
She stood at the top wind in her hair waving over to me..
That will always be Bex’s mountain.

My heart smiled.
The girl who arrived looking quite and tired left glowing happy and smiling.
I’m privalaged to call her my friend
And to have been part of her journey sadly Bex died a few months later.

Why am I telling you this? It’s because although you ‘see’ the floods on T.V and a few of you may walk down the street you don’t get to know our stories.
You come then leave to sit in warm houses without the real fear of ‘What if’ hanging over you when you go to bed, or if your in work and it starts to rain.
Behind each door of each cottage is a story.
A family just like yours .
I want and need you to know how loved and important this small street is.
So a week later after our second flood in sixteen months we have done the same again.
We pulled together bailed sewage,
cared for our vunerable less able neighbors.
New strangers have arrived we have lost all our possessions again..
Because the preventative measures promised were not honoured.
This time I have no insurance.
Not because I chose not to because I couldn’t get cover after storm Callum
A £6000 oil central heating boiler a beautiful sofa bed bought for patients who are too weak to get upstairs.
All our white goods, carpets, crockery all contaminated again by sewage .
Preventative measures that we were promised didn’t happen.
Why am I writing to you a week later..
Because as I clean up the mess in my bedroom that has been trodden upstairs all week
I have found a pile of thank you cards from people who have stayed with us . A letter from my best friend Donna Drewson who died September 11 2018 telling me how proud she was of me and the Retreat.
She always believed in me
Everything we have done is in memory of her.
Finally my strength left me.
I sat on my bed and sobbed.
I want to believe that you neath council, environment agency the water board, local government prince Charles and the prime minister have took on board our dilemma.
That this time you will do something preventative to help us.
My greatest fear is a few months down the line the reporters news crews will leave.
Council will be spending money on speed bumps and once again we will be forgotten.
So prime minister, local government.
Prince Charles.
Put your wellies on.
Knock on our doors hear our voices our stories.

Talk to us.
Remember Canalside.
We are worth saving
.
Do I want to move?
Of course not.
Where else could I find such a melting pot of amazing people
It may not be your idea of paradise but it’s ours .
Please help us preserve it.

Yours in hope
Joolz

Home is where the heart is. Canals, lakes and waterfalls my town.

I am forever grateful for this small row of cottages and the bank of the tenant canal in South Wales where I live.

I settled here fourteen years ago.

We originally looked a bit further out from the city as houses were cheaper.

I’m so glad we did.

Don’t get me wrong readers of my blog will know we’ve had our fair share of problems massive flood thanks to storm Callum in Oct 2018

But in a way it made me fall in love with this magical place even more.

Family’s helped each other bonds and friendships were made and strengthened

It’s not a posh place to live.

Small two up two down cottages

But it’s paradise to me.

Our home is here.

Our cancer retreat and therapy cabin is here.

Our cats our dog geese swans and birds

Home is where the heart is.

My heart is right here.

For that I’m truly grateful.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

There are no strangers just friends we haven’t yet met.

So as most of you know I live in a little canalside cottage nothing posh just two up two down on a tow path in South Wales.

I also have another cottage on the terrace Ravens Retreat.

Where as a soul midwife I provide respite free Therapies and breaks for cancer patients or anyone with life limiting condition.

We are slowly rebuilding the retreat after we were hit by storm Callum in Sept 2018 most of the terrace was flooded by sewerage it was a challenging time to say the least.

My hubby Jeff has been beyond amazing he is a jack of all trades and has self leveled floors, tiled bathroom fitted a shower room.

He’s almost finished tiling kitchen and living room

Fitted a new kitchen aquired from Facebook marketplace.

We are doing all this on a shoe string

We have had a cabin built (our healing hive ) on the land behind the retreat and are also trying to get this up and running insulated electrics flooring fencing the list is endless

And as I’ve been off work for a year on half pay I have really been holding out my hands to the universe and trusting we can get things finished.

Offering free Therapies to cancer patients. Holding healing clinics Reiki, Omni, and Soul Connection healing workshops teaching reiki to community

I know this work Is so very important people need to be treated holistically.

This is my service to the community a way of me giving back. A thank you for leading me to this beautiful place.

This post is about just that giving back and paying forward.

I always believe that people are for the best part good

And what you put out there you get back.

That’s what storm Callum has taught me.

This tiny street in South Wales is a community

Very commune like.

We all pulled together. We baled water, carried furniture, cleaned each other’s houses supporting each other in any way possible.

I cooked for the street my son made flood gates my hubby helped anyone and everyone. Reporters came and went we we’re on T.V for the weekend then people forgot.

Or did they.

Friends and neighbors are now closer

People come and gift me time in return for Therapies or healing or perhaps lunch.

Fab electrician had helped wire the cabin, my friend Han from work helped dig out old trees and clear garden. My son, daughter and daughter in love helped clean and grout tiles

Zoe and Ross helped clear up after cabin was erected

My grand daughter Tamika pushed wheel barrows full of garden rubbish.

Out neighbor Paul plastered the bathroom ceiling.

The twins next door brought food when Jeff was working.

My friend Sharon very kindly lent us a digger! How awesome I’ve been truly overwhelmed with kindness I’m truly blessed.

Last week I had a phone call from a lovely guy Chris who wanted to know more about what we we’re doing having heard about us from a mutual.friend

He visited and from minute I opened the door I knew we were destined to be friends.

Today he came over and painted fences helped Jeff out then had Sunday lunch with me and my family.

I guess what I’m telling you is there is a positive in every situation no matter how bad things are

Our little retreat was a lovely little cottage before the flood but we had made do and mended with what we had.

The flood pulled our little street together into a fabulous commune it pushed us to do work that we couldn’t really afford but somehow we’ve done it.

We now have that all important healing space I so desperately needed. A shower room that will make things much easier for wheel chair users or guests with dogs!

Most of all I have met some of the most amazing people who gave us the gift of time and true genuine friendship .

That to me is priceless.

So when life gets hard remember hold out your hands and trust the universe.

It may be hard but it is always beautiful.

So if your passing through neath valley south Wales

Come take a walk down Canalside drop in say hi.

A liminal magical place

My paradise.

My Tribe

My family ❤️

Post flood (Storm Callum)

so this is where we are up to.

After our Canalside cottage was flooded by backed up drains thanks to storm Callum.

We are hoping to be back open offering cancer patients a much needed break away and free therapies

Floors have been leveled we are busy tiling the bathroom we make a pretty good team.

After the bathroom we have floor tiles to go down from front to back and it has to be finished by end of January!

Wish us luck! 😊

Canalside flood South Wales U.K 2018 storm Callum

So for those of you who don’t know our area I know that’s most of you. We live in a small village in South Wales called Aberdulais.

Our street is on bank of the Tenant Canal a row of terrace cottages which were built for tin plate workers in 1800 stone built two up two down.

Behind the cottages is a disused collery train track, then wait for it the neath canal.

The river Neath then runs across the top of our street. Then higher up the river is a junction where two Rivers meet.

Bridges, arches and aquaducts add to the landscape of this liminal place that we call home.

I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

It’s a special place canalside walks ducks, geese and most importantly an amazing community. We are a true melting pot eclectic in every way.

Call me an eternal optimist but I really do believe that most people are inherently good. Canalside has proven that again this week our community pulled together and got on with it.

I cooked for everyone, my hubby Jeff my son Mike and the men dug trenches to drain water we baled with buckets as the water ran into the back doors of the cottages and out of the front.

My next door but one neighbor had only moved here in April his house was one of the worsed hit. .

Vicki and Dai are a young couple who both work hard for what they have they have two small childen their house was ruined Vicki’s beloved piano laying on their sofa in an effort to save it as water and sewage ran through their home.

We have our house and also own the Retreat no 28. It’s a community interest company. Everything I do benefits the community providing restbite breaks for cancer patients therapies & workshops we run on a shoe string the water ran it the Retreat too

So here we are no one complaining just encouraging each other helping and supporting where the council, environment agency and welsh water let us all down.

Now I’m not political at all. .but three years ago envoroment agency and council did a dummy run in the street with flood gates showing us what would happen if there was ever a flood threat.

Gates were fitted sand bags brought I for one felt reassured there won’t not be a repeat of 1995 disaster.

BUT…..

Yesterday there was.

The rain started Friday early hours. storm Callum was approaching Wales.

Whilst at our son’s wedding reception in Swansea we received a call to say come home the street is being evacuated. The river had risen so much it was flowing over the top of the aquaduct and the canal was fit to burst.

We rushed home expecting agencies who were issuing the warning to bring us promised flood gates and sand bags..

They didn’t arrive 7am sat morning when most houses were already baling water a small council flat back arrived issued us all with two sand bags each..

Yes two which they placed at the front doors the door where the water was escaping. The water was entering the back.

The council Professed to know nothing about gates.

A few hours later water rose through the drains toilets sinks spewed sewage mixed with rain water .

Fire brigade arrived and scratched their heads where could they pump it too?

They left. Local councilor came to the British legion at top of street dressed in Wellingtons. Had she come to bale water.

Afraid not she too left.

The only one that stayed was the rain.

From 8am until late last night we worked as a community together I’m so proud to live here.

T.v crews came people stood on the bridge to watch.

Eventually the rain stopped people’s flooring furniture possessions now litter the canal path houses are ruined

Most of us have no flood insurance why. We can’t afford it.

So is anyone to blame ?

Well this afternoon Welsh waters clean up team arrived (who knew they had one)

We told them what had happened.

Can’t have been the drains they said

But it came through the toilet sinks baths manhole covers.

Not our fault they said.

We live on a flood plane shouldn’t we have bigger drains?

Or storm drains I asked.

No idea came the reply.

So as grateful as I am for my wonderful friends here where we live we are getting there the clean up is in full swing.

Things could have been much easier.

So environment agency where are our gates? And where you joking with your two sand bags? Wonder if we had a M P living here would we have had more.

One of my amazing friends Becky drove over from Lougher to bring us floodsax amazing gel filled bags that works much better than sand. Much easier to deliver but cost more .

So I guess no one want to take ANY responsibility for the way we a small street families with small children, babies and elderly where ignored offered evacuation but precious little else.

Don’t tell us it wasnt the drains houses now small of human excrement.

Families need new carpets new furniture dehumidifiers, the list goes on.

But we will get there we have no choice this is our home. This is our family and we will fix it.