Taking care of the St Madoc Centre
By Rob Lyne
I moved into The Cottage at the St Madoc Centre in autumn 2017 and took on the role of Caretaker. Having grown up only half a mile away from the site I have fond memories of the centre. A lot has changed, most notably the newly built dining room and 12 dormitory complex. Set into the hillside, it’s about as unobtrusive to the surrounding landscape as accommodation for 80+ people can be.
Other areas around the site remain almost frozen in time, bringing back childhood nostalgia that I know so many people feel when visiting the centre. While I instruct archery in the sports halls, I get flash backs of roller blading there during the winter months when the site was at that time shut down. Arrows fly where once there were grind poles, ramps, baggy jeans and grazed knees. As I write this blog from ‘The Hub’ I remember its past life which included a tuck shop. Boxes filled with Mars Bars, Snickers and Twix. Only 20p each.
The St Madoc Centre these days still gives me the feeling of excitement and adventure, but Mars Bars are now 60p. Living on the site I have the great privilege of experiencing the site around the clock and through the seasons. Never before I have felt so close to nature. I love being outdoors, but here nature comes indoors too. When I first moved in, hundreds of frogs tried moving in with me. The following year it was Newts. They’d hide under the front door and rush in as soon as it was opened. I found a Slow Worm in my bedroom recently, looking very at home and not best pleased to be taken outside. A local bee keeper has hives in the woodland. While relocating a swarm last summer, the bees obviously decided the cottage looked more comfortable than their new hive. I will react more quickly next time my son says “There’s buzzing in my bedroom”. Seeing badgers at night has become common place, but when I stumbled across a badger in my back garden late one evening I didn’t know how it would react. I certainly didn’t expecting it to waddle nonchalantly towards my tool shed and slip under a gap in the door.
Once outside there’s too much wildlife for me to list. My personal favourite are the birds of prey. Buzzards are often seen circling the site in twos or threes and kestrels hover, seemingly motionless above a spot on the headland. I love seeing Red Kite in Carmarthenshire and Brecon but I’ve only seen one fly over the St Madoc Centre once. I was jumping up and down with great excitement like I had ants in my pants. That’s happened to me once since I’ve lived here come to think of it. Red ants, not my favourite wildlife!
If you visit The St Madoc Centre you might find me playing at being a handyman, gardener, cleaner, carpenter, seamstress, farmer, fencer, activity instructor, plumber, stock controller, car park attendant, lambs surrogate mother or volunteer support, or simply being the face you’ll see if arriving and/or leaving outside of office hours. Hopefully you’ll have as much fun here as I do.