Notes from a Newbie – Blog by Mark Chandler


In late autumn 2016, I had what can only be described as an epiphany. Through a series of unexpected life events, I was contemplating upping sticks from the South Wales Valleys in search of a new home. This was preceded by three months of wandering, essentially, taking Kerouac’s advice that if there’s nowhere to go, go everywhere. The decision, then, when it arrived, turned me on a sixpence; I knew it was right, timely if you will.

I got out of a friend’s car in Llangynidr, simply took one look up the calm, sunlit canal in its glow of autumnal orange and stated with full, if mad conviction, “Ah, I think I know what I have to do. I will buy a boat. I’m going to live on the canal.”

1And so I did, moving on to a 55ft narrowboat named Mari Llywd just as Hurricane Doris hit our shores in February 2017 (that was an interesting night!). But what appears to be the ever-changing landscape of my new life these days, things, well, never remain a constant.

Throughout this time, a true newbie to the Abergavenny area, my mind has turned often to consider what it actually means to live anew, starting over, mingling and assimilating, wide-eyed with wonder – no doubt about it – for these incredible Borderlands, its rich heritage and astonishing Nature that reminds me of something Yeats or Éluard said, that there is another world but it is in this world. So I need to find it and find myself within it. Hopefully, it is a journey worth sharing.

I want to explore this ‘other world’ in this new world I now call home. I will be looking forwards and outwards, inwards and downwards. I know there are so many layers to this magical area, in between the rivers and skies; a landscape of overwhelming complexity in that itself is formed through continuous change as, indeed, all our lives are in one way or another. I wonder what I will find…? Perhaps I will start with a walk? Yes, what better way to start. I will become peregrinus, a foreigner or exile, heading somewhere as yet unknown although vaguely aware that a destination awaits me over the next hill.



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