In which The Author lucidly dreams of a perfect village
Last night I dreamed of Sychbant …
(Before I start, I don’t even know if the word sychbant exists in Welsh. If it does, I really hope it doesn’t mean anything rude. Apologies in advance …)
Anyway, I was walking around in an upland area between Penderyn and Ystradfellte on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. I met a little group of teenage girls riding bikes on a gravel track, barely wide enough for a car. I asked them where I could get a bite to eat, and they invited me to follow them to the village nearby. The track curved steeply uphill, and cars were whizzing along it. We had to dive into the hedge at one point to avoid one jeep, possibly driven by an off-duty Spanish cabbie. Soon we arrived at the village – Sychbant.
It was an extraordinary accumulation of buildings, with no obvious centre but bustling with people of all ages. It didn’t have the slightly washed-out appearance of some Welsh villages. The sun was blazing down and everything was in vivid colour. It was at the saddle-point of a cluster of hills, but somehow I could see down into the neighbouring valley.
I had my camera with me, and I started photographing everything. Only some of the features of the village are still fresh in my mind. There was a big two-storey brick building with an industrial feel about it, and a plaque affixed above the door. There was a wide whitewashed building like a converted barn, and this had a plaque on the front as well. There was an old-fashioned bakery, a craft shop, and an ice cream parlour. The ice cream was home-made, so I bought some and ate it while I walked around.
The girls I’d accompanied were playing by a large stone obelisk which turned out to be some sort of memorial. They said ‘hello’ as I took some more pictures. Their bikes were leaning by a yet another mysterious white building. This was on a corner of the road through the village and a little lane leading uphill. There was a statue of some sort carved into the masonry at first-floor level. In front of this building were a red telephone box and a post-mounted post box, but it didn’t seem to be the post office. I walked up the lane to take some more photographs, and was surprised to see a large bus negotiating the narrow road through the village. At first I thought it must have been a tourist outing, but it turned out to be a normal service bus. I took a panoramic photo of the village and a few more close-up shots of the shop signs and architectural features.
I walked back down to the ‘square’ and into the pub. I didn’t notice the name of the pub. Inside it was bright and cosy, with lots of customers sitting at wooden tables and chatting away. I think it must have been the lounge, as I had to walk through this room to get to the bar. I bought a glass of lemonade as they didn’t sell any branded drinks. There was a delicious smell of cooking in there, and I had a quick look at the menu, but didn’t order anything to eat. On the way back through the lounge, one old boy stopped me.
He said, ‘You should have had a pint of Welsh.’
I laughed and said, ‘I don’t know a word of Welsh.
I went back outside and saw another bus passing through, this time in the opposite direction. It went up the road and passed a road sign to Tonypandy. It’s an impossible road. It certainly doesn’t exist.
Strangely enough, throughout this particular dream I was aware that I was dreaming. It was a proper lucid dream. I was able to consciously explore the village and decide where I wanted to go next. I woke up in a fantastic mood, wanting to go back there today. Even afterwards, when I was fully awake, I was wondering what the photos would look like when I uploaded them to the PC. I’m still a little disappointed that it wasn’t real. Then again, with my history of recurring dreams, I might find myself there again some time. I hope so.