In the last summer that I was there the class was tasked to go as far as we could in pairs. The point was to research something we found. Transport was your thumb Lek and I went to cornwall to research the tin mines. I think we had 5 days to get there and back. Don't think schools would do that now.
Think it was called the initiative test. We went around Radnorshire researching the history of some of the villages. Think we were 15 at the time. I'm pretty sure the schools wouldn't be allowed now and you'd think twice about hitching these days.
Peter Melhuish I remember it well Tony Kemp and I went to Somerset using our thumbs, some of the other lads were taken by there parents, much to the schools digust. However this did not come out until after the event.
Lauri Lindsay Paul Beresford and I went to Somerset. We arranged a ride on a truck from the greenhouse company just out side of Bewdly. A bunch of us later were asked to join this company's float in the annual Bewdly carnival. The theme was Hair the musical. Back to the initiative test, rained all the time, first night in the tent we were rained out and ended up sleeping in a cell at the local police station.
Trev Teasdel I think they did track us - we had to phone the school every night and keep to the route more or less and we had to check in with a group that were camping in the Elan Valley with the scout staff. If we didn't ring in I guess that would have triggered the alarm.
Lauri Lindsay I seem to remember a story of 2 boys trekking up to Scotland where they visited a fish processing plant and the were offered a trip on a trawler into the North Sea. Of course they didn't call back for permission and all hell broke loose when they weren't heard from.
Richard Graham....In 1960 the Initiative Test was the baby of the Duke of Edinburough.You were given a list of tasks to complete but you had to do 3 main tasks.My partner who I cannot remember decided that our 3 would be:
Go down a coalmine.
Tour of the Daily Sketch in London.
Fly in an Airplane.
To get us in the mood for trip around Radnorshire - a song by Trev Teasdel
Throw Down My Pack
" Give me my pack, i'll be on my way
The lakes of this land are now dry
It's been a good soldier in its day
but its eyes have no water to cry"
A song I wrote in 1973 - Throw Down My Pack - relevant to the story below in someway.
The song is available on Sound Click and the lyrics can be viewed there also.
THUMBING AROUND RADNORSHIRE - Trev Teasdel
My initiative test took us into Wales and so not so far from the school. I had in mind that it happened in the spring on 1966 when I was 15 and in my fourth year but I remember writing a song lyric on the first night of the initiative test and I didn't start writing them until i spotted the the lyric to Simon and Garfunkle's Dangling Conversation in Record Songbook - a monthly magazine which had the lyrics to current pop songs in. Checking on the internet the S & G single wasn't released until September 1966 - so either we went in early autumn 1966 or later in the spring of 1967. It happened at the same time as the scout group camped at Rhayader which Ralph Aldhous dated as 1965. 1966 sticks in my mind so perhaps it early autumn 1966.
I was teamed up with Sumanbhai Patel and after tea one night, with tent and rucksacks on our backs, we set off towards Cherry Orchard with the remit to travel around Radnorshire and gather some source materials about the towns and villages we passed through in order to write an extended essay when we returned. Our instructions were to ring the school each night and, as the scout group were camping in Rhayader, to check into the camp when we got to Rhayader and stay one night there.
It was now pitch black and cold and we were hungry and tired and still a little spooked. After the tent was pitched and sandwiches eaten, I began to write one of my first lyrics - it was called Lonely Valley and although I don't still have it, the title gives a picture of what we both felt that night. We figured, as there wasn't much else to do, that we should just go to sleep and get an early start in the morning. And that's what we did!
Up with the lark in Radnorshire - another song from Trev to get us on our way -
Just Before Dawn
"Breeze blowin' through the trees
Squirrels squatting on their knees
Trying not to freeze
Just before dawn...
Then silence vomits an almighty roar
A thousand vehicles and maybe more
Stampede the main arterial lanes
To face their daily stresses and strains"
Full lyrics and download on sound Click - Here
Next morning, our task was to gather leaflets, booklets, anything we could find that would document our visit to Knighton and account for it's history and geography so we could complete and illustrate our write up when we got back. After finding whatever it was we found (and is now forgotten!) we set off on the road again -
We didn't do too bad for lifts, walking part of the way with our packs and getting substantial lifts. We checked into Presteigne between 3 and 4 pm and walking into the small town, we stopped a women to ask where the town hall was - we needed to gather some materials. So happened she was the Vicar's wife and was taken by the fact that I was as blond as Patel was dark and that we got on so well. We never encountered any racism while travelling around Wales - everyone was more than friendly. i was familiar with North Wales, as my maternal grandfather came from Llandudno and the family often visited wales during the holidays, staying at the Holiday camp in Rhyl one year, touring with the caravan along the coast to Angelsey, down to Snowdonia and everywhere inbetween. I had picked up a booklet of welsh pronunciations and took an interest in the history of the places we visited, much like we were tasked to do on this initiative test.
The Vicar's wife was wise enough to know that two 15 year old school boys travelling with packs would be very hungry at this time of day in Presteigne and she was totally right. She invited us to the vicarage for tea and cake and they talked to us about many things - the localality, travels abroad and our mission! Then we stopped for dinner with the proviso that the Vicar, who had access to the town hall, would take us to find some booklets on Presteigne's history. It's the one piece of source material I still have and some photos and pages from it are posted here below this article.
We left Presteigne between 6 and 7pm, having had a good time and some great food. Now the task was to get back to the school - up through Knighton (once again) and out to Ludlow and Clee Hills and to Cleobury and the school. Could we do it? We were entirely in the hands of good lifts. I don't know how we did it but did it we did! My next memory is being on Clee Hill, the same place we got a lift on the way from. We stood in the dark and cold and for a long while we were thinking that plan B might be the only option. We looked around to see where the nearest phone box might be when out of the blue a vehicle appeared and was heading to towards Cleobury. I think we ended up lugging our gear up over the Glen and railway embankment and cutting across the school field. Done that, done in and got the T Shirt - we were back and in time for supper!
|The Route around Radnorshire|