Our first two-fer. And a location that you wouldn’t know was there if you weren’t on foot. You can stick your cars for this kind of caper. If you don’t pound the streets, then you don’t get the treats.
A little context first. Tan Y Plas is at the junction of Regent Street and Hall Street. The pedestrian access is on Hall Street, but I’ve used the different name in the post title in part to differentiate it from Bench 3, which is at the other end of Hall Street. The benches nestle in the vee of the junction. A neat use of a dab of land that would otherwise have gone to scrub.
I’m not sure at all what Tan Y Plas means. I assumed at first that it was Something Place. This kind of name you might well give to a cul-de-sac. Tan Y Plas is a development of one-bedroom flats for residents aged 55 or over. The fine print on the website of the organisation that sorts out applications for rentals and the like says that pet-wise, you can move in with a cat but that – somewhat ominously – that they are “not to be replaced”. A further bit of googling took me to a Welsh-English translation site. I tried a few to be on the safe side.
Tan Y Plas translates literally as “until the mansion”. Now, that sounds to me a touch Methodist. And given that these are accommodations for older and retired folk, this (on the very wobbly assumption that the translation is accurate and actually references the Welsh), takes on a fresh meaning. Somewhere to wait out your years until, well, you know. The great hereafter. And like the King James version says (and why would you waste your time with any other sort of Bible?), “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you”. That’s John 14:2, in case you need it, and the only mention of a mansion in the favoured reference work of hotel rooms worldwide.
I’ not sure I care what Tan Y Plas really means. I’ve found my own meaning, it fits, and that’ll do very nicely.
So, Benches 9 and 10. Tan Y Plas has a bit of hard standing to one side of the flats, and something of a chicane of a path that leads, somewhat unpromisingly, into a seating area screened off on two sides by tall hedges. Secluded. Out of the way. Private. It is, however, directly accessible from the footpath, so it’s kinda next to the flats rather than a strict part of the garden. In other words, it’s a public amenity, and that’s why we’re here. That said, I daresay that it was intended as a little bit of outdoors for the folk in the flats. Somewhere to sit out, maybe have a smoke, have a think about their cat.
It’s a damp Sunday morning in November when I’m here. Sunny now, but it’s been raining on and off for most of the last week. Underfoot, there’s a mulch of autumnal leaf-fall and discarded rubbish. You can tell something about public seating by the way its users treat it. I’d guess there’s two main sorts of regulars. In the day – and maybe not that often at this time of year – flat-dwellers from the Tan Y Plas development. At night? That’s when the others come.
As Ray Mears is to animal spoor, so the urban wanderer is to hedge litter. Soft drinks bottles, sandwich containers, fag ends. Cans that once held pop, a discarded Fosters lager empty, a carrier bag like the skin shed by a ghost.
Signs and sigils, all.
There’s no excuse for it, not really. Take your rubbish with you.
Nope, there’s no bin, but there doesn’t need to be. There’s plenty of bins on the way home whichever way you might go from here. I didn’t think to check, but communal buildings like this usually have a lidded Biffa-style baby skip to hand. There’s options, though. And beyond that, your pockets.
I’d hope that in the drier and warmer months that the residents – and/or any warden of whatever kinda maintenance and gardening arrangement might be operational with the housing association-style landlords – keep an eye on things. Daresay there’s someone who likes to tut and sweep up. Who maybe misses having a back garden of their own and doesn’t really mind pottering about with their big gloves on with picking up a little bit of rubbish.
And besides, the benches bear signs that someone’s at least watchful enough to ask for repairs. More than one of the wooden slats has been replaced, and relatively recently too.
Concrete legs, this pair of benches have. A once over with some durable paint wouldn’t go amiss, but that’s probably a job for Spring.
One of the benches is bigger than the other: the smaller of the two has had the part of the seating and the backrest that would otherwise have overhung trimmed off. Maybe the wall that butts up to this bench post-dates it, and the bench got lopped off at both ends for the sake of symmetry. Maybe there was a work crew with a job sheet, trying to do the best they could with what they had.
Still, this is a place you can sit out. If you want to see such things, there’s a view of the traffic on the main road. A comforting reminder, maybe, that if you’re retired that you don’t have to rush around any more. If you sit back, behind that big, old, and slightly spooky house, there’s the mountains.
And if you’re a kid here at night, in those awkward years between the first tickle of puberty and being able to bluff your way on your own in a pub-style situation, then places like this are great too. Somewhere to go, somewhere to be, somewhere to bring someone.
If you can, though, take your rubbish with you when you go.
There’s more of this kind of thing here in book form.