Author, Bridget Ashton, is returning to Painscastle where she spent parts of her early life to hold a talk about her book ‘Cold War, Warm Hearts.’

 Released earlier this year, ‘Cold War, Warm Hearts’ tells the story of Bridget’s trip behind the Iron Curtain in 1966.

 Bridget’s talk will take place at Painscastle Village Hall on Thursday, September 28 at 7.30pm.

 She will be taking listeners on a journey through Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria and hinting at how she met the love of her life.

 Bridget was invited by the Painscastle Local Interest Group after she previously held a talk in the village last year about another of her books, ‘Hay before the bookshops or the Beeman’s family.’

 This time, Bridget will be using the theme that our earliest childhood stories influence what we become.

 She decided on this theme due to a school report she found which had a comment from her headmaster at Painscastle Village School which read, ‘Bridget is a very plucky girl to travel the distance she does at the age of four years.’

Bridget Ashton
Bridget's school report from Painscastle Village School. (Bridget Ashton)

 Bridget believes this comment on her school report may have influenced her to go on her travels behind the Iron Curtain. She said: “It’s amazing, how teachers, adults and parents influence children by the things they say. 

 “Most of us have got early memories where a teacher would say something that made us think we might not be able to draw anymore or couldn’t sing for the rest of our lives!

 “Those ideas sort of stick with you.”

 Bridget told the Brecon & Radnor Express how she came across the school report. She said: “I only noticed the quote looking back when I was writing the Hay book (Hay before the bookshops or the Beeman’s family). 

 “It’s a wonder that the school report survived, that one single one from all my years, my mother had kept it somewhere.”

 “Four years old is so young and I look around at children who are around that age where I live and they’re tiny! 

 “But I and children like me were sent off and I’m sure our mothers would have worried about us but off we were sent and that’s how it was.

 “My mother must have thought I was okay to do that, and realised I was fairly sure of myself.”

 On the evening of the event, Cherry Williams will encourage people to come up and share their earliest memories and how they may have influenced them in their life later on.

Speaking about the upcoming evening, Bridget said: “I’m looking forward to it the last one we did was packed at the village hall. You always wonder if anybody will come, and you hope they will!”

 Not only will Bridget be telling stories about her book, but also sharing memories of her early life in Painscastle. Bridget said: “I remember from 1949, where I used to walk across from our cottage to Eileen Breezes farm which was called The Wern. 

 “Her father would take us in a little car to Painscastle. I used to walk past the fields to her place and past all the terrifying turkeys that were as big as my face. I’m not sure if she remembers that, she may have her own memories and she was there last time.

 “There was another young man named Malwdyn and he was from the next farm, The Wern, which was called Bailey-y-Bew with his sister, Betty, who is now at Rhosgoch golf club I think. Those two were my age and at the last event, Malwdyn said that my father created a cart on wheels because the groceries would be delivered from Hay to Bailey-y-Bew and they would put them on the cart and wheel them over the fields to our house, it was so remote. He told us that story at the last event I had so I’m hoping for more stories like that.

 “We lived at this little cottage called Top o’ lane, which had a path to it and I remember our mother taking me and my sisters across this field to where a family called the Nichols I think and they had an old farm house with these low beams where the hams would hang from. They told me that the mice used to run along the beams to try and eat the ham. 

 “Also, they gave us some sliced fried mushrooms and me and my sister didn’t like them because we thought they were snakes!”

 Bridget now lives in Northumberland and explained her emotions when returning to Painscastle and the area: “The scenery is quite similar we have rolling hills and my son and husband still do beekeeping which is what my father used to do at Painscastle so the similarities are there in many ways.

 “But when I go back, it churns me up because it’s different and there are changes and I’ve got my childhood memories and I don’t like to see the changes. One of the changes is that the hedge is so much taller, I remember being able to see over the walls when we walked to school but now it’s all hedges.

 “There’s more trees too and the cottage we lived in was more open to the hillside and now it’s surrounded by more trees and you can’t see it.”