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Half a Century of Friendship ! (Part Two)


By hywel


Part Two
continued from previous blog …
a long story.

A week before Christmas 1965, a man living up the road from us suddenly died.
His name was Bryn, and his wife was Kate.

Now Bryn happened to have a glasshouse full of cacti, and the following spring (by then 1966) I came home from school one day, and my mother said …
“Kate wants to see you. She wants to give you some of Bryn’s cacti.”

Well, I was so excited, I found two boxes, and went straight away, up to Kate’s house,
and said I’d come for the cacti ! lol

I brought them home and put them on some shelves I had erected in the south facing window of my father’s garage,
… and there they lived for several years, with an oil heater under them during frosty winter nights.

Over time, I added more to my collection, and eventually I had too many to fit into the garage window,
so one year my dad bought me a greenhouse for my birthday :o)

Here are some old photos of it … a lean-to on the western side of my father’s garage.
(sorry the first one is a bit blurred)

The one with the red dot is the original one I bought in Barnstaple, but it had grown a lot by then :o)

Everyone who called in our house was taken to see the cacti, and when they flowered I showed them to all the neighbours lol … who were fascinated by them :o)


And now for an explanation :o)

I had a rough time as a teenager, from bullies – both boys AND GIRLS !
and also from teachers in school, and some family members as well …

But when I was at home, and didn’t have to suffer any nonsense from these idiots, I would seek the company of my spikey friends.

I would draw them – their strange and interesting shapes, and their beautiful flowers.
I bought books about them.
I would wonder about the far away places they inhabited – The Andes, The Brazilian rain forests, The Atacama and the Sonoran Deserts …

They became my world and no bullies could enter it, and neither could they take it away from me …

I learnt a lot from my cacti – I could see in them the ability to survive in difficult conditions …
They are perfectly crafted by nature, to survive in a harsh environment,
and so I became like them – tough and resilient – able to survive the bullying.

Many people only see the spines … and moan about them,
but I looked beyond, and discovered their true character,
and I learnt something positive from it :)

I learnt that it is possible to carry on living under difficult circumstances, by being strong enough and believing in yourself, never mind what the bullying idiots say about you, or try to do to you …

… and so I am grateful to my cacti, and I came to love and respect them,
and I believe they loved me …
and I must tell you, sometimes that was the only thought that kept me going :o)

So you see, nobody can tell me anything against cacti.
I don’t care if they’ve got spines.
It’s part of what they are, like my ‘spines’ are part of who I am.
I don’t care if they have weird shapes – it makes them all the more interesting.
… and I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t learnt to become strong like my cacti !
I just would not have survived …

So when someone moans about them, or criticises them, I feel as if my best friend has been insulted :O
and it makes me angry …



And now it is 2015, and half a century has passed since I bought my first little cactus in that florist shop in Barnstaple :o)
and I’ve got well over 100 different species, and am running out of space to put them lol :D

Now can you understand why I am so passionate about them :o)

More blog posts by hywel

Previous post: Half A Century of Friendship !

Next post: Boxing Day 2015



This blog is an inspiration Hywel - a wonderful story. It is often the special people who get bullied especially if they are smaller than average. (But I haven't seen any signs of on here of you being prickly yourself???) You have made up for it since with all the friends you have now on Goy! You must have had very understanding parents - what a marvellous present - the gift of a greenhouse! Not many teenagers would have appreciated that would they?

Its easy to see how your plants are loved - they are all so perfect and so clean. I noticed a little astrophytum in there - always used to long for one of those, they look like little rosettes made out of icing don't they, especially when they flower.

A great blog, thank you! Into favourites right away.

15 Dec, 2015


That's an empowering story of "triumph over trial." Thank you for sharing it.

15 Dec, 2015


Thankyou for sharing Hywel - and you are right - plants do become our friends - just like cats and dogs and maybe books fall into that category as well - all of these many things help us to build on our lives - oh and are you going to write a sequel !! wishing you a lovely Christmas you and yours - Jane

15 Dec, 2015


Thank you all for reading my blog, and your comments and likes :)

Hello Sue, yes I was small like a little weed, but I became a prickly weed lol ...
and you haven't seen signs of my spines because you haven't bullied me. I am usually quite quiet and withdrawn (you must have noticed that when I visited you)
I think dad bought me the greenhouse to shut me up because I kept telling him my cacti would die from car fumes in the garage ;D
Yes there's an Astrophytum ornatum and Astrophytum capricorne in there somewhere ...

Thank you Paul ...

Thank you Jane. I wish you and your family a lovely time too :)
I think I'll also add records to that list of yours :o) Music is very inspirational.
As for a sequel ... I thought you'd have had enough of my ramblings now lol :)

15 Dec, 2015


Thank you so much for sharing your past problems with us. I have put your blog in favourites so that I can look at it as & when I feel the need for some positive thinking. I've had some very tough times to work through in my life too,& cats came to my rescue. What would I have done without them. Pity, I am unable to get your photos on my Tablet. Best wishes for a happy Christmas to you & Beryl, & of course the delightful Bella.

15 Dec, 2015


Not all little plants are weeds though - alpines for a start....

15 Dec, 2015


An amazing memory Hywel...! ;o) If it hadn't been for the florist shop in Barnstable or the generosity of Kate and also your Dad... Well, we wouldn't be here now reading your blog! I'm glad you found your way through to dealing with the bullies - and I'm sure all GoY member's can understand your love of cacti - You are a fantastic book of information on them! Good for you and thank you for sharing this memory. Merry Christmas to you and Beryl and of course Bella... ;o)

15 Dec, 2015


Thank you for this wonderful and very personal story of yours Hywel. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

15 Dec, 2015


Super uplifting story Hywel thank you for sharing with us here, your love of Cacti undeniable I am sure you will always find room for them! Very best wishes to you Beryl and Bella :o)

15 Dec, 2015


A great story, Hywel, beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing it. I can quite understand your love of cacti. I hope you and Beryl enjoy a lovely Christmas. ??

16 Dec, 2015


Thank you for sharing your story with us, Hywel. I'm so glad you found some way thru the nasty trials in your early life. For you it was the cactii, for me it was a dog that was my best friend.
Cactii have always been a bit of a mystery to me & something to approach with caution, I did have one once but killed it with kindness (too much water) & it rotted off at the base. I know better now & have one on the kitchen windowsil but it has sat there for a few years now & doesn't seem to be doing much.

16 Dec, 2015


Thank you for your second instalment Hywel, an inspiration. The cactus look pretty good too.

16 Dec, 2015


I enjoyed reading this Hywel and just like you said, you survived in adversity just like these beautiful plants have to, on a day to day basis.
sadly there will always be people who can only get any feelings of self worth by bullying others. Shame on the teachers though they should know better. but you and I grew up at a time when teachers could belittle you over anything. in my case it was because I was fat [still slightly porky but I'm happy in my skin now]. it shouldn't be tolerated now thankfully. [ my girls said a teacher was disciplined for 'ginger comments' made to my eldest.]

I find their physiology and adaptations a marvel. did you know that some even photosynthesise differently compared to other plants? Really special.

16 Dec, 2015


I understand now Hywel ....

some years ago Goy fell foul of a bully...a troll I think
I remember Hywel , you faced him down and shamed him....
Lincslass laughing at him helped too ?

I've known you on Goy now since 2009 and thankyou for your inspiration and friendship

I wish you Beryl and Bella a very happy chrismas and 2016 Pam xxx

16 Dec, 2015


I am so glad your story had a happy ending Hywel. Your plants are so well cared for and they reward you with their beautiful blooms. A success story for man and plant. Merry Christmas. Xx

16 Dec, 2015


Oh yes Hywel, I can see exactly why you are so passionate about your beautiful Cacti.
It was a very moving story and was written with such honesty and integrity.
Powerful writing Hywel, thank you so much.

A very Happy Christmas to you.

16 Dec, 2015


Hi Hywel, The whole story is wonderful and it really inspires me to do the same with my life now, to face the all the trials and instead of thinking negatively I should be very strong and be hard-faced , Now I understand Why? you love the cactus, Why? you are happy when they blooms a flowers , its a contentment , A Joy and a Treasure b'coz it has a beautiful memories in your life,that is unforgettable :-) xxx

17 Dec, 2015


I knew from the beginning that cacti is your passion Hywel but did not realized how strong it was. Now I know the reason. I am always looking forward to see your pictures of them . They are maybe prickly on outside but when they bloom they are most beautiful treasures.
Thanks for sharing.
Have a wonderful Christmas holiday.

17 Dec, 2015


Thanks for sharing this story, I am pleased it has a happy ending, we all need to have a passion in life,...
its what keeps us going in times of adversity...
Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, Hywel Beryl and Bella x⛄⛄⛄

17 Dec, 2015


Happy Christmas to you, Hywel. It started as a grey story, but You and your Cacti look colourful now.

18 Dec, 2015


Thank you so much for sharing the second half of your blog with us Hywel. I'm a great believer in things happen for a reason and it's clear that your involvement with cacti was meant to be. If it hadn't been for those bullies, and your dad's gift of a greenhouse you might never have become the authority on cacti you are today. Well done Hywel. :) :)

18 Dec, 2015


When an older boy started bullying my son, I was very glad of DSS money. I didnt have to go to work to support us and leave him to be beaten up in the street to and from school. I went to the school to complain, they couldnt care less.
After I was awarded enough money to live on I took him every morning, fetched him home for dinner, returned him, and collected him at 3.15 p.m. every day for 2 years.
When he moved to senior school a boy in the next street came to me and said he would take him there every day and look after him. I was always grateful to him.
Things are much better now, as paid playground supervisors are out all playtime to stop the bullying - I see them from my kitchen window. Children are much happier, and the schools get better exam results.

19 Dec, 2015


Thank you all for your positive comments.

It annoys me when people moan about cactus spines, and I wanted to show there is more to them than that :)

19 Dec, 2015


If only parents had all been stronger in the 1960s! Ruth ?
the very gifted girl was lucky. Her father took her to school every day, and sat at the back of the classroom, made sure playtime was fun, and escorted her home. She passed her A levels when she was 12.

Hywel's mother should have done this. A terrible way for a son with a brilliant mind to be treated by thugs, finding his comfort in plants. It makes me so angry.
I knew people elected to councils who just sat around listening, said and did nothing.
Things are much better now. They get £3,000 a year expenses and are required to work. So Councils get a better standard of brain power.

20 Dec, 2015


My mother didn't know about it Diane, neither did my father.
I didn't tell them. I am good at hiding things and pretending things.
I think if my mother had wanted to take me to school at 15 yrs of age, I would have refused.
Anyway the school was 7 miles away so it would have been difficult.
When I told them about it (when I was in my 50s) they said I should have told them,
especially about the family member who bullied me.
But I have always preferred dealing with things in my own way,
and I think we all find comfort in plants during bad times. That's what gardeners do :)
I learnt from my cacti. It made me stronger and I was able to overcome the bullying on my own.

20 Dec, 2015


I joined GOY in 2009 when my OH was diagnosed with a nasty illness. GOY helped me to cope through all that has followed. I'm fairly sure Hywel was on GOY then. His blogs have always been inspiring and full of interest. I never remember being bullied but my brother was. He was at the same school as me. My dads and his sibs were there too. Now the school is gone. A new one built near by, unfortunately in special measures, whatever that means. My brother is happy it has gone.

22 Dec, 2015


A great 2nd part to your blog, Hywel! I was also bullied a bit at school, I especially recall the year we had our vaccinations for diphtheria how they used to punch my left arm, near the shoulder, & I had infections in it that needed to be treated by our doctor.

I would sit out the playtimes in a covered area where basketball was often played reading a book. Other times I stayed behind in our classroom reading "Readers Digest" magazines because I didn't want to go out into the playground!

Perhaps that is also how I became interested in gardening as well, I have no clear recollection of when I took it up. I only remember being interested in flowers from a very early age. I do know I became more of a gardener when Dad partitioned off a section of our backyard into 4 equal sections & encouraged us to plant things. I remember Lupins having been my first success.When my other 3 brothers didn't show any interest but let their "gardens" get overgrown with weeds I carried on. It seems that even from the age of 9 or 10 I already had the ability to get plants to grow & since then gardening has "Grown on ME"!

22 Dec, 2015


Hywel your cacti are amazing. i do love all the shapes and colours, especially when they burst back into life in the summer. I have sold a lot of mine for a local charity its great to rehome them as you know. I have loads of pups sitting waiting to grow and now the charity takes them I can enjoy potting them all up and taking more cuttings..:-)

22 Dec, 2015


Thank you all for reading my blog.

I've been here since April 2008 Dorjac, but had a different username when I first joined.
I hope your husband is all right now.

I'm sorry to hear you got bullied Balcony. I can understand you not wanting to go out to the playground. I was the same. I used to mitch and go to my gran's.
Like you, I've been interested in plants since I was very small. I think it's something in our genetic make up.

I was sorry to hear you got rid of your cacti Sandra. I could never do that, not even for charity. Maybe I could part with other plants if I had to, but never my cacti.

23 Dec, 2015


I have a picture of myself as a Lucie Attwell like tot of 5 with my classmates in the school garden with a hoe. So I started when very tiny. Now the old school garden is covered by the new school built about 4 years ago. Bullying is horrible. Gardening is lovely. Sadly I never kept in touch with my friends in the photo. I moved onto a grammar at 11, 5 miles away. They kept us very busy with piles of homework, so keeping up with old chums not easy. My brother still his close friend from the first class at the same school at 82. He gardens for them. He is better at it then me.

25 Dec, 2015


Dorjac I'd forgotten all about Lucy Atwell!

Couldn't resist coming back for a second comment to say thank you to everybody for all the inspiring stories and specially to Hywel for starting us off. How strange that unhappy schooldays and gardens seem to go together. Mine weren't the best either. I remember despairing when somebody said schooldays are the happiest days of your life.

27 Dec, 2015


Hywel, thank you so much for telling us your story. There is so much to learn from that, not least that no-one should EVER be judged by appearances - or even stupid driving(!) . . . who knows what they might have been through in their lives. I can't bear criticism, never mind bullying, and try to be compassionate and see the best in people.

Those of us here on GoY are lucky because we are gardeners, and any time we might be feeling a bit sad we have our beloved gardens and plants which help us to feel positive about the future :))

27 Dec, 2015


Thank you all for your interesting comments :)

28 Dec, 2015

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