Flooding and grass snakes

- Peter Davies

When my mother was growing up in Undy, over by Undy church, by the causeway, all that would flood, and it used to flood in my days when I was young. Up until the late seventies or the middle seventies, when the river authority drained the land. And those days, they was hard winters and it used to freeze over and all the locals would go skating on it. Skated all along there. She used to be up there with skates and she had some old skates. It was like a sea there. From there to Rogiet it took, to Severn Tunnel junction, there was always tales there of barges coming, of barges coming up there from the Severn to what they call Noah’s Ark, they do. And there’s always these tales of these barges. And we dug a big pumping station there and go down in the ground forty feet we did, with piles, and dig it out and all the clay out. It was peat it was, and when we was digging the peat out we found lumps of coal we did. I know coal is made from peat but these were lumps, which have fallen off a barge or something, you know. So it probably might have been true because the seawall came right up to Noah’s Ark it did at the time, and when we was doing this, we levelled off the old sea wall because it was no way where it is today.

PD: there was hundreds. And then you’d find the grass snake eggs. They’d lay eggs they would, like a white cluster and you’d find them lots of places. When I left school I used to work on a farm in Redwick and there were all these hay ricks around here. Farmers would make hay ricks. They didn’t have big sheds like they’ve got now. And they’d make these hay ricks, and that attracts snakes in the bottom of them in the winter and they would lay eggs in there, they would, they grass snakes. And you would find them you would, you would come across them.