Saturday 22 June 2024

First It Was The Post Office . . .

Hello friends!

It's not strictly true to say first it was the Post Office. In the interests of accuracy, first, it was actually HSBC Bank. What am I talking about? Rural closures. They seem to be the scourge of the 21st century.

I will never forget the day HSBC closed it's doors.  The small city where I live has a population that varies between 1500 and 1800 people. in recent years, mainly due to the deluge of second home ownership and holiday homes we have been nearer the 1500.  However, in the Silly Season {tourism} our population swells to well up in the thousands daily.   

Growing up, there was always a full complement of services. Several small independent grocery shops. A Post Office. Two bakeries.  A butcher. A chemist. Two newsagents. Three banks. A doctor. A dentist. Two junior schools. A Grammar school. So on, and so forth you get the gist. The day HSBC closed its doors heralded the beginning of the end.

One Christmas Eve, I was coming home along the bottom of the Cross Square and outside HSBC was a trailer full of the office furniture and final bits and bobs being removed upon the closure of the bank. I think the saddest thing of all was that sitting on top of everything was the Christmas tree replete with lights and decorations. It seemed a foreboding symbol of what was to come.  

A few years earlier due to a fire burning down one of the buildings, the two junior schools had amalgamated. But no one saw that as foreboding to the diminishing services in the community. that was to come.  It was something that happened and common sense seemed to say that the two schools would be better merged into one.

Time passed. Shopping habits seem to change as supermarkets established themselves. slowly the daily shop was replaced by the weekly shop, and one by one as the owners of the independent grocery shops retired so their shop doors closed for the very last time. Then one day it was announced that Barclays Bank was closing and overnight, we had gone from three banks to one bank. Not very long after that, our Post Office closed. We now have a part time counter that isn't even owned by the post office. It is owned by a local chain of shops where money comes before customer service. Then towards the end of last year, our last remaining bank closed in the village.  Our nearest banks and post office are now a 17 mile drive away, Or approximately one hour in each direction by bus.  For good measure, the bus services have been cut as well. So you can no longer catch a bus in, nip round and do your shopping quickly and get the next bus back. Now you have to stay in town for at least an hour, sometimes longer.  A trip to the bank can take half a day.  And only then if your bank still has a branch in Haverfordwest, which most don't so the nearest is some 55 miles away in Carmarthen.  So, a full day out!

Just as we start to wonder how on Earth we're going to cope comes the sledgehammer news that our local GP practise is closing at the end of October this year. There have been protests aplenty. There have been meetings of the community. There has been a protest march. And all of these events have been attended by hundreds of people. The GP practise doesn't only serve the village, it serves much of the peninsula, several thousand patients.  One of two things will happen.  Either the Health Board will step in and take it over, or we will all be dispersed to neighbouring practices up to 20 miles away.  

To visit my new GP, I could be faced with a 3/4 mile walk to the bus stop, up to an hour-long bus ride, another walk on arrival, and up to four hours to wait for a return bus home.  Alternatively, I could pay out around £150 for a taxi.  It does not bear thinking about.

So, moving swiftly on . . . let's pick up on my ICAD art again.

Off Prompt Gel Pens

Ranunculas Mixed Media

Alternating.  Gel Pen
Beach {off prompt} Ink

Gold Mixed Media
Crystal Metalic Paint

Tulips  mixed  media

Hummingbird  Gansai Tambi metallic paint
I have never seen a hummingbird, much less draw one, so found online some royalty free images to create a best guess composite.

Until next time
Stay safe stay well
Debbie xx


  1. Lovely bright and cheerful pictures! The closure of rural services is a real worry. Our local market town has lost bank after bank. I am lucky to live in a village that has a post office serving all the surrounding villages, but the hours have been cut (no service on a Wednesday or a Saturday any more) and when the woman who works in it is ill or an annual leave there is no cover, so it is shut. Not good if you have made a special journey from an outlying village!

    1. The problem is global. It makes me wonder what is going on in our once familiar world. Always phone ahead if making a special trip!

  2. Beautiful drawings and paintings.
    Luckily my village still has doctors serving all the villages around and a Post Office, because of this it's become a village where new housing estates are allowed to be built. I suppose that's a good thing? Not sure.

    1. Thank you, Sue. We have several housing developments {all controversial of course} but when they are sold to non residents as second homes and holiday lets it does nothing for the community.

  3. No banks here either, since they shut Barclays, though I think there is a pop up one in the Strand weekly. We can also do our banking through the PO. There were apparently 2,399 people living here in 2021. The town is a hub for villages for miles around, plus we get lots of holiday makers. We still have a regular bus service and can even get to Merthyr and Cardiff on it, and up to Newtown as well. Plus the Heart of Wales line, though the station is several miles out of the town.

    Love your art work and that hummingbird is so special. I hope doing these pictures gave you pleasure.

    1. Thank you BB. We do pay dearly for living in a country idyll. Our nearest Barclays now is in Carmarthen and our only Lloyds in Pembrokeshire may be on the closure list soon.

  4. I'm so sorry that your village is being broken apart like this, the samed thing is happening to many rural places in Germany. How do they expect the sick and elderly to cope? Or don't they care? I can imagine how you feel, it's just devasta ting. Your ICADs are fantastic, and I recognised your humming bird from afar! Stay as well as possible, and look after yourself! Hugs, Valerie

    1. Thank you Valerie. Yes, the problem is a global one, and it makes one wonder what path the future will tread as everything seems to be online or at a ridiculously non central distance away.

  5. You have such a lot of changes in your village over recent years. And that's hard, isn't it? I've seen a lot of things in the town where my cottage is (a small city or big town, as the case may be) with the advent of the big box stores -- especially places like WalMart (a superstore, if they don't have them there), and those huge home improvement warehouses. Hardware stores and lumber yards took a big hit, as did independent grocery stores. Online shopping hasn't helped local retail either. You pretty much need a car to get a lot of places around here and especially up north. (At least at home there are bus routes and you can find neighborhoods in the city where you can walk, although not all can.

    I'm really sorry to hear about your doc and the costs to get there. That's going to be really rough.

    1. It makes me wonder what the world is coming to. With Parkinson's came the enforced surrender of my driving licence, so a double whammy. It's not quite so bad if you have a car for transport, but being expected to travel over 50 miles to reach your nearest bank is ludicrous. It increases traffic, pollution, and risk of road traffic accidents to name but a few things.

  6. I would have thought that a GP surgery should be classed as an essential service. I hope some sense prevails.

    1. It is not looking good as we just lost another doctor.

  7. Dreadful news Debbie about all those closures. How do they expect the elderly, or disabled to travel such long distances especially if, as in your case, you can't use a car. I don't know what the world is coming to. I know round here and in Herefordshire it is very hard to find a bank branch that deals with customers. You have to go into city centres. The news about the GP is particularly worrying. I do hope somehow the protests work and it stays open. I am so glad you are enjoying your art and your icad work is lovely :) Take care Caroline (Ragged Robin).

    1. Thank you, I know other areas are worse but it seems worse when it's happening in your own backyard.

  8. This is happening in our area, too. We lost our bank. Our post office was going to be closed, but they just shortened the hours. So many businesses have closed in our village over the years. Since the late 1970's, the village has lost over half of the population. Children grow up and move away as there are no jobs here. It is so sad to see. We have to drive 40 minutes to the nearest doctor and dentist. No bus line here. Elderly and those who don't drive are at the mercy of paying horrible prices for taxi to come out from 25 miles away. Years ago, there was a bus line that came here and brought people into the town to shop and go to doctors. So much has changed over the years. And not for the good, sadly.

    Love seeing your artwork and I am always amazed at what can you can create despite your hand tremors.

    The off prompt is so pretty. I love the colors you chose. This would be perfect above the carousel at the fair.
    The Ranunculas are bright and cheerful.
    "Alternating" would make pretty Christmas wrapping paper.
    "Beach" is happy and reminds me of illustrations from a 60's book.
    "Gold" is beautiful and serene. I would love to have it on my wall.
    I love the sparkle of Crystals. You do shading so well.
    The tulips are my favorite. Just lovely!
    With you not seeing a hummingbird in your area, you absolutely captured it spot on. We have lots here. It's my Mom's favorite. One time one got into the house and she finally got a hold of it and said it felt like holding a cotton ball, it was so light. They are beautiful.
    Well done, Deb.

    1. Thank you, yes the problems are global indeed. And there's not much we can do.

      Glad you like my art!

  9. Unfortunately these closures seem to be happening everywhere. It's not only banks but other businesses too. I have read about some communities in rural villages opening their own village store! The world is changing and not for the better...

    On a more positive note I did enjoy seeing your art, especially the hummingbird.

    All the best Jan