Archaeology extrapolates from tiny details, individual objects and features, to engage in holistic discussions of livelihoods, societies, technologies, communal ideas, beliefs and long term change. The constant shifting of thought and theory along a continuum from individual objects to generalizing overviews over time is not unique to archaeology, but is one of its defining features. Similarly, with the “twiddly bits” series micro-details have been put at centre stage, highlighting individual elements that by themselves say very little about the context in which they were created, but when assembled together have an awful lot to say about the personality of Aberdovey as a whole.
Having found that I had enough photographs for 70 different images of diverse Aberdovey details (and more, but I judged it time to stop), I discovered that they had coalesced into a comment on Aberdovey that is a real compliment to its inhabitants from at least the 18th Century to the present day. I am truly charmed and impressed by how much effort has been expended by individuals and institutions to give Aberdovey a really personal touch that encourages villagers to stay and newcomers to settle.
The term “twiddly bits” sounds, with hindsight, like a trivialization of all these little touches, but the series itself was intended to celebrate architects who built ornamental flourishes into buildings, businesses and institutions that added admirable public buildings and communal spaces to contribute to the identity of the village and, above all, those residents who added their own subtle decorative enhancements to homes and gardens to give Aberdovey warmth and character, and sometimes humour. Together, these embellishments represent a lot of love and care, and they make the difference between a generic, insubstantial tourist resort and what we actually have, which is a splendid, functioning village supported by its residents. These many tiny details are all the evidence one needs to state with confidence that residents invest both individual and collective pride in Aberdovey. This is not a flimsy, candyfloss, summer-only tourist resort, it is a solid, feet-on-the-ground community, which has an amazing amount going on in the winter. Aberdovey eclipses the image of an average seaside village precisely because so much personal investment has provided it with a very substantial, distinctive and utterly charming character.
I wrote all the above many weeks ago, and scheduled the post to go out at a future date, as I did with all the Twiddly Bits posts. Coronavirus was not even a blip on the monitor, and we were all looking forward to a busy Easter followed by a great summer season. My comments above seem to be even more pertinent, given how Aberdovey has pulled together and practised social distancing, whilst offering friendly support to neighbours. It’s an odd atmosphere, but the community remains a community. Second home owners have largely stayed away, and that’s a real kindness.
I have been asked to provide a “key” to the photographs by a couple of people, which I’ll produce shortly.
If anyone wants to walk and find these features, It might be something to do with older children? Like the teddy bears in windows, but a lot more challenging. I didn’t have any such thing in mind when I started the twiddly bits series, but if it would be helpful, it would be easy to convert the images into a document for printing off, with the key at the end. If anyone would like me to do so, please get in touch.
Each of these images represents a story, and it might be a fun community project to write the stories behind either some of these or other images that residents already have.