By jocymru, 23-May-2013 10:34:00
Jen and Mike run The Longbow – the only Welsh pub in New York. They want bar staff who understand Welsh culture, preferably ex-pat, but they’ve attracted a £2500 fine levied for Human Rights violation by the New York authorities, the assumption being that any English speaker can do the job and a prior knowledge of Wales or its culture isn’t necessary. If you’d like to support Jen and Mike you can make a contribution to their legal defence through their website www.longbownyc.com. And if you’re in New York pop in for a pint of Tomos Watkin.
By jocymru, 08-May-2013 13:41:00
So sad to read that the oldest rugby tradition in Wales has been scrapped. The fixture between Llandovery College and Christ College has been going more than 125 years – that’s before the formation of the WRU but with Llandovery, under the auspices of the Scarlets Academy, getting ever stronger the annual fixture with their old rivals became a mismatch. The loss of this fixture goes beyond rugby. As an Old Llandovarian I know the unique role this fixture had in cementing old school friendships and providing the focus for keeping in touch and, as if to prove a point, since the news broke last night I’ve been part of a virtual conversation encompassing my own generation and others. For outsiders looking in this may seem a trivial falling out between two privileged schools but there is a wider context. Is there rooom for tradition in modern professional sport and if so how do we protect it? I’d like to think Brecon – maybe with the support of their region or the WRU – can sort out their game and come back strongly so that the fixture can be resumed – but I’m not holding my breath.
By jocymru, 07-Sep-2012 10:36:00
I’m naturally nosey so a peep behind the scenes is always more appealing than the main event! That’s why I’ll be busy this weekend visiting Dylan Thomas’ boyhood home at Cwmdonkin Drive and the scene of Wales’ own version of the Great Escape near Bridgend. It’s all part of Open Doors 2012 which sees 400 sites in Wales offering free access, many with behind the scenes tours. The event runs across September and a few need to be booked in advance like the Cardiff Heroes and Villains walks next week (just my mark that one). My favourites include a rare opportunity to see the cellars where Lewis Lewis, Merthyr Rioter, was held at Penderyn (21st September) and the Victorian workhouse at Llanfyllin in Powys (29th September). The website at www.opendoorsdays.org.uk is excellent allowing you to search by date, town or type of event – pity it doesn’t have a ‘nosey parker’ category.
By jocymru, 10-May-2012 10:57:00
The London 2012 Olympic Games is no reason to avoid travelling to the UK. In fact it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what Britain has to offer outside London - get off the obvious tourist trail and enjoy the countryside, culture and castles of Wales. Instead of hawkers of tawdry souvenirs and rip-off prices enjoy real friendly hospitality and souvenirs direct from the craftsmen. And if your family emigrated from Wales you’ll still see the land they knew, much of the landscape untouched for generations.
Now I love sport but you wont find me anywhere near London , especially its airports and the lengthy border control queues this summer. I recommend you do the same and there are practical alternatives to travelling to Wales bringing with them some unexpected bonuses. First consider flying straight in to Cardiff via Amsterdam with KLM or Delta or Dublin with Aer Lingus. Both cities make charming stopover destinations in their own right or there are interconnecting flights to Cardiff through both airports.
Another consideration is to fly into Manchester in the North of England with direct flights from New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Orlando, and Chicago as well as Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Manchester airport is only a one-hour drive to the Welsh border and generally a better option than London if visiting the North of Wales. If you go for this gateway I would strongly recommend adding a night in Liverpool at the end of your stay (45 minutes from Manchester airport ) as the vast majority of Welsh emigrants to the ‘New World’ left from this iconic port. Head for the Albert Dock for the Merseyside Maritime Museum as well as performance spaces, bars and hotels and a variety of city tours. Do take in a trip onto the water to see the famous skyline that was your ancestors’ last view of their homeland – there wont be a dry eye in the house!
If you’d like to customise your visit to Wales further to take in the places with a special connection to your ancestors then contact us at Where You’re From for details of our bespoke itinerary planning and research services. Or check us out at www.familyhistorywales.com.
By jocymru, 20-Mar-2012 20:05:00
Often people ask me what the main differences are between the Welsh and English. Apart from the obvious (rugby, singing and so on) I usually point to our preoccupation with graveyards. It took time for English husband to get to grips with this part of my heritage although my daughters clocked on very early and we couldn’t pass a graveyard without number two daughter enquiring whether any of the family resided there! And at no time of year is this more apparent than now, coming up to Sul y Blodau (the Sunday of Flowers) which falls on Palm Sunday.
In an uniquely west Wales custom, Sul y Blodau is when we clean up and then decorate ancestral graves in preparation for Easter. I guess that traditionally it was a combination of religious marking of the end of the severe Lenten period and the pagan celebration of the coming of Spring. Anyway visit any church or chapel graveyard in Cardiganshire or Carmarthenshire next weekend and it will look like a Horticultural show. Personally I prefer simple bunches of spring flowers but some of the floral tributes are extraordinary or as my grandmother would have said ‘dros ben llestri’ loosely translated as ‘over the top’. Only in Wales could a graveyard be an opportunity not only to keep up with but surpass the Jones’!
It’s not just decorating there’s also the weeding, and repairs, ensuring that the week prior the graveyard can be a hive of activity and a great time to meet members of the community and even the extended family. A few years ago I was standing in a graveyard in Brongest in Ceredigion watching a woman I’d never seen before put flowers on my great grandparents’ grave. In true Welsh fashion I marched up and asked what she was doing only to find out she was a distant cousin - we’re now friends and frequent e-mailers on family history topics. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up on village gossip, only problem is what should be a quick 10-minute stop all too easily becomes an hour. I set aside a couple of days in preparation for Sul y Bludau each year – travelling west with a bucket of tulips and daffodils and eight graveyards to visit within a 20 mile radius. My daughters got used to it at a very young age and now know their way around the graveyards in question, striding ahead to visit ‘Mamgu Frances’ or ‘Auntie Elen’, and, of course, each visit is an opportunity to share a family story.
Some of my ancestors are from Newcastle Emlyn – where Carmarthenshire joins Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire – and this year the pressure’s on as the town celebrates a Return to Your Roots event (http://emlyndeanery.co.uk/community_event_timetable.html) over Sul y Blodau. I’m off now to put the finishing touches to my wreath design!
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