Monthly Archives: August 2015

Newcastle Emlyn

Gwiber Newcastle Emlyn

The ‘Gwiber’ of Newcastle Emlyn – a mythical creature with a dragon’s head and wings, a reptilian body, two legs and a tail.

With incessant drizzle arriving in Llandysul the same day as my most recent AirBnB guests they weren’t having much of a chance to explore the area, so when the sky looked a little brighter last Friday I offered to run them down to Newcastle Emlyn to visit the weekly market and have a look around.

The market takes place every Friday morning near the main carpark and attracts people from a wide area. On a good day you can buy all kinds of local produce, including honey, good quality fruit and vegetables (often by the trayload), cakes, breads, plants and crafts.

Unfortunately when we got there the drizzle had turned into proper rain, but there were still a few brave souls running vegetable stalls, and providing bargains to their dripping customers. It was hard to resist a whole box of tomatoes for £2.50 but I didn’t have any plans to make spaghetti sauce any time soon, so I settled for 5 grapefruit for £1 then shepherded my guests towards Y Cwtch Coffi, a newish bilingual café in the main street with comfortable chairs, delicious cakes and a good selection of hot drinks. It was also warm and dry, which was becoming a priority!

The café was very busy, with a hum of voices and a welcoming atmosphere. My guests tucked into lemon poppyseed cake and bara brith and we sat sipping our drinks while gradually the rain eased off again.

When a few rays of sun attempted to break through the clouds we made a dash for the castle. Making our way past the Gwiber peering down on us from the gate, we walked up through the remains of the castle entrance. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like in its heyday. We stood on a grassy mound gazing down on the Teifi and the local rugby fields beyond and tried to picture how it would have been back in the 13th century when it was built, or in 1403 when it was captured by Owain Glyndŵr. To stand on the site of so much history always sends a tingle through me. What would they think if they could see it now, with much of the stonework gone to build local houses?

After taking the footpath along the Teifi and around the bottom of the castle, we headed back into the main street, stopping to call in at a display by the local history society, then an art exhibition in Cawdor Hall, the Grade II listed building built in 1892 as a Market Hall for the people of Newcastle Emlyn by Lord Cawdor.

Ceredigion Art Trail

The exhibition was part of the Ceredigion Art Trail which is opening up artwork all over the county from now until the end of August. The various locations are scattered all over Ceredigion. With 71 different venues representing every type of art you can imagine, there is something there for everyone.

Glenn Ibbitson, from Smoking Brush Fine Art, was one of two artists exhibiting in Cawdor Hall and he was happy to chat about his work.

Cawdor Hall

Looking towards Cawdor Hall

The drizzle had started up again by then but it was fairly light, so we finished with a walk down to the bridge across to Adpar (the part of the town officially in Ceredigion, as opposed to Newcastle Emlyn proper which is actually in Carmarthenshire), then back to the carpark, hastening our steps as the drizzle changed back into rain, and our brief break in the weather was over.

And then the Eisteddfod – Part 2

How to describe the National Eisteddfod? There’s a question.

Yes, it is a Welsh cultural festival that includes such traditional Welsh entertainment as harps, male voice choirs, folk dancing, and poetry, but it’s much, much more than that. It’s like getting a pass to another world – one where Welsh is the language of the majority, and everyone feels like part of one big community.

The Pink Pavilion

Pink PavilionThe Pink Pavilion is where most of the formal programme takes place.

A newcomer like me might think that the main performance pavilion has always been pink, but in fact it first appeared in its current alluring shade for the Eisteddfod of 2006, in Swansea. In early times it wasn’t even a tent, but took place in various different structures, sometimes tent-like but other times wooden structures of varying shapes and sizes. Over the past ten years though people have become rather used to the Pink Pavilion but the current contract came to an end with this Eisteddfod in Meifod so it will be interesting to see what happens next.

There are some who spend most of their time in the pink pavilion, avidly watching all the competitions and discussing whether they agree or disagree with the judges’ decisions, but I tend to just pop in there occasionally when there is something on I particularly like. The rest of the time I divide between volunteering in Maes D (the learners’ pavilion) or wandering about the rest of the Maes, the extensive area that the Eisteddfod covers – and it is extensive. Ceredigion is considering a bid to hold the 2020 Eisteddfod, but first we have to find a location that offers 140 acres of flat land … not an easy task in a hilly country like Wales!

Maes D

Every year I try to spend some of my time helping out in this special area for learners of the Welsh language. There are taster sessions for those that haven’t tried learning before, and other activities to encourage people to use their language. There is also a pod off to one side with a stage and the special competitions for learners are held there. Yes, the Eisteddfod is not just for the top class performers! It caters for all, and learners come from far and wide across the world to have a go.

Volunteering

This year my first task was as a llysgennad, a sort of wandering ambassador tasked with trying to encourage visitors to Maes D. I tried surreptiously listening in on conversations to see which language they were in, then bowling up to English speakers with what I hoped was an engaging smile and not the look of a lunatic. I would start with “Bore da! Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?” and if they looked blankly at me or replied “Er, not really but I’m trying to learn”, then I would give them a little spiel about Maes D and encourage them in that direction.

Occasionally I found they were Welsh speakers who just happened to have slipped into English for a phrase or two, as bilingual people commonly do, and then I explained in Welsh that I was there to encourage Welsh learners. They were generally very helpful at that point, trying to think of any learners they knew that might be on the Maes, and one even immediately phoned his non Welsh-speaking wife on his mobile to tell her there was a lot happening in Maes D and she should get herself down there!

But it wasn’t the easiest of tasks, especially when I was only wearing a tiny identity badge that you had to be one foot away from me to read! A nice big Maes D t-shirt would make a difference!

I had the most success when I loitered near the main entrance and watched for people who looked a bit lost or bewildered when they came in, immediately going over to nearby tables to sit and study their Map of the Maes. A reasonable number of these turned out to be first-timers at the Eisteddfod, so I had a few successes, including a conversation with a very nice student from the Basque Country. He confessed he was really in the UK to improve his English but he found Welsh a fascinating language so he was soon on his way to Maes D for his first taster lesson.

Sali MaliMy other main duty in Maes D was taking care of the children’s corner – chatting with Welsh-speaking children while they coloured in pictures of Sali Mali, and characters from Cyw. I enjoyed that, and had some interesting conversations with their parents, some of whom could speak Welsh, but others who were learning in order to support their children’s education – a very positive sign for the future.

On the Maes

The rest of the time I spent visiting the various stands that dot the Maes – some selling their wares, but others giving information about Welsh services and organisations. I deliberately didn’t go into the Teithio Tango stand this year as I didn’t want to hear “You again! Are you ever going to go to Patagonia?” for the third year in a row – I will get there one day! – but I stood and listened to a great performance by a young choir called Mimosa who were leaving very soon for the 150 year celebrations of the founding of Y Wladfa, the Welsh colony in Argentina. They were introduced by Rhys Meirion and quite a crowd gathered to listen to them.

I dropped by the Tŷ Gwerin which is often bulging at the seams due to the popularity of the folk music and dancing that happens there, and I browsed the art exhibition. I attended a talk on the need to ensure that ALL children in Wales are confident in Welsh hosted by Cymdeithas yr Iaith, and I met up with lots of people that I knew through SaySomethinginWelsh.com or that I had previously met at other Welsh events.

For me the National Eisteddfod represents a wonderful week where everywhere you go speaking Welsh is normal and there are too many places in Wales where, sadly, that is no longer true. The Eisteddfod brings people together from across the country and beyond and, no matter what their background and where they come from, very soon everyone feels like family.

 

 

 

And then the Eisteddfod – Part 1

meifod-sul020

After Lille came Meifod!

I could write about the wonderful National Eisteddfod in Welsh, but Welsh speakers are already very well aware of what happens at the biggest Welsh cultural festival of the year, so in order to share this unique experience with more of you, English it is!

Is that Welsh or Esperanto?

After leaving Lille I headed to Cardiff to pick up my car along with a passenger, a fellow Welsh learner and aspiring polyglot. Ifan started learning Esperanto after attending the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin in April, and decided he couldn’t miss the Universal Congress in Lille. We met up again afterwards in London, chatted in Esperanto for the first part of the train journey from Paddington, then attempted to force our brains back into Welsh. It was very difficult at first, with hesitations and “What’s the Welsh for {Esperanto word}?” but it had to be done. Luckily by the time we arrived in Cardiff and had lunch with Welsh-speaking friends, reluctant brain cells had realised resistance was futile and we were back in full Welsh mode.

The tent experience

Camping

 

This year I decided that the real Eisteddfod experience had to include staying in a tent.

OK, it wasn’t the one in this picture!

 

 

It was a rather large tent with three separate sleeping ‘pods’ and two living areas, but a tent nevertheless! You have three main choices when you stay in a tent at the Eisteddfod

  • Maes B, which has a huge stage and very loud music until the wee, small hours
  • Maes Carafanau, which caters mainly for caravans but has a section at one end for tents
  • or this year you could stay in another location nearby organised by Cymdeithas yr Iaith which also has loud music until the wee small hours.

Yes, I plumped for Maes Carafanau. However, as it wasn’t too great a distance from Maes B, I still got to enjoy the music but at a rather reduced decibel level.

Are you thinking that sounds like rather a large tent for one person? You would be right!

Leia came to share with me, bringing with her some very useful things, such as a little gas stove, various cooking implements, cutlery, and a supply of ‘easy cooking’ food. Yes, Leia was a great choice of a tent companion as she had obviously done it all before! I had remembered to bring a mug and some tea. A great contribution! Leia was cooking burgers and sausages when I arrived so I was very impressed, and appreciative. (It was also rather handy that she got there the day before me and the tent was already erected when I showed up! Thanks, Leia and Catrin!)

The novice camper

Unfortunately, my lack of camping experience became blatantly obvious on the first night. I was FREEZING. I had a blow up mattress, a lightweight sleeping bag and a duvet, but the mattress just didn’t get warm. It was like lying on a block of ice all night. Gradually I put on more and more clothing until I was wrapped in several layers but I still couldn’t get warm.

Somewhere around 2 am I decided that I couldn’t possibly spend the whole week like that so I had no choice but to drive home to Llandysul the next day and load up the car with warmer blankets and clothing. And that’s what I did. I was volunteering at the Eisteddfod the next morning, but as soon as I was finished I set out for home. Two hours later I was there and after a good sleep in my own bed, loaded up the car and set off back to Meifod the next day.

Now the Eisteddfod could begin for real!

First there was Lille

Place Charles de Gaulle

Place Charles de Gaulle

 

Between July 25 and August 1,  I attended the 100th Universal Congress of Esperanto in Lille.

The rest of my report is in Esperanto – how much can you understand? It’s easier than you think!

 

 

 

En 1997 mi ĉeestis mian unuan Universalan Kongreson en Adelajdo, Aŭstralio. Mi ekkomencis lerni Esperanton nur tri semajnojn antaŭe sed mia instruistino insistis ke mi estas preta, do mi iris. Ĝi estis mirinda okazo – tiom da homoj el multaj diversaj landoj, ĉiuj parolantaj flue kaj feliĉe kaj dividante pensojn, kredojn kaj esperojn. Mi restis nur 3 tagojn sed mi ploris kiam mi devis lasi tiun mirindan etoson. Mi ege volis ĉeesti alian kongreson – en Brazilo, en Vjetnamio, en Islando – sed ĉiun fojon tio ne eblis – ĝis ĉi-jare!

Ĉi-jare la Universala Kongreso okazis en Lillo, Francio, kaj ĝi eĉ pli gravis ĉar ĝi estis la 100a! Mi nepre devis iri! En decembro, kiam la prezoj estis ankoraŭ je la pli malalta nivelo, mi sendis mian aliĝilon. Mi estis Nombro 943 inter amaso de Esperantistoj kiuj finfine nombris preskaŭ 3000. Mi mendis mian bileton por la trajno ‘Eurostar’, trovis loĝlokon sufiĉe proksime kaj al la stacidomo ‘Lille Europe’ kaj al la kongresejo, organizis lasi mian aŭton kun amikino en Kardifo, kaj mi estis preta.

Solena Inaŭguro

Mi neniam antaŭe estis en Lillo kaj ĝi vere estas bela urbo. Plaĉis al mi piediri en la stratoj kaj fakte mi faris multe da tio! Ĉiun matenon mi zorgeme tralegis la programon kaj elektis tiujn sesiojn kiuj plej interesis min – ne facila tasko ĉar multaj ŝajnis ege interesa. Kompreneble mi ĉeestis la Solenan Inaŭguron, kiam reprezentantoj de diversaj landoj salutis la ĉeestantaron nome de siaj landoj. Mi sentis iomete malĝoja ĉar ni ne havis apartajn reprezentantojn por la kvar landoj de Britio, sed almenaŭ la salutanto menciis ilin ĉiuj kiam li parolis. Mi decidis skribi ‘Kimrio’ sur mian nomŝildon por montri ke mi ne venas de Anglio, kio ĉiuj kiuj vidis ‘Britio’ unue pensis. Multfoje mi devis klarigi kie troviĝas Kimrio, ke ĝi estas aparta lando kiel Skotlando, kaj ‘Ne’, ĝi ne estas regiono de Anglio!

Muzikprogramo

Ege plaĉis al mi la abunda muzikprogramo, kun multaj malsamaj tipoj de muziko kaj kantado. Kajto estas duopo kiu ege klare kantas, kaj mi ŝatis danci al la popolmuziko de Kapriol’ sed por mi la plej bona kaj ĝuebla estis JoMo! Li ludis kaj kantis publike ekstere de la kongresejo merkrede vespere. Post tuttaga promenado en Lillo kun amiko el Tenerifo, promenado kiu inkluzivis grimpi la ŝtuparon en la urbodomo de Lillo por ĉirkaŭrigardi la tutan urbon, miaj piedoj strebis konvinki min ke mi nepre devas resti sidanta, sed ekde la komenco de la unua kanto la impulso danci estis tro forta kaj mi pasigis la vesperon en ĝoja dancado.

Amikiĝi

Sed ne estis nur la interesplena programo kiu feliĉigis min. Same kiel dum mia unua Universala Kongreso la plej granda plezuro estis renkonti diversajn homojn kaj pasigi tempon kun ili. Nia Kardifa grupo renkontiĝis por vespermanĝi kune en belega franca restoracio, mi turistis kun amiko de Tenerifo kiun mi ne vidis dum pluraj jaroj, kaj mi ankaŭ rerenkontis konatulinojn el Nederlando kaj Koreio. Kompreneble mi ankaŭ konatiĝis kun novaj amikoj, kiel kelkaj skotaj esperantistoj, kiujn mi esperas vidi denove en la estonteco. Mi aŭdis pri tutkelta kongreso kiu okazis pasintjare en Skotlando sed ŝajne okazos venontjare en Bretono! Jes, mi volas ĉeesti tion!

Rigardante estontecen

Kaj kio nun? Nu, mia entuziasmo por Esperanto, kiu estis iomete dormanta dum la pasintaj jaroj, revenis pli forta ol antaŭe. Ege plaĉus al mi havi ian kimran organizon – ĉu formala, ĉu ne formala, sed io kio disdonus informojn al ĉiu Esperantisto kiu aŭ loĝas en Kimrio aŭ partoprenas eventojn en Kimrio aŭ simple estas amiko kiu interesiĝas pri niaj landaj aferoj. De Bill Chapman en norda Kimrio mi jam ricevis historiajn paperojn, malnovajn ekzemplerojn da la Kimra Voko, iama novaĵletero de iama kimra federacio, kaj mi komencas pensi. Ĉu restarigi tion sed retpoŝte, kun novaĵoj kaj ligiloj al la Kardifa grupo sed ankaŭ novaĵoj de aliaj kimraj regionoj? Ni vidu!

Learning Esperanto

How did you go? If you’re interested in learning Esperanto there are quite a few websites, but you could start with www.lernu.net or try out the Beta Esperanto lessons on www.duolingo.com

And if you’d like to learn Esperanto through the medium of Welsh there is a great ‘Mini-Cwrs’ available from the British Esperanto Association for £1.50 plus postage:

EAB, Barlaston, 2010, 36p, 15cm. A guide in Welsh containing ten lessons, some reading exercises and a vocabulary. ISBN 9780902756304. Por teksto, vizitu http://esperanto.org.uk/eab/bookshop/mincwresp.htm

Ĝuu! Enjoy!