Cwcis – unrhyw un?

plate-of-cookies-clipart-2

Oes ‘na unrhyw un yn y byd ar lein sy ddim yn gwybod am gwcis? Unrhyw un sy ddim yn deall bod bron pob gwefan yn eu defnyddio i gadw tipyn bach o wybodaeth ar eich cyfrifiadur neu liniadur neu ffôn symudol clyfar er mwyn iddyn nhw wybod pwy ydych chi pan ewch chi’n ôl i’r un wefan?

Neu ydyn ni môr dwp bod rhaid i ni ddarllen tro ar ôl tro, gwefan ar ôl gwefan, bod nhw’n defnyddio cwcis, taw rhywbeth bach a diogel ydyn nhw, a digwyddith dim byd dychrynllyd os derbyniwn ni’r cwcis ‘na?

Wythnos ‘ma es i i un wefan ac yn syth daeth neges am y cwcis defnyddiwyd ynddi. Roedd rhaid i fi gau’r neges er mwyn darllen y wefan ond yr eiliad nesaf daeth neges arall i ddiolch i fi am dderbyn y cwcis! Pam?

Beth am i ni i gyd llofnodi rhywbeth sy’n dweud “Ydw, dw i’n derbyn cwcis arferol” fel rhan o ddechrau defnyddio porwr am y tro cyntaf, a chreu rhyw ddeddf sy’n mynnu bod rhaid i’r porwyr eu hunain sicrhau bod y cwcis yn ddiogel?

Dw i wedi cael llond bol o’r cwcis ‘ma!

And it just keeps raining!

It’s taken seven and a half years, but I think I might have reached saturation point when it comes to rain in Wales, if you see what I mean.

rain on pine needles

When I first arrived, back in 2008, it was after years of living in rain-deprived Western Australia, so it didn’t matter how much it rained – I was delighted! It was such a novelty to don my raincoat, unfurl my umbrella, and stride out into the tranquil greyness of what the weather forecast described as “heavy rain”, but to me – used to tropical downpours – it was more like persistent falling mist.

It felt gentle, soothing, and peaceful, and I loved strolling through places like Cardiff’s Bute Park, smelling the dampness of the earth and watching squirrels running for cover.

Lying in bed at night, listening to the rain on the roof, I felt very cosy and secure, a relaxing feeling.

Even when I first came to Llandysul and started going on longer walks in the countryside, replete with waterproof trousers, heavy walking boots, mittens, and a jacket zipped up to my chin, the rain didn’t bother me. It made the ground softer, the greenness of the leaves, mosses and lichens brighter and fresher, and added to the feeling of being at one with the beautiful Welsh countryside.

But I suppose everyone reaches their limit sometime. Could we have just one day sometime soon when it doesn’t rain, please?

Fun with Speaky

Speaky
It had to happen! Duolingo has the cute green owl, the Welsh version is hoping to have Dewi-lingo, a cute red dragon (you didn’t see that coming, did you?) and now I’ve come across Speaky. Is it a bird? Is it penguin? Who knows? But Speaky is the character that represents a language exchange website that lets you find language ‘buddies’ for free and start practising your languages.

I thought I’d sign up today and have a look around to see what it offered.

I created my login and was asked to select the language/s I was learning and the language/s I spoke as a native speaker. As an aspiring Polyglot I chose Spanish, French, German and Esperanto as the former, and English and Welsh as the latter. You never know – I might find someone learning and wanting to practise Welsh!

Within 10 seconds a message popped up – “Hola” – and it was someone in Costa Rica happy to help me practise my Spanish. I didn’t expect that so quickly, but we chatted away using written Spanish for a few minutes, before I needed to think about other things such as cooking dinner and signed off again.

Next time I’ll make sure I have a bit more time available and explore some of the other options, like the voice chat. It seems the ‘live chat’ is still in Beta, but the interface is very user-friendly and it certainly seems like a great option for improving conversational ability in another language without the expense of actually going there.

Definitely worth a try!

Waiting for Infinity

Not Yet - Keep Waiting

On 6 August, Ofcom, the independent authority for the UK communications industry, announced that Wales is ahead of Scotland and Northern Ireland when it comes to superfast fibre broadband rollout.

The report states that 79% of premises can now receive fibre broadband (up to 30 Mbps). As my current download speed is 7.07 Mbps on a good day, that would be wonderful! Though it’s better than the alternative standard BT Broadband I was offered as a consolation.

A look at the top ten countries for internet speed around the world shows South Korea at number one with an average of 22.2 Mbps, so anything approaching 30 Mbps sounds fairly good in comparison (as long as you ignore some UK companies who offer packages of 50Mb, 100Mb and even 152Mb!)

The Superfast Cymru vision calls for “all homes and businesses across Wales [to] have access to fast fibre broadband” and aims to supply this capability to 96% of premises by 2016. A look at the rollout map shows that Llandysul is definitely in the “Superfast Cymru Intervention Area” which is good news, and some areas of the town have been given fibre capability.
Llandysul Exchange Sept 14, 2015

 

But 64% of us are still waiting for our cabinet to be converted with no indication of when that will be. The Superfast Cymru website lets you enter landline and postcode details to keep an eye on progress, but this is what I get when I enter my landline number:Check landline number

 

And when I enter my postcode … above not below as the message says:

Postcode Checker

 

An online chat with an advisor from BT confirmed that not only do I not have fibre capability to my property yet, they can’t tell me when it’s likely, and I really don’t like the sound of 2019 as mentioned in the chat log below:BT Conversation

A total of 45,887 Welsh premises, however, have been identified as being “not in scope” to receive this provision and they will fall under the Superfast Cymru Infill Project to supply them with an alternative means to achieve fast speed internet connection. This project will take three years to complete and Phase One is yet to begin. Is that part of the plan to be completed by 2019?

The Ofcom report also looked at the situation with mobile phone coverage, given that increasing numbers of people are using their smartphone for internet access. This is especially popular where 4G services are available, but Wales has the lowest 4G coverage of any of the devolved nations.

In west Wales, ANY consistent coverage would be welcome. While urban areas boast close to 95% 4G connectivity, it is not uncommon for visitors to the west to find they have NO mobile phone signal – not 4G, not 3G, NOTHING! This is a huge disadvantage for businesses in the area and makes a joke of the Welsh government’s desire to see Wales as a digital nation.

If Wales is to go ahead as a modern country we need to ensure that people can stay living in rural areas, running their businesses online and competing in a digital world. We need to keep people living and working in small towns, provide exciting opportunities for young graduates to return to their communities, and boost the economic situation of rural Wales but we can’t do it with a broadband service that is slow and unreliable and a mobile phone service that’s a joke.

Sioe Amaethyddol Llandysul

Pa liw yn gwneud y sedd tractor gorau?

Pa liw yn gwneud y sedd tractor gorau?

Pan ddihunais i’r bore ‘ma roedd yr awyr yn llwyd gyda glaw mân a thipyn o wynt oer. O na, meddyliais i, dim heddiw, dim dydd y Sioe Amaethyddol Llandysul! Ond diwrnod sych oedd rhagolygon y tywydd, ac ar ôl cwpl o oriau, diwrnod sych gawson ni!

Dw i ddim yn gwybod yn union ym mha flwyddyn dechreuodd y sioe, ond ffeindiais i un hysbyseb ar lein ar gyfer y drydedd sioe ar ddeg a oedd yn digwydd yn 1937, felly mae’n debyg bod rhyw fath o sioe wedi bod yn digwydd ers 1924 o leiaf! Yn y sioe honno doedd dim defaid neu wartheg, neu hyd yn oed ceffylau, ond cŵn ac ieir! Mae sioe heddiw yn dal i gael categorïau ar gyfer cŵn, ond yn anffodus dim ieir. Dw i’n dwlu ar ieir, felly mae hynny bach yn siomedig, ond dw i wrth fy modd i weld yr anifeiliaid eraill.

Ceffyl Gwedd

Ceffyl Gwedd

Wrth gwrs, nid sioe amaethyddol fyddai fe fod heb gystadleuaeth o gynhyrchion a sgiliau pobl leol. Blodau, ffrwythau, crefftau, teisennau, gwin – pob peth gall rhywun gwneud, mae categori arbennig ar gyfer nhw.

Dyw llysiau ddim yn tyfu fel 'na yn fy ngardd i!

Dyw llysiau ddim yn tyfu fel ‘na yn fy ngardd i!

 

Dw i ddim yn gwybod sut mae pobl yn tyfu llysiau fel yn y llun ‘ma, ond dw i’n hapus nad ydw i wedi ceisio cystadlu gyda beth dyfais i yn yr ardd!

Rhywbeth i anelu at ar gyfer flwyddyn nesaf!

 

 

Bisgedi wedi'u addurno

Bisgedi wedi’u haddurno

 

A pheidiwch ag anghofio’r plant!

Mae llawer o gyfleoedd iddyn nhw fod yn greadigol hefyd, fel bisgedi wedi’u haddurno ac anifeiliaid wedi gwneud o lysiau.

 

 

 

Heno, ar ôl y holl gystadleaeth wedi gorffen a phopeth wedi clirio o’r babell fawr, bydd y gerddoriaeth yn dechrau.

Pum mlynedd ar hugain mae Bryn Fôn wedi dod i ganu yn y sioe a bydd e yma eto eleni. Es i’r llynedd ac roedd e’n wych! Fe wnes i ddawnsio fel peth gwyllt, ond eleni croesi bysedd bydda i’n gallu clywed y gerddoriaeth o’r tŷ. Gyda gwesteion yn aros trwy AirBnB bydd rhaid i fi aros gartref, ond dw i’n gwybod bydd pawb yn mwynhau dros ben unwaith eto. Ymlaen i’r chwarter canrif nesaf!

The refugee crisis

As the newspapers lurch from vilifying refugees and wanting to pull up the drawbridge one week to sensationalist, heartrending emotional wailing the next, where do we stand as human beings? What are we supposed to think? And more importantly, what can we do?

Because from where I sit, nothing doesn’t seem to be an option.

I was encouraged by Leanne Wood’s call for Wales to have its own quota of Syrian refugees, but it’s frustrating to think that it has to come through Westminster. David Cameron has to be convinced first.

Iceland, with its population of 330,000, has seen 12,000 people pledge to open their homes to Syrian refugees and provide them with safe haven. We have 3 million people in Wales, nearly 10 times as many! How many could we take in?

At the same time as we see this crisis of people needing somewhere safe to start to pick up the pieces of their lives, we have reports of chapels and churches closing across Wales. Everywhere you go, you see empty buildings, often two or three in the same town. They are left to fall into disrepair, become a target for vandals, and symbolise a loss of what was once a hub in the community.

What if they could become a hub once more, a hub of compassion and nurturing – a safe haven for refugee families to get back on their feet?

What would it take for a community to come together, donate time and materials, and work on renovating an old building like a chapel, turning it into basic accommodation to provide shelter for a family in need?

Could we see a Wales where every community opens its arms to a refugee family and surrounds them with warmth and emotional support as they begin their journey back to normality?

Would it be that hard?

Ffracsiynau yn Gymraeg

FfracsiynauDw i wedi sôn yn barod am y ffaith fy mod yn gweithio trwy llyfr “Welsh Rules” er mwyn fy atgoffa am bethau bach nad ydw i’n defnyddio’n aml iawn yn Gymraeg. Heddiw des i o hyd ffracsiynau.

Dw i’n gwybod am ‘hanner’ (yn bwysig iawn mewn tafarnau, wrth gwrs) a ‘chwarter’ ond beth am y gweddill?

Yn yr ymarfer roedd rhaid i fi ysgrifennu mewn geiriau ffracsiynau fel 3 7/9 a 8 5/6. Sylweddolais i fod dim clem gyda fi! Felly, amser i ofyn i Gareth King – Modern Welsh, A Comprehensive Grammar.

Ar ôl beth ddwedodd Gareth, yr atebion i’r cwestiynau uchod yw:

  • tri a saith nawfed
  • wyth a phump chweched (neu phum chweched ar ôl pob tebyg)

Ond ar ôl Heini Gruffudd, yr atebion yw

  • tri a saith rhan o naw
  • wyth a phum rhan o chwech

Felly, fy nghwestiwn i yw – ydyn nhw ill dau yn iawn?

Beth mae’r plant yn dysgu yn ysgolion Cymraeg y dyddiau hyn?

 

 

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!