Saturday, 26th July, 2014.

The Cost Of Living?

     It seems that our Assembly Government is just getting round to admitting that alcohol can lead to bad health.

Mind you, so can jumping off cliffs and standing in the way of oncoming trains.   The choice, therefore, must be left with the user (or jumper or stander!).

But it must be an informed choice.   And, clearly, we as a society do not always understand the dangers of the drug called alcohol.

So our Assembly, bless ‘em, are hoping to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in our land.   This decision is backed by a team of experts who comprise a panel of advisors.

The minimum price – 50p per unit – could be made law under the Public Health Bill.   I was going to add “soon” at the end of that sentence but, like all political acts, it will take best part of a year to implement.

Cheats Spoil A System

     It seems that people have been defrauding the system by claiming disabilities they do not have in order to get blue badges to which they’re not entitled.   That’s so they can use parking-spaces set apart for genuinely disabled folk.

A rotten practice, of course, but it’s gone on for a long time.

Now, Peter Black AM has brought the matter up in our Assembly.   Peter has helped several people, who are genuinely disabled, to hold onto their blue badges.   Well done him!

Looks, though, as if the evidence of entitlement rules are going to be much stricter in future.   It’s said that genuine cases may lose out – and that’s just because of the dishonesty of a tiny minority in our society.

I saw recently a sticker on the windscreen of a car illegally left in a parking-bay clearly marked for disabled folk only.   The sticker read:  “I you take my parking space will you also take my disability?”

When In Doubt . . .

     . . . talk about the weather!

And there’s been a lot of talk about that subject over the last few days, and even weeks.   It really is a very different Summer from what we’re used to, and I make no apologies for mentioning the subject.

Here in Wales, the holiday-trade seems to have benefited from what’s happening.   Many folk from the Midlands and Lancashire seem to have nipped over Offa’s Dyke for a quick awayday or a weekend.   And I’m told that holiday booking at resorts have risen appreciably.

Yet Welsh farmers are having difficulties.   No rain plus burning sun has reduced the grass on which to graze our livestock.   If you look at the tops of our mountains, you will notice they are very brown.

Climate-change is the cause.   But, if you’re pardon the phrase, let us make hay while the sun shines – and extend a warm Welsh welcome to our visitors!

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Saturday, 19th July, 2014


          There have been complaints in every part of Wales about the weather.   There always are, of course, but I got fed up this week of being told by the Jonahs that “Ooooh, we shall suffer for this!”.

When I’m sitting under a friendly tree, avoiding the hot rays of the sun burning my flesh, the last thing I want to think about is something dismal which may – or may not – happen.

I wonder whether the Welsh pessimism is genetic or caused by our past history.   Either way, I wish the people who prophesy doom and gloom would keep away from me.

Because, whatever the weather, we have the privilege of living in Wales.

Sports Report

          It seems that, sometimes, sport gets too big for itself!   Yes, I know the biggest thing about most sports – Soccer especially – is the size of its players’ salaries.   But we’re talking about sport here, not the prima-donnas who are involved in it.

The Snowdon Race is a popular event:  a 10-mile foot race over ten miles of some tough Welsh country.   It’s well supported by local communities, too.

However, Stephen Edwards who, with his Committee, organises the big day is quoted as saying the event has become “too big”.   And it’ll take a lot more hard cash to keep it going.

There are six-hundred-and-fifty entrants for today’s race, by the way.   A popular event, then.

So let us hope that the cash comes in and the tradition continues.

                                        Animal Neglect

Down by Ebbw Vale is Manmoel Common.   That’s where abandoned horses live – they’re referred to as “feral”.   I suppose they are, having to look after themselves in all weathers.

Some have died but there is now hope for the others.

The RSPCA, bless ‘em, have found proper homes for the remaining horses.   They’ll soon begin their new lives in Devonshire, Norfolk and Carmarthenshire.   Great news.

But questions must be asked.

Why were they abandoned in the first place?   What is being done to find who abandoned the animals?

And what will be done to those people when they are found . . . ?

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Saturday, 12th July, 2014.

No Sign Of Welcome

    One of the things I enjoy when I’ve been visiting our Eastern neighbour is to see a large road-sign reminding me – if I needed reminding! – that I am about to cross the border back into my adopted country.

Having lived in Wales for a very long time, I suffer hiraeth whenever I leave our land.   I want to get back and start saluting the magpies.   And enjoy the “feel” of a Welsh community.

I was dismayed, then, when coming back last week from Shrewsbury, planning to head South from Welshpool.

There was no such road-sign on that road to welcome me back to my homeland.

Yes, there was one telling me I was entering Powys, but that was all.   Can it be that a pack of English nationalists who, thinking Wales is but a county of Mother England, have removed our “Croeso I Gymru” sign?

Let us do our best to remind our English neighbours – or anyone who comes this way – that we are a separate nation and that we are different from England and other parts of the British Isles.

Reminding Us We’re Different

     A Gwynedd Councillor wants to ensure that we are all – locals and visitors – reminded that we have a national language.

From what I gather, though, Dyfed Edwards wants the language to be promoted in areas where it is the main means of communication, but be less strict about places where no Welsh is spoken.

That may seem alright on the surface.   But I reckon it will weaken the Welsh language by making it seem less important.   I struggle to learn Welsh, but recognise its importance.   It carries Welsh culture and history, and it helps both us and our visitors to realise that this special land is different from all others.

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Saturday, 5th July, 2014

More NHS Criticism

     Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was the subject of a recent study.   It was found that there were “failings in governance and management arrangements” – whatever that may mean to us laymen.

So the Board plans to pull its socks up.   It still needs to sort out a clear plan for the future of clinical services up there in North Wales.   It needs to sort out its financial problems.   Its management structure seems to need reorganising.   And, up at the sharp end, its services need to be made safe and effective.

Nothing was said in the investigators’ report about upping nurses wages – those nurses are the ones who have to do the real work, not the administrators.

More Royalist News

     The man we all voted into office, Charles Windsor, hit Welsh headlines this week.   Our beloved Prince of Wales visited a pub.

I found nothing in any report on his visit to indicate he had bought a round of drinks there.

The pub was, in fact, not there.   Back in the 17th Century, it was knocked down and replaced by a chapel.   Oddly enough, though all non-conformists of the time condemned The Demon Drink, the chapel took on the name of the pub.   It’s called “Plough Chapel” in Brecon.

The 17th Century locals didn’t totally convert to non-boozing, then, and insisted on the name of the pub being handed down to posterity.   They may have done that to show that the non-conformists – or other religious parties – didn’t have total control over the minds of the people.

Strangely, “The Devil’s Music” is played in the chapel these days when it’s used as a venue for some of the goings-on at the Brecon Jazz Festival.

Funny thing, religion.

Charles’ missus was with him on this mini-break, and the pair laid a wreath at the Senghenydd Mining Memorial.

With such a public-relations tour, I’m sure the people of Wales will vote ‘em both back into office when they next stand in a democratic election.

An Interesting Discovery

     Dylan Thomas was a truly great writer.   I know not of any other 20th Century scribe who is greater than he.   (Does that show signs of hero-worship?)

Up in Aberystwyth, there’s an exhibition of Dylan’s life and work in our National Library.   Lots of stuff there, I’m told, has never been displayed in our land before.   And on show are a couple of newly-discovered items:  a poem he composed when still in his teens – and a map he sketched of Llareggub.

I’ve always wanted such a map so that I can find my way round the village when I visit . . .

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Saturday, 28th June, 2014.

Wildlife Invasion

     Those of an ecological nature – usually heavily bearded, even the ladies – will rejoice in the fact that Wales has been injected with an invasion of one-time foreign wild animals.

     It seems that they’ve chosen North Wales mainly in their current colonisation.   I’m sure there’ll be “welcome marches” put on by those claiming to have a “green” outlook.   And green is certainly the word to describe the people who I hear saying that “it’s all a part of Mother Earth’s plan” or something equally silly.

For this is an invasion of super-rats, and they’ll be able to spread all sorts of diseases in our land because they are totally immune to the current poisons used to curb their spread.

So, while scientists try to find a chemical cure for this influx, perhaps setting old-fashioned traps and killing (humanely) the rodents which we catch?    Or is that too simple a solution?

A Question Of Health

     It’s being publicised everywhere that three of our NHS health-boards have overspent by millions.

     It’s strange how, when “we” want to buy warplanes or any material for wars, there is money in the magic-pot.   We see – and hear – the RAF zooming about our Welsh skies every time the sun shines.   It’s the price Wales pays for keeping England free, I’m told . . .

But there’s an important question I’d like answering:-

“Can anyone in our land ever overspend on our people’s health?”

Better Late Than Never

     Well, perhaps that’s true – in some cases.   But it seems to have taken a whole century for the God who they follow (and, presumably, worship) to let them know that they should repent.

It’s Welsh chapels I’m talking about.

This week – only a hundred years after they were encouraging our young men to go a kill Germans – the chapels have publicly apologised for doing so.   And wasn’t the commandment about not killing in force in 1914?   And didn’t that chap Jesus teach forgiveness?

Ah, well, I suppose God – or the one the chapels follow – really does move in a mysterious way . . .

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Saturday, 21st June, 2014.

The Voice Of The People

     It isn’t often these days to hear of any group of people working together for the common good.   Many years ago, one would hear of industrial action in Wales in particular.   But news of such action came from Aberystwyth this week.

Seventy members at Aber University stood up and were counted when they protested against their pensions being messed about.   That messing about could cause their lower paid colleagues to be worse off on retirement.

Aberystwyth comes over as a quiet, peaceful town.   And, indeed, the protest was peaceful.   But it was a little vociferous, too!

It could be that the situation, if not rectified soon, will be the cause of University staff withdrawing their labour – i.e., going on strike.   The strike is planned for 22nd September, so the management must get its skates on or Aber Uni will be in the news again.

Spoiling The Scenery

     As I travel around our land, I notice an increasing amount of litter.   It’s general debris, usually fag-packets, sweet wrappers, crisp packets and beer cans.

That’s a shame:  Wales is a beautiful place and we should not do anything to spoil that beauty.

Recently, all sorts of junk was dumped on private land near Bridgend.   You name it and it was dumped.

The chap who did the dumping and, it was pointed out, changed a village’s landscape, did that dumping on his own land.   Nevertheless, he was found guilty of illegal dumping – operating without consent – and has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

I’m not suggesting that the chucking away of the occasional fag-packet or beer can should received as tough a penalty as that for the chucker.   What I’m suggesting that we have a concerted campaign, possibly organised by our Welsh Government, to educate our people not to throw litter.

And it is not only youngsters who are litter-louts!

     More On Education

     When the watchdog Estyn looked into the education services in Wales, they found that a few places came into the category of “special measures”;  that is those places needed to improve their educational standards.

But now there’s been an improvement.  Both Pembrokeshire and Sir Fon (Anglesey) have improved their standards in the last couple of years.   Well done, both of you.

And Powys, too, has improved its education system, though it did not come under the “special measures” category.

If we do not educate our youngsters well, we may end up with more than – or do I mean less than? – litter-louts.

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Saturday, 14th June, 2014 – Episode 2!

Education Debate

     Looks like our education system here in Wales isn’t all it should be.   That’s according to our Government’s First Minister, Carwyn Jones.

Mr. Jones believes that some Councils are unable to improve school education in the areas over which they have control.   He’d like to reduce the number of Councils so that each one can have an Assembly eye kept on them.

Of course, the Councils have said that improvements are being made.   I suppose they’ve gone on the defensive a little.   It seems that the Councils Mr. Jones is concerned about are, mainly, in the South of our land (I shall not name names – though he seems to have done so.

The situation is being “monitored” by various bodies.   So I was right:  someone is keeping an eye on them.

If we neglect our Welsh education, we are going to regret it at some time in our future.

Back-up For Carwyn?

     As if pre-empting Carwyn Jones’ statement on education, a friend of mine, living slap-dab in the middle of Wales, put the following on his Facebook Page a few days ago:-

“As I wander around Old Cardiganshire, it saddens me to see empty buildings which were once schools. (Here, he mentions a couple of villages in his area whose schools are already closed.)   It’s a common thing which I see in many places other than our county when I pass through.
When a local village school closes, it’s another step in the breaking down of our once-strong communities. When a community grows up together, each person knows her or his neighbours, both as individuals and as families.
That way, a community becomes stronger. And its people have the sort of pride in “their patch” which protects it.
A little niggle asks me if there is a reason other than financial for the closure of local schools . . .”

More Gloom . . .

     Warning!   Do not swim anywhere near Llyn Padarn up there in Snowdonia!

The public have been warned that, somehow and by someone, the area round the lake contains pollutants.   It’s some sort of chemical stuff and “has a strong smell and visual impact”.

The cause and the pollution are being investigated at the time of writing.   But, if we needed reminding, this is but one item on the long list of humankind’s dealings with Mother Earth.

Wales must take the lead in promoting a cleaner, safer planet.

But There’s Good News!

     Deep in the heart of Powys, it’s been observed that there is a new pair of ospreys breeding.   They have produced two healthy offspring so far.

Obviously, the location is being kept secret presently.

And this is the third pair of ospreys to breed in Wales.   Indeed, a week ago, another pair hatched two chicks “somewhere near Machynlleth”.

So smile:  Wales is a great place to be!

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