Saturday, 21st March, 2015.

A Non-Event For Some

          I was in the wrong place at the wrong time yesterday, I think.   I kept hearing on my car-radio that people in Wales would have a good view of the eclipse.   And it was a sunshiny morning.

Driving round the Cambrian Mountains, right there in the middle of our land, though, I hardly saw anything.

Yes, the sky was clear.   But, remembering the last eclipse, I was expecting the countryside to go peculiarly dark – not quite night-like – all the birds to go quiet and to see (through proper darkened glasses) the shadow of the Moon pass across the glare of the Sun.

All I saw was a slight shadow in the top right-hand corner of the Sun.   So much for “people in Wales having a good view”!

However, had I been down in Cardiff, I could have joined lots of other folk to enjoy what some would call “the spectacle of a lifetime”.   In fact, it would have been the second one I have seen in my lifetime.   I was in Wales in 1999 and went, with a bunch of other hippy-type people, to Gors Fawr stone-circle in the Preseli Mountains of Pembrokeshire.

There, then, I saw a proper eclipse.   And I doubt if I’ll be around for the next one!

Reaching For The Sky?

          Seems that Wales will soon have a seaplane zooming around connecting remote places like Cardiff to teeming metropolises such as Bala.   It is, apparently, a commercial venture set for success.   The very fact that it will give quick and simple connections between all sorts of places in our land should make us happy.   For will that not bring financial success all round?

Especially if our seas and lakes remain calm enough for the thing to take off and land safely . . .

See you up there in the often-thick Welsh clouds sometime!

Education Matters

          My spies tell me that there are rumblings among workers at Aberystwyth University.   Staff feel that the management are not quite up to running the place.

This news – if news it be – comes from what the press is calling “a whistleblower”.   That’s someone who works at Aber Uni and is aware of the situation.

Certainly, student numbers are falling.   That would seem to indicate that something is amiss.

Yet – and one would expect this – the management denies that there are rumblings.   I suppose that, as in most cases of this nature, time alone will tell.

But what a loss to dear old Aber if the Uni starts to dwindle:  the whole economy of the town seems to be based on its student-population.  That is if all the trendy clothing-shops are any indication . . .

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Oo – and a Happy Solstice, everyone!

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Saturday, 14th March, 2015.

Saved!

          As I wander through Wales, I notice how much our land has changed over – say – the last 20 years.

Places I once seemed to know well have started to look so much different.   That’s due to older buildings – the ones which once gave each town and village its individual look – having been demolished.   New ones have, of course, been put up in their stead.   It’s called “development” and is so often done with a profit-motive in the “developers” minds.

Which is why I was pleased to hear this week the good news about a pub in Llangynwyd, Maesteg.

Pubs were a centre of communities for years.   Then along came telly.   Places where members of each local community could meet and discuss all sorts of topics (not all of them to do with politics!) have been decimated in more recent times.

The Old House Inn was – and still is – one such place.   It has a thatched roof which gives it a splendid character-look.   And there was an almost-serious fire there this week.

My thanks to the fire-crews who acted swiftly and saved the building.   I shall pop in to enjoy the pub’s atmosphere next time I’m in the area.   I suggest you should do the same.   And visit your local pub more often, too.

Just When We Thought It Was Over!

          Those of us who were trying to pass through the Llanidloes and Llangurig area in Powys on Friday morning were surprised to find the roads round there blocked – with thick snow!

And here we all were, most of us having enjoyed some lovely Spring sunshine in the last week or so, thinking Winter had gone away.

At the time of posting this, the tops of the Cambrian Mountains over that way are still white.   So we must never count our Spring chickens until they’re hatched – say in June or July!

Actions Speaking.

          Fifty-million quid seems an awful lot of cash to me – and to you, I bet.   But, when you look at it, perhaps it’s a sprat to catch a mackerel.

Vaughan Gethin, our Deputy Health Minister, has told us that the money will be spent wisely.   Used, he says, to combat alcohol and drug misuse over the next year.

I was astounded to hear that such abuse costs our land nearly TWO BILLION PUNDS every year!

So, yes, let’s spend that cash and save Wales’s money – whilst helping the poor beggars who are hooked on drugs and booze.

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Saturday, 7th March, 2015.

Wales For The People Of Wales

          Leanne Wood is a Party Leader who commands respect.   She’s a down-to-earth person who, it is clear, is not in politics ourt of selfish motives.

At Plaid’s Spring Conference, she’s going to push Wasteminster to give more money to our nation.   Good for you, Leanne!

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Welsh Flag Flying, Welsh Culture, Wales

Transport Matters

          The railway connection between Holyhead and Cardiff will continue for the next three years.   Good news for those who use the route for business – and, I have to say, the pleasure of passing through our lovely land.

At the same time, plans are in place to re-open a once much-used railway service between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen;  calling at places like Ystrad Meurig, Tregaron and Lampeter.   Another trip through some beautiful countryside – which would have been such an asset to our holiday-trade had the Tories not closed it in 1965.

My spies tell me, though, that the Aber – Carms line will cost about £650,000,000 to rebuild.

And what will happen to the lovely Ystwyth Trail which was created on the defunct permanent-way, and which lets walkers enjoy a quiet stroll along the edge of Cors Caron, the Tregaron Bog – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

We shall see . . .

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Saturday, 28th February, 2015.

Wales Is Wales

     A couple of days before we celebrate Gwyl Dewi – St. David’s Day – the news came that the Wasteminster government is going to give our Assembly more powers to run Welsh affairs.

There are a fair few changes, but more are needed.

And there are to be many celebrations of our patron saint this weekend.   So it looks as if Welsh pride is coming to the fore.

However, we need to remind people in our communities that this is Wales and they are part of the People of Wales.   That includes those who, like me, have made their homes here rather than remain in their homelands.

We must let everyone who lives here that this is a special land and that they should be proud of it.   But I wonder how we get that message over?

Across Wales, there are “immigrants” – usually from our Eastern neighbour – who make no effort to integrate and enjoy the community-spirit which still exists here.   So, my fellow members of the Welsh communities, let us continue to reach out the hand of welcome to our new neighbours – and explain to them that this magical land of Wales is very different from the place where they lived before.

An Interesting Opinion

     The Tories are calling themselves “The Party for Wales”.   Or, at least, David Cameron is.   He said it at the “Welsh” Tory Conference.

He referred to the wonderful work the Tories are doing – he used the phrase “driving force” – to improve road and rail improvements.

And, just to remind you, there’s a General Election in the offing.   Though that wouldn’t cause Cameron’s outburst . . .  would it?

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Saturday, 21st February, 2015.

Power To The Proper People!

     Terry Hands has had a long run as Director of Clwyd Theatr Cymru.   And he has spoken out – and rightly so – about businessmen and accountants who run Welsh theatres.

Quite rightly, too.   But the problem doesn’t just cover our theatres.

So many Welsh organisations are run by the same sort of people as Terry mentions.   The more successful organisations are run by people who understand the organisation, rather than by some sort of remote committee.   Those understanding people usually love the aims and objectives of the organisation they’re running.

They know where the available money should be spent.

And most of them do their jobs on a voluntary basis.

It is a true saying that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”!

It’s Renovation Time!

          As I wander through our special land, I notice that there are many places which could do with a good tidy-up.

Such tidying would not only make Wales more attractive to visitors, but also cheer up the people who live in those places.

And now, that’s about to happen!   A few million pounds are going to be spent renovating seven of our Welsh towns.   The renovation, it’s said, is to remove “building eyesores”.   And the towns will have to pay the cash back, unfortunately.

Knowing those seven towns, I find them attractive as they are, but improvements could be made.

Whilst on this subject, I have to mention the really sad and unattractive thing about our town-centres.   It is the fact that there are many, many shops standing empty wherever I go.

These are, mainly, smaller premises which were once used by local businesses.   Alas, when the big-boys move in, solid family businesses and the like suffer.   They cannot compete in price with the supermarkets.   And shopping online is, according to some people, a disloyal act when there are local shops which can supply most goods.

I have mentioned, for instance, the “development” of places like Aberystwyth, where older properties – still in good order – are being bulldozed to make room for supermarkets.

Perhaps the developers should be made accountable to committees run by local people who love the coziness of their home-towns.

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Saturday, 14th February, 2015.

Why No Good News?

     Sometimes, listening to or reading the news, I find it full of murders, accidents, general law-breaking and bad weather.   Even on Radio Wales, the news is peppered with such things.

Yet, as I travel about our land, I find there is so much goodness in the world.   Our communities – even in our big cities – are close-knit and people help their neighbours when such help is needed.

So why, I ask, do the news-mongers dwell on tragedies and evil happenings?

Let us rejoice that this land of ours is mostly and usually a great and peaceful place to live.

Still In Mourning

     It’s been over a week, yet in pubs and on the streets, there’s still dismal talk about Wales failing to conquer England in a Rugby match.

But there’s hardly been a mention that our Women’s Rugby Team beat the English soundly a couple of days after the Men’s match.

Why should that be?

Well, perhaps it is the “Welsh temperament”:  cold and mysterious is the way Mother England and other countries see our people.

And that’s far from the truth.   The People of Wales are as cheery and friendly as anywhere in the world.

A Bit Late

     Today, I’m told, is St. Valentine’s Day.   That saint seems to have been promoted by our eastern neighbour, and the custom of celebrating that Day has spread all across the globe.

It has become a “buy, buy, buy” celebration, just like Christmas and Easter.   It should be a simple “I love you” celebration.

And just who was Valentine?

In Wales, we beat Valentine by nearly three weeks with St. Dwynwen’s Day – which is still an “I love you” time.   And Dwynwen is our own, home-grown saint!

Let us continue to celebrate our own, traditional festivals and culture.   And teach our history to our children.

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Saturday, 7th February, 2015.

It’s Only A Game!

     I shall not even mention the result of last night’s Rugby match.   But I will comment on an aspect of all such games.

Yesterday – and through most of the week – I’ve been hearing anti-English propaganda.   Propaganda, that is, not aimed at the English Rugby team, but at English people and England itself in general.

Fortunately, this propaganda – filled as it seemed to be with hatred for all things English – was only spread by a few of The People of Wales.

It is a fact that the few people who call themselves “nationalists” really do use hate as a weapon.   It is a fact, too, that the majority of Welsh folk who have Wales and the ways of its People in their hearts have no need for hate – they are simply proud patriots.   And those proud patriots are the ones who will bring independence to our land.

Nearly Forgot!

     And that first outburst was all I was going to say this week.   However, there’s something which has caught my eye and which I pass on now.

The nice, old-fashioned town of Aberystwyth has been steadily “developed” for some years now.   The character of the town – which is the way any place echoes its own history – is changing as old buildings disappear and new ones appear on the sites they leave.

Two supermarkets are coming to the town, and they’ll be slap-dab in the middle.   To create space for those supermarkets – Tesco and Marks & Spencer – several old streets will be altered.   One of them obliterated completely.

In one of them, there was an elderly lady who refused to sell her home, where she had lived for many a year, to the “developers”.

So the powers-that-be stuck a compulsory-purchase-order on that home, moved her to alternative accommodation, and knocked her old home down.

There is already a movement in the Aberystwyth area to boycott those two supermarkets when they arrive.   And that movement is doing that to show its love for the town’s character and history.   Please spread the word.

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