Saturday, 13th February, 2016

Protect The Language . . .

     . . . protect our history.   Because, if we do not know about our past, we cannot understand our present and plan for our future.

     Yes, I know I’m a dullard when it comes to learning and speaking Cymraeg – the Welsh language.   I do try, but Welsh speakers are so polite that, when they realise that I’m a struggler, they immediately switch to English.

     It hasn’t always been like that.   I have a friend who recalls that, in rural parts of our land, there were people who really did not speak a word of English.   This was back in the mid-1950s, of course.   Now, due to the advent of television to a great degree, there is probably not one Welsh monoglot in the whole of Wales.   A sad fact, alas.

     Now, thank goodness, a group has been formed specially to protect – and, in many cases, revive – old Welsh place-names.   Those names are an integral part of the history of Wales.   And though a lot of visitors from our neighbour to the East of Offa’s Dyke make fun of those place-names, the language attracts many of those visitors.   They feel they are in a “foreign land”, and we’re right on their doorstep and can be entered without a passport.

     The revision will not only be of the name of villages and towns.   There will be efforts, too, to revive the old names of fields, etcetera!   So a glace at a map will show what went on where.

     I, for one, will renew my efforts to become a fluent Welsh-speaker.

An Historical Discovery

     Right in the middle of truly Welsh Wales, Ceredigion (or, as some still call it “Old Cardiganshire”), a sign of a bygone age has been discovered.   For, beneath a shop in Newquay (Cei Newydd – see, I’m learning), an old tunnel used by smugglers has been found.

      The Ocean Blue is the shop in the limelight, and proprietor David Edwards was told tales of the smuggling trade when he was young.   And this tunnel was used to bring contraband from the local beach into a safe hiding place.   Such stuff as wines and spirits, and even salt, was brought into Wales as part of the trade.

     Of course, someone wants to put a damper on the find by saying it’s the remains of a drainage-system.   But it seems a bit too elaborate for that.

    I trust it will be preserved and kept open – it’ll be yet another visitor attraction!

A Thing To Remember

     A short burst in closing is to remind and/or correct any of you who think that our Welsh NHS is in a worse condition than that of Mother England.

     It is not!   It is no better nor no worse than any other part of the “United” Kingdom’s NHS.

     But, if the current Wasteminster government gets its way, the situation – everywhere – will be much worse.   Let us never sell off that Service which is own by us, the people.

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Saturday, 6th February, 2016

Controversial Plan

     In Cwmgwili, Carmarthenshire, a private company called Clean Power Properties plan to build a pyrolysis unit.  No, I didn’t know what that was, either, till I asked around.

   It’s a waste-processing and energy-producing thing.   And it’s meeting with a lot of local opposition, even though the company has explained that it will lessen the amount of stuff going into landfill sites.

     The County Council, which is overseeing the project, has been deluged by letters of protest and there’s a popular petition against it.   And there’s been a protest march right outside where the project was being discussed by those who will be involved in its construction.

     The major things which locals fear the project would harm are possibly harmful emissions and a lessening of visitors to the pretty area.

    I have some sympathy with the protesters:  too much of our land is being “developed” to make money for the few who really benefit from those developments.   I shall keep you posted on any news which comes my way.

More Listeners

     Both Radio Cymru and Radio Wales report increases in their listenership.   Can’t be bad, eh?

      In practical terms, it means that more and more people are becoming clued in to what’s happening in Wales and what other people think about such things.   That, in turn, will strengthen our communities, and our “community spirit”.

     And I’m sure there are folk who do not live in our land who listen to those stations, too, and start to realise that Wales isn’t just a part of Mother England.   Plusses all round.

But It’s Still Not Free!

     When I saw the phrase “cashless payments” used in relation to school meals, I thought there’s been a breakthrough.   It would be good, I thought, to ensure all Welsh youngsters have a proper meal once a day.

      The translation of “cashless payments”, though, is that schoolchildren will simply have top-up cards, so their meals are paid for in advance.   Looks like some kids’ parents are not coughing up the cash as they should.

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Saturday, 30th January, 2016.

Just Thinking . . .

     . . . if it might be better if I changed the way I publish my weekly comments about Wales and its news.

     I’ve been told it’s easier to access Facebook pages, and it’s easier to publish stuff on there and receive instant replies.   So the idea is under consideration.

     It would be helpful if you, dear reader, could let me have your thoughts on the matter.   Thank you.

Good News At Last!

     It’s been a tough old year for Wales where jobs have been concerned.   Many working-people have been “made redundant” in recent times, lots of them unable to find new jobs.

     So it was great – and surprising to me! – to hear that, up in Sir Fon (Anglesey), 1,700 jobs are being created as a new plant is built to work in an ecological way.   It will recycle vegetable material and create power – presumably electrical – from the remains of that material.

     There will be 1,200 construction jobs created, presumably just for the building of the plant.  And there’ll be 500 permanent jobs when the project is complete.   The project will be underway soon, I’m told, and will be completed in a couple of years time.

Some Bad News, Some Good News

    Often, when I hear about something happening in our Eastern neighbour, I don’t pay much attention.   However, when a comparison is made between Wales and the land beyond Offa’s Dyke, I take notice.

     It seems that Wales is lagging behind Mother England when it comes to NHS waiting-times.   The waiting-times for hip operations seem to have attracted the most publicity, by the way!

     But I know we can change the situation.   Let our Assembly start working on the challenge.

     On the plus side, many more Welsh schools are doing their jobs better, and have been reported as performing better.   And education is an important commodity.

Wild Welsh Windy Weather!

     This Winter has produced the highest winds I can remember here in Wales for many a year.   And with Storm Gertrude knocking about (I think that’s her name), we’re in for another pounding over the next few days.

     She has done much damage already – mainly fallen trees which have caused transport difficulties.

     All this, plus lots and lots of rain creating deep floods and rivers bursting their banks is not a joyful prospect.   So I would advise – as I’ve advised so often – that we prepare ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbours and our homes for whatever emergencies which could happen in our local areas.

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Saturday, 23rd January, 2016.

Jobs And Our Communities

     Seven-hundred-and-fifty workers are losing their jobs at Tara’s steelworks.   That means seven-hundred-and-fifty homes will be under severe stress, both financial and personal.

     I’ve heard many comments from the workers and their families.   A major concern seems to be the loss of community interaction.   When people work together, they have a sense of belonging.   Belonging, that is, to the gang.   And that belonging stretches to everyday lives – it gives families a strong common-ground.

     They will support each other, even in the current rotten situation.   And that is a danger to those who control big-business.   Indeed, a danger to all of Those-Who-Know-What’s-Best-For-Us because, if the Proles start to become united, they start to understand their situation – and rebel against “the system”.

     But it looks as if the Trades Unions involved in the situation have no difference of opinion with the Tara management when it comes to the sacking of all those workers!   Indeed, those Unions’ representatives have said as much.

     Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon, sounds like a true voice in the wilderness when he speaks about Wales’  – about Britain’s – steel industry.     He has said that cheap steel from China is being “dumped” here.

     I wonder what those brave people who first formed Trades Unions would have thought if they had seen the lily-livered Union reps. we seem to have these days?   Cocktails seem to have replaced the blood-and-fire of yore.

Not A Mythical Creature

     One of my informants has told me an interesting story.

     It seems that the dragon which appears on our nation’s flag, and which indeed is a symbol of Wales and Welshness, is no figment of our collective imagination.   Apparently, dragons did once walk our land.

     Alas, they do so no longer – the last known dragon lived here 200,000 years ago!

     Perhaps, though, The People of Wales should start a campaign to have our red dragon added to the “Union flag”.   We are the only nation which is not represented on that flag.   So our dragon would fit nicely slap-dab in the middle of the flag of the “United” Kingdom.

Postscript!

        Private Llewellyn even has an Army number!!!

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Saturday, 16th January, 2016.

Our Biggest Industry

     That’s tourism, of course.   We have so many lovely and interesting places in our land that it’s a pleasure for our visitors to have a browse.

     Alas, though, visitors from Mother England decreased greatly in 2015.

     That’s a sad fact, because tourism aids our incomes, directly or indirectly.   And we really do “keep a welcome” for anyone who comes on holiday here.   Yes, there are still a tiny few of The People of Wales who complain about “These English” clogging up our roads and pavements in our major holiday-locations.   But the overwhelming majority of us welcome visitors – and that’s nothing to do with financial gain, that’s to do with Welsh folk being naturally warm-hearted.

     Our Assembly Government is aware of what’s happened.   And the question I hope they’re asking when they see the falling holiday-maker figures is “Why?”.

Educational Effects On Communities

     One of our excellent holiday destinations in Wales is South Pembrokeshire.   But, apart from the loss of visitors, the communities there have to tick along.

     Which is why I was saddened to hear that three primary schools in the delightful Angle peninsular are going to close.

     Yes, there will be another school to which those primary-children will be able to go.   But growing-up together helps build stronger communities.   Getting to know other people living in your area is such a good thing.   And that’s where local schools are important.

     There seem to be perfectly sound economic reasons for the school closures.   And I daresay the new school will be an admirable establishment.

     But will going there help to build stronger local communities?

The Cost Of Education

     I understand that, if one takes one’s child out of school for family reasons without permission, one can get a walloping sixty-pound fine!   It could be, of course, that parental holiday-breaks from their places of employment are within term times.   And that’s a good reason for the kids having some time away from the classrooms.

     Now there a groundswell of opinion that, here in Wales, those fines could be paid back to the “guilty” parents.   Let us hope so – but only to those who have had genuine reasons for their children’s absence from classes.

     Of course, it could be that youngsters benefit more from being with their parents than from sitting in a schoolroom.   Some children are made that way.

     Meantime, if you’re going to take your offspring out of school in term time, get permission from the authorities – whoever they be – beforehand.

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Saturday, 9th January, 2016.

Wet, Wet, Wet

     I heard that Charles Saxe-Coberg-Goethe-Battenburg visited the North of England sometime during the last few weeks, to view the terrible flood-damage which that area has been suffering.   (He is often referred to as “The Prince of Wales”, by the way – a false title:  the last Welsh Prince of our land was approved by the People of Wales, and his name was Owain Glyndwr.)

    Seemingly following in his footsteps, Wasteminster’s Scottish-surnamed Prime Minister did the same.

     I have found no photographic evidence that either of them rolled up his sleeves and helped with the clearing-up work.

     I have been keeping my eye – though not very carefully – on Welsh news to see if either of them have visited Wales to have a look at the flooded places here in our land.   And, I would have thought, anyone calling himself our Prince would have done so.   Please let me know, readers, if you’ve heard any such news.

    Yet Wales has had a fair bit of disruption and damage caused by these strange weather times.   And, up in Llanrwst, the River Conway has caused problems which don’t seem to have been attended to properly.

     Sandra Holmes, Llanrwst’s flood-warden, is dismayed that the flood-protection system in that nice little town was not used properly.   She says that local folk are angry because, had the flood-protection stuff been used properly and at the right time, the whole problem with the town’s flooding could have been prevented.

     There’s a “demountable dam” there which would have saved many local homes from flooding – but the wretched thing wasn’t raised quickly enough over the Festive Season.

    That shows that – though we can make plans to protect our homes and our communities from anything which may cause real problems – the human factor is important.   I would have hoped that, after spending six-and-a-half-million pounds on the area’s flood-relief scheme, somebody would have been made responsible for operating that scheme.

     Maybe both of the worthies mentioned in my opening remarks will get to North Wales soon and see what can be done and/or get the flood-relief scheme properly organised.

     Yes, I’ve banged on about just one aspect of Wales this week.   But I feel it’s an important topic.   And, as I often say in this column, we should all do our best to ensure that we prepare ourselves and our homes for any unexpected emergency.

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Saturday, 2nd January, 2016

A Surprise Christmas Gift!

     Ynyslas beach, North of Aberystwyth, provided a special sight for visitors over the Festive Season.   A Minke whale’s body was found there, washed up by the strong seas.

     Lots of local folk went along to see – and smell! – it, and it made the UK news.   Not that many people outside Wales knew where Ynyslas nor Aberystwyth were!   “Somewhere in Wales” would have been just as informative to them.

     Just think, though, if this had happened in Spring or Summer:  masses of holiday-makers would have visited the area – and spent their money in local shops and pubs.

     Let us make our land a place of interest, at all times, to attract visitors and their purses.

The Weather – Again

     There have been terrible floods in the North of Mother England, of course.   The terrible circumstances of many folk living up there is a heart-rending thought.

     But Wales has not been without its share of flooding.   Snowdonia got it bad, and my spies there tell me that the neat little town of Llanrwst was affected (though most of the farmland round the town seems to have escaped).

     We must remember such things and – as I’ve said many times (ad nauseam some would say) – we must prepare ourselves and our homes for such unexpected happenings

Greetings From Wales And Elsewhere!

     This should show people who have the misfortune to live outside Wales how strong the Celtic connections are.   But, in case you don’t use any of these ancient Celtic languages, Happy New Year to all my readers!

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