Saturday, 31 August 2013

Year One, Weeks 26, 27 & 28 Occasions

This is a look back... waaaay back... all the way into August 2011...

One thing I did forget to write about was the infamous walk.  My good friend Huw was raising money for the Urdd Eisteddfod (and is a part of the organizing committee), to be held in Sir Benfro in 2013 (now since past!).   He had the route all planned and a small chunk of the Celtic crew made their way down to Huw's parents for the weekend.  I had to meet them the morning of the walk itself.  Huw had done the walk and had said it was quite lovely.  It was supposed to have been a nice sunny day but of course it was absolutely lashing down.  Buckets of water... we were all completely drenched, soaked to the bone... except for Jane who opted for the car... but I think she did get her comeuppance some time later...

All told, there was James, Katie, Bjorn, Huw, Sarah and Jane.  Was that it?  I think so... it's been a very long time.

Anyway, it was good fun, in spite of, or because of, the rain.  We sang and chatted the whole way, walking both roads and fields until we finally made it to TyDdewi.  Our group was the last one in but once there we had hot tea and cake and a very warm welcome from the congregation.

That night we ate at Huw's parents - played "Beans", the girls had a room and the boys another - and they put me in a different room, the one that used to be a room for vicars.  There may have been a massive spider in the girl's room but that's not to be mentioned... I think the next day, we went to the chapel and had a nice sing.  Huw and his dad are very spirited singers.  At the end of the service, I was asked what religion I belonged and announced that I was a humanist... which perhaps wasn't the thing to say but then I didn't feel I should be dishonest.  At any rate, it was a nice service.

part of the celtic crew
During the afternoon, we made a trip around St. David's cathedral.  I payed homage to my old soul brother Giraldus Cambrensis.  Said hello to the Lord Rhys.  We toured both the main cathedral and the bishop's palace and then had some ice cream.  It was beautifully sunny that day... of course, a day late but better late than never, as they say.

Anyway, there was more food after that and, after the others left, later in the evening, Bjorn and I stayed with Huw for the Gymanfa Ganu in the chapel.  It was a wonderful evening, in both Welsh and English.  We were later regaled with tales from both of Huw's parents, Wiliam and Gwenan, into the late.

After getting back to Aberystwyth, Cwrs Haf came to an end.  I had some funny experiences with Ben and ended the week quite nicely at the final banquet.  Parti Dawns played for the banquet, as well as Cor Cyd.  Ben met this fellow named Ernie.  I had met Ernie before at a choir rehearsal - a man with the gift for gab.  Ernie was talking to Ben a mile a minute in Welsh and Ben nodded along quite nicely.  Shortly after Ernie left us, Ben turned to me and said, "I don't know what language he was speaking, but it sure wasn't the language that I've been learning the last couple of years."

I suppose, in general, that's how it is between learners and native speakers.  And really does highlight the difficulty facing Welsh learners.  Native speakers don't tend to slow down for one thing.  Also, the standardized Welsh that is taught in most classes doesn't match how a native speaker speaks - the vowels are the biggest differences - and of course, each dialect uses different vowels (and often different consonants and different words).

For example, in Sir Benfro they say "wes" or "ddwe" instead of "oes" (there is) or "ddoe" (yesterday).  They also say (along with southern Ceredigion) "Dydd Ioi" or "hoil" instead of "Dydd Iau" (thursday) or "haul" (sun).  And "trath" instead of "traeth" (beach).  South Wales they might say, "cwmpost ti" instead of "cwympaist ti" while West Walians say "cwympest ti" (you fell).  In South Wales, they might say "mish" or "dishgled" or "eishte" instead of "mis" (month) or "disgled" (cup) or "eistedd" (sit).  In North Wales, they'd say "mae fo'n" but in the south, "ma fe'n" (he is).  In the north they say, "petha" instead of "pethau" or in the West, "pethe" (things).  And north again, "üwch" or "dü" instead of "uwch" (eewch) ((higher/loud)) or "du" (dee) ((black)).

Actually, North Welsh differs in the words themselves quite a lot from the South/West.  Some examples - North "yn union", South/West "yn gwmws"(exactly).  North "i fyny", South "lan" (up), North "allan", South/West, "mas" (out), North "deüd", South/West "gweud" - standard "dweud" (to say).

Or the word for milk - North: "llefrith", South/West: "llath", welsh learners: "llaeth"

The list of differences goes on and on - which might not seem like much but as a learner, it can almost seem an impossible task.  And I haven't even mentioned literary Welsh - which is different again!!
One example of literary Welsh - "eithum" instead of "aethon ni"... (we went)

As you can see from this very small sample, it's not easy.  But, I will say, it really is worth the effort.  The joy that can be found in, and the sheer beauty of the language, is worth every struggle to learn it.
the beautiful Elsa

Later that week, I joined Elsa at the naming ceremony of her little cousin near Cennarth.  A beautiful spot, we played a tune which I didn't know at all - a tune about a boat and traveling.  Elsa described the music as a gift to little Cerys, a wish for a safe journey through life.  There are no words for how touching that was...

At some point after that, I played at Rhosygilwen with Julie opening for Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick.  Rhosygilwen is a huge plas (mansion) and hall, I think owned by a fellow named Glen.  A great place for a concert though quite nerve wracking.  It was a full audience, mainly there to see Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, two famous English folk musicians.  I think they had a huge influence on English folk music, both now in their 70s.  It was quite an amazing gig and the two of them were very nice people.  Naturally, it was great to play with Julie - we played many more gigs together after that, but more later...

Billy leads in a wish...
the family in van
In somewhat last minute fashion, I hopped on a plane to Canada for Kathryn's marriage to John.  It was very warm, intimate ceremony.  Only six guests - we all gathered in their backyard.  It was really beautiful.  We were all happy for them both.  Billy, Kathryn's good friend, took us for an amazing tour of Vancouver.  It's a great city!  I don't think I'd be far off in saying that I think it may be one of the best in the world.  Definitely makes London look like a rubbish dump!  Van is built right on the coast, surrounded by mountains, is green most of the year, mild though wet weather, May blossoms and mist, and it has some of the best Chinese restaurants and shops anywhere.  It has problems, like any city, but all in all, very nice.

Bjorn's birthday twmp!
The trip was relatively short.  On return, we played a cerddcegin twmpath in the catholic hall - a birthday perhaps or just for fun, I can't remember now.  Actually, it may have been Bjorn's birthday twmp!  He had a crown and everything if I recall.  I miss playing in that hall - it was often crazy because the floor would get so slippery from condensation due to lack of proper heating.  People were always flying around like mad, sliding here and there with the inevitable fall and crash.  Great fun!!

Those were great times...

Anyway... this was also the time when Elsa and I started dating... but more on that later...

Next time, the Bethlehem Village Band records and Urdd madness...

cerddcegin, twmpath band
elsa, gwilym, nette and me

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