Land of my Fathers

Well, not quite. Land of my great-great-great grandfather, to be accurate. On Monday I’m off to Wales to visit the little town where my ancestor was born and try out my Welsh, in the wild.  

We go back a long way, Welsh and I. My first boyfriend had family in the Rhondda Valley and I was so smitten by the language I bought myself a copy of Teach Yourself Welsh. That’s the nerdy kind of sixteen year old I was. I don’t know what happened to the book or the boyfriend, but the itch never quite went away. Which is why, more than 50 years later, I decided to do something about it. An Englishwoman, living in Ireland, learning Welsh. It made perfect sense, right?

Last summer I signed up for something called Say Something in Welsh. As a veteran language learner who has spent more money on textbooks and hours in airless classrooms than I care to count, I was ready for a new approach. A ‘put the books away and just speak, damn it’ method. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Three or four hours a week, at my own convenience, with occasional episodes of brain-fry, some new friends and the very exciting fact that I can actually speak a bit of Welsh and recognise about one word in ten when I listen to Radio Cymru. I mean, how thrilling is that? If you have ever thought of learning Welsh (or Spanish, or Dutch, two other languages they currently offer), Say Something is the business.  And they haven’t paid me to say that.

So this blog is going dark for a couple of weeks, though I won’t be slacking. Quite aside from achieving  my weekly word count I have a granddaughter’s ballet show to attend and my newest grandson’s first trip to the seaside to organise. Oh, and I’ll be on cat litter tray jankers too.

I leave you with a little bonus: a couple of videos of my favourite Welsh hymn, Calon Lan. There is something so distinctive about the sound of a Welsh male voice choir that I had to include this one, with Bryn enjoying himself. But my first prize goes, hands down, to this crowd, singing their little red socks off.

Hwyl am y tro!


  1. Keren on June 15, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Long live Say Something in Welsh!

  2. Tony Peisley on July 2, 2019 at 6:39 am

    I’m a regular reader of your books (all of them) and am currently laughing my way through Anyone for Seconds but I only occasionally dip into your blog so have only just seen the one about your lack of a publisher. Has the world gone mad? Does genuine talent not count for anything any more? This can surely be only temporary – until the 12-year-old illiterate at your publisher who made the decision is taken into protective custody – as I know from experience that a new book from you is always a joy for your very many readers. So please keep on writing them. I am – incidentally – a decidedly unwoke white bloke who has been a freelance journalist for 40 years so I know how lonely it can get at the coal-face.

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