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Me and My Welsh

Blogtober 2021 – Day

Or should that be, My Welsh and I?

One of the suggestions that came up when I asked for blog post ideas in our FB group (The Soap Mine Community) was to talk about my relationship with the Welsh language:

My parents met in north Wales, in the area in which I now live. My mum is Welsh through and through – both her parents were first language Welsh speakers and both were FAR more comfortable speaking Welsh than English. Dad was English, from Newcastle, and they met when he came to the area to work. They got married, moved away to England, and then six months after I was born we all move back to Wales.

I have absolutely no idea how much Welsh I heard during the first six months of my life. I do know for certain that if any of mum’s relatives were around they would all have been speaking Welsh, but it’s unlikely I heard it much day to day. That all changed when we moved back to Wales and by the time I was uttering my first words I was surrounded by Welsh speaking family. My Nain (grandmother) and Taid (grandfather) would never speak English unless it was absolutely necessary (or if it would have been rude not to), and the rest of my family, although much more confident speaking English, would probably not choose to unless there was a non-Welsh speaker around.

So I guess I never ‘learnt’ Welsh, I was simply brought up bilingually. I spoke English with Dad, and Welsh with mum, I watched mostly English language TV programmes, and spoke Welsh with some school friends and English with others. My primary schooling was all done through the medium of Welsh (other than specific English lessons), as is still the case for the majority of primary schools in Gwynedd. However I did most of my secondary schooling through the medium of English. It’s probably fair to say that although I was still speaking Welsh with family and friends on a daily basis, by the time I was 15/16 I was far more confident writing and reading in English.

At 18 I left Wales and, bar a few short periods of living at home here and there, it would be 26 years before I moved back here permanently. By that time I’d got married, had two children and didn’t know what the heck we were going to do about schools for them. None of the local schools in the area we lived in in Manchester were particularly appealing, and despite my neglecting my Welsh for so many years, both Dean and I really wanted the children to have some knowledge of their Welsh heritage and the language.

One thing that surprised me while living in Manchester (and actually really wound me up) was the lack of knowledge amongst friends and aquaintances about the Welsh language. People genuinely had no idea, and had trouble accepting, that Welsh is very much a living language, in daily use. I know many people who are more comfortable speaking Welsh, who only listen to Welsh radio, and prefer to watch Welsh language TV. I’m not going to get on my soap box here, but that common gripe about people only starting to speak Welsh when a visitor comes along is utter tripe 😉 A tripe gripe.

So that’s me and my Welsh. I speak both English and Welsh every single day and if I had to quantify it I’m sure it’s almost always more Welsh than English. And to answer the original questions – Yes, I learnt as a young child and I was very much raised in a Welsh speaking community, as are my own children today.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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Our Jac

Blogtober 2021 – Day 11

Last week, in our FB group The Soap Mine Community, I put out a plea for blog post topics – I needed a little help given that I was going into Blogtober totally unprepared 😉 This was one of the suggestions:

Ah, permission to waffle on about our lovely Jac! Well, ok then 😀

Jac joined us almost exactly three years ago, in November 2018. Our eldest child, Carwyn, was eight years old and had developed a real and profound fear of dogs. It’s no exaggeration to say he was absolutely terrified of all dogs. No matter their size, or how friendly they were, he couldn’t go anywhere near them and seriously panicked if one approached him (or even if there was one in the distance). It got to the point that he didn’t want to go for a walk or out on his bike in case in he came across a dog and it had a very negative impact on his day to day life.

A Solution

After much research and discussion, we asked Car if he thought that having a puppy might help him. It wasn’t a snap decision, and to be honest it took some time, and persuasion, for me to come round to the idea – I’d always been a cat person – but Car really wanted to get over his fear and we all felt that getting a dog of our own would help.

Not long after we’d made the decision we’d been told about some Border Collie puppies available on a local farm and went along ‘just to have a look’. Yep, that’s right, ‘just a look’ 😀 We left with Jac.

Puppy Jac
Puppy Jac

I’m not sure which of the children chose his name, but he was officially christened Jac on the journey home from the farm. ‘Jac’ because there’s no ‘K’ in the Welsh alphabet. Let’s just gloss over the fact that there’s no ‘J’ either!

Jac Settles In

Over the next week or so, two completely different issues almost made us question the sanity of our decision. First off, toilet training a puppy is neither easy nor fun. Logically we knew that it wouldn’t last long (and in fairness it didn’t) but when you’re doing it for the first time it is a bit of a shock to the system.

Secondly, and much more worryingly, Carwyn was struggling to get used to our new housemate. Jac was small, but he was boisterous and jumpy, with sharp little claws and teeth. Car took to walking around the house holding a child’s car booster seat in front of his legs to protect himself from the pup’s attentions. Thankfully within a couple of weeks he’d got a lot more comfortable with having Jac around and they started to become buddies. And before long they were the best of friends. What a relief!

Best buddies
Best buddies
Jac being patient!
Jac being patient!
Helping with Homework
Helping with Homework

Three years later, Carwyn is completely at ease with all dogs. Within a few months of becoming best mates with Jac, he was fine around other dogs, and these days actively enjoys meeting new dogs.

And Now

There are, of course, other benefits to having Jac in our lives, not least the fact that one of us HAS to leave the house at least twice a day to take Jac out. He’s an active dog who needs a lot of exercise, whatever the weather. He loves to play with his frisbee and jump in puddles and so, rain or shine, we’re out every day. Interestingly, unlike many Collies, he’s never chewed anything in the house. It could just be a coincidence but I think it might have something to do with us seeing it as a personal challenge to try to exhaust him every time we go out 😀

Lovely Jac – always so happy to see me in the morning and crazy excited when he senses we’re about to for a walk. He gets gently jealous if I’m hugging the children, trying to poke his nose between us if we’re standing, or plopping his head on my lap if we’re sitting down. Jac’s generally very quiet and rarely barks, or makes any noise at all really, until he’s in water – give him a puddle or a stream, a river or a lake, and he’ll swim around barking with pure excitement. He has a really sweet temperament – he loves people and will drop his frisbee at any old stranger’s feet – but woe betide any dog who tries to get between him or his frisbee!

I’m sure there’s plenty more I could say but it’s nearly 11.30pm and I need to press the ‘publish’ button before it’s no longer Day 11. So good night, and thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 12!

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50 Things That Make Me Happy

And now for something completely different. Sometimes it does a lot of good to take a moment and count one’s blessings. I’ve realised how lucky I am that this really didn’t take me very long to put together…

  1. Making lists. Win-win!
  2. A large mug of tea.  Strong, just a drop of milk, absolutely NO sugar (urgh).  Oh, and a quiet 10 minutes to drink it!
  3. Gardening.  I don’t have much of a garden at the moment – it’s a work in progress, but I even enjoy the heavy, clearing work.
  4. Spotify.  Music while I work – yey!
  5. A hot bath. With a good book – often the only time I ever get round to reading for pleasure.
  6. An empty ironing basket.  I REALLY don’t like ironing, so I don’t often have an empty basket 😀
  7. Trying new fragrance oils for soap
  8. Making soap. Obvs…
  9. A long shower.  It’s my child free, thinking time, so it inevitably goes on for a little longer than it should.
  10. Running.  I’ve got out of the habit recently – must get back to it, for so many good reasons!
  11. An early night. Getting enough sleep is rare – must try harder!
  12. Linguistics books.  I love language, and languages.  I studied linguistics at university and it’s still a passion.
  13. Warm sunshine.  Need I say more?
  14. Camping.  Just me, the other half and the kids, and NO wifi. Heaven.
  15. Pink / purple hair.  I like jazzing it up sometimes. I’m not ready for frumpiness!
  16. Homemade Pizza.  My husband makes the absolute best pizza in the world – his pizza dough is the stuff of legends.
  17. A good novel. 
  18. Kickboxing.  I only started at the beginning of the year, but I’m hooked. Trying for my orange belt in a couple of weeks time.
  19. A glass of good red wine.  Malbec is a current fave
  20. Living here.  ‘Here’ is Beddgelert, in the heart of Snowdonia.  It’s often wet, but it’s also very green, very picturesque, very Welsh, and I never EVER take it for granted. I’ve done city living, now I’m home.
  21. Cheese.  Love love cheese. Except for goat’s cheese, bleugh…
  22. Barbecues.  With friends, sunshine and a couple of beers.
  23. My filofax. I’d be lost without it.  PLEASE don’t let me ever lose it!!
  24. The Archers. I don’t watch any soaps on TV, but I do like my daily 15min fix of this. 
  25. A tidy, clear kitchen.  It’s rare, but yeah, I like it 🙂
  26. Baking.  Cakes, cookies, scones, shall I go on?
  27. Netflix. I don’t watch much TV, but when I do get a free evening, House of Cards and Dexter are current faves. The Sopranos, The Killing & Breaking Bad were just incredible.
  28. Learning languages.  Currently it’s Russian. I did a short course at Uni, then did evening classes in my 30s and got to GCSE Level, and now I’ve taken it back up again with the Duolingo app. Now I just need someone to practice on!!
  29. Long walks in the countryside.  But at the moment they’re never long enough for me as we’re trying hard not to go too far and put the children off walks for good!!
  30. Days on the beach. With the children.  Building sandcastles and playing in the waves.
  31. My children laughing.  I could have just said my children.  And they do, of course make me happy, but they also drive me utterly crazy at times.  But hearing them laugh?  That’s just the best
  32. Blog feedback.  A little click on that ‘like’ button, or even better, a quick comment, is always appreciated, and guaranteed to make me happy! Unless the comment is to tell me you hate my blog. That wouldn’t make me happy…
  33. Greek yoghurt with fresh berries.  Not that horrid low fat rubbish mind – it has to be full fat!!
  34. Fresh bedding. Show me someone who DOESN’T like fresh linen on the bed!
  35. Modern Technology.  My fitbit is never off my arm, and I don’t know what I’d do without my bluetooth speakers!
  36. My mum’s trifle. She brought some to hospital after the birth of my first child.  Best post-delivery snack EVER.  But it mustn’t have jelly in it. Never ever put jelly in it.  Maybe I should share the recipe?
  37. Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups.  Not a huge fan of peanut butter really, but add it to chocolate and I could eat it all day.
  38. Christmas at home.  Surrounded by family.
  39. My husband’s cooking. I already mentioned his pizza up there ^^  But it’s not just pizza.  He does most of the cooking in our house and he’s flippin’ good at it. I’m a lucky bunny.
  40. Climbing mountains. It’s been over 7 years since I last climbed a mountain. Not since I was pregnant with my eldest.  The youngest starts full time school in September and I’ve already told my husband that he needs to book a day’s holiday THAT VERY WEEK and we’re heading to the top of the nearest mountain.
  41. Swimming in the sea.
  42. Roller coasters and water slides. I’m a thrill seeker at heart.
  43. Adventures abroad. I’ve done a bit in my time – Asia, Australia, Europe, but the last time we were overseas was when I was pregnant with our eldest, and I’m getting itchy feet. Plans need to be made!
  44. The Big Bang Theory. Binge watched it on Netflix last year, and was bereft when we got to the end. Are they making more episodes?
  45. Nutella.  My guilty pleasure – I try not to indulge too much!
  46. Star Gazing. I used to be a member of the British Astronomical Association, and I’m fascinated with all things space-related.  Another of those hobbies that I hope to pick up again one day.
  47. Waking up really early, and actually getting up…
  48. Good grammar.  I’m a Grammar Nazi. I can’t help it, it’s in my DNA 😉
  49. Going to the cinema. These days it’s usually to see kids’ films, but I still enjoy the experience.
  50. Second hand book Shops.  Big ones, that I could get lost in.

So there you go.  A little insight into what makes me, me.  Have you ever made a similar list?

Thanks for reading, back soon!

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Personal Goals 2016 Revisited

Back in January I wrote this post about how I don’t really ‘do’ resolutions, and instead had a couple of simple (ha!) goals for 2016.  I naïvely thought that posting them here, with the odd update throughout the year, would keep me accountable. Unfortunately I was wrong.  Not only have I not written a single update this year, I haven’t remotely succeeded in completing either goal.

Goal one was to run 1000km by the end of December.  Ok, so the year’s not over yet but, as I’ve only run just over 200km so far (and only 10k during November to date), I think it’s fair to say that this goal is not going to be achieved. The reasons are legion, but when I’m motivated and I have the time, running is the best exercise for me, so I’ll definitely be running (more?!) in 2017

Goal two was to read 12 novels during 2016.  I started with Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. I didn’t finish it. I’m sorry Kate, it wasn’t because I disliked it, nope, not at all. I just found that I was reading a page, maybe two at the most, per night, before my eyes refused to stay open any longer, and somehow it became a chore rather than a pleasure. I gave it up in the hope of finding something (apologies again Kate!) more engaging, but it wasn’t to be. Whatever I tried to read, I had the same problem. Every. Single. Night.  I started The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, a book I’d look forward to reading for a long time as her ‘The Secret History‘ is utterly compelling, and I loved her ‘The Little Friend‘ almost as much.  Once again I gave up as, by the time I got to bed and tried to read, my brain and body started to shut down and I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I’ve always been a reader, and in my head I’m still a reader. I suspect that, in order to read as much as I’d like, I need not to be parenting a sleep-shy pre-schooler while trying to build a business.  Sleep comes first 😀

Don’t be surprised if I have similar (if less optimistic :-D) goals for 2017, but this time, like my recent commitment to post at least twice a week, I’ll commit to updating once a month on my personal goals. Will it make a difference do you think?