What I’ve Been Reading and Listening To: August 14th-20th

What I’ve been reading: Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Reamde

When I started reading Reamde on my Kindle the other day, I didn’t realise how long it was – it comes in at little over 1,000 pages. Though, in hindsight, I should’ve had some idea; seeing as the other novel by Stephenson I’ve read – Anathem – is just under 1,000 pages. So far, I’m about a quarter of the way through, and I’m really enjoying it. It revolves around a massive online game much in the vein of World of Warcraft, and involves the people who created the game and others linked to it in some way. It’s easily one of the nerdiest things I’ve ever read, and the detail and work gone into the world-building is incredible.

What I’ve been listening to: MarsCorp

MarsCorp also gave me a surprise when I started listening to it yesterday afternoon – it was created by people from the UK! Nearly all of the audio dramas I’ve tried out over the past few months have at least a mostly American cast, and it’s somewhat disorientating when I come across one which is British. And the surprise didn’t end there, I was blown away to hear a Welsh accent in an audio drama! It turns out that one of the people behind the show is, in fact, Welsh. I was so thrown off, I had to go back and listen to it to make sure! But there it was, a very subtle, Cardiff-area accent, not unlike one which I had been very used to hearing at a certain point in my life… Anyway. MarsCorp is, unsurprisingly, set on Mars. It’s a comedy about a terraforming colony, which is (very) behind schedule, in 2070. I’ve only listened to the first two episodes, but I instantly liked it.

Welsh Word of The Week

sgwrs – conversation

This morning I got myself out of the house, and walked the short distance to the town centre to see a friend and former colleague, who was working her last shift as a sales assistant before her ymddeoliad (retirement). I hadn’t seen her in a while, I always seemed to miss her when I was in town, as she only worked a couple of days a week. We had a nice sgwrs, catching up on the last few months, my job search, and talking about the shop we used to work in. She was a joy to work with, and I wish her all the best on her retirement.

Welsh Word of The Week

Iaith – language

Sigh.

I’m sure we’ve heard about that edition of Newsnight this week, haven’t we? Any Welsh speaking person will know what it’s like to feel attacked because of the language they speak. To be insulted, to be offended, and yet for this bigotry to still be seen as acceptable by many.
This week, the National Eisteddfod has been held on Anglesey; a celebration of Welsh language and culture, of song and dance and poetry and literature. So an attack on the iaith by the BBC during this week was particularly vicious and cowardly.
I am tired, I am exhausted of constantly having to defend my mamiaith (mother tongue). I’m tired of feeling so angry because people disrespect the language I grew up with, the language my family speaks. I am tired of components of the English language media getting bored every few months, and deciding to pick on a language and culture it doesn’t understand. I wasn’t in the mood to write anything today, I’d woken up feeling rubbish and I still feel rubbish; but I thought, if I didn’t do this feature I would feel as if I had let them win. And I can’t do that. We have to fight back.

A day out in Aberaeron

Aberaeron

At the beginning of last month, I saw an item on the news about how there would be free bus travel on certain routes in Wales on weekends. For someone like me who doesn’t drive, it sounded like the greatest idea ever. These routes are the TrawsCymru long distance bus routes, and from Carmarthen there’s the T1 which goes up to Aberystwyth; which also goes as far as Cardiff once a day from Monday-Friday. (The Welsh rail network is trash, there is no line going from my town of Carmarthen in the south-west up towards mid or north Wales; so the bus is the only way to go up to Cardigan Bay on public transport). The weather wasn’t great yesterday, but me and my mam decided to take advantage of the free bus travel, and go to Aberaeron for the day.

Aberaeron is a town on the coast of Ceredigion, and it took us about an hour and a half to reach it from my hometown on the bus. After leaving Carmarthen it heads into the depths of north-west Carmarthenshire, before crossing the border into Ceredigion. I arrived feeling rather queasy after a bus driver who flew down the winding country roads, up and down the hills of west Wales…

We arrived at lunchtime, and after a walk round a couple of the shops, we went to have lunch at a very busy New Celtic Restaurant. There wasn’t much in the way of vegetarian options; as I wanted chips (a must at the seaside, right??) I had the choice between egg and chips, and veggie burger and chips. Deciding that eggs were a bit boring, I was left with the veggie burger – which I was impressed with. I ate until I could barely move!

Aberaeron 2

We decided to brave the drizzle and wind to go down to the harbour. It definitely wasn’t the weather for heading out on the beach! There was a thick blanket of cloud obstructing our view out to sea, it was a scene straight out of your stereotypical Welsh summer!

Our return bus wasn’t leaving until around 5.15, so we had plenty of time in the afternoon to have a walk round the town, and a mooch around the shops. There are quite a few which sell some very nice handmade products, from paintings to blankets, to mugs and jewellery. The houses themselves are also pretty, many painted in bright colours.

Aberaeron 3

By teatime, we were just about ready to indulge in a great British summer pastime – avoiding the rain in a cafe. We’d gone past The Hive earlier in the day, and headed back for something sweet. Now, with a name like The Hive, what could this restaurant’s speciality be? Yes, honey – specifically honey flavoured ice cream. After much hmming and aahing, I eventually settled on a chocolate brownie – which was AMAZING – and honey and hazelnut ice cream which was out of this world. With still some time left until the bus was due to arrive, we decided to order something to drink to stay inside in the warm and dry!

The bus driver on the way home was a different one, but with a very similar driving style to his morning colleague (we saw you flying through a light just as it changed red at those roadworks, mate). Even though I arrived home feeling less queasy, I was very glad to step off the bus and start walking home. Not long after I did, it started raining hard, and what with after the wind and drizzle on the coast too, I was so happy to get home and changed into my pyjamas and fluffy dressing gown! Hopefully the weather will be a bit kinder on our next outing!

Welsh Word of The Week

gwylan – seagull

One thing I really didn’t appreciate growing up in the countryside about 10 miles away, was just how many damn gwylanod (seagulls) there are in my hometown. I don’t get it, the town’s not on the coast; sure, there’s a big old river, but the actual sea is about 8 miles away – and that’s just where the river meets it, proper full-blown sea is another few more miles. I can hear them right now, screeching about they fly around in the sky. Last night I’d kept my window open, as it was slightly warmer than it had been; and at about 5am I got woken up by the seagull dawn chorus. It took me a while to get back to sleep, with them screeching around outside. Eventually they did pipe down, because I guess even seagulls have to go and get some breakfast?

What I’ve Been Reading and Listening to: July 17th-23rd

What I’ve been reading: Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift

Last night, for no apparent reason, I started to think about a series of books I read about two and a half years ago – the Silo series by Hugh Howey. This morning I was in the mood for a lazy day, so it was the perfect opportunity to re-read one of the novels that make up the trilogy. I’d read a graphic novel version of the first book, Wool, back in February, so I felt that the first part of the story was fresh enough in my mind without having to go back over it; so I picked up from the second novel, which is Shift. I can’t give too much away without spoiling Wool, but it’s an excellent story of a post-apocalyptic world where people live in ‘silos’ underground. Shift delves into the backstory of the creation of these silos, and what exactly happened to drive humanity underground.

What I’ve been listening to: TANIS

Woah. TANIS is some trippy ish. I decided to start listening to it this week, after reading the news last week that it has been optioned for a TV adaptation (as well as The Bright Sessions I am SO EXCITED). It’s a docu-drama about the ancient myth of Tanis, where the host, Nic Silver delves deep into a rabbit hole of mysteries to try and find out, what is Tanis? Where is Tanis? It seems – in the first few episodes at least – to have been a mythical city, similar to Atlantis, which then moved its location as time passed… It’s bonkers in the best possible way, and absolutely fascinating.

Welsh Word of The Week

mamgu/nain – grandmother

I’ve been having some crazy dreams these last couple of nights; and last night I had a dream where I was trying to explain the Welsh for ‘grandmother’ to someone who didn’t speak the language. (Yeah, I have no idea where that came from either.) Look the word up in a Welsh dictionary, and it’ll give you both mamgu and nain. And we’re not talking about one of them being a diminutive like grandma or nanny, no, they both mean ‘grandmother’.

There is such a big difference between the Welsh that is used in different areas of the country, that there isn’t actually one standard word for some things – one word is used in the South, one word is used in the North. And it’s not dialect either, these are both standard Welsh words. The same goes for grandfather, which is tadcu in the South and taid in the North. In South Welsh, milk is llaeth, but go to the North and it becomes llefrith. There are two variations for the word ‘now’, nawr down South and rwan up North (do you see what we did there??). Even ‘with’ has two variants! Gyda and efo. And those are only some examples. You’d never think that there would be so many differences in a language spoken in such a small country, right?

Carmarthen Velodrome

Velodrome 1

You wouldn’t think that my small, unassuming hometown of Carmarthen, in the middle of the green fields of south-west Wales, was home to what’s believed to be one of the oldest outdoor velodromes in the world – It was opened in 1900, and has been in constant use since.

The velodrome can be found in the town’s park, and surrounds a field where the town’s rugby team play their home matches. The velodrome has been in the local and also wider Welsh news recently, as work is being carried out to renovate the track after 117 years. The concrete panels which make up the surface are being removed, and replaced. It will be turned into a training and competition venue, and work is expected to finish in September.

What I’ve Been Reading and Listening to: July 10th-16th

What I’ve been reading: Sign of The Cross by Chris Kuzneski

Sign of the Cross

 

I woke up thinking about this blog post, realising that I didn’t have enough material to write about yet; so I spent a couple of hours this morning getting further into this book. Yup, it’s not the first one by Kuzneski I’ve read, but I’m reading them out of chronological order; if I happen to find one of his books at the Free Books store, I pick up whatever they’ve got. This novel’s partly set in Italy, the blurb mentions Orvieto, but the look on my face when a chapter started with the location of the Galleria in Milan! An ancient scroll has been found in catacombs underneath Orvieto, a Vatican priest has been found murdered in Denmark, and the two protagonists – Payne and Jones – start off the novel in a Spanish jail. I’m about 180 pages in, and some of the threads are starting to come together, but more mysteries are emerging.

What I’ve Been Listening to: Greater Boston

I’ve seen Greater Boston being mentioned on Twitter quite a few times recently; especially in regards to a very funny and very sweary mini episode of ars PARADOXICA, which was released on the 1st of this month and written by the people behind Greater Boston. I’m only three episodes into it so far, but I’m finding it very interesting. It’s been on my ridiculously long to listen list for a few weeks, because I saw it described as falling into the magical realism genre once (I’m a huge fan of Murakami). And it does, there’s a very dream-like quality to it, it mixes the real city of Boston with elements of the unreal and surreal. In the first episode, there’s a death of a man who was so fixated with certainty, that the uncertainty of a rollercoaster ride literally made him “nope” out of life; and this has consequences on the rest of the podcast’s story. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into this world.

Welsh Word of The Week

Cath

cath – cat

Last night I had a visitor in my back yard, a cath popped over the wall! I adore cats, even though I don’t have one of my own, and once I saw that I had a feline visitor I just had to go outside and say hello. It was very friendly and very tame, and knew its way around the street very well – it tried to make a dash for the back door to go inside the house at one point! It happily posed for this photo, and purred happily as I gave it lots of fusses and scritches. Later on I heard meowing outside, and found the cat on the living room windowsill, wanting to be let in! There’s no sign of my new friend yet today, with the rain we’ve had this morning, but I’m sure they’ll be back!