Friday, March 2, 2007

HE'S PROUD TO BE WELSH - St. David's Day and I'm...


Narragansett Bay: Bridge from Jamestown to Newport, Rhode Island

Jamestown on Left and Newport on Right

The Cliff Walk is a wonderful walk to take.

International Tennis Hall of Fame

Fort Adams: Jazz Festival location below...

Narragansett Bay

I adore where I live. I wasn't born here, I was born in the heartland in the state of Indiana. The state of Indiana, as well as the state of Illinois claim Abraham Lincoln as their son. Indiana to me means basketball and church. The northern part of Indiana where I was raised is flat farmland where you will also find the Amish and Mennonite people. My descendants were from the Mennonite religion.

I have lived in New England my whole adult life, though. And all but one year of that, I have lived on Aquidneck Island, aka the Island of Rhode Island. It is situated on the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful Narragansett Bay. I love this place. I love New England. Close to Boston, Cape Cod, the Berkshire Mountains and a 3 hour train ride away from New York City.

I was introduced to New England during my undergraduate days, when I had to leave the college that I loved in Naperville, Illinois, just outside of Chicago and move back home to commute to a college for the last year and a half to a school environment that wasn't my nature. To escape the feeling of limitations of living back at home after having had some refreshing independence, I took a summer job in Dover, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and was a "mother's helper" to four young boys, ages 3, 4, 6 and 7. This is when I fell in love with New England. When I interviewed for teaching jobs after graduation I was offered three jobs, two in Indiana and one in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. I took the one in Sturbridge and lived for the first few months in a cabin that had no hot water. Following that - a cute little lake cottage that had hot water.

I then moved two more times. Both times within the tiny state of Rhode Island and ended up in this gorgeous place. It is home. I have never regretted coming here.

The person who wrote the post below loves where he lives too - Cardiff, Wales. This is the city and country where Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys hail from. As I say below, I stole this posting. But I steal it because I want to share it with those who come to my site. It is wonderfully put together.

Links to my area:

Go Newport

Jamestown RI info Visiting Newport

Newport Events ~ Blackships

Newport JVC Jazz and Folk Festival Productions

Some USA Truth: The African Slave Trade and Newport, Rhode Island share common origins. Newport, one of the most prosperous of Colonial American ports, saw unprecedented growth throughout the 18th century; mostly from the export and trade of rum, spermaceti candles and slaves.

Many of the Newport slaves came from the Guinea, Gold, Ivory & Cape Coasts of West Africa. Africans were also taken from Sierra Leone and Gambia. Many others would be taken from West Africa to Charleston, South Carolina and the sugar plantations of the West Indies particularly Barbados, Jamaica & Antigua.

By the beginning of the American Revolution, Newport would begin to have a large Free African community. Within the next decade these Africans would establish America's first Free African Benevolent Society in 1780.
Source: Colonial Cemetery

Old Post Cards of Rhode Island

Film Locations used in Rhode Island, USA

Rhode Island from Wikipedia

A Brief History of Jamestown and Newport, Rhode Island

Michael Chang, the 1989 French Open Singles Champion, will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 12, 2008. Joining Chang in the induction Class of 2008 are tennis contributors Mark McCormack and Eugene Scott.
International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Three towns of Aquidneck Island are Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth.

The town of Portsmouth (of Aquidneck Island, otherwise known as The Island of Rhode Island) was settled in 1638 as the second settlement in the area. With Anne Hutchinson as leader of the settlement, Portsmouth became the first community founded in the New World by a woman.

Newport Historical Society

March 1st is St. David's Day in Wales. Therefore, this is a day late. But to honor Wales, St. David's Day and all those who love their homeland of Wales I hope you don't hold it against me that I borrowed this work below from "Prawn Cufflinks - International Velvet". prawncufflinks.livejournal.com

<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<:<: A BIG THANK YOU TO

March 1 - SAINT DAVID'S DAY - Dydd Dewi Sant, or even Dydd Gwyl Dewi
Prawn Cufflinks - International Velvet

Mar. 1st, 2007 08:50 am International Velvet

"Everyday When I Wake Up, I Thank The Lord I'm Welsh"

Today (March 1) is Saint David's Day (or Dydd Dewi Sant, or even Dydd Gwyl Dewi). As people all over Wales celebrate the country's patron saint, it's only right that Prawn Cufflinks also enters into the spirit. After all, we are both proud to be Welsh and will never turn down an opportunity to promote the land that we call home. Therefore, allow us to present (in no particular order) some of the greatest things about Wales.

The National Anthem

Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is one of the first songs that a Welsh child will learn when they start school (along with that hymn that goes "Sing Hosannah to the King" that always gets another "of kings" added to the end of it by a group of cheeky boys). I've heard plenty of national anthems in my time, and I regard Wales to be the best (along with Germany and Italy - I've heard those plenty of times thanks to a certain Mr Schumacher in his Ferrari).

Given the correct circumstances (an international rugby match perhaps), the anthem can give you goosebumps like nothing else. And yes, it can even bring a tear to your eye:

The Flag

Most flags of the world are made up of a mixture of coloured lines or crosses which soon begin to resemble each other if you examine them too closely. Wales actually has two flags. The first, the flag of Saint David, is a gold cross on a black background:

However the second (and most famous) is Y Ddraig Goch (or The Red Dragon) - the official flag of Wales since 1959:

Not only is this one of the most attractive and eye-catching flags in the world, it also has a great story behind it. Welsh culture is full of myths and legends involving all manner of heroes and beasts. The legend behind this flag tells the story of a fight between a red dragon and a white dragon. The white dragon was stronger and more dominant, yet the weaker red dragon was able to hold its own and overcome the enemy. This story is often used to symbolise the real-life battle between the British Celts and the invading Saxons.

The red dragon can be seen in various forms all around Wales. Cardiff University's Bute Building (home of the Journalism school and therefore Eghosa too) even has a red dragon on the roof. You can just about make it out in the picture below if you squint very carefully at the area above the front pillars. If you look really closely, you might even be able to see Eghosa shouting at an unsuspecting first year student:

What Is History?!

The Language

Don't let anybody tell you that Welsh is a dead language. It is still spoken by a vast number of people across the country, including me. I studied Welsh up to A-Level, whilst Louise even studied it for a year at university. It's a beautiful language and enjoyable to speak (and hear). To non-Welsh speakers, many of the words look unpronouncable with letter combinations such as "dd", "ll" and "ch" which are almost impossible to write phonetically. Even a well known word such as Cymru (Wales) is often mis-pronounced "cum-roo" rather than the correct "cum-ree."

Luckily, it's easy to get by in Wales if you don't speak the language. One of the first things you'll notice as you cross the Severn Bridge is the fact that all road signs are bilingual.

I remember once hearing a story about a person who spent hours driving around Cardiff looking for the Hotel Gwesty. They hadn't realised that the road sign pointing them in the direction of the nearest guest house had provided both the English and Welsh translations of the word "hotel." They were probably disappointed when they found a two-star Bed and Breakfast rather than a five-star complex. However, sign writers do sometimes make mistakes!

Another great aspect of Welsh is the way that professional people are given an unofficial surname to correspond to their line of work. Go to any local town or village high street and you'll hear people (especially the older generation) referring to people such as David The Butcher (a butcher called David), Glyn The Plug (an electrician called Glyn) or Sian The Milk (a woman called Sian who delivers milk). When I worked at Redlands News, our cakes and sandwiches were delivered by Richard The Bread and many of the elderly customers would refer to me as Gareth The Shop (or, if they wanted to vary it, Jones The Shop - you can use either of the person's two names but never both at once). Steve Coogan even latched onto this custom in an episode of I'm Alan Partridge when he referred to Timothy Dalton as Jones The Bond. These days, I suppose you could call me Gareth The Keyboard or Jones The Blog. Yes, I like that!

Of course, Welsh is an ancient language but still needs to keep up with modern times. One of the most amusing things about the language is that most people just use the English word for anything relating to the twenty-first century. It's therefore not unusual to hear somebody say "dwi'n hoffi'r internet" or "dwi'n mwynhau Hardcore Belgian Trance" ("I like the internet" or "I enjoy Hardcore Belgian Trance") and even the Coffee aisle at Tesco has the slightly different (but identically sounding) "Coffi" written above it. Ultimately, it's a bit like that Fast Show sketch about the presenters on a Spanish television station who slip "Chris Waddle" into an otherwise incomprehensible sentence.

However, it's never too late to learn Welsh. Indeed, if you spend enough time walking the streets of Wales, you'll learn everything you need to know from the signposts!


Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and my hometown. It's not a perfect city by any means, but I have grown to love the place during my lifetime and I genuinely love living here. I have spoken in-depth about Penarth before, so now it's Cardiff's turn in the spotlight.

My favourite part of the city is Cooper's Field and the castle grounds. There aren't many cities where you can walk from the main shopping area (Queen Street and St Mary's Street), past a public toilet, enter a subway and come out the other end in full view of a two-thousand-year-old castle with peacocks patrolling the vast acres of land. It's a truly breathtaking experience, and that's just the public toilet.

I have spoken before about the mental problems that have come to form a part of my life. You might remember that I had a particularly difficult time whilst at university. However, it was the castle grounds which could always be relied upon to clear my head. I spent many hours following the path of the river Taff from Cardiff Castle to Blackweir:

Sometimes I would walk this distance alone, other times it would be with Louise. Either way, it always made me feel better and is still one of our favourite places. Even now, I still can't believe that an area as beautiful as that is in the middle of a busy city centre. But that's one of the best things about Cardiff. It's half countryside, half city, so there really is something for everyone (and it's still the only city that has a porn shop masquerading as a darts supplier).

I haven't been out at night in Cardiff for years. However, our favourite pub was called Cooper's (now The Barfly). It was a cellar bar situated underneath the Beatties model shop (later the Sony Centre). From Sunday to Friday, it was probably the quietest pub in Wales (if not the world). We could go in there at any time of the day and be almost guaranteed that we would be the only customers in there. The advantage of this was that the landlord and barstaff came to know us very well. Many a time we were often left alone in the main area while the manager went off to his little office to surf the web. However, on a Friday and Saturday night, the place was completely full. They needed bouncers on the door to turn people away. This brought a whole new atmosphere to the place, but was no less enjoyable. The best thing about Cooper's though, was that it had a Crystal Maze arcade machine on which I won the grand sum of one pound, plus a jukebox that had both The Jam and Status Quo on its playlist. What more could you want? We really miss that place.

There are many other places that I could discuss, but they're probably best saved for another blog. In the meantime, if you want to learn more, you'll find all the information that you'll ever need here and all the beautiful pictures that you could ever wish to see here.

Welsh Television

Maybe it's because they're broadcasting to a far smaller area than the British presenters, but regional Welsh television is so enjoyable to watch. At first glance, presenters on BBC Wales or ITV Wales may seem a little unprofessional. Take the recent Welsh Open Snooker coverage for example. The two male presenters were sat next to a snooker table that looked like it had been delivered and assembled by Argos that very morning. Casually dressed, they spoke in heavy Welsh accents about the day's play as if they had just popped into the pub for a pint or ten. It was made even more entertaining by the fact that one of the presenters had a very high voice and had a habit of doing a little high-pitched "eerrrrrrrmmmmm" before answering each question (we're talking Andrew Caine standards here). However, because they were relaxed, I actually took more in than if they had presented themselves in the accepted formal way that is typical of national broadcasting.

BBC Wales' Derek "The Weather" Brockway is another fine example of Welsh broadcasting. He bounces around the studio like Tigger using phrases such as "gin clear" and is probably the campest man to ever come out of Barry.

However if you really want to see Welsh television at its insane best, you just have to tune into S4C. This is the national television station of Wales and does a fine job of broadcasting the latest current affairs and farming news. But at night, something strange happens. Maybe it's because S4C presumes that all old people and farmers have gone to bed, but suddenly the listings come alive with a variety of comedies, chat shows and obscure quizzes.

Our favourite S4C show at present is of course Cowbois Ac Injans. The new series started a fortnight ago and is better than ever. When Catherine Ayers returned as JoJo two episodes ago, I swear I almost had a seizure. We have championed this show from the beginning and we were overjoyed when one of the writers, Jon Treganna, wrote to thank us for our support earlier this year. If he happens to drop by again, we'd just like to let him know that the show is already in the running to retain its crown as Television Programme Of The Year for a second year.

However, there are other shows apart from Cowbois and farming news. Only in Wales can you see a chat show hosted by ex-Welsh rugby international Jonathan Davies. Although he doesn't so much host it as lounge around in a chair letting everybody else do the work. However it's rivetting viewing, especially when the audience spontaneously burst into song as one of his guests attempts to kick as many rugby balls over the crossbar as possible (although invariably this ends up with members of the audience getting whacked in the head and earning themselves a free beer).

Finally, allow us to introduce you to Tipit. This is a quiz show hosted by the disgracefully attractive Alex Jones which involves nothing more than the participants guessing which hand their opponent is holding the "tipit" in. It's a variation on the Victorian parlour game, Up Jenkins! What's a tipit? You need look no further than the opening sequence:

A great flash from the beyond penetrates the darkness enveloping Wales. It leaves in its wake a glowing object, concealing a magical secret...Dare you take on the challenge of Tipit?

Yes, it's a small plastic object which fits into a clenched fist. Now all you have to do is find it!

Rivetting stuff - and only in Wales! (Although I've been told that they do have a version of it in Iraq too).

Welsh Music

Wales is known as the land of song and has provided the world with many great artists from Bonnie Tyler to Shakin' Stevens. However, personally speaking, there was never a more exciting time to be a Welsh music fan than during the mid-to-late-nineties. London, Liverpool and Manchester all had their moments in previous decades, but in the nineties, finally, it was the turn of Cardiff (and the surrounding area). Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals, Catatonia, 60ft Dolls, Stereophonics...the list goes on. All of these bands had varying degrees of success and helped form the soundtrack of my teens. There wasn't an aspiring musician in the country who didn't want an amplifier draped with the Welsh flag. Good times.

And on a related note...

Tom Jones

There are many people who regard Shakin' Stevens as the Welsh Elvis. However, this is an injustice to both Wales and Elvis. No, the true holder of that esteemed title is none other than Sir Tom Jones. It's easy to take for granted just how good this man's voice really is. It's lazy to just dismiss him as a cheesy target for women's knickers. This is a man who introduced the world to classic tracks such as It's Not Unusual and Delilah, not to mention singing one of the best James Bond themes, Thunderball.

However, there are other reasons why Jones The Voice deserves a place on this list. Firstly, how many pensioners do you know who can still freak out on stage in a frenzy of hip-wiggling, arm swinging and manly shrieking? For three months out of every year, Tom does this every night on stage at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. As if that wasn't enough, he takes his show on an annual world tour and does exactly the same thing at venues from Sydney to Cardiff.

Secondly, Tom has a fantastic understanding of the need to move with the times. He could have retired years ago, but he has such passion for his work that he refused to go away. Realising that he couldn't just keep re-releasing It's Not Unusual every year, he decided to team up with some of the current music world's best loved stars. Everybody remembers his version of Kiss with Art Of Noise, or Mama Told Me Not To Come with Stereophonics. But what about the time in the early nineties when EMF appeared as guests on his Saturday night chat show? Not only did he duet with them on a cover of their hit song Unbelievable, he also let lead singer James Atkin climb onto his back for the final chorus. Truly one of the greatest television moments in history.

But he didn't stop there. In 2002, Tom teamed up with Wyclef Jean to make a rap album. Who can forget the banter between Tom Jones and Wyclef at that year's BRIT Awards when they did a medley of What's New Pussycat? and Black Betty. It was organised chaos as they entered into a call and response session.

Tom: What's new pussycat?
Wyclef: Tom Jones
Wyclef: Tom Jones
Tom: Pussycat
Wyclef: Tom Jones
Tom: Pussycat

And so on, until Tom (Pussycat) didn't know whether he was coming or going.

Even last year, Jones teamed up with Chicane for a surprisingly fantastic dance track called Stoned In Love which featured him canoodling with one of the most attractive Asian women that I've ever seen. Go on my son!

However, Tom's ultimate endearing quality is that he's fiercely proud of his Welsh heritage. Yes, he lives in California these days but he always makes sure that he returns home to Pontypridd at least once a year. When he gets home, he brings even the most cold-hearted, beefcake Welshman to tears with his show-stopper, Green, Green, Grass Of Home. What a man!

Tom Jones singing Green Green Grass of Home

Welsh Food

Italy gave the world pasta and ice-cream. Germany offered some impressively-sized sausages. Can anybody tell me what Wales brought to the virtual table? Yes, that's right. Cheese on toast. But my God, it's bloody good cheese on toast.

Welsh Rarebit (or Caws Pobi) is the official culinary term for this delicious attack on the tastebuds of course. If you'd like to celebrate the national day of Wales in style, why not make a plate or two of this delicacy f
or your tea? You will need the following: 4oz grated cheese, 1oz butter, 3 tablespoons milk, salt and pepper, a slice of toast. Melt the cheese with the milk in a saucepan. Add the butter, salt and pepper. When it's bubbling like a volcano, pour it over a bit of toast and crisp it up under the grill. Neis iawn, as we say in Wales.

For dessert, you could even have a few Welsh Cakes.These are a little more complicated to make yourself because you really need an old-fashioned griddle to do them properly. However, if you really don't want to pop down to Tesco for a dozen ready-made cakes, you can give Delia Smith's recipe a go.

Oh, and we mustn't forget all the meat produce to come out of Wales, particularly lamb and beef. Indeed, as the advert tells us, "WELSH BEEF WILL NOT FAIL!"

After all that, wash it all down with a drink from one of Wales' most well known beverage producers...

Brains Brewery

We don't drink alcohol anymore, but it would be a disgrace to leave out one of Wales' greatest exports. Years ago, if you got off the bus or train at Cardiff Central at around ten o'clock in the morning, you would be overcome by the deliciously scented fumes from the Brains Brewery (unless the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, in which case you'd experience the not so delicious scent of the Cardiff Bus Station toilets). The brewery is still based in Cardiff, but has moved a little further down the road. This means that the scent is not so present anymore, but the legacy still lives on.

The most famous of Brains' beverages is Brains SA (informally nicknamed Skull Attack). It's a potent liquid that had the honour of being my first ever legal drink when I turned eighteen. I was drunk after half a pint and never touched the stuff again. However, it's the alcohol of choice for thousands of Welsh drinkers in the Brains catchment area.

Add this to the fact that Brains are the main sponsor of the Welsh rugby team, and it becomes clear that the company is as iconic as the Red Dragon itself. To quote the many railway bridges around Cardiff that have advertised the brewery's products: "It's Brains You Want!"

Welsh Women

I genuinely believe that Welsh women are some of the most attractive in the world, along with the Spanish and Italians (although there are lots of Italians in Wales, so we really have the best of both worlds). Somebody once said that you could throw a stone from the top of Cardiff Arms Park and be guaranteed to hit an attractive woman. I'm not sure why you would want to hit a perfectly nice lady in the face, but it's the thought that counts and I'm sure that there's a compliment in there somewhere. In honour of Saint David's Day, join me for a countdown of some of Wales' finest females:

Catherine Zeta-Jones (actress), Charlotte Church (singer/TV presenter), Katherine Jenkins (classical singer), Cerys Matthews (singer), Catherine Ayers (actress), Mared Swain (actress), Alex Jones (TV presenter), Imogen Thomas (model), Koudelka Iasant (star of the Wales-based Playstation game of the same name).

Of course, that's not to say that Welsh men aren't delightful too. Indeed, you need look no further than me for a prime example of rugged, beefcakey Welsh manliness. Or you could just glance at this picture of Ioan Gruffudd instead:


We mustn't forget about Max Boyce and Owen Money either!

However, the best thing about being a Welshman is the ability to use one of the greatest chat-up lines in the history of the world: "Do you have any Welsh in you? If not, do you want some?"


My comment to the one I stole the "Wales" stuff from:

Date: March 2nd, 2007, 06:49 am (UTC)

Love your page here on St. David's Day and Wales

What a wonderfully put together page on Wales and St. David's Day. I have become interested in two fine actors, both from Cardiff, Wales, in the last two months. Matthew Rhys and Ioan Gruffudd. Matthew is starring in a new television show here in the states, "Brothers and Sisters" as Kevin Walker, which I believe is on British TV channel 4. And Feb 23, opening day here in the USA, I saw the film "Amazing Grace" 3 times in a row. I liked it - what else can I say!

I have been doing post after post about these two at

Portsmouth, Rhode Island, USA


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


At March 2, 2007 at 5:27:00 AM EST , Blogger Gareth said...

Hello! Just wanted to drop by to say thanks for your comment over on the LiveJournal version of Prawn Cufflinks. Thanks for promoting/re-posting the blog too (and I don't mind by the way).

I enjoyed reading about the place that you call home. I think it's easy to take your hometown for granted sometimes, so it's nice to sit down and list the things that make it so special!

Thanks again, and I'm sure we'll speak again soon.

At March 2, 2007 at 10:31:00 AM EST , Blogger ilovemylife said...

Good Morning Gareth,

Well, it's afternoon there, so Good Afternoon...

Oh, I'm relieved that you don't mind me sharing your wonderful presentation of Cardiff, Wales, here, on my blog.

On my January 27, 2007 post I share a youtube video clip of Ioan and Matthew: "Hear Welsh by Ioan Gruffudd & Matthew Rhys in 'DAL Yma/Nawr'". This is the link to it:


There are palm trees in this clip. Is the clip filmed in Wales, in other words, are there palm trees in Wales?


At March 3, 2007 at 1:38:00 PM EST , Blogger dolls like us said...

I loved the article my fathers mothers family was from Whales they were Griffith's . Loved the photos and the artwork would love to go there some day.

At March 4, 2007 at 12:38:00 AM EST , Blogger ilovemylife said...

dolls like us,

I am so glad you liked the photos and artwork of Wales. I'll pass your appreciation on to Gareth.

Yes, I encourage you to visit Wales, one day. I haven't been to Wales (yet) but every time I have been to England or an European country it has been wonderful and memorable for me.

Thank you for leaving a comment.


At March 4, 2007 at 4:38:00 AM EST , Blogger Gareth said...

Hello again!

Just wanted to drop by to thank your readers for their kind words about my Welsh blog.

In answer to your questions: No, I have never been to the USA, although I would love to visit one day. However, I have never actually been out of the UK.

Secondly, no we don't have palm trees in Wales. It's a bit too cold for that! The clip looked like it was filmed in California to me. Certainly, I've never seen a beach like that in Britain :)

I was pleased to see all the comments on the YouTube page from people who enjoyed hearing the Welsh language too!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home