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Welcome to my place in the blogosphere!
feel free to explore the Flight Deck and check out my books and website.
Then fasten your seatbelts, sip a glass of something sparkling and let's chat awhile!
I hope you'll stop by again for guest authors and spotlights from time to time.

Beloved Enemy joined Starquest and Children of the Mist to continue the Destiny Trilogy and I'm thrilled to announce was shortlisted for the R.N.A. RoNA Awards 2017, awarded 2nd Runner up in the RONE Awards 2017 and was the winner in the SF/Fantasy category of the 'Best Banter Contest'.

Sunday 19 May 2024

Exciting News - and another Welsh legend

 Hello dear readers

First of all, I'm very excited to announce that I have recently signed a new contract with The Wild Rose Press. This latest book is not my usual Science Fiction Romance, but a fantasy romance called 'The Matchmaker's Mare." It's set in my native Wales and the male protagonist is a horse trainer (who coincidentally enjoys re-telling Welsh legends!) More about this story in future weeks, but this is my idea of the mare of the title (she's rather feisty, and not entirely what she seems.

Back to Welsh legends. Another mythical creature for you this week - and another dragon. Many dragons in fiction are noble, friendly creatures, not so much the one in this legend - here is the tale of the dragon of Penmynydd:

 

Top 50 HD Dragon Wallpapers, Images, Backgrounds, Desktop Wallpapers (High  Quality) | Dragones reales, Dragones, Dragón de fantasía

Not far from the manor farm of Penhesgyn, near Penmynydd on the island of Anglesey,  a dragon dwelt on the banks of the river Braint. A soothsayer in the area foretold that the heir to the manor would be killed by the dragon. Hoping to keep him safe, the lord of the manor sent the boy away to England. For several years the young man stayed far away from Wales in the safety of England.  Eventually a brave local lad slew the dragon by putting a polished cauldron in the bottom of a pit.

(The River Braint)Seeing its own reflection. and believing it to be a rival, the dragon fought the reflection it until it was exhausted, whereupon the youth killed the dragon and, amid much rejoicing, the locals buried the creature  in the pit. Thinking all was well, and elated by his new freedom to return to his homeland, the heir came back to the manor,  but insisted on seeing the body of the dragon. As soon as the carcass was exhumed, the he kicked the head of the dragon which had caused his exile, but one of the dragon's poisonous fangs penetrated his boot and went into his foot, killing him instantly. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled.

 

(Me thinks he should have been a lot more careful and not tried to take his revenge on the poor, dead creature!) 


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Monday 6 May 2024

Welsh Legends - The Tylwyth Teg and a May Day story

Hello dear readers! I hope you had a great Starwars Day (May the 4th 😊) Today I'm going to tell you about the Welsh faeries, Y Tylwyth Teg (Pronounced 'er-tulwith teg')

According to Welsh folklore, fairies would ride Corgis into battle ...Known  by the native Welsh people as “Y Tylwyth Teg” (“the fair folk”) Welsh faeries typically live in lakes or streams and sometimes in the hollows of hills. The are said to ride on Welsh Corgis, or to use them to draw little cart. (Corgis were traditionally used as cattle herding dogs by Welsh farmers, and the original two corgis were said to have been given to two human children by the TylwythTeg.)

Welsh faery-lore is believed to be closely related to the legend of King Arthur and Guinevere; some believe her abduction by Arthur was abduction by the faeries – of whom Arthur was King.

The magical entities are said to resemble outstandingly beautiful humans, with blue eyes and blonde-white hair. Smaller fairies are normally more virtuous and kindly- the taller fairies tending to be more mischievous and dishonest.

Usually they dress in green, but the courtiers of the Welsh Fairy King Gwyn ap Nudd are described as being adorned in blue/red silk. In Welsh folklore faery interactions with humans feature quite heavily and kind and mindful mortals are typically rewarded with magic and the anyone found to be greedy or spiteful would be harshly punished.

There are various tales of humans being trapped in the fairy realm and the intermarriage between faeries and humans. The most famous faery tale is that of a beautiful young Cardiganshire (or Ceredigion - my home country) a woman called Shuï Rhys, who allegedly went away with Y Tylwyth Teg and never returned.

She was the daughter of  poor farmer,  and one of her duties was to drive up the cows to the milking parlour.   She would often loiter  to pick flowers, or chase the butterflies, which caused her mother to scold her sharply. One night Shuï did not come home until bed-time, leaving the cows to care for themselves. Dame Rhys was furious but the girl told her it was the fault of the Tylwyth Teg. She  said they were little men in green coats, who danced around her and made music on their tiny harps. Her mother believed the tale because it was well known that the Tylwyth Teg inhabited the woods in Cardiganshire.  Many times after that Shuï was late coming home,  but her mother stopped scolding her, for fear of offending the faery folk.

One night Shuï did not come home at all, and although the family and friends searched the woods, she was never seen again. Her mother watched in the field on the three nights of the year when goblins are sure to be out and about, but Shuï never returned.

Another story concerns Llyn Cwm Llwch, a small Welsh lake that is situated in the Brecon Beacons of Powys. It is associated with some rather strange legends and folklore. One relates the story of the Tylwyth Teg and an invisible island. According to local legend, the lake was the abode of the
Tylwyth Teg, or the Fair Folk, who had a garden on an invisible island in the lake. On May Day every year, it was said a doorway would appear in a rock by the lakeside. Those humans who were brave enough could pass through it into a passage, which would take them into an enchanted garden situated on the island in the lake. Although visitors to the island could clearly see the shores of the lake, the island and the garden were not visible from the lake’s shore.

Those who ventured through the door and down the passage entered into a wonderful land with gorgeous flowers of the most beautiful colours and intoxicating scents. 

In this glorious setting, the Tylwyth Teg provided their guests by with food and drink unlike anything to be found on Earth. Then they entertained them with songs, music, and amazing stories. All the Tylwyth Teg asked of their guests was that they should not take with them a single item from the island or garden when they returned to the land of mortals.

However, humans have short memories while the  Tylwyth Teg never forget. There had never been a single transgression of this rule since the time when they first opened the door. But one day, one irresponsible and ungrateful guest decide he wanted something more than just a memory of his
wonderful time upon the island. He picked a beautiful flower which had never been seen in the mortal world, and hid it in the inside of his jacket pocket. The second he stopped out of the door and placed his foot on earth, his senses all left him. He fell to walking round backwards in circles and talking nonsense, and lost all ability to reason, and eventually dropped down dead.

The Tylwyth Teg took leave of their guests with their usual good manners and courtesy. However, the following May Day the door did not appear. Nor was it seen again in the years that followed. and to this day, the door to the enchanted garden on the island of the Tylwyth Teg has never appeared again.

I hope you are enjoying these Welsh myths and legends. I have to confess I have a reason for posting them and I'm quite excited - watch this space!





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Sunday 28 April 2024

Welsh Myths and Legends - The Afanc














Llyn Afanc is a lake near the village of Bettws y Coed (Translation 'Prayer House In The Wood) in the Snowdonia National Park and is named after the legendary 'Afanc' (pronounced Ahvank)

A lake monster from Welsh mythology, the afanc can also be traced through references in British Celtic folklore, and has been linked to various other places in Wales.

The demonic creature was variously said to look like a crocodile, giant beaver or dwarf, and to attack and devour anyone who entered its waters.

There are many variations of the legend, including one which has the monster dwelling at Aberdyfi, and of King Arthur slaying the monster on the shores of Llyn Barfog (the Bearded Lake)  Near Llyn Barfog is a rock with a hoof print carved into it, along with the words Carn March Arthur (stone of Arthur's mare), supposedly made by the horse when Arthur lassoed the afanc with a magical chain and his steed, Llamrai, dragged it from the deep. Another legend says many men had tried to kill the monster but its thick hide was impervious to sword or arrow. The wise men of the valley decided  if force wouldn’t work, then the Afanc must somehow be enticed out of his pool and removed to a lake far away beyond the mountains, where he could cause no further trouble. The lake chosen to be the Afanc’s new home was Llyn Ffynnon Las, under the  shadow of Mount Snowdon.
  Afanc by Elle Wilson 
Courtesy of Elle Wilson
The blacksmith  forged strong iron chains  to bind and secure the Afanc.  There was still the problem of how to entice the monster from the lake. It appears that the Afanc, like many other monsters, was rather partial to beautiful young women, and the brave daughter of a local farmer volunteered for the task. She approached the Afanc's lake while her father and the rest of the men remained hidden a short distance away. Standing on the shore she called softly to him,and when he surfaced sang him a soft Welsh lullaby. So sweet was the song that the Afanc slowly fell asleep.

The men leapt from their hiding places, and with a team of mighty oxen dragged the creature to Llyn Ffynnon Las. There the chains of the Afanc were loosed, and with a roar, the monster leapt  into the deep water, where it is said, he remains to this day, unable to escape to wreak havoc because of the steep rocky banks of the lake.





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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Hollyhock farm - Spotlight and Review


I'm delighted to feature this book on its release day, today. First of all, let's find out a bit more about the book and then I'll give you my thoughts in my review.

Welcome to Hollyhock Farm

Set sail for the idyllic island of Jersey in this gorgeous new romance, perfect for fans of Rachael Lucas and Phillipa Ashley...

When Lettie’s parents call her and her brother back to Hollyhock Farm on the island of Jersey, the last thing they expect to be told is that their childhood home is up for sale. Following a health scare, their father needs to take a step back, and the sale of the land and business to their uncle, they are told, is all but done.

Back on the island, with its rolling hills and golden sands, Lettie immediately remembers what it feels like to breath in the fresh air in the green fields, and be part of this tight-knit community – a far cry from the life of events and high fashion she leads in London.
But she surprises even herself when she suggests that she instead could take over Hollyhock farm. Humouring her, her father agrees to give her a three month trial, and Lettie is determined to prove she’s up to the task.

But the summer season is no easy feat for a new farmer, and Lettie has a huge task ahead of her. And when an old flame reappears in the form of dashing local vet Brodie, Holly’s summer is about to get even more complicated…


MY REVIEW

This is an enjoyable and easy read. I liked the character of Lettie and her determination to keep the family farm, despite the new learning curve and the work that was even harder than she had anticipated. Brodie is very charismatic too, and after some initial misunderstandings they were obviously destined to be tgether. The animals were delightful, especially the dogs, Thistle (I must admit I prefer that name to Derek) and Spud.

The author's love of the island of Jersey is obvious, the descriptions enable one to see the scenery through Lettie's eyes and to hear the sea and envisage the sandy beach as she and Brodie and their dogs walk along it.

An ideal summer read, especially if you like animals and the countryside. My only criticism is that it ended too soon, I fully expected there to be another chapter, but that is not to say that it wasn't a satisfying ending, I just wanted more!

Author Bio – 
Georgina Troy writes bestselling uplifting romantic escapes and sets her novels on the island of Jersey, where she was born and has lived for most of her life. She has done a twelve-book deal with Boldwood, including backlist titles, and the first book in her Sunshine Island series was published in May 2022.

Social Media Links 
Bookbub profile: Georgina Troy Books - BookBub











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Dahut's transformation into a Morgen (Welsh legends)

Designed by Freepik
Designed by Freepik
The Morgen is one of a race of creatures with origins in British and Welsh mythology. In particular, accounts exist where Morgens would be adopted by fishermen as infants, only to grow up and leave their adoptive foster-parent behind for their true home under the sea.

The Morgens are evil creatures, using their hypnotic voices to lure sailors to a watery grave, while singing and combing their hair. Those unfortunate enough to get close to a Morgen would be dragged underwater, never to be seen again. They are also able to cast powerful spells and created floods that destroyed harvests and villages. (Very similar to the mythical sirens)

Not to mention, some women are even recorded as having turned into Morgens. Such was the case with Princess Dahut, daughter of Gradlon and Malgven. (although this is a Breton legend rather than a purely Welsh one - but still with Celtic origins.)

Designed by Freepik
A magician and a mischief-maker, Dahut not only caused her family's kingdom  to descend into sin and debauchery, but once while her father was drunk, she stole his key to the kingdom's dam. As the floodgates burst open, and proceeded to sweep the kingdom away, King Gradlon woke up from his slumber, and took off on his magical steed to save her.

Unfortunately, Dahut either fell or threw herself of the horse and the current of oncoming waves  proved too strong; Gradlon's efforts were in vain and Dahut was carried out to sea, but not before being transformed somehow (by her own magic, or as some divine/infernal punishment for her sinful ways) into a Morgen.

On that slightly soulful note, I'll say goodbye for now, but tune in tomorrow for a spotlight and review of another of my fellow UK author's latest release.

   (Oh I have been busy this week haven't I! This blog is becoming a bit like a London bus - first there's nothing for a while, then you get three at once!😄)

 








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Monday 22 April 2024

A Cure for Spring Fever - Spotlight and #Giveaway

Happy Monday folks. Usually on a Monday I post a myth or legend connected to my native Wales but today, to celebrate the release of fellow Wild Rose Press author Barbara Robinson's book 'A Cure for Spring Fever,' I'm featuring this instead. I've just purchased it and am really looking forward to reading it, sounds like a wonderful read! (If you are following my Welsh Myths and Legends I'll feature another one on Tuesday this week.)

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

For centuries, Gamekeepers have used their magical abilities to create a buffer between the creatures who dwell in the enchanted forest and the sleepy coastal town that sits in its shadow. When Gamekeeper Stan Ross’s magic begins to fail, he must find out what went wrong, then fix it before the two worlds collide. His hit or miss magic has already led to a few close calls so he journeys to the Sacred Isle searching for answers and advice. Finding a cure proves elusive—until Stan encounters a kitchen witch who captivates him body and soul. Lynnette Peters is healing from her own wounds, however, and it isn’t clear whether she’s ready to open herself to the possibility—or the peril—of love.


Read an Excerpt

I’m not sick, sir” Stan answered, uncomfortable with where the conversation was heading. He swallowed, then cleared his throat. “I haven’t changed the way I cast a ward. My magic is elemental, so I rely on nature runes, overlaid with those representing broader concepts. I might choose an animal rune, or a rune representing a natural element. It depends on the creature I’m warding, and what its habits are. Once I have the base rune, I add on layers, and then finish it with something representing strength or luck. I guess I’m in a bit of a rut. My magic is feeling tired, lately. When it works, it doesn’t have the same staying power, and sometimes it just doesn’t work at all.”

Tapping his fingers on the desk, Covington regarded Stan with sympathy, then nodded. “You’re certainly not the first gamekeeper to hit a rut, and you won’t be the last. I think that a little bit of rest and relaxation is what’s needed here. I am going to suggest—no, I’m going to insist—that you take some time off and recharge your batteries. Meanwhile, I’ll give some thought to damage control."

Stan dipped his head in acknowledgment, but his posture was rigid as he exited the office. Finding his partner in the break room, Stan told him that Covington was taking him off the duty roster, and insisting he take some leave. “I don’t know, Owen” he said, picking dust off his sleeve and shaking his head. “I haven’t taken any vacation time in over a year, so maybe Covington has a point, but I feel like I’m more than just tired. I’m soul tired. I’m not sure that a week on my sofa with daytime TV and a tray of bonbons is going to fix anything.”


About the Author: Barbara Robinson is an author of contemporary and historical romance set against a backdrop of magical realism. She is a deep thinker and tea drinker who finds inspiration in myths and folktales, poems and ballads, and academic writing on a variety of subjects. Diagnosed with autism and giftedness as an adult, she enjoys exploring themes of neurodiversity and opposing character perspectives in her writing.

She is an avid gardener and lover of nature who works out plot lines and character sketches while nurturing her garden, walking in the woods, or sitting by the shoreline watching waves. She is known for world building that features rich and immersive detail, supported by meticulous research and careful observation.

Barbara lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, in the shadow of ancient mountains that lie along the Bay of Fundy coast. These rugged vistas shape her story settings, while providing the perfect backdrop for life with her husband, her hounds and her dragon (Pogona Vitticeps). She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of King’s College and a Master of Arts at Dalhousie University, and she recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers (Humber College, Toronto).

Website: https://www.barbararobinsonauthor.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraRobinsonWrites/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spring-Fever-Jelly-Beans-Things-ebook/dp/B0CVHHR5ND/ref=sr_1_1

a Rafflecopter giveaway





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Thursday 4 April 2024

Race to Novus - Release Day Spotlight and Review


A daughter’s last chance at redemption on an alien planet. A sweeping secret that could not only end her dreams, but her life as well.


Finn Rucker boards the starship to seek a fresh start as part of a colonizing effort on Joya. The race, sponsored by Governus, yields free land and startup funds for the lucky winners. The number of entrants guarantees someone is going to lose and Finn is determined that she and her bionic horse, Herc, are among the winners.

Racing through uncharted jungle to the settlement of Novus, Finn and her fellow racers soon discover that not everything is as it seems – and Governus withheld information from the contestants. Strange beasts attack the racers, mechanical equipment begins to fail, and the very air seems out to get them.


When all seems lost, a mysterious people arrive and help the racers, revealing the depth of Governus’ deception. Finn will have to keep her pulse pistols close and her new friends closer – but not too close – as they all race to survive the jungle.

You will love this mashup of Hidalgo and James Cameron’s Avatar as Finn navigates the guilt of her past, the promise of a future, and the imminent dangers of her present.
Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.ca/Race-Novus-R-Clarke-ebook/dp/B0CSC5YS3P/

https://www.amazon.com/Race-Novus-R-Clarke-ebook/dp/B0CSC5YS3P/

Publisher’s website: https://www.cloakedpress.com

Author Bio –

R.A. Clarke is a former police officer turned stay-at-home mom living with her family in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Besides raising two rambunctious boys, soaking in lake time, and acting in community theatre, R.A.’s
spare time is spent plotting fantastical novels and multi-genre short fiction. Her tales have been featured in various publications, and have won international writing contests, such as Red Penguin Books' humour contest, the Writer’s Weekly 24-hour contest, The Writer's Workout: Writer's Games, and the 2023 Write Fighters 3-Day Novella Challenge. She was also a finalist for both the 2021 Futurescapes Award and the 2022 Dark Sire Awards.

R.A. Clarke writes and illustrates a children’s chapter book series for ages 7-10 as Rachael Clarke as well. The first book in that series, The Big Ol’ Bike—a story about a smaller than average kid with a huge heart—was named a Females of Fiction Award finalist by Hindi’s Libraries in 2021. To learn more, please visit: www.rachaelclarkewrites.com.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/raclarkeauthor

Twitter: 

https://www.twitter.com/raclarkewrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachaelclarkewrites

Website: 

www.rachaelclarkewrites.com

Linktr.ee: 

https://linktr.ee/raclarkewrites

REVIEW

 As a horse lover, as well as Science Fiction/Fantasy/Western romance lover, and having participated in several long distance horse races myself, I thought I would enjoy this book - I hadn't realised how much.

This is a real page turner with surprises that are as much a suprise to Finn as they are to the reader. 
Finn is a sassy and determined main character - and what horse lover would not love a bionic Friesian stallion! Although I am usually annoyed when the main character, however young or inexperienced they are, rides a stallion, (not usually the easiest gender of horse to ride or handle.) In this case, however, Finn is perfectly capable, and her relationship with Herc is very caring and they make a perfect partnership. (The only fault I found was that she seemed to feed him on nothing but oats, which, while certainly being a good source of energy, would not do his digestion a lot of good, unless he was able to graze at night to up his intake of fibre. This is being a bit 'nit-picky' though, and on the whole I found Finn's actions completely plausible, even if, perhaps, she did not always make the wisest decisions, she always tried to keep Herc safe and blamed herself when things went wrong.  The romance was lightly handled but one could see it subtly developing as the story progressed. 

The scientific details were also absolutely credible, with some intriguing  science fiction type vehicles, and I loved the descriptions of the Venanti and their 'city'. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a thrilling adventure story with a little light romance, especially if they also like horses!




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Monday 25 March 2024

Welsh myths and Legends - Easter



EASTER GREETINGS
 
This week, since Easter is just around the corner (this coming weekend, in case you hadn't realised!) I thought I'd tell you about some of the Easter traditions of Wales.
Palm Sunday is known as Sul y Blodau (Sunday of Flowers) in Wales, as it is traditional to decorate and clean graves of loved ones with lots of beautiful flowers on this day.

In Tenby it has been well documented that no one works on Good Friday, with no horse or cart (and very few people) to be seen on the streets for the whole day.

On Good Friday, people also walked barefoot to church, so as not to "disturb the earth"

The custom of "making Christ's bed" was also popular in Tenby. Children would gather reeds and weave it into a 'Christ' figure, which was then laid on a wooden cross and left in a quiet part of a field or pasture to rest peacefully.

Llun y Pasg means Easter Monday in Welsh
It is often celebrated by a procession up to the very top of a mountain or a hill before sunrise (we have many and are very proud of these in Wales!) to watch the sun rise.

In Llangollen, in the Vale of Clwyd, villagers used walk to the summit of Dinas Bran (a location famous for its inclusion in many medieval Welsh folk tales) to greet the sun's arrival with three somersaults.

In other areas, a bowl of water was taken to the top of the nearest hill to catch the sun "dancing" in the reflection.

Rogationtide was celebrated on the 5th Sunday after Easter. This was the Pagan spring fertility rites and Roman blessing of crops. Local Church officials should visit local crop farmers on this day to bless his crops

Ascension day is on the 40th day after Easter. This is the Roman Festival honouring streams and fountains.

On Ascension day wells were rededicated to saints in Wales and people would be wary of accidents. For example, you wouldn't wash clothes on this day as it was feared that someone would die as the clothes dried. Miners and farmers would also refuse to work through fear of mishaps! (The superstition about washing clothes also extended to New Year's Day when I was growing up,  although I'm not sure if this was just a local thing or whether it was also observed in other parts of Wales.)

 With many thanks for the legends in this article to Becca Hemmings of The Welsh Book Shop 
(They sell beautiful, traditional Welsh gifts and do Mail Order!)







For insider news and subscriber-only info, subscribe to my occasional Newsletter. I promise not to spam and your in-box will only see an email from me every 3 or 4 months or so - unless of course I have something really Newsworthy to share!
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Monday 18 March 2024

Welsh Legends - the Dormarth

Hi everyone, a mythical Welsh creature this week - have you heard of the Dormarth?



The Dormarth (sometimes called the dormarch) was a hound belonging to Gwynn ap Nudd, who was the ruler of Annwn, a sort of Welsh mythical heaven. This legendary hound had two front legs and then its body narrowed, ending  in three fish like tails. Gwynn was responsible for escorting the souls
of the dead slain in the 'Wild Hunt', from the battlefield, to the gates of Heaven, and was helped in his search for them by the Dormarth. I guess this legend has similarities to the Valkeries of Norse legends, who took the souls of the slain from the battlefield and carried them to Valhalla. Unfortunately I couldn't find a  realistic picture  of the dormarth  so here is one of Sirius, the dog constellation instead. (Just imagine it has three fish tails instead of hind legs!)














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Friday 1 March 2024

Happy Saint David's Day!

Daffs for Taffs! (Taff is a nickname for a Welsh person!)

I make no apologies for being unashamedly patriotic today

MARCH THE FIRST IS ST DAVID'S DAY!

I have put my Welsh flag up in the garden and am wearing my daffodil.  I always hope one or two daffoldils will be out in the garden by St David's Day - but this year I've had a few coming out each day since the middle of February. (Thanks to Global Warming I suppose. It has a few 'ups' amid all the concerns it brings.)

(The leek is also a traditional Welsh symbol worn on this day, because St David is said to have ordered his Welsh soldiers to wear leeks in their helmets when they went into battle against the Saxons, but the daffodil is prettier and doesn't smell so strongly! :) )

ST DAVID'S DAY TRADITIONS
Many people outside Wales don't realise that St David's Day is as important to the Welsh as St Patrick's Day is to the Irish. Each year, the annual St David’s Day parade takes place on 1st March,  in Cardiff. A colourful parade takes place in the city centre. There will be parades across the whole of Wales including in Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire) my hometown, and in Caernarfon,  Llandudno and Wrexham, plus a variety of St David's Day Celebrations in Bargoed, Blackwood, Caerphilly And Risca Town Centre.

The day is also commemorated with children taking part in concerts called 'Eisteddfods'  in schools or village halls.

FOOD
Cawl
A variety of traditional Welsh food is eaten, in particular, cawl, a clear soup,made of course,with leeks as a prime ingredient, eaten with bread and cheese. Its meat content varies with the region. Where I come from, which is mountainous sheep country, it  is always  lamb or mutton, but it can also be fish, bacon or sometimes beef. The broth or soup also includes potatoes, carrots, and other seasonal vegetables.

Welsh cakes
Then there are Welsh cakes, a kind of scone,  rolled out as a dough with currents, and baked on a griddle or 'bakestone'and  absolutely delicious served hot with butter, and just as good cold, sprinkled with a little sugar, then there is bara brith, a malty fruit cake made with tea, cut like bread and spread with butter,  and Welsh rarebit, toast covered with rich cheese sauce made with beer and seasoned with Worcester sauce, then poured onto the toast and grilled until bubbling.

Traditional Welsh costume

ST DAVID
So who was St David. and why March the 1st?                              

Well he died on that day in 589AD.

Dewi (the Welsh form of David) was born to Welsh nobility in the late fifth or possibly early sixth century.  The Anglo-Saxons had invaded Britain by that point and had driven most of the inhabitants into what was known as the Celtic Fringe: Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany.

He was educated in Cardiganshire and then went on pilgrimages, founding religious centres across Wales and England, including one at Glastonbury. He even travelled as far as Jerusalem, where he was made an archbishop.

He eventually settled at Glyn Rhosyn (now St Davids), in south west Wales, where he established a religious community. Many miracles have been attributed to him.including causing the ground to rise beneath him when preaching so that everyone could see and hear him.

When David died he told his devoted followers to: "Be cheerful and keep your faith and belief, and do the little things that you have heard and seen through me."

His remains were buried at the Cathedral of St Davids in Pembrokeshire. It became a popular place of pilgrimage and  two pigramages to St Davids were said to equal one to Rome and three equalled one to Jerusalem.

THE RED DRAGON
To end with I thought I'd tell you why the red dragon (Ddraig Goch) appears on the flag of Wales.  You might be surprised that it relates to the Arthurian legends.

King Vortigern came to the mountains of Eryri, in Gwynedd. On the summit of one of these, which was then called Dinas Ffaraon, he decided to build a fortress.

Then the king sent for artificers, carpenters, and stonemasons, and collected all the materials for building. In the night, however,they all disappeared. Materials were procured from all parts a second time, but a second time they disappeared in the night. A third time everything was brought together for building, but by morning again not a trace of them remained.

Vortigern called his wise men together and they told him he must find a child born without a father, put him to death, and sprinkle with his blood the ground on which the citadel was to be built.

The king thought the advice of his wise men was good and sent messengers throughout Britain in search of a child born without a father.When they eventually found one, they took him to Vortigern the king.

The boy asked why he had been brought before the king and when they told him he was to be sacrificed to enable Vortigern to build a fortress, he told the king his wise men were wrong and that there was a pool beneath the ground where they were trying to build. In the pool were two vases and in the vases a tent. In the tent were two sleeping dragons, one white and one red.

The dragons fought each other, and eventually the red one won the battle and drove the white one away.

The boy told the king and his wise men that the pool was the emblem of this world, and the tent that of Vortigern's kingdom. The red dragon was the king's, but the white serpent was the dragon of the Saxons,  At length, however, his people would rise and drive the Saxon race beyond the sea. But he must seek another place to build his citadel.

The boy's life was spared. He became famous as the great magician Myrddin Emrys , or Myrddin ab Morfryn (Merlin, as he is called in English), and the mountain on which he proved his mighty power was called  Dinas Emrys instead of Dinas Ffaraon.  Thereafter the red dragon became the symbol of Wales and is portrayed on the Welsh flag.


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Monday 26 February 2024

Welsh Legends - Devil's Bridge







This week I thought I 'd turn to a rather more light hearted tale - the legend of Devil's Bridge. I have featured this before but if you haven't heard it before, I think you'll enjoy it - and if you have, I hope you don't mind me repeating it. It's one of my favourite Welsh legends.

I used to live near a well known beauty spot called Pontarfynach, or Devils Bridge. It is really three bridges, built over a spectacular and beautiful waterfall, which rages down into a deep pool known as the Devils Punchbowl. The first bridge was built by the Monks of Strata Florida, (where the Holy Grail is reputed to have been hidden for a while) in 1075. In the 18th Century it was deemed to be unsafe, and a second bridge was built, over the first. The third bridge being built over that in 1901. I thought it would be nice to share the legend of how the first bridge was built:
 

An old woman had a cow of which she was very fond, and which provided her with all the milk she needed. Early one morning she was distraught to find that the cow had somehow managed to cross the river and was now grazing on the bank the other side. The old lady looked at the swirling river and wondered how she would be able to get her cow back. “What the Devil can I do now?” she asked aloud.

At once there was a smell of sulphur and a cloud of thick smoke, out of the middle of which appeared Old Nick himself! “You called?” he smirked. The old lady was made of stern stuff, and after a moment’s hesitation, she explained her predicament. Satan grinned wickedly. “That’s easily sorted,” he said craftily, “I can build you a bridge – but it will cost you.”

“How much?” the old lady asked uneasily. “Oh nothing much, just the soul of the first living thing to cross the bridge,” the Devil stated cunningly, knowing full well that she would have to cross the bridge herself to get her cow.

 “Done!” said the old woman. The Devil waved his arms and there, spanning the falls, was a beautiful new stone bridge. The Devil laughed nastily, “Now for my payment he said smugly. The old lady was not as naïve as she appeared. She put her hand into her apron pocket and drew out a crust of bread which she had put there for her breakfast, and threw it across to the other side of the bridge. Immediately her little dog ran across the bridge and gobbled it up.

Satan knew he had been outwitted, the soul of a dog was of no use to him; he scowled furiously and disappeared in an even bigger cloud of foul smelling black smoke than the first, and was never seen in those parts again. The old woman crossed the lovely new bridge, and having retrieved both her cow and her dog, made her way home, humming softly to herself. The bridge still remains, to this very day. (Although two later bridges have been built above it, and today it has the usual tourist trappings.)

You'll rarely see the Devil in Wales these days, local folk say he's too embarrassed to show his face!



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Monday 19 February 2024

The Welsh Atlantis


Hello dear readers! I have another Welsh legend for you today - did you know that Wales has its own Atlantis?

The town of Aberystwyth, where I grew up, and lived most of my life, overlooks the beautiful Cardigan Bay, where dolphins and porpoises play with canoeists and surfers.

Aberystwyth
 According to legend, there was once a prosperous, low lying kingdom, known as Cantre'r Gwaelod, which stretched along the coast where now the waves lap against the sandy shores.The kingdom was a community of merchants and princes and comprised sixteen thriving cities.

In order to protect the kingdom from the sea, a number of steep embankments were built, with gates, or sluices which were only opened if water was needed to irrigate the fields, and kept closed at high tide.

The Prince Gwyddno Garanhir ruled over the land, and he  delegated the working of the sluices to the control of a man called Seithennin,  described as a notorious drunkard. (Probably not the best choice for the job, one thinks.) One night he became so inebriated he forgot to close the sluice gates and the sea poured through, drowning the kingdom which vanished forever beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay.  At times of danger it is said the bells ring out from the ocean's depths. A famous folk song 'The Bells Of Aberdovey' supposedly refers to the legend. 

About seven miles along the coast from Aberystwyth, between the town and Aberdovey, lie the old fishing villages of Borth and Ynyslas, Every winter, after storms have scoured away the surface of the sand, at low tide large areas of peat appear, littered with tree stumps and fallen tree trunks. Radiocarbon dating suggests these trees died about 1500 BC. The remains of the ancient forest were especially evidenta few years ago, when fierce storms swept along the coast, causing much damage and uncovering fresh areas of peat. And in 1770, Welsh antiquarian scholar William Owen Pughe reported seeing sunken human habitations about four miles off the Cardiganshire coast, between the rivers Ystwyth and Teifi.

So perhaps the idea of a submerged kingdom may be more than just a legend, after all.


I often incorporate snippets of Welsh legends into my writing, and I mention the legend of Cantre'r Gwaelod in my  fantasy novella Dancing With Fate, only I use the more ancient name of 'Maes Gwyddno.'

"He’d never known anyone to dance as she did. The way she swiveled her hips had him mesmerized. Her voice was soft and clear, with a haunting quality. It reminded him of the musical bells of Maes Gwyddno, the civilization that now lay drowned beneath the sea. At times of danger, if one listened hard enough, one could hear the bells ringing from beneath the waves."


I  hope you've enjoyed hearing about today's legend.  Do you know any other legends which bear a similarity to 'Atlantis'?





For insider news and subscriber-only info, subscribe to my occasional Newsletter. I promise not to spam and your in-box will only see an email from me every 3 or 4 months or so - unless of course I have something really Newsworthy to share! I also promise that I never have and never will share your information or email address with anyone or any organisation.  http://madmimi.com/signups/196357/join