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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'.

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 na├»ve 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!



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/joi