Blogs: 393
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Category: Blogging


AmeriCymru: Hi Paul and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. How would you describe your blog 'Hiraeth'? How often can we expect new posts?

Paul: Hiraeth is a collection of articles about Welsh history and politics. To be honest, the politics tend to be rather left-wing, but that reflects Wales’s proud history of socialism marked by   events such as the Merthyr and Newport Risings and the proud history of the Labour movement and its connection with Wales. I am aiming for a weekly post but I may not succeed! There will also be a number of pages about the area in which I live and I am currently writing pages on the castles of North Wales, walks on Snowdon and the Llanberis area and on the narrow gauge railways of North Wales.

I am passionate about Wales and when I moved to Snowdonia early in 2007, I felt I had come home for the first time. Although I had lived in various places in England all my life, my mother’s side of the family were all from either in the Welsh valleys or the Llŷn peninsula and I loved my childhood visits to Wales. Moving here, I understood the meaning of hiraeth for the first time. As I say on my blog, it’s “the longing for, and bond with Wales; its timeless past, its language, its call to the spirit and its deep connection with the land: the rocks, the earth, the lakes, the rivers, the mountains, the valleys, the trees, the cliffs and the waves.” I’m sure that many Americymru members will identify with that.

AmeriCymru: I know you have covered this in a recent post but where do you stand on the 'St David's Day' agreement?

Paul: Like many Welsh people, I am angry and disappointed about the proposals of the St David’s Day agreement. Fundamentally, Westminster and Whitehall are firmly England-centric and do not understand that Wales (and of course Scotland and Northern Ireland) have distinct cultures and identities. No value is placed by the politicians and mandarins on that heritage and culture and they totally under-estimate how important they are to people of Wales. I look with envy at your federal system in the United States will which I would like to be the blueprint for the United Kingdom. Unlike the Scots people, Welsh people are generally happy to be in the Union but we would like to have day-to-day control of our own affairs.

AmeriCymru: You have covered many topics on your blog in the past. One such is the 'Cwm y Glo' explosion of 1869. What can you tell our readers about this incident?

Paul: I won’t reprise the content of the Cwm y Glo explosion as readers can click on the link and read about the biggest man-made explosion in Europe up to that point. It’s a good example of an incident in Welsh history that I believe needs to be remembered. I often write on the anniversary of an event taking place, sometimes the anniversary of the birth or death of somebody significant in Welsh history. Look for articles coming shortly on the greatest Prime Minister that Wales never had (NOT Neil Kinnock!) and on the contribution made by the South Wales miners to the Spanish Civil War.

AmeriCymru: In your post 'Why I Am a Welshman' you state that "Being Welsh isn’t a simple matter of your parents’ nationality." Care to expand on this theme a little?

Paul: As part of my Welsh history degree studies we looked at things that made Welsh people Welsh. I was very surprised to find that many of the iconic symbols were relatively recent (the daffodil as a symbol introduced by David Lloyd George in 1911 and the Welsh flag recognised only in 1959, for example) and although, like every other Welsh inhabitant, I am 100% Welsh for 80 minutes during each Six Nations game, rugby is far less part of Welsh culture than people would think.

No, I’m Welsh because I’m Welsh. Hiraeth called me to Wales in 2007 and despite living a life time in England, I knew I had come home. From my many happy holidays as a child spent in South Wales and later when I became the Wales liaison manager for the British Tourist Authority when I really got to know North Wales well and knew I would live here one day. As I said in the original post, “It’s all summed up in a line from our National Anthem (also found on the edge of Welsh £1 coins) - Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad - True am I to my country. Dwi'n Gymro balch.”

AmeriCymru: You were active with the Occupy movement in Cardiff. Care to tell us a little about your experiences? Would you describe yourself as a left wing nationalist?

Paul: I really smiled at that question. I was delighted to go down to Cardiff and march with the “99%” who were making a stand against greedy capitalism and standing for social justice. I am a proud socialist, so left-wing certainly. However, I’m not a nationalist. As I said earlier whilst I believe passionately in Wales and Welsh identity, I am very happy also to be part of the United Kingdom. In many ways I really like Plaid Cymru as it is the most left-wing of all the political parties serving Wales. The problem is latent racism that I have detected in meeting with Plaid members who are often very anti-English and disparaging of non-Welsh speakers. I am a Welsh learner and can converse in Welsh as long as it doesn’t get too difficult but I’m not accepted in those circles because I’m not first language Welsh.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Paul: Those of you with Welsh roots, take every opportunity to sell our wonderful country as a place to visit. Tell them about the bara brith, the Welsh cakes, the lamb, the black beef. Tell them about the mountains, the legends, the language, the music and most of all, the hiraeth.

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AmeriCymru spoke to Jon Prosser , CEO of Island Dale , Anglesey/Ynys Mon


AmeriCymru: Hi Jon and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to introduce your company Island Dale for our readers?

Jon:   My name is Jon, myself and Karen are partners that has recently formed Island Dale a new and unique on line business. We are both from a retail management background, I have 36 years experience in sales and Karen a little less. During my time in this business I have interacted and spoken to many customers and suppliers alike with regards to Welsh products and the opportunities that are available. After gathering and analysing all the information I was privilege to and after careful consideration I decided to leave my employment and set up this business with Karen, we wanted to shout about Wales, the people, our superb products and our heritage to everyone around the world. Wales has so much to offer.

We set up the business in February this year, our unique website launched in April and is now up and running for you to view. We have had many offers from new potential suppliers since our launch however we are still sieving through them as we only want quality and authentic welsh products as well as products supplied by welsh businesses.

Island Dale website works on a drop shipping programme, and unlike any other E commerce sites we do not charge to list the products as one of our values is to aid welsh businesses as much as possible, this is extremely important to us. With the online sales boom growing we believe it will increase sales for small and large businesses alike and create product awareness on the unique welsh range available.

We are currently talking with and being supported by the Welsh Government / Business Wales / Annog Menter Mon, and hope soon to have a small amount of products, backing and support from the WRU (Welsh rugby union) and the FAW (Football association of Wales) so we can shout even more about our welsh identity and culture.

AmeriCymru: Where in Wales is the company based? Where is HQ?

Jon:   We are located on the beautiful island of Anglesey (hence Island Dale ) in North Wales. We are currently in the process of moving premises from near Holyhead to the picturesque seaside village of Trearddur Bay.


Treaddur Bay, Ynys Mon/Anglesey

AmeriCymru: Care to describe the range of products currently available from your online store?

Jon:  We have a variety of different products on offer from the famous Anglesey sea salt, other food products, welsh leather items, welsh love spoons, welsh scented candles, and clothing.

AmeriCymru: Are there plans to include new products in the future?

Jon:   Absolutely.... We are on a mission to seek out and source the best Wales has to offer. We have some unique and exciting products lined up, watch this space!

AmeriCymru: Care to tell us a little about the Welsh Slate product range that you currently offer?

Jon:   We currently offer some unique hand crafted wall plaques, these hand made plaques are made from the very best welsh slate. We also are currently in negotiation with a supplier of authentic welsh slate dinner plates, which will be available at Island Dale soon.


Welsh Slate Dinner Plates

AmeriCymru: You also sell Anglesey Sea Salt. What can you tell us about this product?

Jon:   Halen Môn began with a saucepan of seawater on the Aga in their family kitchen. As the water boiled away and the salt crystals started to form, they knew they had struck culinary gold. Fifteen years later they started by supplying Halen Môn Sea Salt to Swain’s, a local butchers in Menai Bridge on the Island of Anglesey, North Wales. Today their sea salt is enjoyed around the world by chefs, food lovers and even the odd US president!!


Anglesey Sea Salt

AmeriCymru: Where can people find you online?
Jon:   We can be found at or   you can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for regular updates and information.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Jon:   Everyone is welcome to browse our web page, feedback is greatly welcome or if a certain product that you guys would like to see available, drop us a line using the 'contact us' tab and we will try our best to suit your needs. I'd also like to thank you all for taking time out to read about Island Dale, we do appreciated it.


Bara Brith Scented Candles

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A Gift of Sunlight: The fortune and quest of the Davies sisters of Llandinam , written by Trevor Fishlock, gives a voice to the shy and wealthy sisters and is the first full telling of an extraordinary story of love and courage.  

The book will be launched on Sunday, 25 May at 11.30am at Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage, the Hay Festival.

Together, Gwendoline Davies and Margaret Davies amassed one of the greatest art collections of the twentieth century. Between them, they bequeathed 260 works to the National Museum of Wales.

Author Trevor Fishlock was commissioned by the Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Trust to write the book and he explains how he came to learn more about these remarkable sisters:

“I was in my twenties when I first saw the Davies sisters’ collection of art in Cardiff. It was a revelation. I began to see that Gwendoline and Margaret Davies were at the heart of a great story of art, wealth and love.”

“Years later, working on a television programme about them, I began to know more. The sisters had non-speaking parts – they were distant figures, like flowers in the garden. They really were as shy as everyone described them.

They were also the richest unmarried young women in Britain. Where, people asked, and still ask, did their fortune come from?

The answer is at the heart of an extraordinary Welsh family saga. The sisters’ grandfather, David Davies, uneducated son of poor hill farmers in mid-Wales, struck it rich, first in railway building, then as a Rhondda coal pioneer – a Victorian hero of Wales.”

The sisters’ upbringing instilled in them a strict Calvinistic Methodist faith and, with it, an iron sense of social responsibility and philanthropy. They supported great causes, health, education and culture and their gift to the people of Wales was an art collection to rival any in Europe.  

“In this volume the unique and thrilling story of the Davies sisters of Llandinam is told in its entirety for the first time. It is a story of love and courage. Despite their shyness and their abundance of wealth, the sisters went bravely to war, gave generously to charity and created for their country a celebrated treasury of captivating and immortal paintings and sculptures. The book is packed with splendid pictures and draws on personal papers to reveal new information about unexpected aspects of the sisters’ story, information that will prove an eye-opener to all,” says a spokesman on behalf of the Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Trust.

Bringing Art to Wales: The Davies Sisters , presented by Trevor Fishlock, will be shown on BBC TWO Wales , Saturday 24 May at 7.30pm .



Trevor Fishlock is a writer and broadcaster who reported as a foreign correspondent from more than seventy countries for The Times and The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of books on Wales, India, Russia, America and on nineteenth-century exploration, and has written and  presented more than one hundred and fifty television programmes about life and history in Wales .




A Gift of Sunlight will be available from

all good bookshops and online retailers


For further information about the event at the Hay Festival, please visit

For more information, please visit


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Event HF144 • Sunday 1 June 2014, 10am • Venue: The Cube

Celebrated illustrator Shoo Rayner, whose drawing tips are a big hit on YouTube, and prize-winning author Heather Dyer, will introduce their new books, Dragon Gold and The Flying Bedroom, at a stories-and-pictures event to celebrate the launch of brand new children’s publisher Firefly Press at the Hay Festival this year.

Shoo will demonstrate top tips on how to draw a dragon like the incredibly cute baby dragon Tân in Dragon Gold. Shoo has illustrated more than 150 books, for the likes of Michael Morpurgo and Rose Impey among others, but this is the first longer-length book that he has written.

‘I find I'm becoming more and more influenced by history and the children I regularly meet in schools. They keep changing in subtle ways, always surprising me and making me question my assumptions about writing for them,’ he said. ‘Dragon Gold ended very differently from how I thought it would originally. Now I think it's a trilogy!’

Dragon Gold is one of two titles for seven to nine year olds, set in contemporary Wales, to be published in the Dragonfly series from Firefly Press. The other is Steve’s Dreams: Steve and the Sabretooth Tiger, by Pembroke-based Dan Anthony, author of the Rugby Zombies series. Three more books will follow in the autumn.

Lucy Thomas of the Welsh Books Council says of this new series: ‘We believe it is important for children in Wales to have books they thoroughly enjoy, that make them laugh and feel a sense of wonder, with which they can also identify. We hope that the children of Wales will feel a real sense of ownership of these fantastic books from Firefly Press.’

Heather Dyer’s The Flying Bedroom, complete with wonderful illustrations from Chloe Douglass, is an enchanting book for five to seven year olds, featuring Elinor, a little girl whose bedroom can fly! From talking snowmen to pirates, magical islands and even the moon, Elinor never knows where her bedroom will take her next. Heather's previous books, such as The Girl with Broken Wings and The Boy in the Biscuit Tin attracted widespread praise, and a commendation from Richard and Judy. Her first book with Firefly, The Flying Bedroom ‘was inspired by a dream that a friend’s daughter had, in which her bedroom had detached from their house and could fly through the sky – with her in it,’ said Heather, and her favourite books as a child. ‘I loved reading books with magic in them – especially stories where something magical happens in the real world. I longed for it to happen to me.’

At Hay earlier in the week on Wednesday 28 May, Pembrokeshire-based Dan Anthony will be talking about his book Steve’s Dreams: Steve and the Sabretooth Tiger, as part of the festival’s Writing Squad events. He’ll be reading from this funny fantasy adventure for seven to nine year olds set in Newport and inspiring children to write themselves.

Dan says: ‘The Hay Festival is an incredible international festival for book makers and book lovers and it's a real pleasure to be hosting a writers squad workshop right at the centre of the action. Hay on Wye is a unique place, it's on the border between real and imagined worlds - that's exactly where we're going to go.'

‘We aim to publish beautifully produced, top-quality books for children and young adults,’ said Firefly editor Janet Thomas. ‘All our first authors have absolutely done us proud. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us get this exciting adventure underway, particularly the Welsh Books Council.’

All four books will also be available as ebooks. For more details as well as games and puzzles for young readers, go to

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A funny and poignant story of an unlikely hero…

Newport primary school teacher, Paul Manship will be launching his new book, Charlie Underwood Fights Back , at Millbrook Primary School on Wednesday, 21st of May.

Charlie Underwood is the archetypal victim of bullying, and his move to yet another primary school in year 6 is supposed to be another fresh start for him. But it turns out that TJ Carver has other plans in mind, and the novel is full of twists and disasters as their lives intertwine.

This is the inspiring story of Charlie’s determination to be himself, to handle what school life throws at him and to overcome fears and frightening situations through his own talents. Set in the south Wales Valleys, this engrossing novel addresses the concerns of many young children but is also packed with humour and powerful moments.

Weaving through are four stories in different genres which Charlie narrates to his young brother Oliver as bedtime stories. Charlie is kind, considerate, patient, but not a push-over, a secret amazing guitarist, a story-teller, nervous but also brave – a very likeable survivor.

Paul Manship lives with his wife and three daughters in Rhiwderin Village near Newport. He is a primary school teacher and credits experiences in the classroom with providing inspiration for his stories.

His first novel, Rewind , was short listed for the Glen Dimplex Children's Book Award in 2006 and his second publication, The Cube , was selected by the School Library Association as one of the titles for their Boys Into Books initiative 2008.

In 2010 Dear Mr Author won the Welsh Books Council's Tir na n-Og Award for the best English Language Book of the Year.

Charlie Underwood Fights Back is available to buy from all good bookshops and online retailers.

For more information please visit

Further Information:

For review copies, jpegs, or any more information, please contact:

Sioned Wyn t: 01559 363090 e:

Bibliographical Information:

Title: Charlie Underwood Fights Back

ISBN: 9781848518278

Author: Paul Manship Price: £5.99 pb


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Dylan Thomas 100 FESTIVAL

By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02


Wales Celebrates its Rock Star Poet During His Centenary Year

Additional Programs Announced


New York, May 21, 2014        The centenary celebration of Dylan Thomas’s birth (born Swansea: October 27, 1914; died New York City: November 9, 1953) - Dylan Thomas 100 – continues in Wales with news of additional multi-disciplinary events being added to the festival’s creative mix. 


An inspiration for poet-musicians like Bob Dylan and John Lennon and actors like Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas was a bona-fide rock-star before there was such a thing – sometimes playing to crowds of 1,000 – especially in the USA.  Welsh actor Matthew Rhys ( The Americans; Brothers and Sisters ) who has channeled the poet (in the film Edge of Love ) hopes you’ll join the festivities, “We’ve been celebrating Dylan Thomas in Wales for decades now. Come to Wales this year and celebrate his centenary.”


The eponymously named digital hub   makes it easy and fun to discover Dylan Thomas, explore places in Wales he is connected with, engage via social networking and locate festival events via a Timeline tab.  The site is a resource for planning your Dylan-themed trip to Wales and for downloading a full list of Dylan Thomas 100 events.


Here is a sampling of the inspired programs on tap during the second half of 2014:


A combination of dance, poetry and the visual arts will provide a fresh take on Dylan’s life and work.  The event will enliven several of the Library’s gallery spaces in Aberystwyth and will include displays of personal items, providing a unique view of Dylan’s world.


Using a camera, smartphone or tablet, entrants are asked to use innovation over picture quality to interpret Dylan-related themes throughout the day.


  • July 19:                 Dylan Thomas’ Swansea Hollywood: The Mummy and the Old Dark Horse

This Dylan odyssey visits three of Dylan’s childhood cinemas in Swansea with a talk in a secret space at a fourth.  The evening culminates with Andrew Davies introducing a screening of his new film, “A Poet in New York,” starring Tom Hollander, followed by a Q & A session.


Celebrating Dylan’s special relationship with the USA, especially New York, a series of live events will “re-imagine” Dylan’s favorite watering hole – New York’s White Horse Tavern.  Audiences will be transported to the bohemian world of 1950’s Greenwich Village where Dylan held court.


  • Sept 5–Dec 24      Manuscripts Exhibition – Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea –

Infrequently exhibited items on loan from the University of Buffalo include poems, lists of rhyming words and black and white photographs.


The Wales Theatre Company stages a non-stop 36 hour marathon reading of Dylan’s work.  Performers include Sir Derek Jacobi, Jonathan Pryce, and many more acclaimed personalities together with schools, bands and choirs numbering in the hundreds.


  • Oct 27-Nov 9        Dylan Thomas Festival – Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea –

This 17 th annual eclectic celebration will feature talks, exhibitions, workshops and performances.



Dylan Thomas 100 and highlights Welsh locations closely associated with the poet-like his birthplace, Swansea, his old writing shed, and his home -The Boathouse - in the town of Laugharne.    And the program ranges across all artistic disciplines – from literature, to opera, theatre and painting. From high profile exhibits and live performances to community-based educational programs.


Business and Tourism Minister Edwina Hart said: “Dylan Thomas is one of the literary giants of the last century.” … “These events will help contribute to a fitting legacy for Dylan’s life and work, but I also hope they will resurrect a passion for literature and inspire people of all ages to connect more actively with our rich cultural heritage. In the spirit of Dylan, it is an opportunity to showcase Wales as a land of artistic excellence to an international audience and raise further the iconic status of this great literary figure.”


To find out more about these landmark events visit . To plan your itinerary in Wales and for a downloadable program of Dylan Thomas 100 events:

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Gwyl Safiad Merthyr Rising Festival 2014

By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02" target="_blank">


Bydd Mai 31ain yn gweld gŵyl sydd yn dathlu un o’r safiadau cynharaf gan weithwyr mewn protest yn erbyn cyflogau isel ac amodau echrydus yn y gweithfeydd haearn a phyllau glo, sef Gwrthryfel Merthyr 1831.Nod yr Ŵyl hon yw dathlu hanes a diwylliant radicalaidd y dre, gan gynnig cyfle i drafod yr heriau sydd yn wynebu pobl Merthyr, Cymru a’r byd heddiw.

Bydd yr Ŵyl yn cynnwys ystod eang o siaradwyr, perfformwyr, cerddorion, gwneuthurwyr ffilm ac awduron o Gymru a thu hwnt. Ymhlith yr uchafbwyntiau bydd cyngerdd gyda’r athrylith Gruff Rhys gyda chefnogaeth cantorion lleol Kizzy Crawford, Fingertrap a Delyth McLean.Yn y prynhawn fe fydd yr economegydd John Weeks yn siarad ar y thema ‘Economeg yr 1%’ ac fe fydd y gwneuthurwr ffilm lleol Jon Owen yn dangos ei ffilm gomedi newydd ‘Svengali’. Bydd 30 mlynedd ers streic y glowyr yn cael ei nodi trwy ddangos gwaith pwerus Karl Francis ‘Miss Rhymney Valley 1985’ a pherfformiadau gan Y Beirdd Coch a’r canwr lleol Jamie Bevan.

  Canolbwynt yr Ŵyl fydd Canolfan a Theatr Soar gyda digwyddiadau ymylol o gwmpas y dre.Mae croeso i gynrychiolwyr sefydliadau gymryd stondin yn yr Ŵyl ac mae’r gost o £10 yn caniatáu mynediad i’r digwyddiadau dydd.







The Merthyr Rising Festival will be held on 31 May 2014, a date which marks the beginnings in 1831 of the original Merthyr Rising. The 1831 Rising was one of the earliest organised actions of industrial workers in 19th Century Britain and was sparked by anger against low pay, debt and appalling working conditions in the iron works and mines of the Valley town.The Merthyr Rising Festival 2014 aims to be a celebration of the town's proud history of radicalism and creativity, providing a platform for discussion of the problems facing the people of Wales and the world – as well as being a great day out in the wonderful and historic town of Merthyr.The Festival will include speakers from a variety of progressive organisations, as well as providing a showcase for many talented artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers from Wales and beyond.



The festival features musicians such as the truly unique Welsh genius Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), as well as local rising stars Kizzy Crawford, Fingertrap and Delyth Mclean.Economist John Weeks (SOAS) will be speaking on the theme of ‘the Economics of the 1%’ at a discussion event in the afternoon called the Waun Common Assembly, named after the gathering place of the original 1831 Merthyr Rising. Local legend Jon Owen will show his new hit comedy film Svengali and the festival will also mark the 30th anniversary of the Miner’s Strike with a showing of Karl Francis’s powerful documentary Miss Rhymney Valley 1985. there will be performances from the Red Poets and Merthyr singer-songwriter Jamie Bevan. The Festival will be centred at Merthyr’s Soar Arts Centre.



Any organisation which would like to send representatives to the Merthyr Rising Festival will be promised a warm Valleys welcome and a great day out. If the organisation books a stall at the festival (Priced £10) they will also receive two tickets for the events in the day with John Weeks, Karl Francis and Red Poets and will also have their logo and website link included on the Partner Organisation list of the festival website and programme.Alternatively, if any organisation wishes to sponsor one of the events in the programme, or the festival generally, we can also organise ticket packages, as well as acknowledgement of their contribution on the website and at the event itself.



The website can be fund here:" target="_blank"> http://merthyrrising2014.wix. com/merthyr-rising-2014


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Wales will start out in the Plum Division ( see left )

First match against Russia on Friday, July 11 at 9.30 a.m.



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A message from AmeriCymru member Jake Whittaker:-

I am working with a collection of artists, storytellers and musicians on a project called Singing the Line into Existence, a creative contribution to the campaign to re-open the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway line in west Wales.  Please visit our wordpress site http:// singingthelineintoexistence. for more info

We launched the indiegogo fundraising campaign for this new project yesterday and need wide support to make it happen.


From the website:- This exciting new project proposes to bring artists together to create a multidisciplinary performance and accompanying exhibition of work, inspired by the landscape and history of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line.... Read More Here

From the Indiegogo page:- Singing the Line into Existence is an artist led, creative contribution to the campaign to re-open the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway line in west Wales, UK.... Read More Here



F rom the Wikipedia:- The Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line was a 4 ft 8½-in (1,435-mm) branch line of the Great Western Railway(GWR) in Wales , connecting Carmarthen and Aberystwyth.

At Carmarthen, the line connected with the GWR mainline from London Paddington to Fishguard. At Aberystwyth, the line connected with the Cambrian Line. The line also had connecting branches to Aberaeron, Llandeilo and Newcastle Emlyn.

As a result of floods and the Beeching Axe, the line was entirely closed to passengers from 1965. Freight transport from Pont Llanio creamery (near Tregaron) to Aberaeron Junction (near Lampeter) ended in 1970; that from Aberaeron and the Newcastle Emlyn branch to Carmarthen ended in September 1973.... Read More Here




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Seren News May 2014

By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02

We have Hay fever! And not the runny nose, red eyed kind! May can only mean one thing: The annual Hay literature festival.

Seren Authors At Hay

This years festival promises to be a scorcher, with plenty of Seren authors discussing their fantastic books. Tiffany Murray gives us a fright with her new ghost story Sugar Hall , Shani Rhys James talks art and poetry with Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke and Francesca Rhydderch and Jim Saunders tells us a little more about the festival town of Hay.
Sat 24 th May, Emma Healey and Tiffany Murray Fictions Memory Tiffany Murray and Emma Healey talk about the disturbance of the past in Fictions Memory. Tiffany's chilling new novel, Sugar Hall, sees Lilia Sugar and her children uncover a past hidden deep within the red gardens of Sugar Hall. Based on the stories of the slave boy that surround Littledean Hall in the Forest of Dean, this is a truly spooky tale.
Tues 27 th May, Tishani Doshi, Owen Sheers and Fflur Dafydd – The Women in the Mabinogion Doshi, Sheers and Dafydd talk about the leading ladies in their Mabinogion re-tellings.
Wednesday 28 th May,  Shani Rhys James, Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke and Francesca Rhydderch Florilingua A celebration of art and poetry. Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke read work that responds to the characteristic wild wallpapers and menacing chandeliers of Rhys James’ new touring exhibition of paintings.
Saturday 31 st May, Jim Saunders – Hay: Landscape, Literature and the Town of Books Jim Saunders has lived and worked for 25 years in the border country around Hay. In this, his third book, he homes in on the town itself, along with the landscapes, literature and people of this most beautiful part of Britain.
Sunday 1 st June, Matthew Francis and Rhian Elizabeth – Deeply Unreliable Narrators Rhian elizabeth and Matthew Francis talk unreliable narrators. In her debut novel, Six Pounds Eight Ounces , Rhian opens up Hannah King's Diary on to her crazy world of glitter and glam rock, candy-floss and serial killers, but beware, not all of Hannah's stories are strictly true...
In addition, Patrick McGuinness, Cynan Jones, Peter Finch, Horatio Clare, Rhian Edwards and Damian Walford-Davies will all be at this year's festival.
To see the full program or to book tickets visit

Sleeping With Rivers by Cath Drake is the PBS Spring pamphlet choice.

Cath Drake's prize winning pamphlet, Sleeping with Rivers has been chosen as the Poetry Book Society's Spring pamphlet choice. Sleeping with Rivers , inspired by the poet's native Australia, has already picked up the Mslexia pamphlet prize, with judge Amy Wack saying "The manuscript that kept sifting to the top, Sleeping with Rivers by Cath Drake, is simply full of gorgeous poems... I started to love these poems from the very first line of the first poem".
Cath will be reading alongside Pascale Petit and Mimi Kahlvati on 7th June, 3-5pm at The Betsey Trotwood pub in Clerkenwell, London.
Sleeping With Rivers is available to order from our website.


Featured Fiction

Six Pounds Eight Ounces

Rhian Elizabeth £8.99 Hannah King is a liar, so everyone says. That means her stories of growing up in the Rhondda, as told in Six Pounds Eight Ounces , must be treated with caution. Debut novelist Rhian Elizabeth opens Hannah’s notebook up on her own little world of crazy friends and crazy family, and a crazy school with crazy teachers who aren’t always what they seem. From dolls and sherbet lemons, to a bright student who drops out of school in favour of drink, drugs and glam rock up on an estate which feels like another planet, Hannah, it seems, has always been trouble.

Seren Tip: Don't miss the launch , 16th May, 7pm, Chapter Arts Center, Cardiff

Featured Poetry


Carolyne Jess-Cooke £9.99 Boom! charts the rollercoaster journey of motherhood from conception, throughout pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. It explores the effects of each of these experiences on the female body, on a woman’s psychology, character, spirituality, political views and the way she regards the female in society. It also charts the impact of motherhood on the relationship between the parents, freighted as it is by new responsibility and by two people who are no longer the same, changed forever by the birth.

Coming Soon

The Hitting Game Graham Clifford
May 2014 £9.99
The Hitting Game is the first collection of poems by Graham Clifford. These are poems full of unexpected dramas and fresh enchantments, they provoke as well as delight.
Sugar Hall Tiffany Murray
May 2014 £14.99 Hardback
On the very edge of the English/Welsh border, the red gardens of Sugar Hall hold a secret, and as Britain prepares for its last hanging, Lilia and her children must confront a history that has been buried but not forgotten.
The Girl Who Lived on Air Stephen Wade
May 2014 £9.99
The mysterious story of the Welsh fasting girl. Sarah Jacob seems to live without food, astounding doctors, the church and a news-hungry society. What is the truth behind her fascinating and moving story?


Graham Clifford, The Hitting Game launch, 13th May, London Join Graham Clifford for the launch of his fantastic debut collection, The Hitting Game on 13th May at the William Morris Gallery in London. The Hitting Game is the first collection of poems by the London-based poet. The vibrancy of the voice and the immediacy of his claims upon our attention are clear. These are poems full of unexpected dramas and fresh enchantments, they provoke as well as delight.
The event is free to attend, although space is limited. Email to reserve your place.
Rhian Elizabeth, Six Pounds Eight Ounces launch 16th May, Cardiff Rhian Elizabeth opens Hannah King' diary on to her crazy life of glitter, glam rock, candy-floss and lies as told in Six Pounds Eight Ounces. Friday 16th May, 7.00pm.  Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Cardiff. The event is free to attend and everyone is welcome.
Tiffany Murray, Sugar Hall launch, 22nd May, London Tiffany Murray unearths the secrets buried deep within the red gardens of Sugar Hall on 22nd May, 6:30pm at Daunt Books, Holland Park Avenue, London. Based on the stories of the slave boy that surround Littledean Hall in the Forest of Dean, this book will send a shiver up your spine. Pillows for hiding behind not included.

Poem of the Month

This month's poem comes from The Hitting Game , by Graham Clifford. Don't miss his launch on the 13th May!
The Oxygen Thieves  
When she teaches about tenths
or silt in the slow-bending Severn
it is to the space above each
as if the adults they will be are there,
grown up phantoms
stood behind their earlier selves
and she can see the future ghosts
so addresses them
not the oxygen thieves
yawning like cats in front of her.
She tells me that sometimes they come back.
She laughs and says how, usually
the very worst slope in vapid
with the fatigue of work, or of no work,
and apologise, eyebrows high, and promise
that if they ever get anything
they’ll leave it to her in their will
and if they could only have it all over
they would – they swear on their lives – sit still.

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