Ceri Shaw



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It is with great pride and pleasure that we feature the work of David Western in this post. He is a lovespoon carver from Cardiff, currently residing in Vancouver B.C., and has just published a book on the art of creating the lovespoon, Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons: Understanding, Designing and Creating Romantic Treasures , Fox Chapel Publishing (October 1, 2008).

Pictures of some of his beautiful work are on our Pictures tab and can be seen below:

Just the thing for St. Dwynwyn's Day or, if you must, St Valentines, or even Christmas for that special someone. You can contact David or leave him comments on his Americymru page here .

David's website gives his bio:

"I was born in Cardiff, Wales but now live in Victoria, BC, Canada. A graduate of the University of British Columbia and a cabinetmaker by trade, I hold City and Guilds Certification in both cabinet making and furniture design from the UK and Canadian Inter-provincial Certification in joinery. I have been carving for over 20 years; my spoons are found in collections throughout the world.

"My lovespoons are carved entirely by hand using only domestic North American woods. I feel our native timbers easily rival any tropical hardwood for beauty and colouration. Using sustainable, easily grown lumber such as alder and maple allows me to avoid contributing toward the denuding of tropical rain forests.

"Lovespoon carving is my passion. I constantly strive to expand the boundaries of design while creating unique and innovative carvings which respect and honour the tradition of the Welsh lovespoon. My lovespoons are not souvenir trinkets; they are art which also celebrates both my client's personal stories and my hard-earned skills as a craftsman and designer. I believe the romantic, thoughtful, hand-crafted lovespoon still has an important role to play in our increasingly sterile and pre-fabricated society. My goal is to continue the tradition of the lovespoon while introducing it to as wide an audience as possible both within and beyond the Welsh community."

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We were immensely excited and pleased to learn that David Llewellyn , a recording artist from Nashville Tenessee and a member of Americymru has won the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest ( Folk category. ) with a song about Welsh coal-mining. The song , "Take Us Down" can be heard on his Americymru profile page here . .David explains a little about the background to the sing in this quote from the News section of his site:-"I just won the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting competition Folk Category !!!!!!!I entered Take Us Down, my song about a small boys first day down a Welsh coal mine, and his fathers thoughts.The song also helped me win the Kerrville Folk Festivals New Folk competition last year. I could say Im lucky I guess, but I must take this opportunity to thank Kari Estrin.As a consultant, and then manager, she single handedly refocused my career. She took me back to my roots, took me back to Wales, made me look at my upbringing, my childhood in the small coal mining valleys of South Wales . . . and see who I am. She went with me as I went down a coal mine for the first time, as I listened to the stories of the old miners who are the tour guides now. The song is a testament to these men, my uncles, my family, the generations of men and children who worked underground. It is their story, their words, but without Kari, I would have missed it all. Thank you Kari."David is currently our featured member on Americymru and we hope to be running a much fuller piece on his life and work in the near future.
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From the Ning Blog:-"The 6pm release will include the following updates to our Chat feature:* Chat will now match the theme or CSS of your network.* Emoticons and icons have been updated to work more seamlessly with dark backgrounds.* An online/offline flag will be available for you to toggle your status while you are on a page with Chat.* The More feature will be fully functioning and you should be able to switch between pages of members in your Chat feature.* Server updates to improve availability and stability.This week we will also be adding a clear messages option for Network Creators and Administrators to remove current text in a chat room.Along with these major updates, weve fixed a host of smaller bugs and issues throughout the weekend. While there will be some hiccups with Chat today and this week as we continue to optimize this new feature, it should be increasingly stable and polished with each passing day.Thanks to all who worked with us this weekend on the beta release, reporting issues and providing feedback! Please continue to let us know as you find issues with Chat and we will address them as soon as we can. Well have another update once we complete Chat release this evening Pacific time."
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Michael O'Brien's Autobiography

By Ceri Shaw, 2008-08-29

Michael O' Brien's new autobiography will be released on the 1st of September. It is a modern day tale of David and Goliath; of one man's quest to clear his name taking his fight to the highest courts in the land and creating legal history.

In his own words Michael O'Brien tells his moving story of how he was imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit the Cardiff Newsagent Murder during the 1980s. The book reveals the trauma and heartache he suffered whilst in prison and how he learnt to cope. During the eleven years he not only lost his freedom and youth but also members of his family including the tragic death of his daughter and step-father.

Death of Justice uncovers the shocking story of how police incompetence and scapegoating result in three innocent men being convicted and the catalogue of mistreatment during their time in prison. It is also details how Michael O'Brien taught himself law and successfully took two Home Secretaries Michael Howard and Jack Straw to court, how he won his appeal and eventual release and the largest payout in legal history.

Michael O'Brien lives in Cardiff with his partner and family and continues to support people who face similar legal battles. An exclusive programme of Wales this Week on Michael O Briens story is due to be broadcast on Monday night the 1st of September at 8pm.

Death of Justice (9.95), Michael OBrien is available here

Michael OBrien will be signing copies of his new autobiography The Death of Justice in Borders bookshop Cardiff at 12pm on Monday the 1st of September

If you would like to request a copy of Y Lolfas new catalogue e-mail llyfrau@ylolfa.com.
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Ambitious plans are afoot in to develop a mixed use neighborhood in upstate New York which "will interpret the history of Remsen and the legacy of Welsh immigration to the village and the area."Amongst other features ( see "Conceptual Plan" HERE ) it is intended that a genealogy, folklore and historical Interpretation Center will be established that will work in partnership with the Museum of Welsh Life in St. Fagan's, Wales.For more on these exciting plans click HERE .
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Basically this sport, more correctly referred to as "coasteering" involves jumping off cliffs:-"It was early on a Sunday, I'd just spent my second night under canvas and the delights of the pub in St Davids were still weighing heavy on my mind.So perhaps hurling myself into the Irish Sea from a Pembrokeshire cliff ledge while it was blowing a gale was not such a great idea? " MORE HERE
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(This article originally appeared some time ago on the Americymru blog. It is reproduced here as a brief introduction to the many delights to be found in the new Americymru library which can be accessed from the left hand column on the main page. Despite the rather flippant tone of this piece there are a number of Welsh literary classics to be found in the library and we will be adding more from time to time. )

A Bad Day At 'Goodwill'

Once more it is time to sing the praises of the 'mighty' Google. What did we ever do without them? Google Book Search has been around for a while but the recent addition of the "My Library" feature adds a whole new dimension. Basically the new feature allows you to search the database and save items to your own personal library which can be accessed online and shared with friends, family, etc. You can also review and rate the books in your collection. A typical Google ' My Library ' page looks like this .

If you followed the link I should explain that Google offers you the choice to search for 'Limited Preview' or 'Full View' titles. If you opt for the former you can only view snippets of the text but 'full view' items can be read in their entirety. Here at americymru we are, of course, mainly concerned with books about, or relating, to Wales and we thought it might be interesting to build a library of older works that can be read online in full. What we have here is a collection of dusty old relics reminiscent of a bad day in the book aisle at 'Goodwill'. Most of these volumes are long-since forgotten and with good reason. Still others are fascinating or amusing depending on your literary perspective.

"Here Be Monsters!"

As you might expect there are some prime examples of condescending and flatulent Victorian prose to be found amongst the gems in our digital reliquary. Nineteenth century preacher and author, Thomas Rees, penned his imaginatively titled "Miscellaneous Papers on Subjects Relating to Wales" in 1867. It is a masterpiece of groveling servility. Here is a quote from his article, included in this volume, on the 'working classes' of Wales:-

"The labouring classes of Wales, wherever they are to be found without any admixture of foreign elements and habits, are characterised by several very commendable qualities. As a class of people they are remarkable for their loyalty and submission to their superiors. Ever since the incorporation of " Wales with England, the loyalty of the Welsh nation to their Saxon rulers has been perfectly unswerving, notwithstanding the occasional effusions of frenzied poets and hot-headed orators against the Saxon invaders."

For more in the same vein read the rest of this ghastly tract. Whilst intending no disrespect toward its author I feel bound to say that this is an apocalyptically awful book that is sure to make you chuckle. It is best read out loud in a highly pompous and affected 'public school'* accent.

A Classic of Yesteryear

Of course rummaging in the attic is bound to bring to light some long lost cherished possessions. Who over the age of 100 can fail to remember with fond affection the classic 1907 Great Western Railways vacation guide, 'South Wales: The Country of Castles' . This volume is a treasure trove of useful advice. Witness the following on page 50 :-

"......it is impossible to ignore the fact that the use of the motor adds most materially to the possibilities of Aberystwyth as a travel-centre. Too great caution cannot possibly be exercised in the choice both of a chauffeur and a machine. If the former is a novice at local topography, he can only be a source of vexation and perplexity."

Certainly one would not wish to engage a perplexing and vexatious chauffer, but the GWR does not content itself with travellers tips , there are also passages of purple prose. On page 160 we find the following description of Tenby at sundown quoted approvingly :-

"Towards sundown a miniature fleet of trawlers sweeps gracefully around the Castle Hill, looking for all the world like a flight of brilliant butterflies ; their russet sails glowing in the warm light of the sun's declining rays with every hue from gold to ruddy purple, recalling memories of gorgeous scenes on far-away Venetian lagoons."

I was never favored with such a vision on my visits to Tenby. It is at this point that we are perhaps reminded of the fact that laudanum was not made illegal in Britain until the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920.

Bananas & Tomatoes a Speciality

Reproduced below is a small selection of charming period advertisements. One is for a Fruiterer & Florist which specialized in bananas and tomatoes and the other is for the Aberystwyth "Waterloo Hydro Hotel" which, somewhat ironically, burned to the ground in 1920.

Google says that it plans eventually to put all books into digital form and the sooner the better. At least this way you dont have to dust them! A feast of fun awaits the determined 'rummager' in Google's digital attic and for our part we look forward to unearthing and reviewing more gems for your reading pleasure in the future. Our Library can be found here .

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An Interview With Carwyn Lloyd Edwards

By Ceri Shaw, 2008-07-07
Carwyn will need no introduction to most of the members of this network. He is the editor of the enormously popular and successful "News From Wales and the World". He is also a member of the Welsh League of Arizona. Carwyn kindly agreed to be interviewed by Americymru

1. Everybody who is anybody reads your newsletter "News from Wales and the World". How would you describe the central vision and purpose of the newsletter?

The original idea 4 years ago was to encourage people all over the world to spend just 5 minutes a week within their busy lives to catch up with what is going in Wales. Even though the newsletter has evolved during this time that basic concept still is the core idea!!

2. Do you think Wales' image is well represented in the American media? If not, what should we be doing to improve it?

I rarely see Canada represented in the US media don't talk about Wales.

They are many ways to approach this complex question. You can throw $$$$$ at the problem, something the Irish Tourist Board are happily doing at the moment. But the Welsh government has not budgeted to follow that approach (I don't believe we don't have the money to do so, their are monies available for all kinds of projects these days!). The political will isn't there yet!

I feel we don't use our Hollywood stars enough Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ioan Gruffudd and the rest ...to promote Wales. But that also costs $$$$$!!! Therefore each and single one of us can do our bit and become a Welsh ambassador in our community!

3. What would you say to those who want to make St Davids Day as big a deal here in the States as St Patricks ay is at the moment? Whats the best way of going about it?

Well all of 1.7 million registered Welsh Americans and their friends need to be more active and hands on doing their bit!!!From bumper stickers to starting Welsh groups in your area!!!They are all kinds of simple things you can do! Just be creative!!!

4. What role should the language play in any Welsh cultural revival? Should it be more emphasised or is the current emphasis about right?

You cannot separate the two! Welsh cultural revival is due to the growth in the number of Welsh speakers/learners in Wales and around the world. You cannot support Welsh cultural and be against the Welsh language. I don't expect everyone to go on and learn it but at least to be supportive towards the "Fam iaith".

5. How would you rate the welsh Parliaments performance in its first decade? How important a role do they have in preserving Wales' unique cultural identity?

Mediocre/slow/uninspiring! But looking at the bigger picture the Senedd does have one hand tied behind it's back with very little law making powers and no tax varying ability. Therefore the challenge is to obtain these powers We are in the process of building institutions in Wales I just hope all of them doesn't land in Cardiff Bay.

6. Who would get your vote for the role of Owain Glyndwr if Hollywood ever gets around to making a biopic?

You have to remember that Owain Glyndwr was a middle age man when the whole war for independence started. He had semi retired as one of the wealthiest men in North Wales. But how would Hollywood deal with the subject who knows!!I believe Brave heart captured the spirit of the story but factually had a lot creative freedom!! We have plenty of Welsh actors around these days from Anthony Hopkins, Christian Bale, Mathew Rhys, Michael Sheen, Ioan Gruffudd and list goes on!

I personally hope the film if ever made would be a global hit!
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