Mae’r Cawr o dan y bwrdd

Posted on July 6, 2012 by admin

In Dyfi Valley, Machynlleth Derwenlas on 6 July, 2012

So it was Goodbye North Devon, Hello 7 hour train journey. My eavesdropping train entertainment was varied, from someone spelling out the names ‘Paul’ and ‘Paula’ to prove that they were the same but that one has an extra ‘a’, to an Italian restauranteur explaining in detail how to make 600 jars of the best homemade passata.

I had sort of forgotten that Wales is a different country; a bilingual country. It’s all very exciting, but means that I’m afraid to say any place names as I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce them. In Devon there were comforting familiar-format name endings: Georgeham and Nethercott, Ilfracombe and Bideford, Torrington and Westleigh. Bog standard that I know how to say and can understand: -ham linked to the Old Norse porcine farming traditions, -cott referencing the Norman village crèches that were built to collectively manage their children when they were busy invading, -ford for towns involved in the early automobile construction industries[1]. By contrast, I don’t really know how to begin to tackle ‘Machynlleth’.

Pronunciation or no, I was greeted off the train at 19h00 by a solid drizzle and Tony, who gave me some fantastic lentil bake and quinoa. My stay here serendipitously coincides with a festival tomorrow organised by Tony on the broad theme of ‘South American Green Socialism’, with guest speakers and Latin American music and bonfires and things. It appeared that I’d stumbled upon a multi-cultural mishmash in the heart of North Wales. And the circle dance I went to with him in the next town down after dinner confirmed it. Based on Balkan traditions, a live scratch band (guitars, mandolins, double basses, clarinets etc) play traditional South American and Welsh folk songs (with a smattering of klezmer) while the assembly dance along to traditional steps. In a rented church hall in the Dyfi valley, people from all walks of life – and from all over the UK and across the Atlantic – had a lovely little Friday night musical dance[2]. The only conspicuously missing people were real life Machynlleth locals, which is perhaps the first marked difference between the North Devon biosphere, with its proud Devonshire locals ingrained in the area for generations, and indeed centuries. Either way, from first appearances the area seems to fulfil the passionate community involvement aspect!

Tomorrow, festival attendance. Sunday, I’ll got meet the infamous local CAT[3]. Hopefully at some point the Giants will make themselves known…

[1] Actual meanings are: -ham = farm, -cot = cottage, -ford = crossing, -combe = valley, -ton = estate, -leigh = woodland clearing.
[2] Real live action footage posted online somewhere.
[3] Centre for Alternative Technology.

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