I married Mererid and learning Welsh was part of the deal. How else do you fully share a life with someone? I did a fortnight’s crash course in 1975, and since then have learned my Welsh through using it with family and friends. Now 40 years on my Welsh is still not perfect and I find it hard to write. I should try to read more.
Since living in Pembrokeshire I have picked hobbies that use my Welsh. I am currently the chairman of Cylch Cinio Hwlffordd, the local dinner circle. We try to keep the meetings light and cheerful, after all the members come to enjoy themselves. Being witty is one of the hardest things for a language learner, as humour does not translate directly. We have guest speakers every month and I have to introduce them and make them feel at ease. One upside of this is that I meet the guests and talk to them, so I gain friends as well. This year many members have grown facial hair to support Prostate Cymru, raising over £2000.
When the Urdd Eisteddfod came to Pembrokeshire in 2013 I chaired the art and craft committee. Our committee was filled with wonderfully talented and enthusiastic people who gave freely of their time, experience and contacts, so doing the work we did to raise funds and set up the exhibition of the wining works of art might have been hard work, but it was also a lot of fun. Going to any Eisteddfod is a way to meet friends, enjoy the atmosphere and see the talent that is in Wales. Being a member of the organisation for two years helps you really appreciate what it is all about and what goes into putting it together.
I am treasurer of Fforwm Hanes Cymru, the Welsh History Forum, which exists to enable history societies share a stand in the National Eisteddfod every year. This provides another opportunity for me to make and meet friends and be a part of each Eisteddfod. Through contact with the different societies it has given me a much greater awareness of real Welsh history, from before Hywel Dda, through the Wales of the princes and Owain Glyndwr to more modern Welsh history such as chapels, mining, taxation and transport and the lives some of those people who in the last few centuries have made this such a great nation.
Edward Llwyd (1660 – 1709) was a great naturalist, geologist, linguist and historian, and his society still works to remember him with guided walks every Saturday somewhere in Wales. Through these walks I have become familiar with Welsh people, plants, the landscape and history. I have even lead some of these walks and had to do the research of a particular area and plan the day. Research can surprise you. Did you know that Rocky Marciano boxed for the first time in a camp at Rosebush under the Preseli hills?
And all using my Welsh!