A night in Sarn Meyllteyrn

24 02 2011

Imagine the scene…

It’s a dark windy night and you’re in a Ford Fiesta making your way down the winding roads through Pen Llŷn ( the Llyn Peninsula). You drive through deserted villages where light pours out through bedroom windows as people shelter from the cold. Once you reach the next speed limit sign the streetlights are gone and you drive in complete darkness with only cat’s eyes in the road to guide you on your way.

You drive round a tight bend with a stone hump-bridge and then down a steep hill which curves into a hairpin bend, then back up a hill which takes you so high you can almost see Ireland. 

Finally you arrive at your destination, a bend in the road, and off it a road up a hill where you see a light shining at a doorway.  People loiter at the door of this pub in jovial spirits and they welcome you with thick North Walian accents. You walk inside to a room heaving with people and through to a back bar where people are dancing as if their life depended on it to this…

Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog – Merch y Mynydd (Daughter of the Mountain)


Irish Blog Awards 2011

13 02 2011

Just a quick note to say that this blog has been nominated in the Best Newcomer category at the Irish Blog Awards http://awards.ie/blogawards/. Judges will be whittling down the finalists so watch this space to see if it made the cut.

Thanks to everyone who nominated the blog, I really appreciate it.


Dim ond nodyn bach i ddweud bod y blog hwn wedi cael ei henwebu yn y categori Blog Newydd Gorau yng Ngwobrau Blog Gwyddelig: http://awards.ie/blogawards/. Bydd y beirniaid yn dewis yr flogiau fydd yn mynd i’r rownd derfynol, felly dewch yn ôl i weld os fydd yr blog yn llwyddiannus.

Diolch i bawb wnaeth enwebu yr blog.

Last tango in Buenos Aires

9 01 2011

This is my last day in Buenos Aires. I went to visit Evita’s grave and had a tango lesson.  I’ve had a great time here and can’t wait to come back.

Dechrau 2011 / Starting 2011

3 01 2011



I´ve less than a week left here and I can truly say that I´ve fallen in love with Argentina.

The people are so kind and will go out of their way to help you, and the food is to die for – from the delicious grilled meats at the parrilla to the empaniadas which are sold almost everywhere. The countryside is breathtaking, like the lakes around Bariloche which you can swim in on a hot day and still be surrounded by the snow capped Andes. There´s just something about this country, it´s so laid back compared to home and all the stress I felt before I left is back in a forgotten baggage department in an airport in Europe.

It´s great to start a new year somewhere different – we certainly celebrated the New Year Argentinean style, drinking Dr Lemon and Gancia and dancing with young men before dragging ourselves home at 7am and crawling into bed before the midday sun.

Tomorrow we take a 24 hour bus journey from Esquel to Buenos Aires (forget your UK/ Irish coaches; these are like flying 1st class with chairs that become beds and champagne before you go to sleep). Then on Sunday I catch my first flight. I´ll be honest and say I don´t want to head home, especially when the weather here is in the 30s and at home the thermometer is near freezing. I can feel the post-travelling blues already creeping in.

Perhaps I´ve reawaken the traveler within me – 2011 should be an interesting year.

Long way down

23 12 2010

Well, I made it. I arrived in Buenos Aires two days later tan expected and with a lot more miles under my belt, but I’m now sitting in the reception area of the Bohemia Buenos Aires Hotel not far from where Eva Peron stepped out on to the balcony of the Casa Rosada and addressed the crowd.

It wasn’t an easy journey – the snow managed to hamper my journey in all aspects apart from my final flight.

My Sunday flight from Heathrow was cancelled and then I was re-routed via Manchester to Copenhagen where I had an overnight stay, which I spent in a closed hotel bar, before catching a flight to Frankfurt which would take me to Toronto then on to Buenos Aires. But, after I had checked in and made sure the flight was going, the snow closed Frankfurt so I was stuck in Copenhagen Airport having not slept for almost 24 hours, not feeling very fresh and absolutely furious.

I marched up to the transfer counter and began my rant; “I am very, very angry!” and explained my situation. The woman who served me was annoyed that I had been allowed to check in when the staff were aware of the problems in Frankfurt and she arranged a flight to Paris where I would catch an Air France plane. However, she then confessed that she might not be able to get my bag off the plane as they are sent in cargo containers. She did call all the numbers available, but alas I had to watch my bag take off six hours later and head to Frankfurt without me.

I was given food vouchers and bought myself breakfast and lunch – noodles and chicken wings and gallons of drinks. I chatted to other stranded passengers including a woman from Mauritius who was on her way from New York to see her daughter in London and two Australians who loved the snow. I finally headed to Paris, and never have I been so glad to leave a place.

I won’t use Copenhagen airport as a measure of Denmark because it sucked and the people sucked – they were rude and unfriendly and seem to cough and sneeze with no regard for the germs they were spreading. I was in a foul mood and getting sick was the last thing I wanted. I was also woken up from a short nap when a woman sat on my legs and when I looked up she threw me the filthiest look.

Paris was another world. Friendly and efficient, even when I arrived at the check-in desk and burst into tears. 32 hours of tiredness and frustration came out in a sob and the make-up I had applied ran down my face. I could hardly talk, and what I did say came out in a high pitch whine, but the handsome young Frenchman got me checked in and said everything would be OK – my hero!

After I arrived, I met my friend and we had a relieved hug followed by a mad taxi ride to the hotel. I spent yesterday walking the main streets of Buenos Aires looking for clothes as my black, long sleeve dress which I had been wearing for 48 hours was unpleasant to say the least. So here I am; clean, watered and rested and we’re about to catch a bus to the Andes. I’ve still not got my suitcase, but they have our next address so I’m dreaming of our reconciliation and many happy days together in the sun!

Nadolig Llawen 

 Merry Christmas 

 Feliz Navidad

No place like home

28 10 2010

Music in the rain

16 07 2010

REVIEW – Candi Staton & Paloma Faith @ Iveagh Gardens, Dublin. 15/7/2010

The sun shone as we walked across Harcourt Street so my hopes were high that the good weather would prevail for our evening in Iveagh Gardens. I even touched wood when I said ‘the weather might hold up’ just in case I jinxed it. Well, it didn’t last, and just after I had bought a pint drops of rain splashed into my glass. But, this being Ireland I shouldn’t expect more from the weather.

I was excited about the prospect of seeing Candi Staton, a favourite among the girls when we’ve had a drink or two. Then there was the headline act, Paloma Faith, a singer I have heard titbits of on the radio and been impressed with everything I’ve found on You Tube. In anticipation of the rain I contacted the organisers to ask if the gig was open air or under a roof like some of the other events that take place in Iveagh Gardens. I was told that the gig was in the open air and that umbrellas were not permitted so I dug out an old anorak and my friend left her umbrella at home for fear that it would be confiscated. When we had our drinks we joined the rest of the revellers in front of the stage we found that most of them had their umbrellas up keeping them dry, so as you can imagine we weren’t too impressed about that.

When Candi Staton came on stage the crowd gave her a muted cheer, mainly because the wet weather was making everyone shiver. But, that didn’t last long as the beautiful Candi got everyone going thanks to her energetic soul which ranged in tempo from fast to slow. We danced in the rain to a mash-up of Tammy Wynette’s Stand by your Man and Ben E. King’s Stand by Me and the crowd joined in, waving their arms and it wasn’t long before the rain was forgotten. Elvis was next on the menu and Candi gave us her own version of Suspicious Minds which got the crowd jumping and full of smiles. It was one of those moments when you look around and people in macs danced around spraying water wherever they went. The tempo then slowed down with In The Ghetto and still spirits remained high although the rain poured harder and harder.

Candi switched it up again with a bit of disco and her 1976 hit Young Hearts Run Free and there was no stopping the crowd then. The crowd at the front bounced to the beats and arms were waved in time to the music. Candi even managed to get a bit of crowd participation going, not bad for a torrential downpour. By now my pint was 25% rain water but I didn’t care as those instantly recognisable notes came through the speaker – yes, it was You’ve Got The Love (a song with an interesting background to which Candi owns half the copyright and publishing). So, as Candi ended her set the crowd sang every word and the mic was turned over to them for the chorus.

It’s strange to think of a musician with such a long career and number of hits being the opening act for a relative newcomer, but it was perfect for Candi Staton to open the show because she raised the crowd from a soggy mass of plastic raincoats and beer glasses to dancing and singing maniacs who couldn’t stop smiling – even Paloma could be seen at the side of the stage waving her arms in appreciation.

The last time Paloma Faith was in Dublin she sold out Vicar St, and although there was a sizeable crowd in Iveagh Gardens it was far from sold out. However, the weather may have played its part in keeping people away. As people waited a Dj played a mixture of 50s and 60s tunes and people huddled together under trees to keep dry. (I will post again on my views on the venue, but this one is about the music maaaaaaaan).

The stage was set for Paloma with what looked like a crown above a silver stage covered in mirrors. Some very funky musicians graced the stage with afros, mohicans and big red ribbons in abundance. Then on came Paloma in a fabulous black 50s inspired dress and killer platform heels in a vibrant red. She looked out to the crowd and said ‘you all look like lemmings’ a statement that would have been lost on anyone born in the early 1990s. (Oh no!) The crowd were still on a high so they danced to the fast numbers and swayed to slow numbers including Stargazer.

Then all of a sudden the sound went dead, it seemed like the rain had got the better of the PA and all I could hear was the backing singers singing away. Paloma didn’t realise there was no sound and members of the band looked at each other unsure what to do as audience members shouted ‘We can’t hear you’. I couldn’t hear much from Paloma herself so was she miming or was I just too far away? I wouldn’t like to assume either. Towards the end of the song she realised what was going on and she carried on as the speakers came back to life and her voice belted out the last bars of the song. She said ‘ You couldn’t hear me, but I sounded great up here’ and so some shouted ‘Sing it again’ – but she didn’t.

As Candi had given us an array of covers Paloma followed suit and did an amazing cover of The Korgis’s Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime and the crowd sang along and couples embraced. She then gave us the title track from her debut album ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful’ and it was clear who were the Paloma fans as they knew the song word for word. More people piped up when her popular track Upside Down came on and even more for New York, which has been creating a  splash on You Tube but doesn’t hit the shops until August 1st.

By this point the audience were well and truly soaked and most were past caring. As a newcomer to Paloma’s music it would be easy to compare her voice to her contemporaries, but that would be the obvious thing to do. Paloma has a distinctive sound of her own which is modern, yet borrows elements from soul divas of the past.

Her encore consisted of covers of jazz numbers which hailed back to Paloma’s cabaret days and she closed with an unforgettable cover of Etta James’ At Last and a reminder that she would be back in Ireland as part of her tour later this year. If you do get a chance to see Paloma Faith I would urge you to go, but try to avoid the rain.