Monday, 21 March 2016

Llyfrgell dydd Llun

Which basically means--Library Monday, but doesn't sound nearly as nice in English as it is not alliterative like it is in Welsh.

I am a big fan of the public library.  I will admit that when we lived in Louisiana I did not use it as much as i should have. I mean, you had get in the car and drive there which was a right pain in the arse.  Though there were closer branches, i preferred the Main Branch downtown, but it was far away and involved navigating those weird one way streets of downtown Alexandria. 

Not fun.

So in the summers when I worked for the public library, i used it a lot. In the years where Spiderman worked for the public library, i used it a lot, too.

But since we have moved to the UK it has become my lifeline. Literally. Now that we live car-free and walk everywhere I got to the library several times a week. Not only to get books but also too read the newspaper and use the computers for lesson planning and printing. I love it there and everyone on the staff knows me  by name.

it's a bit like the bar in Cheers except without the alcohol. 

I am always interested in what other people are reading. When i talk to children it tends to be the first question that I ask. Every day at my old school in England I had at least half a dozen children come to me voluntarily before school, on the playground etc to tell me all about the book they were reading. many children kindly said, "I can let you borrow the book when i finish it, Miss."  

Good times. 

Even now, on Wednesdays when i tutor H *always* bring me his latest book to share. 

It warms my heart.

I am an eclectic reader. i like fiction and nonfiction, cookbooks and craft books. Science and religion books as well good old fashioned who-done-it mysteries. I thought it would be fun to see what I checked out this week:

I was intrigued by the book called The Carmarthen Underground because that is where we live. I finished this book last night. it was alright--not brilliant by any means, but a fun romp about a secret undercover intelligence agency right here in our town with lots of familiar landmarks (The entrance to the headquarters was next to the (now defunct)  Wimpy Burger and one character lived on Little Water Street) plus it was peppered with Welsh--lots of "Sut mae'r mynd? (how's it going?) and the affectionate tag bach meaning little one used in speaking. Our friend Arwen says that all the time to me,  hello bach, come give me a cwtsh. Which basically means--Come here darlin' and give me a hug. 

I just started on the book A is for Arsenic. it is a fascinating book about all poisons used in Agatha Christie books  What the poison is, it's chemical make-up, how and when and by whom it was discovered, what the effects are, how it features in her stories, other stories where the poison features and any real murder cases where it was used. Fascinating stuff!

Spiderman was a bit worried when i brought it home as I do all the cooking thinking I might be trying to poison him to get all his money and then we had a laugh because he has no money! 

The other books I am not ready to start yet. One is a Mitch Albom book--I have liked everything i have ever read by him. I highly recommend Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in heaven. 

The other is an autobiography in pictures by author and illustrator Michael Foreman.

What are you reading?

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lucky Duck

I admit it. I am a competition hound. If it is free to enter and has stuff we would use--i am all for it. I know some people enter everything and try to win big screen tellys and all that, but we don't need a big screen telly and it would be a faff to try to sell it on via Ebay or the local newspaper or whatever.

I only deal in stuff we actually could use.

And I am pretty lucky. There is the free magazine that you get at at the health food shops called Your Healthy Living that always has a competition page. Most of it is vegan --but not all. Sometimes you find bee products hiding in stuff  like an eye cream with propolis or something with whey, but mostly it is good.

Sometimes stuff is vegan just not gluten free and I will enter that as well. This month you could enter to win a hamper from Suma where 80% of the stuff was vegan like posh olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, fancy olives etc. I could just give the dry pasta away to a non gluten free friend of mine if I should happen to win it.

I enter every month and this month i won something!

I went downstairs to check the post yesterday and there was this lumpy envelope addressed to me on the door mat. Hmmmm...what could it be?

I was slightly concerned--I racked my brain to recall if I had ordered anything recently. No. Was i expecting something? No.

So I opened it and peeped inside and lo and behold! i was a winner!

Woohoo! I got four (count 'em four!) Wild Thing organic nut and seed bars! These things can cost 1 quid or more each depending on where you shop,  so i was pretty chuffed to get four bars!

They are wholefood bars that are raw, vegan, gluten free, organic and paleo!

My flavours are:
Cacao and almond
Coconut and chia
Nuts and seeds 
Berries and seeds (which contains mulberries and so i am super excited about this one as i haven't had mulberries in a over a year since we moved to Wales)

I am thrilled to have won and hope I will be lucky again soon!

Thanks Wild Thing! You make my heart sing! You make everything groovy (and delicious!)

Friday, 4 March 2016

Diwrnod Dewi Sant (St David's day)

Well ffrindiau, March the first was St David's day. St David is the patron saint of Wales (and of doves) and it is a big deal here. Many places in Wales have parades and events and all sorts of stuff going on. Some friends from the Carmarthen Vegans had an outing last  weekend in honour of Dewi Sant --we especially like him because he was a vegetarian and early animal rights activist. He was a tad bit on the extreme side with his asceticism (we Carmarthen vegans love to have fun) but his ideas about animals were right on the money.

So who was St David? 
According to an article in the Telegraph with a bit of wiki thrown in:

He was born in Caerfai in Pembrokshire, Wales in around 500 AD. He was recognised as a national patron saint at the height of Welsh resistance to the Normans. He helped to spread the word of Christianity, and he founded around 12 monastaries in his lifetime. Monastaries founded by him were known for their extreme asceticism, where monks abstained from worldly pleasures, living on a diet of bread, vegetables, water.They also did all hard labour themselves, including farming without the aid of ox to plow the fields.

While little is known about St David's life, he is known for performing miracles. His most famous miracle was when he was preaching to a large crowd in the village of Llanddewi Brefi stands on the spot where the ground on which he stood is reputed to have risen up to form a small hill so that those gathered could see him better. A white dove, which became his emblem, was seen settling on his shoulder. John Davies notes that one can scarcely "conceive of any miracle more superfluous" in that part of Wales than the creation of a new hill. note: this cracks me up because if you have ever watched Little Britain the village of Llanddewi Brefi is where "the only gay in the village" lives. Also Wales is full of hills. Everywhere you go is uphill, both ways. I swear. That is the Welshest miracle ever!
St David also lived after eating bread poisoned by monks at his monastary who tired of their life of austerity, and restored the sight of his tutor, St Paulinius. Ha! This is why St David needed to be a bit more of a "joyful vegan"--so his own monks wouldn't revolt against him!  
In medieval times, St David was thought to be the nephew of King Arthur. In some stories, it is his mother who was the niece of King Arthur. Legend also says that St Patrick foresaw David's birth.
St David is thought to have died on March 1, 589 AD, and his remains were buried in St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, which was a popular place of pilgrimage after he was canonised in 1120 AD.
the daffodil is the national symbol of Wales

People often wear leeks in remembrance of St David's guidance during the battle against the Saxons when, supposedly, St David advised Welsh warriors to wear a leek during a battle with the Saxons, so enemies and allies could be distinguished.
They won the battle and leeks became a Welsh symbol.

During St David's last sermon he said words to his followers were: "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us."
"Do the little things" has become a well-known inspirational saying in Wales.

So when the Carmarthen vegans heard that you could get into the Botanic Gardens for FREE (am ddim!) on the weekend before St David's day we were there like a shot because love nothing more than a free day out with lovely outdoor surroundings and a picnic lunch (even if it is freezing cold!)

It was fantastic. We walked all around the outside gardens and when we got cold we went into the dome. The dome was used in the Doctor Who episode of The Waters of Mars as Bowie Base One.
Inside the dome there were lots of stalls selling their wares--crafts like stained glass to spicy chutneys. Of course the obligatory sausages (Wales is a farming country, sadly) but we just ignored those and looked at all the other things. There were several choirs singing--both in Welsh and English. There was a fabulous duo called Fiddlebox walking around and playing their instruments like ghostly apparitions. George Whitfield on accordion and Helen Adam on violin wandered the grounds and the sounds of traditional Welsh tunes like The Ash Grove and All through the night floated over the hills. Magical!

There was also tonnes of people wearing traditional dress. I love the Welsh national costume--the stovepipe hats the women wear are astounding. Several men and women in traditional dress did some folk dancing which reminded me of my old days in Hitchin at Staplers and The British Schools Museum.

My heart longed to join in and then what do you know--the call came for others to dance! I was over there like a shot, my face beaming and my feet bouncing up and down in little hops. It was only then did I notice that this was mainly aimed at kids and their parents. Some nice lady in a stovepipe hat asked where my partner was and so I quickly called my friend Priya over as I knew she loves to dance and doesn't mind looking a bit of a fool. I'm in my pink coat and Priya is in yellow. You can't miss us!
Big circle of fun

this dad had to step in because the little girl would not hold my hand!

1, 2, 3 clap!
swing your partner

skip to the right

swing this way

swing that way

We were heading to the café at this point to get a hot drink, but after the dancing I certainly didn't need one!

We had a brilliant day, enjoying the view, feeding a duck, stuffing our faces full of vegan goodies and laughing like crazy. All for free. It really doesn't get an better than this, folks.

We had so much fun we decided to make this a St David's day tradition. Hoorah!