Thirty years ago, Jean Brandwood (@jeanbrandwood) from Greater Manchester, fell in love with Pen Llŷn in North Wales and it soon became one of her favourite places to visit. In 2012 she discovered SaySomethinginWelsh and started to learn the language, immersing herself deeper in Welsh culture and the communities in which she and her husband stayed in. Jean even started to attend local church services which gave her further opportunities to practise Welsh, making lifelong friends along the way.
Jean is an Occupational Therapist in the NHS, working with children, young people, families with mental health difficulties and more recently with neurodiverse adults. Her holidays in Wales with her husband and sometimes her grown-up sons have been the perfect antidote to an often demanding career.
Being an avid walker, Jean’s visits to Wales soon became perfect opportunities to escape the stresses of everyday life by walking the Llŷn Coastal Path and discovering even more of this country and its people.
The tales from Jean’s wonderful walks with her husband have evolved into a fascinating travel guide called A Welsh Learner’s Ramble Along the Llŷn Coastal Path. The book not only describes Jean’s walks but also tells the tale of her journey into the Welsh language and the characters she meets along the way.
This gem of a travel book is now available to buy here - www.gwales.com - 9781845278977, Welsh Learner's Ramble Along the Llŷn Coastal Path, A
Here’s a little more about Jean’s book:
“Most travel guides suggest that the Llŷn Coastal Path can be completed in 10 simple walks, perhaps over a week or two. Jean and her husband Jim, who have been visiting Llŷn regularly since 1991, took a more leisurely approach, dividing the journey into 42 return walks and completing their ramble in August 2021 after just over three years! The walks are described in detail and include QR codes enabling readers to follow parts or all of the path if they wish to. Jean frequently rambles away from the path to describe her experiences of learning to speak Welsh, to reflect on memories evoked along the way and to describe discoveries that she made about the people and places in this very special part of north Wales. The journey is rudely interrupted in 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic and Jean describes the changes that occur in Llyn and in her own life until she and Jim are finally able to return to complete their adventure.”
Diolch yn fawr iawn Catrin. Thank you so much for the mention Catrin. As I mention in the book, I’ll be forever grateful to SSIW for giving me this beautiful language. It has led to so many wonderful experiences and to my meeting some amazing people. The book is written in English, but with some Welsh words along the way. But all my communications with the publishers were in Welsh and at my book launch in November I’ll be answering questions in Welsh and English. I really didn’t see this on the horizon! I didn’t want to do any formal courses and definitely didn’t want to sit any exams so SSIW was perfect for me and through some kind of strange magic the SSIW method works!!
I still dip into the advanced content and redo some of the earlier challenges to give my Welsh language muscles a workout and I continue to get a buzz out of completing each one.
Diolch yn fawr iawn Catrin, Aran a phawb SSIW!!
I’ve just ordered Jean’s book and will be looking forward to reading it (if and when it makes its Brexit red tape-dogged way over here to Munich!).
I thoroughly recommend going to church - even if you’re not the slightest bit religious - to sing the wonderful hymns (even if you have no idea what the words mean you can pronounce them without difficulty once you know the basics) and try out your Welsh in a really warm and welcoming atmosphere. When on holiday in Cricieth a few years ago we went to the local chapel. After the lovely service people were so kind and went out of their way to chat to me; they even went off and found a German speaker to talk to my husband, who doesn’t speak much English (let alone Welsh), while I stuttered and stammered my embarrassingly incoherent way through a few sentences.
A couple of years later, when in London, I visited the Welsh Church of Central London where everyone was equally welcoming, even inviting me for a paned a sgwrs afterwards.
Thank you so much Janet! Amazing to think one is heading off to Munich! I hope you enjoy it.I’m happy to hear of your positive experiences with the people of Cricieth too.
Thank you for sharing these Deborah. I’m rather nervous about the whole thing but excited too. That sounds like a sentence I learnt to say in Welsh with SSIW, not far into the course!
Jean’s book has arrived at last after a couple of Brexit-related delays (as expected) . I’ve only had time to read a couple of pages so far but I know I’m going to love it; it’s centred around Jean’s love for the language and contains all kinds of fascinating language and history-related knowledge, and lovely stories about the people she met - alongside details of the walks themselves, of course. I immediately warmed to the idea that instead of completing the Coastal Path in a short but strenuous series of exhausting marathons, Jean and her husband really did ramble their way along it, as per the title - just my kind of pace!
I’ve only just seen this Janet. Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot to me to have such lovely feedback. I’m glad the book reached you safely and I hope you continue to enjoy it.
Helô Jean . I have just finished reading your brilliant book which I purchased from gwales.Really enjoyed the mixture of family memories,Welsh culture,meaning of place names and descriptions of pathways,Croesi fy mysedd I intend to visit Llŷn next year and follow some of your rambles.Did you come across the coastal bus that passes thro all the major towns? Diolch y galon Rob
Oh Robert, thank you so much for taking the time to write this thoughtful message! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book. I’ve been quite nervous of feedback as I know it may not be everyone’s cup of tea
I’ve seen the buses around but never used them. I like the idea of doing some hop on and off journeys with them.
We’re now focusing on hill walks and I’m writing about these and about what’s going on in Llŷn in preparation for the Eisteddfod this year and I’m hoping the last chapter will be about the event itself. Then I’ll have to speak nicely to the publisher.
I hope you enjoy your walking and are able to follow the descriptions. Happy New Year!!
Your book is now in my Amazon basket, Jean! Just to say that I am defeated by the very idea of writing a post on any website / in any forum.I am too old-fashioned. BUT, I have been learning Welsh since November (Duolingo, Foundations 1 now) and am struggling to know how on earth I can practise the language with another learner, especially when I am at this primitive level! Your name popped up when I looked into groups in my hometown of Manchester. Would you be happy to respond to my email address (email@example.com) so I can pick your brains for some advice on how to proceed? I am a recently retired teacher of ancient languages. I would so appreciate your help. Diolch yn fawr iawn.
Hi Rachel, I’m just tagging @jeanbrandwood so that she’ll see your message sooner.
Well you’re in the right place to develop your Welsh - with SSIW. Of course I’ll email you and let you know about our group in Manchester that meets up regularly. Thank you so much for buying my book. I hope you enjoy it. Speak soon, Jean.
And diolch yn fawr iawn Siaron for tagging me
@jeanbrandwood now has a Facebook page where she shares her experiences as a Welsh learner and frequent visitor to Pen Llŷn. She enjoys writing about Welsh language music, literature, and art, as well as her favourite local Llŷn businesses, especially cafes!
Thank you so much for the plug Catrin. I’d wondered about putting something on the forum but I’m not very good at selling myself Diolch o galon i ti x