Are you sitting comfortably?

Then let me tell you all a story–about growing up in Wales…

Rhiannon was a really special kid, we all loved her angelic face framed in dark brown curls, and her radiant smile drew your attention away from her awkward rolling gait. She had the sweetest nature. Slow at some things, Rhian’ was always first to notice if someone was upset, and would do some little kindness like fetch their milk at the break (‘playtime’), or just take their hand and smile.

Once a year, all Cardiff’s schools competed in athletics at a huge stadium. My junior school produced some incredible athletes – not much else, but we were tops at sport, and our girls’ relay team was unbeatable, with the best sprinters in the city at that time.

Like most of us, Rhian’ was normally a spectator, but one sports day she showed up in shorts wanting to run in a race, oblivious of all the heats beforehand. Maybe it was her earnestness or winning smile, but to our astonishment she was escorted onto the field and placed at the last handover spot for the relay final.

When the starting gun went, our #1 sprinter shot forward and left the others in the dust. Same for our next two runners who built up such a lead that all Rhian’ had to do was trot to the finish. The stadium fell silent as our rivals closed the gap, then with just feet to go a huge gasp went up as the only one who might have beaten Rhian’ tripped and dropped her baton. Sensing a problem, Rhian’ turned, helped her up, gave her our baton and led her by the hand to the finish. Disqualified, we drew for last place – no podium or pretty ribbon for Rhian’,… or so we thought.

At the closing ceremony the entire relay team, including the girl who had given up her place for Rhian’ to run was awarded special medals for their fine spirit – it was just great!

Friends, as a novice in terms of learning Welsh, part of my motive in studying the language is to connect with roots buried deep in my psyche and soul–having grown up in Wales, but emigrated to Canada in my 20s. So far I have completed Gwers 20 and Challenge 20 (and my imaginary horse-race between these two formats is described under ‘What am I hearing, or missing…’ )

Last night, Tatjana created the book cover above for this imaginary race, suggesting I record whatever I like in it. Others on this forum have also encouraged my to tell some stories, so while I cannot tackle them in Welsh yet, I thought I would start in English and gradually morph into Welsh. To begin this saga, I decided to share a story from my schooldays–a story about a race of a different sort–a race that my ‘best friend’ who had suffered polio took part in–and won a lot of hearts. I hope you liked it.

This story book in the making is for you all to enjoy (I hope) and contribute to (please). I already asked for anecdotes and stories under yet another topic ‘Crepe paper daffodils, leeks…’ but am still searching for a title that will be a catch-all for these memories, assuming we want to preserve and develop a culture and a way of life as well as the Welsh language.

Fingers crossed you will share some thoughts, no matter what, and toes crossed that those of you who are clever enough to copy stories from elsewhere on the forum can add them here too, no matter when they were written.

Lastly, Tatjana thank you for showing me how to copy the horse-racing title-page here to help this project along, because I dedicate this to you and to everyone on this forum who so generously helps others with advice, encouragement and yes, stories of your own.

Diolch yn fawr iawn,


That’s such a lovely story!

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Diolch yn fawr iawn @MarilynHames.

Well, Marilyn, the best thing to do (since I don’t have the right to edit other’s posts) is you to copy it into your first post here at the top of all your writing.

  • find the post in which the picture is published
  • rightclick on the picture to get short menu
  • choose Save picture as to save it on your computer
  • click edit post below your post here to open the editing window
  • place cursor to where you want to insert the pictue
  • open the folder which you’ve saved the picture in
  • locate picture there and drag it into the editing window.
  • press “save edit” (or whatever the button below editing window says apart from discard) and you’re done.


  • find the post in which the picture was published
  • rightclick on the picture to get short menu
  • choose copy picture
  • click edit post below your post here to open the editing window
  • position the cursor on the spot you want the picture to appear
  • press CTRL-V to paste the picture into the post
  • press “save edit” and you’re done.

So your storyline (a book) will really have the cover page first.

Thank you once again for your kind words and constant positive energy you’re spreading all around.



So Tatjana–see how much I am learning from you–and not just Welsh. Now I can cut and paste pictures too, there will be no stopping me…

Oh and folks, when I suggested the possibility of copying stories and anecdotes from elsewhere on this Forum, I meant your own posts, not anyone else’s. That’s only right and fair, but it would be lovely to have a place to collect all these gems.

Lastly… (famous last word)… it’s not just a remembered ‘way of Welsh life’ I hope we can preserve via these stories, but something that illustrates our shared values and vision–no matter what our backgrounds or where we come from.

Growing up in ‘Splott’ (true) back in the 50s my school-friends came from all over the world, especially Commonwealth countries and Europe–that was just the way it was. Yet on St. David’s Day we were all Welsh, all dressed up or wore daffodils and leeks, all learned to sing the National Anthem in Welsh, and all performed whatever songs, poetry, dances–just about any art-form that celebrated life–every life as precious and having something good to offer. We had Welsh folk-tales read to us, and then the teachers would ask if anyone had a similar tale to tell from where they originated. This was one of the most formative experiences for me–realizing that we all had so much in common, so much to share. Right now, it seems the world needs to hear that big time, and thanks to you, this Forum is a friendly place that captures that spirit in spades. Well done! Let’s keep it up and perhaps generate an even larger revival of goodwill.


A funny thing happened… on the way home from the disco…

Think 1960’s fashions and the last trolley bus home from disco-land in the centre of Cardiff on a rugby international day… Stopped at the traffic lights almost a block away, the double-decker trolley was still rockin’ and rollin’–well, at least swaying (and it wasn’t me or my imagination–honest). As we climbed the stairs, we could hear the hymns and arias being belted out full throttle, and my English boyfriend was greeted with the immortal line “Dyw boyo, you don’t sing tenor do you? We need another tenor back 'ere!”

Fast forward almost 50 years to Vancouver, Canada… I had persuaded my beloved of yea, these many years, to come to a Gymanfa Ganu at the Cambrian Hall about two weeks ago. Chwarae teg, at the door, the person handing out the programmes pounced on him with the greeting “Dyw, (no boyo this time), you don’t sing tenor do you?” To his total amazement, even the seats were labelled soprano, alto, tenor and bass–and yes, we did sing in four-part harmony. Some traditions never die, thank goodness :smile:

By the way–he does sing tenor, so that ensures a warm welcome!


To @tatjana
If I want to write something and it would be easier to do it off the forum and then copy it in, say it’s called ‘mystory’ in a file called ‘hanes’ what would I do to copy it over?
(It doesn’t exist, yet, I’m asking the general question and did wonder if other less with-it folk like me might also want to know!)
to @MarilynHames Loved it. I’d forgotten the trolley buses. When did they go?

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@henddraig you simply

  • Open the file
  • mark the text you want to copy
  • Copy it with CTRL+C
  • go to the forum
  • open the thread (or reply to it if it exists already)
  • paste the text into textbox in which you usually post your posts with CTRL+V

that’s it.


Yes, it was illegal… maybe that’s why it tasted so good…

The most memorable meal I ever had was bacon, eggs and toast cooked to perfection in the firebox of a GWR steam locomotive, served up and eaten directly off the shovel.

It helped to be the daughter of an engine driver and the darling of the engine sheds–at least until they phased out the steam trains and I lost interest. But let’s not go there… let’s go back to the good old days when steam reigned supreme, and as a little girl I had ‘spotted’ more trains than most boys 2-3 times my age, ‘serving my time’ hiding in the coal bunkers at the ends of platforms on every main station in the region–ticking off the numbers of the locos as they topped up their fuel and and took on water.

It was all very hush-hush… (strictly against company rules for children to be riding the footplate), but having hidden in the bunker as instructed, finally my dad’s train drew up, then his fireman lifted me up into the cab and hid me in the tender with the coal. Can you imagine the thrill of watching the houses and then the fields glide past as we picked up speed, or all the magical sounds? I also watched the fireman’s back-breaking work of keeping that fire-breathing beauty well fed, then on a long downhill stretch, he cleaned the shovel (which glistened like silver from the abrasion of the coal), put the bacon and bread on the flat part, then a little marg’ and eggs in the natural cups either side of the haft, and… yes into the edge of the firebox it went. Clearly, this was a well-practiced manoeuvre, and in no time, we ate our feast while ‘on the run’.

Talking of food, what is your favourite Welsh cakes recipe–or is it a secret?


Hanes gwych am frecwast trên ager Marilyn!

Although it’s not about steam trains (and nothing to do with Welsh), you might like this programme I’ve just been listening to:

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I’m onto it… Thank you for the heads up.


Wonderful, it sounds like we can look forward to some of your marvellous tales on here too. Can’t wait.

All the best,

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Why would anyone leave their Welsh Cakes to cool by an open window facing onto where children play if it wasn’t meant as an invitation to try one? Quite right, that’s what we thought too! Perhaps the bigger question is why would anyone leave their Welsh Cakes to cool anyway, when surely they are best eaten warm or piping hot straight off the bake-stone?

Here’s the recipe I use: 1lb flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp mace (sometimes a little allspice), 8 oz butter (no lard anymore), 1/4 lb currants, 4-6oz sugar (less is best), 2 large eggs, a little milk (if necessary), a pinch of salt. Mix, roll out on a lightly floured board, cut into circles using a glass, then bake on a bake-stone, griddle, of heavy skillet. It’s the next bit I like…

My husband machined my bake stone out of super high-grade steel used in making turbine blades. We were both apprentices at the time–it was sooo romantic–still is :smirk:


Early days (or rather nights)

I have come to the conclusion that memories form, either when something really exciting happens which lodges for ever in my brain, or when the same thing happens so often that it becomes imprinted.

What must be my earliest memory is of the second kind. I am being picked up out of my cot in semi-darkness and carried. I can’t actually see where my mam is carrying me, because I’m snuggled up against her in a blanket, but I can tell we’re going downstairs. I know we go into the kitchen, then the scullery, out the back, into the open air. I am vaguely aware of the sound of the siren. Then I am being handed down to my gran who is already in the shelter,

This happened virtually every night for a long time. I don’t recall much about inside the shelter. I know we had a paraffin heater in the winter, but that is from a later memory. So was a time I do not remember, but was told about, when it was still daylight when the ‘all clear’ sounded. When we came out, I said, “Oh! They haven’t done the blackout yet!” I think my mother, after laughing, was shocked to realise how I had grown up defining night and day!!

So it must be, I suspect, for all ‘war babies’!



Diolch yn fawr iawn!!! :thumbsup:


I’ve got just lightening strike of an idea to summon all those tales of yours in a book (file) which will slowly develope into something unique and “standalone” to read …

Some of you are such a story tellers …


Bet you remember the smell of a paraffin heater (that is if you walked into a room where one was lit, you would know it was there before seeing it).

Cheers J.P.


Diolch yn fawr iawn–this is spell-binding and so beautiful to read about such love and care being passed through three generations during tough and scary times. It redefines safety and security in very personal terms, especially in the darkest times… Lovely!

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I am hoping this might develop exactly as you suggest Tatjana, because we all have a great story inside us, a great story to share that we could weave into the most exquisite tapestry with all the colour that different words and languages can bring. Already I have woven some of your comments and native words for mommy into it, for they are mini stories in themselves.

What a project this could be–a grand saga fit for a bard to retell at boot camps and the rest of us to read around firesides in far-flung places. That’s why I called this “Are you sitting comfortably?” Maybe there is a better title (in Welsh) and better format, but Tatjana, with your huge network, please get the word out… :sun_with_face:

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To @MarilynHames
Sorry, I am not very fond of Welsh cakes, although I agree they should be eaten hot, but I never make them!!
to @ramblingjohn
Oh, definitely paraffin smell known well, and not just from then. Paraffin lamps smell much the same and I depended on one of those on Gower every time we lost power, which in my cottage was often, due to an over-sensitive trip!! (I swore that lightning over Llanelli kicked it on!)

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More Early Days

This is the ‘single impressive event’ type of memory.

My dad returned from Burma just before VJ Day. I remember my Mam was washing nylons in the sink and my Gran let out a shriek from the front parlour. (Why she was there, I don’t know. It was only used on Christmas Day and when the Rent Man came!). I suspect ‘checking on the neighbours’, but she may have been dusting!

I ran to her and saw a khaki coloured square open-sided vehicle outside. I had never seen one before and it took me a moment to notice that everyone was yelling my dad’s name. I found out later that the vehicle was called a jeep!

After being given nearly everything he had brought back, whether suitable or not, in a wash of “Oh, my little girl, she’s perfect!” I found that, when he had calmed down he ‘forgot’ giving me all those Indian ornaments and other things. I reminded both parents, frequently, that they were mine!! (Oh, he did not give me the dagger or the kukri!)

I do not remember taking him round the neighbourhood and introducing him to assorted shopkeepers, “This is my Dad, back from Burma!” I was told later, that some said words which implied that I did not really know him. “Of course I do!” I cried, “He hasn’t changed a bit!”

My mother had a lot of faults, but she had done a brilliant job of showing me every photograph of my dad and talking about him so vividly that I did know him and, of course, he hadn’t changed a bit!!

I know many children cried in fright when a strange man came to their home, not having any idea who or what a dad was! It was hard enough for us both to rub along when he found (quickly) that his ‘perfect little girl’ did not obey orders like the men in his command and was a natural ‘barrack room lawyer’, but at least we started well!!