I don’t know how many of you were lucky enough to visit the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Maldwyn a’r Gororau in 2003 (or ‘Eisteddfod Meifod’ as it’s affectionately known), but it’s an Eisteddfod which went down in history and one that will stay in some people’s memories for a very long time.
I spent the week there (as part of my recovery from an emotional breakdown), staying in a beautiful holiday chalet, overlooking lush, green rolling hills, accompanied by my parents and a dear family friend - it was a very important and special week for me. Though both Aran and myself were at the Eisteddfod for the whole week and often in exactly the same spots enjoying the same events and performances, we actually didn’t know each other at all and didn’t meet till the following year.
The Maes was placed in a beautiful setting on the Mathrafal Farm fields, surrounded by a stunning, lush, green vistas and with everything set neatly within close proximity. Vehicle access was easy and traffic flowed all week with no major problems. It was decided early on in the week that this was one of the best locations ever chosen for the Eisteddfod.
It was also a scorching hot summer! Appart from one single and much needed day of rain, the sun shone brightly, temperatures were high and parasols, sun hats and fans adorned the Eisteddfod avenues - in fact 60,000 litres of water were drunk in the back of the pavilion during the week’s competitions!
After long, hot and very therapeutic days with my family on the Maes, we spent every evening on the veranda of our holiday chalet, enjoying good conversation, good food and the odd gin and tonic, it was blissful…
Attendance was high with 7,500 more people attending than the previous year and the atmosphere was really good.
Meifod was particularly special for Aran. He was one of the Dysgwr y Flwyddyn finalists and also won a beautiful ‘Tlws Rhyddiaith Dysgwr’ for a piece of prose he wrote entitled ‘Bendramwnwgl’.
The actor Ioan Gruffudd became the newest , white robe member of the Orsedd and our good friend Twm Morys won the chair for a piece of work named ‘Drysau’. The new Welsh Dating website Pishyn.Com (where Aran and I were to met the following year in 2004) had it’s first big publicity stunt called ‘Beirdd Mewn Trons’ outside its underwear clad stall - poets and bards wearing underpants and knickers over their clothes and reading poetry - hilarious!
Mornings on the Maes begun with John Ogwen’s ritual readings of Harri Parri’s fictitious adventures of the residents of ‘Porth yr Aur’ in the Babell Len, a highly entertaining and often hilarious performance, which had the audience in stitches. I attended every morning without fail - it was fabulous and very memorable.
Serendipitously, almost two years later on a sunny 23 of July 2005, sitting in the back of a silver Mercedes, my father by my side and an ivory veil over my face, I lent forward to ask the driver if he minded switching Radio Cymru on. The car was suddenly filled with the sound of laughter, as broadcasting that afternoon, was a recording of John Ogwen’s reading of Harri Parri’s work at the Meifod Eisteddfod in 2003… and there was me in stitches again.
Well next year, the Eisteddfod goes back to the Mathrafal Farm fields in Meifod. We can’t guarantee good weather, free flowing traffic and an excellent atmosphere, but as an Eisteddfod location, it has everything going for it. For me personally, it will be so good to return to such a beautiful area which holds so many special memories. This is why, as a family, we’ve decided to spend the whole week in the area during the 2015 Eisteddfod, spending time on the maes and enjoying local attractions.
I have been lucky enough (during the last hour in fact) to secure a self catering cottage for the four of us, for August 2015 - but it wasn’t easy!
As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, there’s usually a real battle to find accommodation during the Eisteddfod week, no matter which area it’s located in, so you ALWAYS have to get in early!
This time though, possibly because of the success of the 2003 Eisteddfod, some of the self catering accommodation in the area has already been booked for several months! So a word to the wise - if you have plans on attending the Eisteddfod in Meifod in August of 2015 and are interested in finding self catering accommodation, NOW is the time to start looking and booking!
I found an independent search on Google unhelpful, but did find some lovely ‘vacant’ cottages through the ‘Sykes Cottages’ and ‘Best of Wales’ websites.
So we hope to see you there and come rain or shine we’ll make the most of the week and hope to squeeze in a really special SSiW social evening/party along the way.