[Tour diary - Day 3 p.1 Clonc-edigion] Roaming around Wales, speaking Welsh

The Clonc-edigion
In early January, @Nicky had announced:
Saturday 2nd February 11:00 a.m. - The Riverside Cafe, Tregaron
The Official 13 month anniversary of “Clonc-edigion”
(Because yearly birthday parties are over-rated)

We’re on the Forum where this all started, so most people have probably heard of Clonc-edigion. But for those who haven’t, here how Nicky himself had described the idea:

“Clonc-edigion is a group of friendly Welsh speakers of all abilities (from total beginners to fluent speakers) that meet monthly to make new friends, share stories, practice Welsh out and get out there and experience what Ceredigion and the surrounding areas has to offer.”

Today, snow and ice on the roads, and the Riverside Cafe closed due to weather doesn’t sound like a promising start. But participants from Ceridigion, nearby counties and faraway lands are determined to overcome adversity. Luckily for us, there’s another suitable location, in Tregaron: a broadcast of warning messages allow us to meet at 11 at Cafe Hafan.

@Deborah-SSi is giving a lift to @Ingrid.L and me. Quite a peculiar lot, in this car, now that I think about it: one German, one Italian and one infiltrate from the Pacific Ocean area driving them to a remote location in Wales, while the Government is busy sorting out the Brexit mess. In other times, it would have been enough to raise suspicion, I guess. What’s really going to be discussed at this Clonc-Ewrop-edigion?
But of course, how to get Welsh language to conquer the world!

Most participants had met in person before. And the few of us who are new, and from different countries, have talked before on SSiW Forum. So now it’s a bit as if we all knew one another already. Magic of the Internet, when used wisely!

Cymraeg is the magnet that attracted us all here, and obviously the one and only official language in the group and with the staff - who’s happy to speak Welsh with us. However we all know we can use a little bit of English, if we need to.

But what if we had no other language to fall back to? All of a sudden, I remember my first time in England, when our group of Italian students got off the coach and each one left with their host family. Mine, really nice and welcoming, and with a Brummie-Geordie mix of accents. Goodbye Received Pronunciation, Queen’s English and school practice, hello real world! And no matter what accent, English was the only common language - well, sort of - so I had no choice but try and understand as much as I could and just try and say things. The first days were embarrassing and exhausting, but I remember I had a great time and when I came back, I was able to have a conversation in a foreign language. In Wales, unfortunately, it’s easier to get lazy and find excuses.

In this International clonc, a few guest idioms are exceptionally used: German, Italian and also the lesser-known Beaufortese and Datblyguan. What? You’ve never heard of them? The first appeared in the Forum when @HuwJones named Carini’s as best Italian Ice Cream in the world (and childhood favourite). I got curious and found a video featuring Marco Carini - son of Giacomo “Jake” Carini, who had come from Italy with his brothers in search of work in the early 20th century, opened a cafe and started making ice cream in Beaufort. Mister Carini speaks English with an awesome accent, that I had never heard before. Huw identified it as authentic Ebbw Vale (later renamed Beaufortese) and promised he’d speak some at the clonc for me. As for Datblyguan, I will explain shortly.

Sgwrs tend to wander through a variety of subjects.
like @BronwenLewis summed up: “Well, that was fun! Topics included the anomalous expansion of water, a helpful Radio Cymru tip on cleaning your toilet brush and a lively debate on the best decade for British music (the 60s, obvs). We only mentioned the B word (Birthday) briefly, in order to wish everyone Penblywdd Hapus for Cloncedigion’s 1st birthday. And to remember our Founding Father - sorry you couldn’t be with us, Nicky.”

Debates may continue in the Forum:
@Isata: I think you must have blacked out for a moment when we voted, Bronwen. It was definitely the 70s.
@Ingrid.L: def agree with you Isata!

While the Eastern section of the table was discussing the anomalous expansion of water (if I’m not wrong, started by @helenlindsay) , the Western side seemed to lean towards more trivial matters, like music:
@Isata: I’ve discovered that I did know at least one track by Datblygu, which they play on Radio Cymru a lot. Now, thanks to Macky and Gisella, I’ve discovered a few more, including the one that Gisella is fluent in. I like this band!
@Macky: “Hollol hollol hollol…diddorol. Amazing story and reason for learning Welsh from Gisella. Has to be one of best learning stories I’ve heard thus far”.

At school, trying to remember poems by rote in Italian was a nightmare - even though I was equipped with fresh neurons and synapses
As I started learning Welsh because I liked the way it sounded in a few songs, I thought reading lyrics along might be an enjoyable way to learn to pronounce words right. After a while I just ended up remembering them, without even meaning to! One in particular is basically spoken and I’m able to tell it like a story - as it actually is - effortlessly and smoothly.
I did so, at the Clonc and my giggling audience said that if someone asks me what languages I’m fluent in, I should answer: “Italian, English, French and Datblygu” I will, but to avoid confusion I’m going to call it Datblyguan. So remember: call Huw for Beaufortese, me for Datblyguan.

Note: I’ll be back on Day 3 part 2, with Day 5 (and last), in visit Ceredigion mode. For now I’m going to just close with this because it seems a fine introduction to Day 4, coming next.
To read previous installment
([Tour diary - Day 2 p.2 - Caerfyrddin] Roaming around Wales, speaking Welsh)

To find out more about it or keep updated about next Clonc-edigions, see here:
(Clonc-edigion - The Touring Ceredigion Meet Up)


I’ve been looking forward to this and am not at all disappointed. We are getting used to your skilful, humorous and observant writing. This page of your diary evokes beautifully the “clonc” which was the first but hopefully not the last time I met you. :clap:


I just stopped in my tracks reading this. Some years ago, my grandmother, then in her 90s, was reminiscing to me about her childhood in Beaufort. She remembered a man called Mr Carini who used to sell ice creams from a cart in the street. During the war, she said, some men came to take him and his family away (presumably for internment?) She was quite emotional remembering how upset people were, and how they begged them not to take him as he was ‘one of us’. (I’m now quite emotional remembering my Nanna!)


There are so many people even on this forum with fond memories of the Carinis.
I was born in Beaufort and have posted my own memories elsewhere. I was too young (born in '45) to talk to “Jake” about internment but my grandparents were well aware of it. A number of 2nd world war internees ended up on the Isle of Man, but a tragic number were lost at sea on the way to internment in Canada in 1940.
(I’ve deliberately not provided a link to the account - too sad and ironic)

edit: my own post was in response to Gisella’s previous post containing a fascinating video


This is another sweet story, Isata!
And sad, I didn’t know this side. Actually didn’t even know that random civilians were interned (and in some cases died). :frowning:

However, going back to the merrier side…it’s great to hear that so many people have such fond memories of the ice cream makers!


As far as I am aware almost every town in Wales will have an ice cream parlour run by Italian imigrants who have long become part of the communities the serve. My mother from Mountain Ash would call the ice cream parlour the Brachi, heavens knows why that name, but in Skewen where I was brought up we had Crecis’, lovely ice cream there, but almost everyone I know in the Neath Swansea are knew of Joe’s Ice cream parlour in Mumbles and Swansea, yes another family originally from Italy, whose ice cream is legendary. I had ago at making their ice cream on the basis that I could guess their secret formula, I was pleased with the results but still, when back home in the Swansea area I cannot resist a visit to Joe’s to sample his wonderful ice cream.


My mother was stationed in the Isle of Man for a while during the war. I think it was when she was being trained for her later role. She said that some of the sea front hotels and guest houses had been requisitioned to house internees, including Italians. These would have been the lucky ones who were held relatively near home. At least a few must have either remained in the Isle of Man or returned later, because while on holiday there in the mid-60s I have my first encounter with real Italian ice cream.


I would guess it was their family name.
Probably Bracchi, that we pronounce as in Welsh phonetics braci (or in English brack-kee), not sure how your mother or people there would say it.

Oh, see what I found googling around now (from an article about Italians in Wales by Phil Carradice)
One cafe owner in the Rhondda, by the name of Bracchi, became so famous that his name was taken and used as a collective noun. Consequently, for years any Italian cafe was known as “a Bracchi".

@margarethall: what was your mother training for?


My mother was in the ATS and was training to be a Special Wireless Operator. She was later posted to Harrogate where there was a listening station out on the moors. All the women were living in Queen Ethelberga’s school. Basically they were gathering the raw material that was then taken down to Bletchley Park to be decoded. It was all top secret and I never knew exactly what she did until relatively recently and by then my mother had died. I was sad that I never got to talk in detail about what she did.

Here’s a link to an account by a woman doing the same job as my mum.


Wow, how many unexpected and incredible stories I’m hearing! :slightly_smiling_face:


She was a fever nurse.

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