2015 Summer Lunch

Chiltern District Welsh Society 2015 Summer Lunch at our chairman’s home in Chesham Bois.

The beginning and end of the day looked like this respectively:
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And in between it was transformed for the Cymru ar Wasgar yn y Chilterns.

And the sun shone on Kay and Peter’s lovely home and garden in Chesham Bois which is where we were this year. Of the 47 people who turned up, approximately 20 had been involved in preparing for it in one form or another: from the erection team who magicked

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the gazebos, table and chairs, to the ladies led by our President Ann Evans who prepared the lovely table decorations, the committee who scheduled the event, printed notices and published it on the web site, and Maldwyn and Gwyndaf who collected and delivered the equipment a couple of days before, and returned it a couple of days afterwards. Thank you all.

We were at Kay and Peter Day’s home in Chesham Bois. Some of us felt at home because we thought the “boys” from the valleys had already been here, whereas in reality the Bois comes from the de Bosco family (the French version of which was ‘de Bois’) as far back as 1213 when a William du Bois was holding the local manor.

We arrived at 9:30 to put up the equipment. There has to be something in management training about 5 leaders telling 3 subordinates what to do. This saw us getting everything installed in record time. WelshSummerLunch2015 014a

This allowed everyone to return home, dress up and appear as guests! And fine we all looked too.

 

 

WelshSummerLunch2015 019aSomeone wanted to know where to put up the Welsh bunting, whereas of course bunting was an English Royal Naval term and therefore an antithesis when used with Welsh.

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Our Chairman Kay Day welcomed everyone in Welsh and English and, ably accompanied by chorister Jonathan, led us in our national anthem. Gwyn Owen, Colin Thomas, Jean Owen, Ann Thomas, Ann Evans and John Breese’s voices were prominent, so much so that they acted like a homing beacon for Ann and Barrie Reece who were still lost on Clifton Road!!

The garden looked lovely – Colin Thomas said you wouldn’t get a garden like that in Gerrards Cross because they would have sold half of it for development.

Two eminent members of the society took opposite views as to who should take credit for the garden – one said it was due to Kay’s hard work, whilst the other said it was Peter’s. I think it was a joint effort. This year’s 30 question quiz was to find, from 30 places in the garden, where the fishpond had been – and that’s how the Welsh became good at the loose maul!

WelshSummerLunch2015 026Conversation flowed as we caught up with hwn ar llall. Each table developed its own personality: Margaret and John Edwards’ table was consumed in lively, humorous and energetic conversation with science and technology as a probable theme. Our table talked holidays, golf, theatre and opera and, the upcoming Brecon trip in September.

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I heard conversations about food and restaurants from another table. And laughter came from all tables.

Eager to catch up with others, we meandered at leisure amongst the other tables.

 

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Our caterers this year were To Dine for Catering. They provided us with Salmon en croute, Chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham, new potatoes, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, asparagus/mixed leaf salad,   Lemon Tart, fresh fruit salad, cream,  Tea/coffee mints. Pryd perffaith!

And the sun shone all day.

But a gust of wind saw me frighteningly and single handedly, for a few brief fleeting seconds when everything seemed to go into slow motion and appear longer as they do in accidents alone, on the wrong side of the gazebo trying to keep it from flying off!

That was until others leapt at the trailing legs. Had we not had such brawn as Gwyn Owen, Ralph Broomby, Jonathan Pegler and Peter Day leap into action, we could have seen the gazebo carving a path across tables and garden, and then taking off with me still hanging on to a leg as if in a take for Mary Poppins. In the event we had 6 men offering various pieces of advice on how to get one of the struts back into place.

Di Thomas was serenaded to a happy birthday by the mixed voice choir of the Chiltern District Welsh Society. Barrie Reece demonstrated how to sing the “soh lah te doh” to a climax on the final line of the verse!

And whilst Gwyndaf John had come to help us in the morning, he and Janet couldn’t be with us. They’d just become grandparents the Thursday before, and hadn’t yet seen their grandson because they’d been on holiday in Ireland until the Saturday evening. Likewise David and Irene Powell couldn’t be with us because their parents were unwell and they also had a granddaughter on Thursday. We missed them all. Congratulations to both families on their new arrivals!

Later in the afternoon Jonathan and Kay distributed the 2015 Summer Newsletter which had been prepared by David Powell. What a fine job David does of it, including the stapling, layout and design. Thank you David – your fine work on the website, photos, write ups and news letters are really appreciated by the society. It reminds us that we’ve been going for 15 years, and at nearly 130 members makes us one of the largest Welsh Societies in Britain – could be even 2nd according to one scholarly research.

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And then Jonathan, saving our chairman’s embarrassment of giving the host (herself) a thank you gift! presented Kay and Peter with flowers and a bottle of wine respectively to thank them for opening up their lovely home and garden to us.

What I learnt was how many of us spoke Welsh, and yet we don’t so much at our society’s events. For example, I didn’t know that Maldwyn spoke such excellent Welsh. Kay, who comes from DwyGyfylchi near Penmaenmawr, and I spoke Welsh for the first time together. Cadwch yr iaith yn fyw!

Ceiriog – one of Wales’s greatest poets in the mid 19th century – wrote of the Welsh’s shyness when living in (Manchester) the land of the English (or saeson from the word Saxon). Our summer lunch showed another side, a thriving confident true community and society, working together and enjoying each other’s company – what a difference from the “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt” world of today.

And with a 1,2,3, down the gazebos came, and everything was packed for next year.

What a heart-warming, thoroughly enjoyable day! Courtesy of our hosts and volunteers.

Ac ymlaen!

 

Bill Jones.

 

 

AGM Friday 8th May 2015

Chairman’s report.

P1050746aJonathan Pegler welcomed everyone to the meeting, including 10 new members. The Press coverage has been excellent this year, and the society is thriving with healthy finances. Jonathan continued and reviewed the various events throughout the year.

The 2015/16 year will include the following :-

  • local walk on the 18th June – Marsworth in Herts along the Grand Union Canal.
  • Summer lunch – 10th July at Kay & Peter Day, Chesham Bois
  • Golf Day 28th August at Oakland Park Golf Club, Chalfont St Giles
  • Short break centred on Brecon on14th September ( 4-5 days)
  • During October it is hoped to finalise a London Day both to the BBC TV Centre and a visit to a Brewery.
  • In November it is planned to attend The Singer of The Year event in London. Details not yet confirmed.
  • On 13th Christmas Drinks at Dilys and Bill Dover’s home in Gerrards Cross.

We start 2016 with The Quiz evening, to be followed on Tuesday 1st March with our St David’s Day Dinner, at Gerrards Cross Golf Club.

Jonathan hinted that there may be a “Special Speaker” at the 2017 St. David’s Day event. He also thanked all the Committee for their hard work & support throughout his period as Chairman.

Treasurer’s Report.

Graham presented the Accounts up to 15th March 2015. Membership is now up to 127, an all time record. We have a healthy balance despite the higher costs of printing, primarily associated with the larger newsletters and also expenditure on a new hi tech projector.

After his 2 years as Chairman, Jonathan is stepping down and Kay Day was nominated as the next Chairman. Jean Owen will be the new Minutes Secretary.

P1050767Kay Day welcomed everyone in both English and Welsh and proposed Jonathan Pegler as vice Chairman.

Ann Evans thanked Jonathan for his 2 years hard work & presented him with a thank you gift.

Ann Evans reported that Mike Stythe had been an active member of the Society for many years, organising walks and holidays. For health reasons he can no longer attend meetings and other activities , so Ann suggested we make Mike an Honorary Member.

The formal business being completed the members enjoyed an excellent supper prepared by Ann Tennant.

P1050751aChicken Curry & Rice or Beef Stew, followed by a wide choice of desserts including profiteroles, rhubarb fool, raspberry brule, ginger meringue, white chocolate cake and cheese and biscuits.

 

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Entertainment was provided by a  duo of 2 leading tenors, members of the London Welsh Male Voice choir: Geraint Lewis and David Jones.

 

Visit to Abertawe, September 2014

And yet again, a visit to “Mae hen Wlad fy’nhadau”– but this time to Abertawe.sea The Coach arrived on time at the picking-up points and then this joyous crowd of Welsh Supporters, seeking fun and knowledge, enjoyed a trip down the M4 in magnificent sunshine, over the Bridge, paid the entrance fee (no reduction for indigenous natives) and arrived at Porthcawl, much tortured earlier in the year by gigantic waves breaking over the sea wall. There, close to the front, near Rest Bay for the agile, was the Pegler Mansions! How envy poured out from everyone!!

buildingHaving received sufficient sustenance, the M4 was re-joined and shortly we arrived at the well-appointed Premier Inn on the Water-front where we met our charismatic and vocally gifted Guide, Annie From Wales.com Haden who introduced herself so well, that we were sure there might be an embarrassing family connection somewhere!!

Up at the crack of dawn after a good night’s rest and a hefty breakfast (for some), it was a walk along the river to view the Old Dock that Docksoperated in the 18th Century (1700+!!) and now picturesquely showing its Norwegian Church, an Ice House with landmark Chimney and a rather large Shed! As we cantered along the waterfront to the National Waterfront Museum we passed the Dylan Thomas Museum which was closed!! Undaunted because we knew that Dylan appeared elsewhere on our programme, we lunched in the Waterfront Museum, enjoy-ed its very local exhibits of boatWelsh Life, and then off to Brangwyn Hall, part of the Guild Hall to be greeted by The Rt Worshipful Lord Mayor of Swansea, Alderman Ceirwen Thomas. As she accompanied us around the building she explained how in the WW2 extensive bombing of the City, Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to towerleave the Guild Hall and its tall tower groupunscathed as he proposed to locate his Welsh head-quarters there!! (Hitler was already taking Welsh lessons in anticipation!). The Mayor showed enormous warmth and charisma towards us and we were treated to a sumptuous tea when all was done.

houseClose of day saw an exhilarating visit to Dylan’s birth-place at 5 Cwmdonkin Place complete with writing desk. We plaquesavoured the place where he met up with his friends. Here he spent 23 years of his short life writing 2/3rds of his works: the house had been beautifully restored by volunteers that included Annie and her ex-husband.

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An early rise with a glorious sun the next day saw us being bussed by Lyndon to Swansea railway station where the excellence of our Tour Organiser, Jonathan, ensured that the train to Carmarthen arrived on time. Some people noticed the Customs’ Booth at the station: clearly reserved for English Visitors!

busViews from the train as we journeyed along the Towy estuary in such beautiful weather were accompanied by Annie’s witty remarks, her commentary  and anecdotes.

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At Carmarthen, some of our party left to tour the town and sample Dylan’s tastes at the Boars’ Head Hotel where he was thrown out on many occasions!

 

greenhouse The rest went on to the National Botanic garden at Llanarthne to view the excellent plant culture, magic Botanic Dome (largest single span glass Conservatory in the World!), the Tropical House, and a plantsplethora of interesting Buildingssign(even a lovely “cwtch” for us to cuddle together!!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

viewSurmounting all was Middleton Hall with magnificent scenery and the ubiquitous Folly (Paxton’s Tower – referring to Lord Nelson and his flirtings – such days of yore!!) built in the distant hills as a constant phallic insult to an annoying neighbour.

 

cottagecoupleNext stop: Laugharne with Dylan’s and Caitlin’s Boat House overlooking the sea and the Towy estuary with the famous Pendine Sands in the distance and a pair of welsh wool long-johns drying on a tree!!.

There was the simple green garden “work” shed perched precipitously perched on the cliff edge where Dylan roomsat, coat hotel pubon his chair, with his thoughts of the World whilst watching the waves in the distance. For some of us, there was time for a drink sitting in Dylan’s favourite window seat in Brown’s Inn, and a visit to the Castle.castle

We left Laugharne in sun-shine and stopped to pay homage to him at his (and Caitlin’s) simple white crossed grave amongst graves.grave

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Next day saw some of us walking the Waterfront, fondly paying obeisance to Dylan’s bronze life size statue by stroking his hand, revisiting the Waterfront Museum to view such exhibits as a splendid WW2 exhibition of Swansea’s involvement. Then all a-board the SkyLark for a trip up the Tawe River to the Liberty Stadium accompanied by a knowledgeable local Guide who described the significant remains of industrial sites preserved on the sides of the River, previously scarred by unseemly deposits from ruincopper smelting but now overgrown with beautiful greenery. As we ate and drank on board the boat munching an excellent buffet organised by our very own ladies, it was intriguing to see in the middle of the river a cascade of bubbles coming from mermaids long lost below us (!!).

 

After returning to the Waterfront, we re-boarded the bus and were coastal scenetaken over picturesque moors and hills to Rhosili on the Gower: a bay now ranked best in the UK, in the top 3 in Europe and in the top 10 in the World! My, what breath-taking views! Those who ventured so far as the Coast Guard Station overlooking Worms Head saw a Grand Piano being tuned in the open in preparation for an open-P1030947 (2)air Concert!!!

king arthur hotelHaving savoured the splendours of the scenery, the bay and the cliff top, we sojourned to The King Arthur Hotel at Reynoldston where we were well received and ate with the evening sun pouring down outside: a fitting end to another magnificent day but not before Annie was thanked lunchprofusely for her excellent guiding, extensive local knowledge and banter punctuated on occasions by a few “bloody boyos” and other Welsh unmentionables!

 

 

 

 

archONext day, home! Calling at Neath Abbey and the magnificently restored Cistercian Abbey at Margam, surrounded by a picturesque Country Park surmounted by the 19th century Margam Castle with its spectacular Stone Staircases, reminiscent of Hogwarts. The Castle was built by the Talbot family using fortunes gained from the production of steel at the still profitable Port Talbot works in the Bay. Gone were the skeletons of trees seen 40 years’ ago (the trees poisoned by acid rain) and in their place a magnificent forest of colour.large mansion

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Our next stop in glorious sunshine was the Prince of Wales pub at Ton Kenfig near Porthcawl, a local for the Jonathan clan! Its Landlord, a certain Gareth Mound, talkprovided an enthusiastic talk on the area, an account of the devastation produced by a Welsh Tsunami, the discovery of a  propeller from a long-ago stranded ship, the pub’s local judicial history and sentencing of felons to be hung close by!!

lunch2This, accompanied by a super buffet and general Welsh camaraderie engaging all of us, was a more than fitting end to yet another fantastic trip with thanks to Jonathan for its organisation and to Lyndon for his safe driving!! And so to our next visit to the Fatherland to satisfy another feast of Welsh hiraeth!

John Edwards and Barrie Reece