Category Archives: Welsh

Meeting a Dragon & Treasure Hunting at Caerphilly Castle

caerphilly castle

It has been a year since we took an amazing trip home. We had a long list of places and people we wanted to visit and top of the list for our stay in Wales was a castle. Growing up in Wales, I took it for granted that my kids would get to visit historical sites with school. Now, I need to pack all the things they can’t experience here, into our visits home.

caerphilly castle

Top of our list for our week in Wales, was a castle. There are so many castles in Wales it was difficult to choose the right one. I considered Castell Coch and Cardiff Castle, but eventually went for Caerphilly Castle, as it was the most traditional of the 3.  I wasn’t certain if it would be too ruinous or if there would be enough there to entertain the kids. As it turned out, it was the kids favourite day out in Wales.

They couldn’t wait to get to the castle as we walked towards it and when they were greeted by Dewi the real Welsh dragon, at the entrance, their excitement mounted.

dragon at caerphilly

Dewi, who first arrived at the castle on March 1st 2016,  is a star attraction at the castle. This May, he flew to Caernavon Castle, to join his sweetheart Dwynwen.  Dwynwen soon  laid two eggs. The eggs hatched into baby dragons Dylan and Cariad, on May 26th and are now taking on summer adventures across Wales. The dragons are an integral part of  Visit Wales’ 2017 Year of Legends, inspiring visitors to discover Wales’ rich folklore. Dewi has returned to his home at Caerphilly.

cadw dragons

Where can you meet Dwynwen and the baby Dragons?

12 -25 June Raglan Castle – Dwynwen and the baby Dragons.

27 June – 9 July  Tretower Court

11 – 30 July  Kidwelly Castle

1 – 13 August  Harlech Castle

15 – 28 Aug  Beaumaris Castle

Treasure Hunting

Included in the admission fee (£23.70 for a family ticket admitting 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16)  was a treasure hunt activity. The children visited every part of the castle looking for information to answer to clues that would lead them to the treasure.

caerphilly castle

We descended spiral staircases.

stairs caerphilly castle

Walked along balconies.

treasure hunt

through dark corridors

castle coridoor

and explored the grounds for clues.

caerphilly castle

After hours of fun (and a few painful feet from new shoes) we found the treasure.

kids activities caerphilly castle

The children exchanged their treasure hunts for a special prize in the gift shop. We admired the view and said our goodbye’s to Dewi, before heading home.

view from Caerphilly Castle

Advertisements

Introducing Children to Welsh Through Song, with Babi Bach the Album

babi bach

My 4-year-old has just learned her first Welsh word ,’canu’ meaning to sing.

How does a child living in the US with non- Welsh speaking parents learn such a word?  From the wonderful, bilingual album, the girls received as a gift.  The album was created by a friend of mine who runs ‘Babi Bach’ a bilingual music group in South Wales.  The girls are fascinated by this unfamiliar language and love it when I tell them the meaning of a Welsh word.

The songs are familiar favourites, including, row, row ,row your boat, incey wincey spider and one finger, one thumb and are sung by male and female voices, in both English and Welsh.   The Welsh versions brought back distant memories of my days as a student teacher in Wales. As an added surprise, when browsing the cover,  I recognised one of the singers as a child who attended my after-school club in the 90’s.  My friend confirmed that it was him, all grown up and singing professionally. More happy memories of home.

Living in the US, my children are unlikely to hear the Welsh Language.  I’m not a Welsh speaker but the Welsh language was at the forefront of my early school years. We had Welsh assembly once a week, played games in Welsh and learned the Welsh language. The girls are fascinated that there is this strange language that is only spoken in Wales.

The girls sing along in English and try their best to join in with the Welsh.  Initially, they spouted  gibberish, laughing hysterically at the complicated words in ‘head, shoulders,knees and toes. My Welsh isn’t really strong enough to help them but I point out the words I recognise. My next step is to print off the Welsh lyrics , so I can sing along. The songs are separated by enthusiastic conversations between a group of friends in both languages, so it is easy for them to follow.

After hearing the songs a few times, they are already beginning to sing along in Welsh even without my help.

I can highly recommend this for Welsh parents who have moved away from Wales. It is the perfect  introduction to the Welsh language.  Equally, it is a simple and fun way to learn Welsh for children living in Wales.

Digital copies of Babi Bach yr Albwm are available from Amazon Music and other digital music platforms.

Disclaimer :This is not a sponsored post no payment was received.

The Land of Song – A Guest Post for St. David’s Day

 

Today we have a St. David’s Day guest post from Penni Carr.  I met Penni during my  musical theatre days (sorry Penni for the old photo).  She went on to become a professional actress and since becoming a mum, has founded Babi Bach a bilingual music class for babies and toddlers. Penni writes about the connection the Welsh have with singing and how the Welsh language is an integral part of that. Are Welsh people good singers? Why do we love singing so much?  Read on the find out more…

Penni and Rachel
Welsh people often get asked if they are born being able to sing? As if it is some magical power that Celtic people posses from birth. Now, some people may believe this is true but I believe something slightly different. I believe that Welsh people are born into a heritage rich in tradition and passion and one way that we pass this on is through song.
Children will be taught nursery rhymes and songs in Welsh and English, even if English is the only language spoken at home (which Welsh people here have ever sung “Mi Welais Jac y Do” or “Calon Lan” without learning any other welsh?!) I think that, from birth, singing is something that we usually hear every day and so it becomes something very natural for children to do; to sing along and join in with the song – to pass on the history, the tradition and the language.

Welsh lady
Music is one of the only things that engages the WHOLE brain and, as such, is an incredibly useful teaching aid. I bet you can remember songs that you sang at school when you were five far more easily than you can remember the periodic table! Unless you can sing that too like the fabulous Tom Lehrer!

I founded Babi Bach in September 2013. We are a bilingual baby music class suitable for little ones from birth to three and we use music and songs to help little ones learn languages. We believe that music and language help children develop communication skills, social skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, community links and, most importantly, it’s FUN! So pass on your song and watch your little ones flourish. All together now…

Mi welais Jac Y Do         ( Me well-ice Jack err Door)

 Yn eistedd ar ben tô      ( Un ‘A’ steth arr ben tor)

Het wen ar ei ben            (Het when arr ‘A’ ben)

A dwy goes bren              ( a doi gois bren)

Ho ho ho ho ho ho!         ( Hor hor hor hor hor hor)

 

Thanks Penni x

Happy St. David’s Day: My Recording of Llwyn Onn

As my final St. David’s Day post I thought I’d share my recording of the Welsh folk song Llwyn Onn. I have wanted to record acapella harmony singing for some time so, with a little patience, a book of folk songs and some free audio-recording software called Audacity, I managed to get my first attempt of singing with myself uploaded.

Some of the pictures are holiday snaps but most are lovely pictures of Wales I found on Flickr from The Ancient Brit.

Even more fitting is that this St. David’s Day is the funeral of a good friend of my dad’s who passed away recently, so you’ll note the little tribute at the end in memory of Derek Baker – rest in peace.

Why Do We Wear Daffodils and Leeks on St. David’s Day?

Welsh ladyHave you ever wondered why we wear leeks and daffodils on St. David’s Day?

The story goes that the Welsh were in a battle with the Saxons. As the Saxons and the Welsh wore similar clothes, it was difficult to establish who they should be fighting.  A monk (St. David) suggested the Welsh to wear a leek in their helmet to identify them. The Welsh went on to win the battle and the leek was adopted as the Welsh emblem..

Another  legend suggests that Welsh archers fought and won a battle against the French in a field of leeks. The Welsh soldiers took to wearing leeks in their caps on St.David’s Day to remember their bravery.

The wearing of a daffodil is a more recent tradition popularised by David Lloyd George. Some suggestions are that the daffodil closely resembles a leek flower and since they are more common than leek flowers, the daffodil is worn instead . Another suggestion is simply that it is a popular flower that grows around the time of St.David’s Day and offers a less smelly alternative to wearing a leek.

Making Daffodils for St David’s Day.