Welsh Stories - Weekly Update

Where the Wye meets the Severn

About half a mile on from the Old Ferrybridge Inn at Beachley near Chepstow, can be seen the confluence of two major rivers, the River Wye and the River Severn estuary. Very rarely is such a panoramic view readily seen with the first Severn Bridge in the background and the second Severn Bridge in the distance to the south
On a gloriously sunny late August, we visited this viewing point and reflected on the story of Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth (Margaret Isaac, 2012). Upstream a few miles from this point is where the tidal Lake, Llyn Lliwan comes to life when filled by the Severn Bore, a regularly occurring phenomenon where the river narrows near Lydney.
Based on the Story of Culhwch and Olwen, possibly the best story from the Mabinogion, Arthur and his Warriors, forced the great boar, the Twrch Trwyth into the tidal waters near Llyn Lliwan. Closely pursued by Mabon and Arthur, who were intent on obtaining the razor and the scissors from the Twrch's head, the boar managed to escape with the comb still in its possession. Obtaining all three items was one of the many impossible tasks required by Olwen's father, Ysbyddaden, before Culhwch could marry Olwen. The comb was finally recovered by Culhwch which allowed him to marry the beautiful Olwen, but you will need to read the story to see why all this took place!
After our walk, we took refreshment in the very hospitable Old Ferrybridge Inn with its splendid views to the north, south and east across the Severn.

The picture shows Margaret at the start of our visit, standing underneath the first Severn Bridge and looking eastwards across the Severn Estuary.

The book, Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth, can be obtained from the Post Office, Caerleon, and direct from ourselves at APECS Press Caerleon.

Twm Siộn Cati Award 2015 at Tregaron

Tregaron Primary School presents an annual award to a pupil of the school who has shown the most kindness and care to her community in that year. The 2015 winner is proudly holding her prize, the book Thomas Jones of Tregaron alias Twm Siộn Cati.

Margaret at Apecs Press wishes to congratulate her and hopes she will enjoy the story and keep it as a fond memory of her time in the school.

Ifor Hael Lord of Bassaleg

Ifor Hael Lord of Bassaleg

Margaret and Alun are preparing a book on Welsh mythology and folklore related to places in Wales. They are presently identifying locations in the Newport and Caerleon District, one of which is Gwern y Cleppa:

The medieval court of Ifor Hael at Gwern y Cleppa is a scheduled ancient monument situated to the left of Forge Lane and can be seen from the M4. The area where the property once stood can be seen from Tredegar Park.

Ifor Hael, the second son of Angharad Morgan and Llewelyn ap Ifor, held court in Gwern y Cleppa.

It was a splendid medieval court where he entertained the great and the good including the renowned poet Dafydd ap Gwilym. They became great friends and Dafydd immortalised his patron in some of his finest poetry.

"It is here that nobility resides, where there is feasting and where comforts are nurtured; a fair lordship and dukedom has been established near Bassaleg."

Gwern y Cleppa was a centre of civilised living, the symbol of gentility, grace and luxury, where the spirit of chivalry mixed with the old Welsh traditions. Ifor Hael was considered the embodiment of courage, wisdom, generosity and justice.

Dafydd described a typical day as a guest:

"Shooting with Ifor, and shooting straight-running stags. And casting hawks to the sky and wind and beautiful verses, and solace in Bassaleg."

Visitors today, who walk in Tredegar Park, enjoy the beautiful woods, the lake and the surrounding garden of the house. As they walk through the avenue of trees in the grounds, they may wish to look up to Gwern y Cleppa and remember the courtly days of Ifor Hael.

Ysgol Ifor Hael (a Welsh Medium Primary School) was established at Bettws Newport in 2008.

Cai, an 8 year old, gives a valued book review

Below are some excerpts from Cai's letter with some of Margaret's answers

Dear Margaret Isaac,

I am a pupil at Llangors School and I love your book called lake Stories of Wales because it is amazing. I love your illustrations. My favourite illustration is on Page 74 about a girl in the river and all the cattle gathering.

I would like to ask you some questions.

Where do you write your stories? Do you live alone?

I live in a country house with my husband and write in my study, overlooking fields.

Why do you write books?

I have loved writing since I was 8 years old and always wanted to see my writing in print. I published my first book in 1991

Do you ever get stuck?

Yes, then, I go for a walk, or take time out for my brain to rest. I find that this usually works.

I live near Brecon. I am eight years old. I love Scampi and chips. I have two lovely brothers

Thank you Cai for writing to me. I hope one day you will perhaps become a writer and enjoy your work.


New Book Reviews

APECS Press are pleased to announce that two of our books- Dolaucothi Gold- A Vision Realised (2012) and The Dolaucothi Gold Mines- Geology and Mining History (ed. 2013)- are scheduled to be reviewed in Materials World, the member magazine for the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. Additionally, informative abstracts for both books will be featured in the industry's quarterly survey of the world minerals industry, IMM Abstracts, and its accompanying online cumulative database, IMMAGE Online, both of which are used for reference by subscribers in the mining industry around the world. Separate reviews are projected to appear on the website of MinSouth, the IMM's London/ SE local section, which has several hundred members and which would link aforementioned review to the microsites of IOM3's minerals and mining divisions. To be featured in the publications of such an esteemed industry is a considerable privilege and a fitting reward for the work that went into the publications

Further information regarding the forthcoming reviews will be posted when available.

Margaret Isaac at Ysgol Pencae Year 6 and Welsh Folklore

On her second visit, Margaret Isaac continued to explore Welsh mythology and legends with Year 6 at Ysgol Pencae, Llandaff. They compared heroes of the present day with the super heroes of the past and discussed the qualities that make up the idea of heroism such as strength, courage, endurance and skill. Margaret defined the aspiration and excitement of readers inspired by the stories of the Mabinogion and explained the difference between myths and legends.

The discussion was prompted by illustrations from the paintings of Margaret Jones of the hunt of the Twrch Trwyth by Arthur and his warriors.

Year 6 pupils produced their writing, resulting from her previous visit, when they examined myths around the world. They had written revised stories from Norse mythology included stories about Freya, Thor and Odin. An impressive amount of time and attention had been paid to the topic, and their hard work and attention to detail demonstrated a high degree of interest and understanding in the topic. A selection of these stories was read aloud to the class.

Margaret answered questions about her books and read an extract from her latest publication._"Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth". She invited children to write questions about writing. She answered some questions in class and answers a few more below:

Q. Who inspired you to become a writer?

A. Tolkien, the author of Lord of the Rings

Q. How do you get your ideas for your stories?

A. From the Welsh landscape and the Mabinogion

Q. If you were a child in the 21st what would be your dream?

A.My dream or vision is that The Twrch Trwyth Story Trail is fully developed across south Wales. I could then visit some of these wonderful places and imagine the stories linked with King Arthur, his magical warriors and the other-world wild boar known as the Twrch Trwyth - I might even try some geocaching! Check out www.aattt.org.uk

The following question relates to children writing their own stories and occurs frequently on many of Margaret's school visits:

Q.In school, we only have 45 minutes to write a story, but I am not a fast writer, and when I am rushed I don't write as well. I need more time to write. What should I do?

A. Take your time. Use a spare sheet of paper and write your ideas down as they come to you.Use these notes to help you with the story you are writing. Don't worry if you don't finish the story, it is better to write a good, short piece of unfinished writing and complete your story another time.

Margaret would like to comment that this class were attentive, interested and imaginative. They were a credit to the class teacher and the school - a joy to meet and work with.

Ysgol Pencae Llandaff explore Myths around the World

Margaret talked about myths from Chinese, Scandinavian and Celtic cultures. Pupils enjoyed exploring stories connected with days of the week. As we see in the picture above, Thor is trying to 'catch' the Midgard snake much to the horror of the giant Hymer. The pupils began to write their own story to present to Margaret on her next visit - continuing the theme with stories in the landscape and Wonders of Wales

Gwydion disguised as a cobbler tricks Arianrhod into naming Lleu. Pupils from Year 6 will be enjoying this story on the next visit!

Ysgol y Bedol in Garnant hits the Twrch Trwyth Trail!

The children asked lots of questions and Margaret and Year Three wrote a poem.

Years 3 and 4 wrote letters to King Arthur asking if they could join him in the hunt.

Year 5 worked out how far Arthur and his warriors chased the Twrch across the countrysidce of south Wales.

Year 6 re-wrote the story.

Year 3 and Year 6 created and performed the story with music and drama.

Every class made models in all kinds of materials of the Twrch Trwyth, Culhwch, Olwen and Ysbadadden. They also created colourful paintings. Parents helped!

The project culmiated in a spectacular celebration on Friday 26th Ocotber. The mayor opened the Twrch Trwyth Trail near the school. Adults and children walked along part of the trail beside the River Amman. Many visitors assembled in the hall and heard the children sing and tell the story. They produced a great display of their work. Everyone enjoyed the food! Everyone enjoyed looking at the products on display, including Margaret's latest book Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth.