Friday, December 21, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Hiraeth is in the mountains where the wind speaks in many tongues and the buzzards fly on silent wings. It's the call of my spiritual home, it's where ancient peoples made their home.
Hiraeth - the link with the long-forgotten past, the language of the soul, the call from the inner self. Half forgotten - fraction remembered. It speaks from the rocks, from the earth, from the trees and in the waves. It's always there.
Not sure where this quote comes from originally but Owen from FFlic TV wrote it on the SSiW forum and lots of people liked it and I pinched it and I'm feeling pretty happy because I've just worked out how to stream videos from my Macbook to my iPad and watch them on our big TV screen.
There is a a need for an S4C binge on me.
Mae eisiau S4C binge arana i!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Firstly, we've moved house.
Secondly, we've been on a holiday in the Grampians.
Thirdly we've had guests from Switzerland.
We've also celebrated a friend's fortieth birthday in Sydney.
In fact, I'd have to say we've been out more than we've been in. Busy despite our newly purchased slice of tranquility.
What now? I gulped, looking down at the helmet as if it had teeth. Can't we just walk the first night.
No. Apparently we had to start as we meant to go on.
We donned our helmets and headed towards Sydney Road.
I have to admit, before this fateful night I'd scarcely ridden a bike in the last twenty five years. I'd stopped at the tender age of seventeen (when I first got my driving license). But putting my helmet on and riding out to dinner that first night and then packing our grocery shopping into my panniers to ride home again felt like the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
I felt myself growing younger by the minute.
Since then, I haven't been able to get enough of the experience.
I've ridden to Welsh in the city and home along Sydney road. I've done a Boroondara Cyclewise course and overcome my phobia of public showering. I've ridden to work. Eaten at Beatbox, joined a yoga class and shopped at the Coburg night market. In between, I've walked my dog, finished the SSiW intermediate course and danced to Fflur Dafydd's, Martha Llwyd in my living room.
But most importantly of all, I've been writing.
Yep, that's right. My muse has followed me to Coburg. In fact, I'd have to say she rather likes it here. I'm putting this down to genetic programming. I mean, think about it? Before my parents emigrated, the family had never lived in anything bigger than a semi-detached house in Essex. Yep, that's right small - so this empty nest, masterfully renovated Federation cottage suits me perfectly.
In fact, I'd even go as far as saying I've probably been overwhelmed for the last twenty five years.
Not that I regret the experience - kids, guinea pigs, school fetes, and trivia nights - a woman needs those things. But now my nest is empty and, although Andrew is looking around wondering where his audience has gone, wrth fy modd or in my element as the half-Welsh-woman in me is wont to say.
So folks, this blog is a great, big long winded way of saying I'm fine but you may not hear from me for a while. Oh, yes, I know it's heart breaking. But don't fret. Just think of me at my writing desk, drinking coffee, taking power naps, or smiling like a gate as I ride the wide flat streets of Coburg, and know I've got a novel to write.
Hopefully, 2013 will see it finished.
Tan fy mlog nesaf - Hwyl Fawr!
Thursday, October 18, 2012
A young man brought his family to Melbourne. They had no friends. No family for support. Money was in short supply.
They bought a house in the eastern suburbs, not a dream house by any stretch of the imagination. There were rat droppings in the oven. The carpets were damp and mouldering. The gas hearter leaked into the living room.
Coming back after four years in the pacific, the suburbs felt endless and monotone. But they raised a family there - safe between the cream bricks and plaster board. Gained three daughters. Watched another spiral out of control. And all the while their friends and neighbours were there helping to ease the load.
Now they are leaving the eastern suburbs. Their friends and neighbours. This house where they raised their family. It's been hard and it's been easy. At times just plain ordinary. But they are grateful for twenty four happy years.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Sunday, September 30, 2012
What you won't know is that I also got filmed for Welsh television.
What? I hear you say. How could this be Liz?
Well, that's a good question, and, if you are patient I will explain. But from the outset, I have to say, there was a fair bit of misunderstanding involved.
Right, now we've got that out of the way, let's start at the beginning.
First, I learn Welsh. I go to the classes at the Celtic Club in Melbourne, do Mp3 lessons when I'm walking the dog. I also watch Welsh language television. Now, if you know anything about television rights, you will know that watching Welsh television from Australia involves an element of illegality. But for the purposes of this blog, let's just say I watch short segments of Welsh language television on YouTube.
One of my favourite programmes is a show for learners called Hwb and, because I'm a cool info savvy public librarian, I follow the Hwb Twitter stream. I also spend time on a fantastic forum called Say Something in Welsh (yes, if you haven't worked it out by now, I have a mildly obsessive personality). Anyway, in addition to the forum, SSiW sends out a weekly email newsletter and, as SSiW has links to Hwb (yes, Wales is a small place), they give us regular updates on what is happening.
One week, the newsletter said Hwb were looking for dysgywr o ddramor - learners from overseas. According to SSiW the success of Hwb depends on having as much interaction between learners and the program presenters as possible. This set up a rather uncomfortable feeling in my breast. Not only do I watch Hwb regularly and 'illegally.' I also owe my current proficiency in Welsh to the amazing SSiW team. And let's face it there was no denying the fact, I am a dysgwr o ddramor.
'If anyone feels up to doing a two minute Skype chat,' the newsletter said, 'just get in touch with Owen from Fflic television.'
Well, what could I do? They'd even provided the cyfeiriad ebost. I typed it into the address bar and sent a message - about our Welsh classes in Melbourne, my own language journey, the fact that I was planning to do summer school in Abersystwyth. All in Welsh by the way, which is where the word misunderstanding comes in.
Conscience assuaged, I pressed send. And promptly forgot about it. I mean who expects a return ebost from a stranger on television?
You can imagine my surprise when, two days later, I received an ebost from Owen. I pulled my dictionary out. 'Helo Liz,' he said. 'Diolch am dy ebost. We'd love to have you as one of our dysgywr o dramor (at least, I thought that's what he said. It was all in Welsh). It would be incredible if we could come to Aberystwyth and meet you.
Wow! I thought, aren't Welsh people kind. But why come to Aberyswyth, if I'm going to be chatting on Skype? It sounded like an awful lot of bother for a two minute TV segment.
Nevertheless, I sent Owen the dates of my course and turned my attention elsewhere. We were in the throws of buying and selling houses at this stage. I also had a five day stay in hospital somewhere in the middle. Being on Welsh television hardly impacted my consciousness.
Until I received another ebost from Owen.
'I've been in touch with your tutor,' he said (in Welsh remember). We've been given the all clear to film you in class.'
He added a date which was precisely three days after my arrival in Wales.
Great, I thought, I'm going to be jet-lagged on Welsh television.
About this point, it began to dawn on me that this was shaping up to be more than a two minute Skype chat. They were bringing a film crew to Aberystwyth and they were going to spend a whole morning filming me. Added to which, it was right at the beginning of the course. So, I'd be a complete twpsin on on national television. At that point, I made a firm decision:
I'm not telling anyone in Australia about this.
True to their word the film crew arrived in Aberystwyth. They gave me instructions. I understood about a quarter of what they said. I somehow managed to mutter a few things. Had manifold mistakes recorded for posterity and, to top it all off, no one wanted to sit next to me in class that morning.
At the end of filming, I signed the consent form. 'Diolch yn fawr,' said Owen. Bydden ni'n dweud wrthot ti pan bydd y eitem yn ddangos. O ie, hoffen ni'n siarad gyda ti ar Skype nes ymlaen, hefyd.'
By which I understood that the Skype chat was still going to happen at a later date.
I've been back in Australia almost a month now and, last week, I received another ebost from Owen.
'Hiya Liz,' the program will be on television this Sunday, 30th of September. 'Please tell all your friends.'
My friends! Oh, dear, what a dilemma. I sent an ebost off to the course coordinators (I figured I owed them the courtesy). Considered posting a: hey, guess what, on the SSiW forum. But decided against it.
But the big questions was should I spill the beans down under?
On the one hand, this was a big moment. I've never been on television before. On the other hand, it was guaranteed to be embarrassing. I don't even like looking at photos of myself, let alone a short film segment of me muffing up a foreign language. But what about my family? And the Welsh speaking world? It is a small community? What if people found out anyway?
In the end, the matter was taken out of my hands. The SSiW eNewsletter has a new segment entitled: Coming up on Hwb.
Under this weeks heading it says:
'We meet Liz Corbett from Melbourne who attended a Welsh language course at The University of Wales, Aberystwyth. (Liz also learns with SSiW and some of us met her at the Eisteddfod).'
That's the thing about the World Wide Web. It disseminates information.
SSIW has 23,000 members. Many in Australia. Some who even go to my Welsh class - the cat was well and truly out of the bag. Therefore, before any of you stumbled across my stuttering Welsh presence, I thought I'd better announce it.
Here it is, for the first and, possibly, last time in history, a YouTube of me speaking Welsh on national television.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Anyway, the living in Australia lady turned up today and I thought, right let's just get this over with. We went through the usual round of questions and and a few ransom tests unique to 2012, and I'm thinking come on let's just get this over with when all of a sudden she asked a question that smacked me around the ears.
'Does anyone in this household speak a language other than English?'
'Yes,' I said. 'I do. I'm the only one.' I added. 'So I don't get much opportunity.'
'But, you can hold an every day conversation? Over a range of topics?'
'Yes,' I said, thinking of emails and Skype conversations, phone calls, travels planned, books ordered and read. 'Yes,' I said, 'definitely. There are people I relate to entirely in that language.'
'Right,' she said. 'What language is it?'
'Welsh,' I said. 'I speak Welsh.'
It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Just thought I'd better share it. :-)
Monday, September 3, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Wel, wrth gwrs, ro'n i'n anghywir - well, of course, I was wrong. Ar ôl y dosbarthiau, a'r gweithgareddau, a gwaith cartref, a cheisio i siarad Cymraeg trwy'r dydd, ro'n i'n rhy wedi blino i feddwl - after the classes and the activities and trying to speak Welsh through the day, I was too tired to think.
Ond, heddiw, eisteddfod bach gyda ni - but today, we had a small eisteddfod. Roedd bob dosbarth yn gofyn i paratoi rhywbeth i rhannu gyda'r eraill - each class was asked to prepare something simple to share with the others. Roedd grwp pellach - fy nosbarth - yn trio i ddewis rhywbeth gwahanol - the intermediate group - my group - were trying to choose something different. Ro'n i'n moyn bod y gorau wrth gwrs - we wanted to be the best, of course. Pan ro'n i'n cael paned o de, awgrymais i: 'beth am ganu Waltzing Matilda yn Gymraeg?' - When we were having a cup of tea, I suggested: 'what about singing Waltzing Matilda in Welsh?'
'Syniad da! meddai pawb - good idea,' everyone said. 'Wyt ti'n gwybod y geirfa? - Do you know the words?'
Yn ffodus, roedd fy ffrind Dai Tren yn gallu anfon y geirfa - fortunately, my friend Dai Train was able to send the words. Ac roedd actor gyda ni yn dosbarth - and there was an actor in the class. Roedd Aubrey wedi actio fel y Swagman pan ro'n i'n canu'r gan - Aubrey acted as the swagman while we sang the song. Roedd hi'n bendigedig i ganu gan Awstralian yn Gymraeg - it was very special to sing an Australian song in Welsh. Y modd perffaith i fi i baratoi am y daith hir adref - the perfect way to prepare for the long journey home.
Dyma, y araith fyr dw i wedi gwneud i esbonio Walso Matilda ac y geirfa o'r gan - here is the short speech I made to explain Waltzing Matilda and the lyrics of the song.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Monday, August 6, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Fy Nheulu i
Symydodd fy nheulu i Awstralia pan ro'n i'n pump oed - my family moved to Australia when I was five years old - Mae fy mam i, Linda, a fy nhad i, David, a fy mrawd i, Ian, a fi - my mum, Linda, and my dad, David, and my brother, Ian, and me.
Ar ôl symydon ni, ro'n ni'n deulu niwcliar - after we moved, we were a nuclear family. Doedd dim modreb neu ewythrod gyda fi yn Awastralia - I didn't have aunts or uncles in Australia. Doedd dim cefndyr neu gyfnitheroedd neu hen rieni gyda fi chwaith - I didn't have cousins or grandparents either.
Ar y dechrau, roedd e'n anodd - in the beginning, it was difficult. Sut oedd Sion Corn yn mynd i ddod yn'r haf - how was Father Christmas going to come in the summer? Pam doedd y goed ddim yn gollwng ein dail nhw - why didn't the trees drop their leaves? Ond, dros y flynyddau, dysgon ni i garu Awstralia - but over the years we learned to love Australia.
Pan ro'n i'n pedwar ar bymtheg oed, ro'n i'n priodi i Andrew- when I was nineteen years old, I was married to Andrew (ie, dw i'n gwybod, rhy ifanc - yes, I know, too young). Ond dyn ni'n dal yn briod - but we are still married.
Mae pedwar plentyn gyda ni - dau mab a dwy ferch - we have four children - two sons and two daughters. Mae hena ddau plentyn yn briod - my two eldest children are married. Felly, am mab yng nghyfraith gyda fi - therefore I have a son in law. Andy yw ei enw e - his name is Andy. Mae merch nghyfraith gyda fi hefyd - I have a daughter in law too. Vanessa yw ei henw hi - Her name is Vanessa. Yn mis Ionawr, bydd fy mab ifanca yn priodi - In January my youngest son will marry. Bydd merch yng nghyfraith arall gyda fi - I will have another daughter in law.
Mae fy nhad i wedi marw nawr - my dad is dead now. Ond mae fy mam i yn fyw - but my mum is alive. Mae teulu mawr gyda hi nawr - she has a big family now. Teulu mawr Awstralian - a big Australian family. Dydy ein teulu ni ddim yn niwcliar nawr - our family isn't nuclear anymore.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Dw i ddim yn teimlo pell o gartref heno - I don't feel far from home tonight.
Dw i wedi cwrdd llawer o bobl o dros y byd - I have met lots of people from around the world - America, France, Brittany, England, Wales, Japan and even another dysgwr o Awstralia.
Dyn ni'n dyma i gyd am y un bwriad - we are all here for the one purpose - i siarad Cymraeg - to speak Welsh. Mae'n gyfforus yawn - it is very exciting.
Dw i'n yn y dosbarth pellach - I am in the intermediate class. Dw i'n deal popeth yn yawn - I understand everything. Ond dw i wedi blino iawn heno - but, I am very tired tonight.
Mae rhaid i fi fynd i wely nawr - I must go to bed now.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Dw i wedi mwynhau aros dros y nos gyda fy nghythnifer, Joyce - I have enjoyed staying overnight with my cousin, Joyce.
Heddiw, dyn ni wedi gyrru i Aberystwyth - today, we have driven to Aberystwyth. Roedd y wlad yn hyfryd - the countryside was lovely - ac roedd yr tywyth yn braf - and the weather was fine.
Dyma fi yn y llety prifysgol - here I am in the university accommodation. Mae'n dawel ac unig - it's quiet and lonely. Mae ofn arnai - there is fear on me. Ond bydd e'n iawn pan dw i'n cwrdd pobl arall yfory - but it will be fine when I meet other people tomorrow.
Dw i'n gobeithio - I hope.
Noswaith 'ma dw i'n teimlo fordd hir o fy nghartref - this evening I feel a long way from my home.
Dw i ddim yn gallu peidio â - I can't stop thinking - beth ydwi wedi gwneud - what have I done?
Taswn i'n ysgrifennu nofel basai hyn y eiliad tywyllwch - if I was writing a novel, this would be the dark moment.
Ond, paid â becso - but don't worry. Dw i'n iawn - I am fine. :-)
Friday, July 27, 2012
Dyma fi yn Prydain Fawr eto - here I am in great Britain again (sorry, too tired to work out whether Prydain needs a soft mutation). I must say, it feels freakishly normal to be sitting at Heathrow airport sipping a cappuccino.
The flight over was marvelously uneventful. I had a window seat on the Singapore leg, right at the back, with a spare seat between me and the next person. As an introvert, I would have say, this is the ideal economy location. No one behind, no one beside, just tucked in the corner with no one else to worry about.
I watched a movie: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It was pleasant. But over-rated and entirely predictable. But Maggie Smith played Maggie Smith with her usual aplomb. I also watched an entire season of Big Bang Theory. This was an infinitely more satisfying experience -Oh to create a character as memorable as Sheldon Cooper.
On the London leg, I requested an aisle seat and, I must say that with regular walks and my new black airline socks, my ankles are not at all swollen. The worse part of the whole twenty four hour flight was my food restrictions. I decided to start out as I mean to go on this holiday - with a fructose friendly diet (I will allow one pork pie and one Welsh cake as a holiday treat). On an airline, this proved a bit tricky.
'We don't cater for individual dietary requirements,' the lady at Qantas told me, 'you have to select one of our standard allergy options.'
For me this meant glucose free, lactose free, yeast free, and generally without flavor. For breakfast I had rice cakes with canola spread and a bowl of fruit. Yum! Just what I needed after twenty-two hours flying. People all around me were eating cornflakes, yoghurt, and continental pastries.I could have eaten all these things on my diet, apart from the pastry. But due to a general lack of self control where food is concerned, I had to take the drastic menu option. After twenty-two hours in economy, I would have scoffed down that croissant without a moments hesitation.
To console myself, I watched another nine episodes of Big Bang Theory. With the aid of modern medicine, also managed to get a few hours sleep.
Arriving in London, I faced a first time, momentous occassion. I entered the UK on a British passport. I've been meaning to get my UK passport ever since my son Jack waved his under my nose eight years ago.
'Looks at this,' he said, with all the arrogance of nineteen years, 'I'm more British than you Mum.'
That's not the sort of comment you allow to pass unchallenged.
I approached the customs counter, heart pounding. Would they brand me an imposter? Clap me in leg irons? Send me back to the antipodes?
No, I entered the land of my birth, as a citizen. At last , an acknowledgment of my dual identity. I felt like turning round and announcing it to everyone in the queue.
First thing I did after getting my bags was to buy a SIM card. Now my iPhone is operational, I feel like a modern, fully functional human being again.
I dropped a bottle of wine in the baggage claims area - actually I dropped two but only one of them broke - as a consequence (seriously dripping bag), I left my folder with my Australian SIM card and my National Express ticket and all my travel documents at the tourist information counter. Never mind, I had copies of all my travel documents and, as it turned out, the very kind girl at the counter put it aside for me.
Why do the let me out? It's a good question. It just goes to show - anyone can travel. 😊
So, here I am sitting at Nero's cafe. You have to pay an extra 10p to drink inside the cafe and I suspect I have already out stayed my ten pence worth of welcome. But, Shh! No one in the cafe knows I have a UK passport. I can, therefore, sit in the corner hogging this seat under the guise of an ignorant Australian.
My bus to Wales goes in less than an hour and I am beginning to feel tipyn bach nervous. My aim is to speak as little English as possible in Aberystwyth. A noble aim. Maybe a tad idealistic? But seriously, it can only go two ways.
1) I take myself to the next stage of my language journey, finding reserves of strength and endurance hitherto unimagined while making new meaningful Welsh language friendships.
2) I will pass a silent holiday without connection or basic human fellowship.😊
The reality will probably fall somewhere in between. God, I hope so. Meanwhile, if you watch this space, I will keep you posted.