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  1. Breaking news all the way from Canada

    Thursday 24 April 2014, 14:12

    Cat Whiteaway Cat Whiteaway

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    Back in February I wrote about my involvement with an art project linked to the British Home Children who were sent to Canada. At the time I spoke to Carol Black as part of a live broadcast for BBC Radio Wales and wrote about her story in my blog.

    Since then the face of the abandoned two-year-old George Llewelyn Thomas has been haunting me. It was especially poignant since Carol’s mother-in-law (George’s daughter Nancy) had lived her life without knowing if her father had any family in the UK and was desperate to know more.

    George Llewelyn Thomas aged two. George Llewelyn Thomas aged two.

    George's mother was Elizabeth Mary Haines who married John Thomas in 1903 in Ystradyfodwg. By the time George was born in 1909 (with a different father) Elizabeth and John already had two children; Nancy and John Haydn Thomas.

    Despite the common occurrence of the Thomas surname I was happy to learn that the baptisms for the parish of St Johns in Ystradyfodwg had been digitised and were available to browse for free at the Glamorgan County Archives.

    I quickly located the entries for both Nancy, who was born on 27 September 1904 and John Haydn Thomas on 6 September 1906. This enabled me to cross-reference his date of birth on the...

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  2. Profiling Dylan Thomas: a ‘beautifully mannered’ man

    Thursday 24 April 2014, 12:40

    Dafydd O'Connor Dafydd O'Connor

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    Dafydd O’Connor is the producer of Welsh Greats: Dylan Thomas.  Here, he talks about the challenges of making a TV documentary without any moving footage of the main subject.

    There are no known moving pictures of Dylan Thomas.  That’s something that helps feed his myth, that keeps Dylan unknowable and therefore fascinating.  But for an archive-driven TV series like Welsh Greats, which is all about old footage, profiling a man for whom there’s not a surviving frame of celluloid in existence was a bit of a challenge. 

    Vernon Davies, who attended Swansea Grammar School with Dylan. Vernon Davies attended Swansea Grammar School with Dylan.

    So to tell Dylan’s story we took a different tack.  We were lucky to talk to a number of people who knew him first-hand, among them Vernon Davies.  Now aged 100, Vernon knew Dylan as a boy and remembered him as "a happy chap, who got on well with everybody.  Everyone liked Dylan."  The two were fellow-sixth formers at Swansea Grammar School, where they worked together on the school magazine.  Vernon happily recalled editorial sessions spent composing dirty limericks which, as an ordained minister, he's spent the last eighty years trying to forget. 

    Gwen Watkins, widow of poet Vernon Watkins, and close friend of Dylan’s Gwen Watkins, widow of poet Vernon...

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  3. Dylan and his sense of place

    Thursday 24 April 2014, 09:37

    Derek Brockway Derek Brockway

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    As part of the Weatherman Walking series of programmes, I have walked in the same footsteps as Dylan Thomas. To be honest, I didn’t realise he wrote so many poems. I knew about his work Under Milk Wood from my school days but hadn’t really revisited his poems since.

    Weatherman Walking Derek Brockway with Hannah Ellis at Dylan's Boathouse in Laugharne

    I have realised that there is so much more to Dylan Thomas than I had thought and I have been able to immerse myself in places where Dylan lived and worked. Sea views, picture postcard towns and landscapes that feed the imagination. I’ve visited many of the places that meant so much to him. We all know about Laugharne and his beautiful Boathouse - where I sat at his desk looking at the stunning views over the estuary but I also went to lesser-known places to find out about their connections with Dylan. I went to New Quay where I walked up through the town and down to the wild beach below all the way to Llanina Point. I even found out more about Swansea - Dylan’s ‘ugly, lovely town’ - which left its stamp on him.

    Dylan Thomas' writing shed at Laugharne Dylan Thomas' writing shed at Laugharne

    Walking in Dylan’s footsteps has really shown me a very different side to the man...

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  4. Owen Sheers on Dylan the poet

    Thursday 24 April 2014, 09:37

    Owen Sheers Owen Sheers

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    Dylan Thomas was a seismic event in the history of English language poetry. A 19-year-old whose powerfully original work attracted admiration and letters of interest from the leading poets of the day. A modern poet whose writing was daring and experimental, and yet was also rooted in an ancient music, an elemental vision. A popular performer who could attract audiences of thousands on his tours of America.

    Owen Sheers presents Dylan the Poet Owen Sheers presents Dylan Thomas: A Poet's Guide.

    Dylan Thomas was also, however, a poet whose life continually threatened to subsume his work. With his death the myth of Dylan the hell...

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  5. Climbing the Welsh Matterhorn

    Wednesday 23 April 2014, 16:25

    Derek Brockway Derek Brockway

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    Wales was blessed with some beautiful sunshine over the Easter weekend although not everywhere stayed dry.

    Sunday was much cloudier with some rain, showers and even a few thunderstorms in the south on Sunday and Monday evening.

    Good Friday night into Saturday was cold with a clear sky and air frost. At Tirabad in Powys the temperature fell to -3°C. 

    Bank holiday Monday, though, was significantly warmer with temperatures reaching between 15°C and 20°C in the afternoon.

    I spent the weekend in Gwynedd and took advantage of the good weather by climbing Cnicht, also known as the Welsh Matterhorn...

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  6. FOCUS Wales festival preview

    Tuesday 22 April 2014, 11:33

    Adam Walton Adam Walton

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    You wouldn’t need a big abacus to add up all the bands I saw where I grew up in north Wales from the age of 14 until I left for university in Liverpool in 1989.

    If it hadn’t been for Buckley’s Tivoli and an occasional long-haul jaunt to The Bistro in Rhyl, you’d be able to do all the adding up on your fingers and toes.

    From Wednesday 23 to Saturday 26 April, more than 150 bands will play across a range of venues in Wrexham, a very tangible demonstration of just how far north Wales has come in terms of its support for original music makers.

    Aberystwyth's Georgia Ruth is playing in the vaults of St Giles Church Aberystwyth's Georgia Ruth is playing in the...

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  7. A haven of industry

    Thursday 17 April 2014, 15:25

    Phil Carradice Phil Carradice

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    On 20 April 1961 the BP oil terminal on Milford Haven opened for business. The terminal was not a refinery, merely a pumping station that took oil from in-coming tankers and then sent it via a pipeline to the refinery at Llandarcey outside Port Talbot. Nevertheless it was an important part of a major industrialisation of the Milford Haven waterway.

    Milford Haven, with its deep water and gently sloping estuary sides, was ideal for the massive oil tankers of the 1960s and '70s. No less a person than Admiral Horatio Nelson had once called it the finest natural harbour in the world and there is no doubt...

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  8. The death of the Hanging Judge

    Thursday 17 April 2014, 09:33

    Phil Carradice Phil Carradice

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    The date 18 April may not mean much to most people but on that spring day in 1689 Judge George Jeffreys, the famous 'Hanging Judge' of the 17th century, finally died, appropriately enough in the Tower of London.

    Jeffreys was a Welshman, the sixth son of John and Margaret Jeffreys from Acton Hall on the outskirts of Wrexham. His childhood on the Acton Hall estates was quite privileged as his father, although supporting the forces of the king during the early stages of the English Civil War, managed to reconcile his beliefs and change sides once it was clear the Royalists had lost the war. He duly...

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  9. Spotting the space station

    Tuesday 15 April 2014, 16:53

    Derek Brockway Derek Brockway

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    There was a beautiful full moon last night and the red planet Mars was visible too, just above and to the right of the moon.

    Here are some of your amazing pics from my Twitter feed:

    A fantastic full moon in Carmarthenshire by David Rice 

    A full moon over Bryn y Baal last night by Rachel Casey

    A beautiful full moon seen from Tongwynlais by Gale Jolly

    Many of you also spotted the International Space Station (#ISS) including Delwyn Ellis and Darren Warburton.

    We've put lots of recent ISS pics together in a Twitter timeline.

    There’s another chance to see the ISS this evening; rising in the western sky...

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  10. More than just a number and a headset

    Tuesday 15 April 2014, 11:30

    Heledd Jones-Tandy Heledd Jones-Tandy

    After nine months of research at The Call Centre I think it’s fair to say that I could now be a fully-fledged member of the Save Britain Money team.

    After sitting through countless team briefs, sales agent call training and the obligatory Nev meet and greet sing-songs, it's safe to say I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

    I must admit, working in a call centre is rather enjoyable.

    Far from the stereotypical mundane, repetitive work you might expect, I was introduced to the fun-loving team-mates.

    Call centre staff Call centre staff Kieran Vye (left) and Kristian Thomas

    What I learnt most about this...

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