Friday 17 May 2013, 17:09
I've seen a few awe inspiring vistas. Most of them - Nant Ffrancon, the Alps, the Loire Valley - were created by geological forces. The Manhattan skyline quickens my pulse like no other, and it's man-made.
As my cab crosses the Brooklyn Bridge, whatever jet lag I'm experiencing dissipates into a bright New York afternoon. I'm thrumming with excitement. The sight of these incredible towers of steel and glass, defying gravity and flattening the mundane, makes me believe that anything is possible.
I'm in The City. That's 'The City' - definitive article, capital letters - and I'm here to see the finest band in Christendom.Sign outside Webster Hall in Manhattan
I'm travelling poor. Instead of the Manhattan hotel I stayed in last time ($350 a night - and you didn't even get to keep it afterwards), I'm in an apartment I found on the internet. Friends and family have joked that if they were going to commit the perfect murder, they'd probably order up their victim via the internet too.
Some suggested that I'd get to the apartment to find a nice steaming mug of cocoa and Rohypnol waiting for me. But Dan - who owns the apartment in hipster-infested Williamsburg - doesn't appear at all interested...
Friday 17 May 2013, 15:26
Her bold and chaotic paintings have made her one of the most remarkable and successful artists of her generation, and as the eminent Welsh painter Shani Rhys James turns 60, she admits there is no sign of her slowing down.
Shani celebrated the landmark birthday on 2 May with a party at the official opening of her new show in London, the Rivalry of Flowers, which comes to Aberystwyth Arts Centre in November.Shani Rhys James at the Kings Place Gallery in London
Meanwhile at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff, an exhibition of 30 of her new paintings has just opened and will run until June.
Speaking from her home of 30 years at Llangadfan, near Welshpool, Shani told me that she feels her vast body of expressionist oil works has not yet scratched the surface of all the things that spark her interest.
So in 2016, after she has fulfilled all her work commitments until then, she and her sculptor husband Stephen West will be touring her native Australia in a combi van, so she can reconnect with the landscapes of her birthplace.
She recalls: "I moved to the UK when I was 14 and while I love the Welsh landscape and it has been my home and meditative backdrop for 30 years, the hiraeth of Wales...
Friday 17 May 2013, 14:52
Humboldt penguins, emperor tamarins and Bactrian camels may not be indigenous to north Wales, but if you know where to look you can find them all, and more, in a small pocket of a Welsh coastal town.
The Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay is home to over 100 different species and 600 animals. This weekend the tourist attraction celebrates its 50th anniversary, and has a special birthday weekend planned to mark the half century.The sea lion enclosure, Sea Lions Rock. Photo: Welsh Mountain Zoo
The Welsh Mountain Zoo was opened by founder Robert Jackson on 18 May 1963. Sadly, Jackson died just six years after the opening of the zoo in a fishing accident.
His widow, Margaret Jackson, and their three sons took over the running of the zoo before the charity the Zoological Society of Wales (now the National Zoological Society of Wales) was set up in 1983 and took over the zoo's operation. It became the National Zoo of Wales in 2008, but is still commonly known as the Welsh Mountain Zoo.
The zoological director at the zoo is Nick Jackson, one of Robert and Margaret's sons. He explained how the zoo came into being.
He said: "Robert Jackson had been looking for a site to build a zoo since the...
Thursday 16 May 2013, 15:36
This week at BBC NOW HQ we have been preparing for our two concerts that will be part of the 2013 Vale of Glamorgan Festival.
Running from 9-18 May, this year's festival will include four world premieres and, among other themes, will celebrate the 50th birthday of British composer Graham Fitkin and the music of American composer Sebastian Currier.
Our first concert (Wednesday 15 May) includes three premieres. Not bad going for one concert. On this occasion, the orchestra will be conducted by composer Richard Baker.
We begin with Sebastian Currier's Microsymph, here receiving its UK premiere. This...
Monday 13 May 2013, 16:52
We filmed the links for the first programme of the X-Ray summer series in Port Talbot on Thursday. Cue lashing rain and gales.
The night before I was desperately hoping Derek had got the forecast wrong. No such luck. "Don't say I didn't warn you," he merrily tweeted to the team on the day.
Despite the weather having become a standing joke in the X-Ray office, we'll be out across Wales for the next six weeks, come rain or shine. And we have some really strong investigations coming up, plus some great results for our viewers too.
Rachel Treadaway-Williams has been speaking to one family whose home was...
Monday 13 May 2013, 09:31
Last September I wrote a blog post about several headstones belonging to Welsh emigrants which had been uncovered in Grand Forks, British Columbia. After the article was posted I was sent this photo from the Boundary Museum because they believed he had a Welsh connection:W Yolen Williams, manager of the Phoenix Mine, circa 1900
I was amazed at the beauty and depth of detail in such an old photograph and immediately asked for more information about the man, only to be told that very little was known.
If ever there was a challenge issued this was it and I gladly gathered up the gauntlet and...
Sunday 12 May 2013, 08:30
Many people in Wales have visited Brangwyn Hall in Swansea. They may even have seen the Empire Panels that are now housed there. But how many know anything at all about the man who created such magnificent works of art, and after whom the hall is named?Panels at the rear of Bangwyn Hall Â© Copyright Nigel Jones
Frank Brangwyn was born at Bruges on 12 May 1867. He was the son of Anglo-Welsh parents; his father, William Curtis Brangwyn, was a specialist in ecclesiastical architecture and textile designs. William won a commission to adapt and design a church in the Belgian city and duly moved...
Friday 10 May 2013, 14:35
The beginning of May is an exciting time in the musical calendar as all the new seasons are launched.
For this year's season launch, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales held an event at the Senedd. A small string group played works by Mozart and arrangements of traditional Welsh songs, the brass played fanfares, and the wind and horns played some beautiful Strauss.
There was the opportunity to see photographs taken by photographer Betina Skovbro on Thomas Sondergard's recent first North Wales Tour, and there were speeches from Thomas himself; Rosemary Butler, the National Assembly for Wales' presiding...
Friday 10 May 2013, 11:05
The steelworks at East Moors in Cardiff - "Dowlais by the Sea" as it was invariably known - began its working life in the late 19th century. The works closed in 1978 but before that, for most of the 20th century, East Moors was a major steel producing plant - and, more importantly, a significant employer in the Cardiff area.
East Moors was officially opened by Lord Bute on 4 February 1891, with production in the works commencing four years later in 1895.
Building and operating a steelworks in Cardiff was a realistic and far sighted enterprise. The directors of the Dowlais Company of Merthyr Tydfil...
Thursday 9 May 2013, 13:48
A new production of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood will reach a very different audience tomorrow as characters including Dai Bread, Cherry Owen and Captain Cat take to Twitter for a performance.
Staff at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea will perform an element of Thomas' well-known and loved work on Friday 10 May.
A different extract from the play - centred around the fictional Welsh fishing village of Llareggub - was tweeted in October last year, to coincide with National Poetry Day.
This new Under Milk Wood exchange will be made up of 31 tweets, which will be sent between 10am and 4.30pm across...