Wales

Blog posts by year and month November 2010

Posts (134)

  1. As December approaches and Christmas songs start to take over the playlists, I've spent today screwing up my face in intense concentration and trawling the recesses of my mind to break down the first of my lists of the year. Thankfully the playlist for BBC Introducing is online, so from the 4...

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  2. Actor Michael Sheen kicks off the new series of the BBC Cymru Wales family history programme Coming Home tomorrow evening. Michael Sheen The 41-year-old actor is well-known for his Welsh roots. Born in Newport, Sheen was brought up in Baglan, Port Talbot. He frequently returns to Wales...

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  3. An image featuring Matt Smith, Katherine Jenkins and Michael Gambon from the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas special has been released. Michael Gambon, Matt Smith and Katherine Jenkins in the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special In the hour-long show, titled A Christmas Carol, Jenkins plays the part of Abigail Pettigrew. It will be the singer's first acting role. Michael Gambon plays Kazran Sardick, a miserly old man whom The Doctor needs to save in order to free Amy and Rory from a doomed space liner. Read more on the Doctor Who website.

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  4. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of legendary Cardiff-born children's writer Roald Dahl, and there are currently two programmes on BBC iPlayer that feature the author. In the BBC Radio 2 programme How Roald Dahl Shaped Pop, David Tennant tells the tale of the stamp Dahl left on the world of pop music. Kelly Jones of Stereophonics explains how he found inspiration for songs such as I Stopped To Fill My Car Up in Dahl's grisly, suspenseful short stories, and Kate Nash reveals how Dahl's fantastical children's books have influenced her own storytelling style, stirring her to invent surreal characters and magical places in songs like Mariella and Little Red. Plus, Tennant reveals how a song about Willy Wonka gave a Rat Pack legend his only US number one. Read more about the programme and listen to it on BBC iPlayer. Also, in the latest episode of Country Tracks Ellie Harrison visits Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, home for 36 years to the author. She meets the Dahls' family friend and vice chaiman of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Amanda Conquy. The episode is available on BBC iPlayer until the morning of Sunday 28 November.

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  5. A major new national initiative for the visual arts is set to include two Welsh galleries, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea and Mostyn in Llandudno. Plus Tate aims to broaden and deepen engagement in modern and contemporary art across the UK. The galleries involved in the Plus Tate netw...

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  6. A bon vivant I'm not. As far as cooking is concerned, I'm the capital P in pathetic. If Elaine is out I withdraw to my limits, opening a tin of tomato soup, with a chunk of bread and cheese, or dabbling at a scrambled egg and with much of the egg left stuck to the frying pan. This has all been pertinent this week, for cooking and indulging have both raised their heads. Twice a year I take part in 'A men's meal'. Peter Hain, the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and his now retired political agent, Howard Davies, join me in treating our ladies. We go on rota for starters, main course and pudding and we gather in the home of whoever has his turn at the main dish. I was on starters and I was guided by the advice of cooking guru Angela Grey. I went for stuffed field mushrooms with leeks, garlic, butter, cream cheese, goat's cheese, nuts, cranberries and parsley all thrown in at various stages, before or after the singe in the oven. It was a resounding success, may I add, although huge dollops of wine coloured the opinion I have no doubt. There is a safeguard against stress too, in that, however lacking I am on this kind of artistic foody flair and creative and colourful adventure, Howard is worse. On each occasion we all feel that his wife made his course, but we can never prove it. He also has an innocent smile, one that would fox Interpol, which disarms us completely. His wife, also named Elaine, tutors him so well as to how he prepared the course that he sounds so convincing when he describes it. I also spoke this week, on the programme, to Michael Winner, the renowned film director who is now a fearsome food critic for the Sunday Times. He was a joy to speak to, surprisingly full of common sense, about food preparation and presentation. He had no time for artistic designs on plates; saucy squiggles immediately irritated him. He takes no prisoners in his write-ups and I don't know how he can be in a convivial photograph with restaurant or hotel owners and staff, and then lambast them in his report. I just take the coward's way out. When the waiter asks me if everything is all right, I usually reply: "Fine thank you," even it's not. I just don't go to the place again. Not the best policy at all, I suppose. I've had my moments, mind. I remember, in my education days on a scholarship visit to America, being hosted at a dinner party by a sophisticated lady in New York. She'd once been married to a Welshman who, in her words, was good for only one thing. Whatever, I didn't press her as to what his Celtic prowess was. In each individual cutlery arrangement on the table, there was a knife, fork,spoon and something that looked like a medical instrument. As it turned out, it was a scoop to get the marrow out of your lamb bone. It was a long night for me, I can tell you. Yuck! I also recall something similar in a restaurant in the south of France. Elaine and I didn't recognise anything on the menu, but we took a stab at it. Panic took hold when the waiter took away my knife and fork and, yes, another medical instrument turned up. I didn't recognise the shellfish when they arrived. Not oysters, not mussels, not cockles even, but something new and sinister. Elaine said: "Look, call the waiter, tell him you've made a mistake and change them, or you'll be up in the night." No, pride, cowardice and the need to avoid a fuss took over, so I ordered four pints of lager and a mountain of bread and I got into a rhythm of 'bread, shell fish, lager; bread, shell fish, lager; bread, shell fish, lager...' It worked a dream, and I wasn't up in the night. It's funny, Elaine and I think we are of peasant stock: bread and potatoes, simple fayre. Mind you, 'simple' can be great. Some of the best meals I've had have been at various rugby clubs, organised by outside caterers out of tureens, £15 a head. Actually, the best beef I've ever tasted was from an outside caterer at a carvery in Bettws Rugby Club, Ammanford. So there we go, I know my place...and it's usually fulsome. Roy Roy Noble is bringing his famous storytelling skills to a computer near you as part of the BBC First Click campaign - aimed at encouraging people to take their first steps to getting online. If you know somebody who needs help to get online, call the free BBC First Click advice line on 08000 150950.

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  7. On Sunday 5 December there is an opportunity to participate in a special historical experiment. The hillfort glow experiment takes place in December North east Wales' Heather and Hillforts Project and Cheshire West and Chester's Habitats and Hillforts Project will attempt to communicate by torchlight between 10 ancient hillforts. The experiment, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, willl involve local people close to 10 hillforts on the Sandstone Ridge, the Clwydian Range, Halkyn Mountain and the Wirral and aims to see if glowing fires could have been seen across the hills and acted as a communication or warning system. Iron Age settlements can be found on many of the summits of the Sandstone Ridge, Clwydian Range and surrounding hills, dating back around 2,500 years. Flares will be launched from the hillforts followed by torch light at Maiden Castle, Beeston Castle, Kelsborrow, Helsby, Burton Point, Moel y Gaer Rhosesmor, Penycloddiau, Moel Arthur, Moel Fenlli and Caer Drewyn. Volunteers can help with this mass experiment by helping to man each of the 10 hilltop signaling points. Places are strictly limited, so to register to help as a volunteer for your local hillfort, visit.habitatsandhillforts.co.uk. Once registered, volunteers will be sent information packs with exact timings to meet and what to bring. Further details about the Hillfort Glow experiment can be found on the North east Wales' Heather and Hillforts Project website.

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  8. A watercolour painting of Conwy Castle in north Wales by the celebrated artist JMW Turner is expected to fetch up to £500,000 when it goes under the hammer next month. Conwy Castle by JMW Turner. Image: Christie's Images Ltd. 2010 The pencil and watercolour, which is being sold by a priv...

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  9. Between reading with Paul Henry at the Wyeside, Builth, and my gig with Menna Elfyn at Trinity, Carmarthen next week, I fly to India for the Hay Kerala Festival. We pass over Mosul, Baghdad, Basra. I disobey the air hostess and lift my blind. I want to see the world, snow-capped mountains sout...

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  10. It's feeling chilly at the moment but it's nothing compared to what's heading our way later this week... We are in for a real taste of winter shortly - with a cold plunge from the Arctic bringing a big drop in temperatures, sharp frosts and wintry showers. Most of the snow will fall in the n...

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