Blog posts by year and month December 2011

Posts (77)

  1. Some parts of Wales have already had a dusting of snow but it looks like we could be in for the first proper snow of the winter later tonight and tomorrow morning! Mind you, it's not going to snow everywhere, it will depend very much on where you live and how high you are above sea level. Some places will just have rain. Based on the latest information from the Met Office, the higher ground of South and Mid Wales could be worst hit by snow but of course things could change with further updates later today. There is still some uncertainty on the path of a deepening area of low pressure moving in from the Atlantic. A change in direction of just 50 to 100 miles north or south can make all the difference as to which part of Britain will get heavy rain, snow or severe gales. This evening rain in Pembrokeshire will spread across the rest of Wales and it will turn increasingly to sleet and snow after midnight. On the coast it will probably stay as rain or sleet but snow inland. The Met Office has issued a yellow and amber snow warning for parts of Wales. Amber means be prepared for some disruption. Forecast chart for 6am on Friday, 16 December, 2011. Parts of Mid Wales, the South Wales Valleys and Monmouthshire could have 2 to 5 cm of snow, 1 to 2 inches. However over 10cm (4 inches) is possible on higher ground e.g. the Heads of the Valleys, the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons and the hills of Powys. The snow will be the wet, sticky kind and consist of big flakes. It will settle, especially but not exclusively on higher ground. Cardiff and Swansea may get away with little if any snow but I wouldn't rule out a light covering on some cars and the grass. Tomorrow the rain and snow will move away but in the north showers will move in from the Irish Sea, some of these heavy falling as rain, hail, sleet and snow with thunder possible too. Pen y Fan with a dusting of snow by Mike Davies. Tomorrow night, the showers will clear and with temperatures falling close to freezing or below ice will become a hazard. This is not the start of a severe cold spell though and it looks like turning milder in the run up to Christmas next week, so a White Christmas looks unlikely at the moment. So, a wintry mix of weather heading our way in the next 24 hours. Don't forget you can keep up to date with the forecast and the latest traffic and travel news on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru. If you take any pictures of snow why not send them in to the weather team via email to dereksdiary@bbc.co.uk or send me a tweet @derektheweather. Derek

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  2. Hijinx Theatre bring a little theatrical entertainment to the stressed Christmas shoppers of Cardiff next week with their short play The Snooks Brothers. The Cardiff-based theatre company will transform one of the empty retail units in Morgan Arcade into a theatre set in the style of a Dickens...

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  3. It's that time of year when music magazines publish their lists of the best releases of the year, and Welsh acts are popping up, albeit not in especially high positions. Jonny In Uncut magazine, Jonny appear at number 36 in their top 50, with their self-titled album. Uncut say: "Euros Childs, once of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, and Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake pooled their considerable songwriting resources for their best work in an age. Some of Jonny's songs sounded like lost children's TV themes; others had the easygoing poignancy that both artists have long been masters of." Gruff Rhys In Q's top 50, Gruff Rhys appears with his Hotel Shampoo collection. They say: "Super Furry Animals man Gruff Rhys restricted himself to a three-week recording schedule to avoid his simple melodies being suffocated by studio experiments." Kids In Glass Houses It's been a slightly healthier year for rock music than indie, it seems. In Kerrang!'s exhaustive top 101 albums of the year, first up at 93 are Bastions with Hospital Corners. The magazine says: "They simply made an album every bit as dark, grim and oppressive as it is relentless, in your face and visceral." At number 78 are Kids In Glass Houses with In Gold Blood. The Kerrang! verdict: "While its ingenuity risked leaving a few long-term fans scratching their heads, it was dazzling in its unpredictability. With the thrust and raw power of a great rock record, songs like The Florist saw the Welshmen abandon convention and finally spread their wings." The Blackout At number 66, The Blackout appear with Hope. "Hope... fizzes ambition born both of desperation and determination to fulfil all that potential. It does too: an inspired collaboration with Hyro Da Hero on Higher And Higher and a seemingly endless supply of slowburn rock anthems make this their best album yet," say the magazine. Funeral For A Friend Top spot for Kerrang! among the Welshies goes to Funeral For A Friend, at number 52 with Welcome Home Armageddon. The verdict: "Reinvigorated by personnel changes, they returned to a level of heaviness they hadn't displayed in years and, boy, did it suit them." Although these are but three publications, it's not been a vintage year for Welsh music, it has to be said. That's no reflection on the quality of the works appearing in these lists, but simply that in previous years the sheer volume of releases meant that Wales batted above its average. A combination of lack of major releases and bands that - not to put too fine a point on it - are on the downward slope of their careers, mean that it's difficult to see who's going to compete with the likes of Florence And The Machine, PJ Harvey, Coldplay or Mastodon. Here's hoping that in 2012 the raft of inventive newer Welsh acts break through and magazines can view Wales once more with a little bit of the green eye. Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login. Need some assistance? Read about BBC iD, or get some help with registering.

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  4. Merthyr Rock is among a group of Welsh music festivals which have secured funding from the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) for 2012. The Blackout at Merthyr Rock The music festival is thought to be secure after its parent organisation, Hay Festival, was awarded £100,000 by the cultural funding body. Other Welsh music festivals that have been awarded financial contributions include: Aberystwyth Music Fest (£15,000) Cardiff Multicultural Mela (£15,200) Fishguard Music Festival (£35,000) Focus Wales, Wrexham (£45,000) Gwyl Gregynog Festival of Classical Music, Newtown (£35,000) Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod (£92,000) North Wales International Music Festival (£50,000) Porthcawl Jazz Festival (£10,273) Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts (£45,000) ACW's Nick Capaldi said: "Wales' festivals attract thousands of visitors each year from across the globe. This funding allows us to support some of the very best of Wales' engaging, celebratory and inspiring festivals. International in outlook, they are also an important part of cultural life for local communities." Hay Festival director Peter Florence said the organisation was "committed to Merthyr Rock for a second year. The first festival was one of the most inspiring and exciting adventures we've ever had." Director, Merthyr Rock, Rhodri Jones said: "We can't wait to get started on planning the second year of Merthyr Rock. The reaction we got from fans, bands and all involved was overwhelming in 2011 and we think there's the potential to grow this festival into something truly brilliant for Wales."

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  5. St Cadoc's Church in Llancarfan has been awarded a £541,900 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The grant will safeguard its important medieval interior and enable the training volunteers to share its heritage with visitors. The Devil promotes lust Saint Cadoc founded a mon...

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  6. Back in January 2011, a long long time ago, I wrote a blog post about all the bands I was excited by who had big plans afoot for the year. Before I write about a whole batch of new bands, I caught up with four of the bands from last year to see how they got on, to see if was indeed it was a good...

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  7. The weather is certainly a big talking point at the moment with more rain, hail, thunder and snow in places today. The air over us has come from Greenland so it's cold but as it crosses the relatively warm sea around the British Isles it becomes very unstable. The air rises sharply forming large, towering cumulonimbus clouds. These clouds produce hail and thunder. If you love clouds, check out the cloud appreciation society. Hail showers can occur at any time of the year but are quite common during the spring in Britain and vary greatly in size. If a hailstone is cut open, a layered structure like an onion is sometimes apparent. A large hailstone may consist of several layers of clear and opaque ice. How hail is formed Large hailstones fall from deep cumulonimbus clouds. The cloud base may be 3,000 feet (900m) above the ground with tops as high as 60,000 feet (18,000m). Much of the cloud will be composed of supercooled water droplets. As the hailstone falls it will collect water droplets which instantly freeze and form a layer of ice. It may then be caught in a vigorous updraught and, as it is carried back higher into the cloud, it collects more water droplets or ice particles to form another layer of ice. So layers build up on the hailstone (made of alternate layers of clear and opaque ice) and the cycle may be repeated until the stone is so big that it falls to earth. Hail history Really large hailstones originate in thunderstorms during the summer. In July 1968 a hailstone the size of a tennis ball fell at Cardiff Airport. A 3.5" hailstone which fell on Cardiff, South Wales, during a thunderstorm on July 1, 1968. Copyright R K Pilsbury. The largest hailstone recorded in the British Isles weighed 141 grams (5 oz) and occurred at Horsham, West Sussex on September 5, 1958. Certainly anything approaching golf-ball size is remarkable, but hailstones can grow large enough to dent cars, shatter greenhouses, injure, and even kill people. In late October 2008 a massive hail and thunderstorm hit Ottery St. Mary in Devon. The USA, Canada, central Europe, India and China all experience large hail. So too do land areas in the southern hemisphere. In July 1984, a shower of giant hailstones caused about £750,000,000 worth of damage in Munich, Germany. The heaviest hailstone (in the Guinness Book of Records) occurred in a hailstorm in the Gopalanj district of Bangladesh on April 14, 1986. The hailstones weighed up to 1kg (2lb 3oz) and were reported to have killed 92 people. While in Nebraska, a hailstone almost the size of a bowling ball fell on June 22 2003. Measuring 17.8cm in diameter - the largest hailstone ever recorded!

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  8. No! Never! Like, what's the point? I don't need one. And it's just a passing fad, anyway, like the personal-organiser and the mini-disc. And why would I want another charger to add to the 26 I already have and can't remember what most of them are for? Besides, think how many paperbacks you can get for 90 quid. Listen, don't think it was only me. Most of the authors I know - and I know a lot of them - say the same things, and what they don't say but think is: do I really want to spend a whole year of long hours, head-beating and hand-wringing to create something THAT DOESN'T EXIST? Anyway, I used to think all that, but now I can't say anything because... I've got one. An ebook reader on top of a paperback I've had it just over a week. Periodically, I switch it on, just so I can switch it off again and puzzle over why it never shuts down on a screen-picture of the same author twice: Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde... how long before it gets to Dan Brown? Of course, I still say I might never have acquired one if it hadn't been an essential research-tool for the last in the current series of Phil the Shelf, in which several authors, a publisher and a bookseller discuss how the ebook reader has changed their lives and their income levels, in both positive and negative ways. According to Wikipedia, the first ebook reader, as we know them today, was launched in 2004, to widespread apathy. Not any more. This Christmas the Amazon Kindle will probably be under more trees than iPhones, Xboxes and all the other alphabetical techno-toys put together. Suddenly, it's like you're meant to feel uncool if you're seen in a train, a bus or a dentist's waiting room without one. However, among the places you're well advised not to be seen with a Kindle, Kobo or Nook are Derek Addiman's three bookshops in Hay-on-Wye. The ebook is, potentially, a massive threat to the second hand book industry because you can't exactly put all your used virtual volumes into a box and take them to Hay. Whichever way you look at it, from now on there are going to be fewer actual books around. You can hear Derek's unrestrained, uncensored views on the Kindle in Sunday's programme, along with the other side of the story. North Wales romantic comedy writer Trisha Ashley reveals how the ebook has opened up a whole new audience for her novels. And Scott Mariani, who lives near Carmarthen, found he'd become King Kindle when a cut-price virtual version of one of his Ben Hope thrillers shot to the Amazon Number One spot. More significantly, he also explains in the programme how authors are able to use ebooks to multiply their earnings at the expense of the mainstream publishing industry. What it amounts to is something approximating to the Arab Spring, where mid-list authors - for so long the underdogs, kicked around by publishers and spurned by High Street bookchains - can finally regain power. Although the sinister side of this is the terrifying trajectory of Amazon to a position close to bookworld-domination. Is it all going to spell the end of the physical book? Well, no. Although paperback sales may continue to slump, the hardback will survive, if only because the ebook reader is never going to look good on a shelf. What we might see is far more attention being paid by publishers to the design and quality of a hardback - in much the same way as more CDs are appearing in digipacks with gatefold sleeves and booklets, to provide something you can't get from a download. But ebooks are also getting cleverer, as novels increasingly come with extra electronic sights and sounds. The war has barely begun. Watch this space... Listen to Phil the Shelf on BBC Radio Wales on Sunday from 5pm.

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  9. A surrealist exhibition which explores artist Wanda Zyborska's experience of breast cancer will open at the Rhyl Library Arts Centre in January. Cyn ac Wedyn - Before and After chronicles her battle with the disease from diagnosis, through surgery, reconstruction and recovery. Detail of on...

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  10. We've had just about everything thrown at us today - heavy rain, sleet, thunder, snow and hail the size of large peas. Mark Hillman sent in this picture via twitter. The road in Ystradfellte covered in hailstones making driving conditions treacherous and it's been a similar story in other parts of the country too. We've also had plenty of rain and some flooding with over 11 flood alerts in force at the time of writing and a flood warning on the River Dee from Llangollen to Chester. There have been strong to severe gale force winds as well. At Mumbles Head, in Swansea a gust of 81mph was recorded this afternoon with gusts of 67mph at Aberdaron on the Lleyn Peninsula. The reason for the disturbed weather is low pressure. The air over us has come from Greenland so its unstable producing towering clouds and heavy showers. Mountainous seas off the Anglesey coast by Mr Lyn Adams from Llanfair P.G Tonight, further heavy showers are expected in the south feeding in from the Bristol Channel. Snow is likely in places, especially on higher ground with the north dry and clearer. The wind will be easing but still breezy on the coast and temperatures inland falling close to freezing with a frost and a risk of ice. There is now a Met Office snow warning in force covering most of Wales tonight and tomorrow. It's a yellow warning which is the lowest grading. So, widespread problems are not expected but be aware that there is some snow in the forecast. In fact some places, especially the higher communities including the south Wales Valleys could have a covering of snow by tomorrow morning. A few sunny intervals are likely tomorrow but showers will become more widespread during the day. Rain, hail and sleet again. Some snow in places too but later in the afternoon the showers should be mostly of rain. Temperatures on the cold side, 4 to 7 Celsius. The wind not as strong as today but still breezy, especially on the coast and gusty at times near the showers. On Wednesday night a trough of low pressure will bring more rain and heavy showers. Strong to gale force winds possible in Pembrokeshire. The air less cold so any snow should be confined to the very highest ground. Thursday will be breezy with some sunshine and scattered showers, becoming dry for a time but we could be in for another dose of stormy weather on Thursday night into Friday. It all depends on an area of low pressure and which path it takes. Wales could be in the firing line for more heavy rain, flooding and gales but it's there is still some uncertainty. So it would be worth keeping a close eye on the forecast over the next couple of days. Derek

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