Blog posts by year and month December 2011

Posts (77)

  1. Born on 17 June 1773, William Madocks was a Georgian entrepreneur of startling ability and foresight. He was the man who built the Cob across the Glaslyn Estuary, thus considerably easing travel - by foot, horse and eventually by rail - between mid and north Wales. He was also instrumental in...

    Read more

  2. A new exhibition, Transhumance by Romanian photographer Dragos Lumpan, opens this week at the National Wool Museum in Llandysul, Carmarthenshire. Transhumance is a traditional farming method of moving livestock animals to different gazing areas depending on the different seasons - such as mov...

    Read more

  3. This is a shortlist of the artists and releases I'm most looking forward to in 2012. It's a very personal list. My only consideration is the music I already know I'm most excited about getting my ears around in the next 12 months. Ifan Dafydd In Treehouse, Gwynedd's Ifan Dafydd provid...

    Read more

  4. The small independent film Weekend has triumphed at the British Independent Film Awards, with a special accolade for Cardiff actor Tom Cullen. At the awards on Sunday night, Cullen, 26, scooped the Most Promising Newcomer award for his portrayal of Russell, a gay man embarking on a fleeting l...

    Read more

  5. A 2,000 year old Roman ring found by a man with a metal detector on Cefn Brithdir in the Darran Valley earlier this year has been returned by the British Museum for display in a valley's museum. According to an article on the BBC Wales News website, the British Museum has given the ring to the Winding House museum at New Tredegar to be put on permanent display. The silver Roman ring was found earlier this year (Photos: Winding House museum) The gemstone is missing from the ring Speaking about the new exhibit, Emma Wilson, principal museums and heritage officer for Caerphilly, said they were "immensely pleased" to put it on display. "We're a relatively new museum having only been open for three years," she said. Ms Wilson praised the finder for alerting the authorities to his discovery. "He went through all the correct legal channels, realising it might be treasure trove. The ring, from the first or second century AD, was initially passed to the National Museum in Cardiff where it was identified it as a typical Roman silver finger ring. It was then placed in the care of the British Museum, whose officials offered it to the Winding House, a former colliery building, as the relevant local museum. Read more about this story on the BBC Wales News website, or find out more about the Romans on Wales on BBC Wales History.

    Read more

  6. With Christmas fast approaching I thought I'd take a look at our relationship between nature and the festive period, a time when many of us 'willingly' bring nature into our homes without a second thought - in the guise of fir trees, holly wreaths, mistletoe and ivy. To begin with, most peopl...

    Read more

  7. November was incredibly mild this year which has had a knock on effect on our wildlife in Wales. Lyndsey Maiden from the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) has been in touch with some examples of unseasonal behaviour and sightings. Whilst our summer visitors have left us and our winter visitors such as fieldfares and redwings have arrived, it would seem that not all our wildlife is aware that winter is on the horizon. This November has been unseasonably warm which has meant that some animals such as bats and hedgehogs have delayed their winter hibernation. With plenty of insects still around this may not currently be a huge concern although a sudden drop in temperature may leave some animals out in the cold. Bats would normally be in hibernation by now but both pipistrelle and daubenton's bats have been seen flying around in Carmarthenshire and Swansea. Image by Amy Lewis. Bats would normally be hibernating at this time of year and yet WTSWW have received reports of a Daubentons bat in Swansea and Lyndsey Maiden of the Trust has seen pipistrelle bats flying in Carmarthenshire. The Trust has even received reports of frogs mating in Carmarthen. Many plants are still producing flowers, with sightings of greater stitchwort, red campion, knapweed, cow parsley and hogweed producing new growth and flowers. Southern hawker dragonflies and red admirals are still flying on sunny days as are wasps and other small invertebrates which would normally be dying off. A red admiral enjoying the November sunshine at Boverton. Image by Sue. You may have noticed that trees such as hazels are still keeping their leaves at the moment or even daffodils coming into flower. All of this unusual behaviour seems to be down to the unseasonably warm weather. There are indications that this is part of a longer term trend and whilst this is not the warmest November on record this is probably due to the El Nina effect cooling us down. The Wildlife Trusts are concerned about the robustness of wildlife being able to cope with an unpredictable climate. Our unusual weather will put pressures on nature's systems and it will take time to see how she copes. If you see any more unusual sightings please send your reports to WTSWW's Facebook page. December looks like a return to normality though with a wintry weather forecast for the week ahead and temperatures today struggling to get above 6° C for much of Wales.

    Read more

  8. It may be getting chillier but that doesn't stop the wildlife or the photographers for that matter. Here are a few photos from our Flickr group which have caught my eye recently: The cormorant and the roach by Tony Llewellyn. Criccieth castle in black and white by Peter. A heron fishing for eels in the late afternoon sun by Karlentwm. A rabbit and green woodpecker by Clive Davies. A short-eared owl by Mike Warburton.

    Read more

  9. The BBC Sound of 2012 shortlist of 12 nominees has been announced, and as usual there are no Welsh nominees (Marina And The Diamonds being the last in 2010). It's a thought I have every year when this list, celebrating some of the up-and-coming artists making waves in the industry, is published. Is there anything that makes Welsh acts unappealing to the "180 influential UK tastemakers who were asked to name their favourite new acts"? Skrillex The list: A$AP Rocky Azealia Banks Dot Rotten Dry The River Flux Pavilion Frank Ocean Friends Jamie N Commons Lianne La Havas Michael Kiwanuka Niki & The Dove Ren Harvieu Skrillex Spector Stooshe I am not diminishing those choices (even though I have, by own admission of having only heard of two of the nominees, earned the slight disapproval of one of Wales' tastemaker generals John Rostron, of Sŵn Festival and the Welsh Music Prize). I am, however, wondering if there any factors that characterise music in Wales that mean that our new acts either aren't good enough, or don't make themselves known to those "influential tastemakers". Certainly once upon a time the Rivers Severn and Dee were psychological as well as physical boundaries between Wales and the music industry. Massive strides have been made in the last 15 or so years to counter that. A&R departments became aware that Wales was but a couple of hours from their London lairs by train. The explosion of successful Welsh bands in the late-1990s and the early 21st century - largely born of fan power, not hype - assisted, as did the tireless work of individuals and organisations. Small steps they may have been, but incrementally they achieved a definite shift in attitudes. But if I was to characterise the acts who were in those waves of success, they were guitar bands; rock acts, plugging into the worldwide surge in popularity of rock and metal of the time. This type of music has never been 'cool'. And by extension, Wales has rarely been 'cool'. Wales is (a little like the West Midlands which I also know well) a hotbed of rock fandom. This is a country in which LA Guns could fill big venues in the depths of the valleys a few years back, when they'd struggle to elicit a raise eyebrow in London. This is the country which embraced The Darkness in a non-ironic way. This is the country of The Alarm. In broad brush strokes, there are not a lot of factors about Wales which appeals to "influential tastemakers", but that's because influential tastemakers worth their salt aren't necessarily looking for nailed-on sales, they're looking for the indefinable ingredient that crassness labels 'the X factor'. For some, that's sales, but for others it's ingenuity, attitude, passion, politics or simple oddness. And Wales has lots to offer in all those areas. They're not necessarily brand new, but I'll throw a few Welsh names out there 'for your consideration' as the film studios touting for Oscars votes say: Kitty Cowell, Akira The Don, Gallops, Los Campesinos!, Islet, Y Niwl, Bastions and Exit International. All interesting in their own ways, and all off the top of my head. John Rostron suggests CRST, H Hawkline, Jodie Marie and Ifan Dafydd, while Adam Walton suggests Shy And The Fight, Cut Ribbons, Georgia Ruth and drmcnt among others (no doubt he'll be blogging some more 2012 tips in the coming weeks). I don't think anyone has an answer as to how more Welsh acts could get into these kind of lists (and tap into the marketing juice this delivers), or even if there is a problem. John's take on it is simple: "I'd imagine some Welsh bands were in the mix - I'm sure Islet would have been in several. It's a tough list to get into - only seven spots from the UK this time around, and all of those from England." What would be your suggestions for Welsh acts for the shortlist? 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.

    Read more

  10. The National Library of Wales has been criticised by Heritage Minister Huw Lewis AM for accepting a bequest of £300,000 and archive material from a Frenchman, Louis Feutren, who served in the Waffen SS during World War Two. The SS was a notorious paramilitary wing of Adolf Hitler's army, acti...

    Read more