Tag Archives: england

Discover the Welsh language

Closely related to Cornish, the native language of the English county Cornwall, and to Breton, the native language of Brittany, north western France, Welsh – or Cymraeg to its speakers – dates back to the 6th century, making it one of Europe’s oldest living languages. It evolved from the Celtic language spoken by the ancient Britons and was handed down through the generations until the 19th century, when the industrial revolution brought about an alarming erosion of the Welsh language.

Since then the battle to save Cymraeg has been inextricably linked with Wales’s national identity, and much has been done to promote its usage. At the uppermost level, political parties have been founded (Plaid Cymru began in 1925 with a primary mandate of promoting the language) and acts of parliament have been passed, but the future of the Welsh language has also been embraced by its people. A passion for keeping it alive has led to everything from adopting bilingual road signs to the Welsh television channel S4C.

Today Welsh is not the dead language many would have you believe (and indeed many feared it would become). Welsh is now growing again and, according to a survey by the Welsh Language Board, is spoken by 21% of the Welsh population, 62% of whom speak it on a daily basis.

Although many places in Wales now have English names, the Welsh language still appears in numerous village and town names and, although all the locals speak English, understanding a smattering of Welsh will help visitors understand the heritage of where they are visiting. Undoubtedly the most famous place name is the tongue-twistingLlanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which in English is translated as the fantastically descriptive “St Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the red cave”.

Even the most basic knowledge of Welsh will inform a visit to this proud and heritage-rich country, so why not make a start with these simple phrases:

Hello Shw mae (“shoo my”)
Goodbye Hwyl (“hooil”)
Welcome Croeso (“croy so”)
Thank you Diolch (“dee-olck”)

 

Source: Discover Wales: The Living Language

 

Also, read about the 641 castles in Wales.

 

 

Continue reading

Visit Wales and its 641 castles – a mixture of gothic, medieval, and Victorian styles

With its rolling hills and numerous royal conquests, there’s no place where history comes alive in such a lush setting as it does in Wales. Everywhere you look, the evidence of kings, queens, conflict and empire call to you. There are more than 600 castles – 641 to be precise – so even without trying you’ll come across a few. Even the country’s young capital has one – right in the heart of the city. Cardiff Castle mixes medieval and Victorian gothic architectural styles to thrilling effect.

These proud battlements are a historical legacy that is testament to a tumultuous past, and to the indomitable spirit of the fighting Welsh – these castles were built for a reason.

When the Romans withdrew, the separate Welsh kingdoms were left to squabble and spar for centuries until the Normans landed in the 11th century. But the Welsh proved unwilling subjects even then. It was not until Edward I – the famous subduer of William “Braveheart” Wallace – launched his war of subjugation two centuries later that Wales finally fell to England’s boot.

Edward consolidated his victory with the impressive castles you can still visit today. Most are in excellent repair, with walls as solid now as when their first stones went in the ground.

Beaumaris – the biggest castle Edward built and a truly imposing military fortress. It is located on the island of Anglesey, separated from mainland Wales by the Menai Strait, which is home to Prince William in his duties as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue pilot.

William is most intimately connected to the most majestic of the Unesco castles, the stunningly preserved Caernarfon Castle. This is where his father, Prince Charles, was invested as the Prince of Wales – and where, one day, William is likely to follow suit.

 

Keep reading: The Guardian - Discover the proud history of Wales

 

 

Continue reading

United Kingdom unemployment matches ours – and they use funny terms to describe it

Read this for news on the world economy, or just enjoy the interesting words the Brits use to describe their unemployment: Jobseekers Allowance (unemployment benefits), shadow work (?)…

 

UK unemployment total falls to 2.58m

The unemployment rate fell to 8.1% in the period, down from 8.3% in the previous quarter.

The ONS figures showed that the number of people in employment rose by 181,000 to 29.35 million.

However, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose by 6,100 to 1.6 million in June.

The number of long-term unemployed also increased, with those out of work for more than two years rising by 18,000 to a total of 441,000, the highest since 1997.

The shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “You’ve seen another big rise in the number of long-term unemployed… nearly half the people on the dole have been out of work for more than six months.”

Average total earnings were 1.5% higher in the year to May, the ONS said. When bonuses are excluded, regular pay rose 1.8% from a year earlier.

On average, UK workers earned £442 per week excluding bonuses.

UK unemployment rates

  • North East England 10.9%
  • Yorkshire and the Humber 9.7%
  • North West England 9.5%
  • Wales 9.0%
  • London 8.9%
  • West Midlands 8.6%
  • East Midlands 8.3%
  • Scotland 8.0%
  • Northern Ireland 6.9%
  • East of England 6.6%
  • South East 6.3%
  • South West 5.9%

 

Source: BBC - UK unemployment total falls to 2.58m

 

Continue reading

Archaeologist discover Shakespeare’s original theater

The remains of London’s second playhouse, The Curtain Theatre, could be unearthed in Shoreditch as part of a development by Plough Yard Developments.

The Curtain Theatre was home to William Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, before they settled at the Globe and staged several of Shakespeare’s plays including Romeo and Juliet. Despite being immortalised as “this wooden O” in Henry V, which had its premier at The Curtain Theatre, little detailed information is known about this early playhouse. Excavations are expected to provide great insight into its history.

Archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) have been undertaking exploratory digs at the site of The Curtain Theatre in Hackney. They have discovered what is believed to be one of the best preserved examples of an Elizabethan theatre in the UK. The discoveries include the walls forming the gallery and the yard within the playhouse itself.

 

Learn moreRemains of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre discovered in Shoreditch

Continue reading

82% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Queen Elizabeth II

As Britain prepares to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne, the sovereign’s popularity in the United States is at a 15-year high — 82% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of the queen in a CNN/ORC poll released Friday.

That’s a 35-point jump from 1997, when her favorable rating stood at 47%. That was the year Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. Many Americans and Brits were disappointed in the royal family’s handling of the death of the “people’s princess,” saying the queen didn’t sufficiently reflect her subjects’ sense of loss following the accident.

Since then, however, Queen Elizabeth’s favorable ratings have been on the rise, reaching 75% in 2002 and 80% in 2007.

“Americans love Queen Elizabeth and they think the royal family is a good thing for the people of England, but only one in eight would like to see royalty here in the United States,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, is not as popular as his wife, though is still viewed favorably by 59% of Americans.

via WCVB

 

And, just for fun this satire – Prince Philip Says: “I’m Not Going To The Bloody Sodding Royal Pageant On The Buggering Thames In No Barge And That’s That!”

Continue reading

Modern Royals – Rainbow Queen in the British Vogue

Note that it says the Queen prefers:

  • 29% – blue
  • 13% – floral
  • 11% – cream or green
  • 10% – pink or purple
  • 4%  - red, orange, or yellow
  • 2%  - black
  • 1%  - checkered or beige

And, some close-ups.

Continue reading

Anglophiles rejoice, another British epic – Anthony Powell's novels, A Dance to the Music of Time

Seven Reasons to Read A Dance to the Music of Time

In the fall of 2009, I left the United States to spend a school year teaching English in China. There were many things to do before leaving, but one of the more pleasurable was choosing which books would see me through the year. When my friend Ellen suggested taking Anthony Powell’s series A Dance to the Music of Time, I felt a click, the sort you feel when someone suggests a thing and you realize that is exactly what you intended to do all along. I packed the whole series and spent the next nine months living in China but letting a great deal of my imaginative life take place in mid-20th-century England.

For those who haven’t heard about the series or seen its tantalizing spines lined up on some bookstore shelf, Dance is a sequence of 12 novels, generally published as four volumes of three novels each. The series takes its name from a 17th-century painting by the French artist Nicholas Poussin, which depicts the four seasons as nymphs dancing in a circle while a winged Father Time plays for them on the harp. (The American editions of the books, published by the University of Chicago Press, use Poussin’s artwork and put one of the nymphs on the spine of each volume, so that when lined up the four volumes create an eye-catching work of art on one’s shelf.) The books take place in England over the course of nearly 60 years, starting between the World Wars and ending in the 1970s.

Various people have claimed that Dance is the definitive work of the British 20th century. The whole series is one entry on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best novels of the century.

These books deserve a continuing readership. They are masterful, they are deeply artful — and they are also rather fun. They contain a wealth of comedy, closely observed as the best serious work but with an additional twist that makes for a startled laugh when you suddenly realize what’s going on. They deserve to be popular. They deserve to be widely read and loved. These are the first books I can recall reading as an adult that made me want to go join the official society of fans of the author. Those who love these books love them for a lifetime; they are so rich and so pleasurable that they bear revisiting over the years as the reader grows alongside the characters and finds new ways to understand the story. And yet, in point of fact, nobody I know has read them, though I know a couple people who have been meaning to get around to it. And so I am taking to the Internet to make my own case for Powell to anyone out there who is in search of a new reading project as I was, or who simply needs something to read on these winter days.

By Marjorie Hakala

 

Another Endorsement

Anglophiles rejoice, another British epic – Anthony Powell’s novels, A Dance to the Music of Time

Seven Reasons to Read A Dance to the Music of Time

In the fall of 2009, I left the United States to spend a school year teaching English in China. There were many things to do before leaving, but one of the more pleasurable was choosing which books would see me through the year. When my friend Ellen suggested taking Anthony Powell’s series A Dance to the Music of Time, I felt a click, the sort you feel when someone suggests a thing and you realize that is exactly what you intended to do all along. I packed the whole series and spent the next nine months living in China but letting a great deal of my imaginative life take place in mid-20th-century England.

For those who haven’t heard about the series or seen its tantalizing spines lined up on some bookstore shelf, Dance is a sequence of 12 novels, generally published as four volumes of three novels each. The series takes its name from a 17th-century painting by the French artist Nicholas Poussin, which depicts the four seasons as nymphs dancing in a circle while a winged Father Time plays for them on the harp. (The American editions of the books, published by the University of Chicago Press, use Poussin’s artwork and put one of the nymphs on the spine of each volume, so that when lined up the four volumes create an eye-catching work of art on one’s shelf.) The books take place in England over the course of nearly 60 years, starting between the World Wars and ending in the 1970s.

Various people have claimed that Dance is the definitive work of the British 20th century. The whole series is one entry on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best novels of the century.

These books deserve a continuing readership. They are masterful, they are deeply artful — and they are also rather fun. They contain a wealth of comedy, closely observed as the best serious work but with an additional twist that makes for a startled laugh when you suddenly realize what’s going on. They deserve to be popular. They deserve to be widely read and loved. These are the first books I can recall reading as an adult that made me want to go join the official society of fans of the author. Those who love these books love them for a lifetime; they are so rich and so pleasurable that they bear revisiting over the years as the reader grows alongside the characters and finds new ways to understand the story. And yet, in point of fact, nobody I know has read them, though I know a couple people who have been meaning to get around to it. And so I am taking to the Internet to make my own case for Powell to anyone out there who is in search of a new reading project as I was, or who simply needs something to read on these winter days.

By Marjorie Hakala

 

Another Endorsement

The face of courageous sacrifice and suffering, Jean d'Aire – sculpture by August Rodin

On August 1, 1347, the city of Calais in France had fallen. The siege had been long, over 8 months, and the citizens were proud of their massive castle which was over 1,000 yards wide, surrounded by two moats, and protected by the sea at its back.

The terms of the surrender were the lives of the six noblest men in the city. These men, called burghers, were to leave the city with a noose around their neck and present themselves and the keys to the city to the conquering king, Edward III of England.

The most prominent of them all was Jean d’Aire and his face says it all.

Over 500 years later the citizens of Calais asked sculptor August Rodin to commemorate that day with a statue of all six burghers marching to their doom. He complied and ended up creating one of his best masterpieces.

The bust you see above is but one part of the statue, albeit the most famous. In later years Rodin would create several copies of that face for busts and in giant size. Today, you can find these copies all around the world at museum, parks, and in Calais.

But, first the original:

Continue reading

The face of courageous sacrifice and suffering, Jean d’Aire – sculpture by August Rodin

On August 1, 1347, the city of Calais in France had fallen. The siege had been long, over 8 months, and the citizens were proud of their massive castle which was over 1,000 yards wide, surrounded by two moats, and protected by the sea at its back.

The terms of the surrender were the lives of the six noblest men in the city. These men, called burghers, were to leave the city with a noose around their neck and present themselves and the keys to the city to the conquering king, Edward III of England.

The most prominent of them all was Jean d’Aire and his face says it all.

Over 500 years later the citizens of Calais asked sculptor August Rodin to commemorate that day with a statue of all six burghers marching to their doom. He complied and ended up creating one of his best masterpieces.

The bust you see above is but one part of the statue, albeit the most famous. In later years Rodin would create several copies of that face for busts and in giant size. Today, you can find these copies all around the world at museum, parks, and in Calais.

But, first the original:

Continue reading