Recent meetings

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Mae oren y Cristingl

Sunday 8 December 2019

Our annual Carol Service took a different turn this year, when we each took an orange and a kit of parts and tried to assemble a Christingle like the ones on the table and that Margaret is holding! The custom can be traced back to a Moravian church minister in Germany in 1747, and was introduced to the UK in 1968 as a fund-raiser for The Children’s Society, but this seems to have been a first for EWS!

Naturally there was a Welsh “Cân y Cristingl” by Glyndwr Williams (read the words at this link), sung to the tune The Holly and the Ivy. Add to that five readings and six other carols and Christmas hymns, and we definitely earned our tea! The singing went well, though we missed a number of our regulars.

The service was devised, organised and led by Margaret Brandie, and our thanks go both to her and to the whole Brandie family who were involved in different ways. Thanks also to Huw Thomas for leading from the piano and to Jennifer Welsher, who organised the refreshments.


Afterwards your webmaster also enjoyed that evening’s edition of Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol, which was based at St Fagans National History Museum and looked at how Christmas in Wales has changed over the centuries. Cor Caerdydd sang well, despite the evidently cold chapel! For the next month you can enjoy the programme at this link.


The explanation for the Christingle symbol is

  • the orange is round like the world
  • the candle stands tall and straight and gives light in the dark like the love of God
  • the red ribbon goes all around the ‘world’ and is a symbol of the blood Jesus shed when he died for us
  • the four sticks point in all directions and symbolise North, South, East and West – they also represent the four seasons
  • the fruit represents the fruits of the earth, nurtured by the sunshine and the rain

Scotland in stone

Saturday 7 September 2019

We met up at the Barony Castle Hotel and after refreshments we wandered through the woods to view the 3D map of Scotland made by a small group of Poles out of stone. Thereafter we adjourned to the Green Tree hotel in Peebles and enjoyed a hearty meal.

Thanks to Lilian for organising the trip and to Jean for contributing her local knowledge and organising the lunch.

Ed: You’ll find more about this most interesting work of art at this link.

Union Canal walk

Saturday 20 July 2019

 

All technology was new once … amidst the celebrations on 20 July of a Moon walk 50 years before, our walk along the Union Canal reminded us that 200 years ago the Union Canal was being built!

When we met at Edinburgh Quay, we might have assumed that Lochrin Basin was its starting point. However, Jean Bareham, our guide – ably assisted by young Benji – first took us into the middle of new developments at Old Fountainbridge, where she pointed out where canal wharves had once extended to Earl Grey Street. We saw evidence of the former meat markets in the area and, later in our walk, the lift bridge that had once carried the Fountainbridge traffic over the canal.

Our travels took us only a short way along the canal – and it was, as promised, easy walking along the towpath – but we learned a lot about the history of the area, and were encouraged by the current redevelopment of two adjacent major sites to allow people and businesses to coexist in an area that had once housed a brewery and rubber factory.

The view certainly wasn’t all of industry and development – within a short time we were in countryside, and enjoying a goodly collection of wild flowers and plants and a pair of swans with their family of eight cygnets. The canal is a wild life corridor into the city, and home to a number of endangered species – Hywel’s hat nearly became one!

Our guided tour ended in the tranquil surroundings of Polwarth Church gardens, but we were then guided to Boroughmuir Rugby Club for a very pleasant drink on the terrace in the sunshine that had been with us most of the afternoon, and onwards (for those needing more solid sustenance) to the Kilted Pig.

Thanks to Lilian, whose idea the walk was, to Jean for leading us so informatively, and to Hywel for leading us to places of refreshment.

Gymanfa Ganu 2019

Sunday 3 March 2019

Some two dozen members and friends responded to the invitation to come and sing hymns at our Mini Gymanfa Ganu, and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. We sang ten hymns, and were even allowed two encores for good behaviour!

Huw and Janet Thomas performed a ‘double act’, with Huw accompanying our singing on the piano and Janet introducing the items, each of which started with a “guess that tune”. Calon Lân took just three notes to identify – others were trickier!

In the course of the afternoon’s introductions we learnt to distinguish between the different John Hughes, sang “a composition from a railway platform”, found that Rachie had originally been discarded by the composer, and discovered that Joanna had been Richard Burton’s favourite hymn.

Most of the hymns came from the Society’s yellow booklet, but we sang Graham Kendrick’s “Meekness and Majesty” in Welsh (thanks to the Gobaith website), and later we tackled the four-fold Amen of Tydi a roddaist. Finally, it being explained that the words in the booklet to Cwm Rhondda were not the original, we sang “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah” in English (as would have been used in the 1904–5 revival), and with great gusto.

An enlightening and enjoyable occasion was suitable rounded off with bara brith, tea and conversation. Thank you to everyone who came, and to all the organisers, but especially to Huw and Janet.

St David’s Day dinner

Friday 1 March 2019

Thankfully there was no Beast from the East this year, so the St David’s Day dinner took place as arranged at Mortonhall Golf Club, where 40 members of the Society enjoyed some excellent food and company, and welcomed back Ann Evans as our Gwraig Wadd.

Ann is a former President, and she and her husband Daniel were active members of the Society until they moved on retirement to a (much-renovated!) house in Morfa Nefyn that had been owned by Daniel’s family for over 200 years.

Much of Ann’s speech talked about the ways in which they had sought to integrate into the community, for example through volunteering at the Llŷn Historical and Maritime Museum and at Nant Gwrtheyrn, home to the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre. Less expectedly, Ann had also become involved with Merched y Wawr (described as a Welsh equivalent of the Women’s Institute) and Age Well, at the Nefyn Community Centre. She then took us in our imagination to a local chapel – a far remove from Fairmilehead, with 150/200 worshippers – but on the Wales Coast Path and with the sound of the sea when you opened the door, and to the Ty Coch Inn, Porth Dinllaen, one of the top ten beach bars in the world!

Finally, Ann read the poem “Aberdaron” by Sir Albert (Cynan) Evans-Jones, before reminding us of why we were gathered together, saying something about St David, and then proposing a toast in his memory.

Our President, David Hughes, then wished Ann a “safe journey back to Paradise”, thanked everyone for their contribution to the evening, and presented flowers to Jennifer Welsher, our Secretary.

In his vote of thanks, Huw Thomas echoed the suggestion that Ann should receive an award from the Llŷn Tourist Board. Finally, as always, Jim Hughes and his “little helpers” led us in singing some favourite hymns and songs before “Mae hen wlad fy nhadau” concluded the evening.

[Webmaster’s note: In case you’re wondering about the less-than-perfect quality of the photographs … to avoid disturbing the proceedings all were taken by available light and, with two exceptions, with the subjects ‘in action’ rather than posed]

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