There are only two occasions that Granny Valley phones from Merthyr Tydfil before 6pm on a Sunday, one is to deliver a death message which sadly she did last week and the other is shortly after the final whistle of the Wales v England Six Nations game, this year the game is at The Millennium Stadium and I haven’t dared ask her if the roof is off or on. The exact timings for the latter can go either way depending on how her boys have played and you can guarantee that during the game if Wales aren’t playing as she would hope she will be ready to do the team talk at half time, this hasn’t happened so far but you never know! Understandably we are standing by for her call on Saturday! I can’t wait for the Scott Quinnell & Co radio show on BBC Radio Wales the next day, regardless of the score Scott’s show is a mix of music, chat, laughter and invariably yarns.
Of course the reference to phoning after 6pm on a Sunday will mean nothing to the younger readers but it’s up there with “O levels”, “continental quilts” and “party lines” all of which were a part of my childhood, as was Crossroads, Black Beauty and Ivor the Engine. If you’re not already a member of the Facebook Group “Memories of Wokingham” do think about joining, either to share your memories about Wokingham or to find out about more about where you have moved to. It has been fascinating to watch the page grow and learn more about Wokingham back in the day, huge thanks must go to Steve Armstrong for starting it and Jason Woods and Vin Miles my fellow adminners.
It was through Memories of Wokingham that I had the honour of chatting to a past resident of Wokingham, David Ireland, who started the Wokingham Welsh Society. When we started chatting he said that his accent wasn’t as strong as it once was but I can assure you it was definitely there. David told me “The Wokingham Welsh Society started when he, Tom Jones (not THE Tom Jones), Geoff Riggs and the Reverend Lloyd Davis met in 1975. The first St David Day's Dinner was celebrated above Lee's Bakery in 1976. The society grew as a meeting point for Welsh "expats" and their families, until it was finally disbanded in 2007, as many of the original members eventually moved back to Wales. Some members joined the Reading Welsh Society which is still going today.
It has been interesting chatting to the Welsh across the borough and their reasons for coming here. Most of them came for work, whether they were transfers or new jobs out of Wales, some came to University and never moved back, with others following their hearts or moving to be closer to their families who moved to the borough.
The first of March is indeed a big day in the Welsh diary and if you are travelling to Paddington on St David’s Day you will be guaranteed a warm Welsh welcome or Croeso, and if you are close to Borough Market then there will be even more Welsh foodie treats. If you are not near either of those places then the London Welsh Centre in London is the place to be on Sunday 10th March, 10am to 5pm. An ideal opportunity for the Welsh diaspora to feel closer to home and I guarantee there will be plenty of Welsh accents.
I woke up to sunshine and Welsh accents on Tuesday morning with the sun streaming through the windows in Chepstow, I then had a very pleasurable drive through Usk and Abergavenny before ending up in Crickhowell for the Brecon Beacons Tourism meeting. I’m taking this Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador role very seriously so if you are heading that way and want some local picks then do please get in touch, equally if you have any hidden gems then do let me know. Diolch.