Monday, 28 May 2018

Visiting St Davids (Gerald’s Journey through Wales 1188)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.

From Haverfordwest the party moved on north-westwards through Camrose, Newgale Sands and Pebydiog to the famous city of St Davids. Earlier in this series we looked at the status of St Davids and Gerald’s own struggle to become Bishop of St Davids.
St David
Gerald paused in writing of his itinerary to talk about St David, the archbishop, and St Davids, the place. He told some stories of his own and used the Latin life of St David written by Rhigyfarch at the end of the eleventh century, five centuries after David’s death. David was the son of a Welsh prince called Sant and a girl called Nonnita. The place of his birth was marked in Gerald’s day by a church, and some think this is at the site of the present day St Non’s Chapel. He was baptised in a well at Porthclais.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 7

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Tomos is a young Ron Howard.

Tomos (young Ron Howard)

Chapter 7

With the crisis over, Reuel returned to his cabin. Not that he was relaxing. He shared with Balitoth, who remained on duty, so Reuel had no one to talk to. He dreaded the debriefing, but as he thought over the events, he couldn't see anything he had done wrong. It wasn't his fault they got arrested, and he had been vital in their escape.

He was disgusted with himself for getting so scared, since back home he was considered tough. There is always the possibility of violence in poor urban areas, especially among young males. Reuel knew how to handle himself in a fight, even before he received formal training at the Academy.

Ever since he became an adult, Reuel had not been afraid. Tense, prepared, nervous, yes. Worried about his friends. But not afraid. He knew what to expect, and he had won enough fights and skirmishes to be confident. But anticipation of agony was something else. This was new.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Pembrokeshire Tales (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.

Archbishop Baldwin, Gerald and the rest of the party carried on westwards from Whitland Abbey to Carmarthen and then Haverfordwest. They were welcomed by Gerald’s kinsman Sir Philip Mangonel, who warned them they would have little success preaching the cross, as no one in Haverfordwest was interested.
Haverfordwest Castle
The next morning Archbishop Baldwin preached to a large crowd, but to no avail. So few people responded that he was in despair as he handed over the preaching cross to Gerald. What happened next was remarkable. Although Gerald preached in Norman-French and Latin, neither of which was understood by the local people, the response was so great that Gerald’s sermon was drowned out three times by the voices of people clamouring for a cloth cross. Many were in tears and one of the greatest weepers was Sir Philip himself, who took the cross with five or six other leading Pembrokeshire knights.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 6

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Balitoth is something like this:

Balitoth

Chapter 6

Parks woke with a start at the sound of a red alert. He had been sent to his cabin, but had only been in bed half an hour and was groggy. He struggled to consciousness, wondering if he was getting too old for this. He went to jump out of bed, but couldn't because of his injuries. At least his instincts were still sharp.

He carefully pulled on his uniform and shoes and went out into the corridor. John Blackwell was passing.

'Commander, wait!' Parks grabbed the engineer’s arm. 'What’s going on?'

'Pursuit,' Blackwell said as he hurried away, 'looks like you brought some company with you.'

Parks headed for the bridge. Unfortunately for him the way to the bridge led past sick bay, and the door was open.

'Commander Parks!'

The voice of Doctor Nefar came through the open door. 'You are not fit for duty. Return to your quarters, and I recommend you strap yourself into bed and keep your breather at hand. I do not want to treat any new injuries.'

Parks started to protest, but the doctor came out and escorted him back to his cabin. The Doctor was after all one of only two men on board the Kestrel who had the right to give Parks orders.

Sebu Nefar was new to the Kestrel. He was Kohathi. Parks had utmost respect for the race, on their last mission another Kohathi doctor, Tofi Dathan, had bravely sacrificed his life to save others. The Kohathi take apprentices to continue their work, and Nefar had been Dathan's apprentice. He volunteered to join the Kestrel in Dathan’s place.

Sebu Nefar might have appeared to be a genial be-whiskered old man, as all Kohathi did, including the females. He was young for his race at a mere 82, and much stronger than he appeared. Parks knew better than to argue with Doctor Nefar.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A New Grandson!

There's no history post this week, because our family have been making some history of our own.

Our youngest daughter Angharad and her husband Alan, after a long time trying, were told that they couldn't have children, except through IVF. But when she went for IVF treatment the doctor told her they couldn't do it because she was already pregnant! A real miracle.

Proud Granma
However, it seemed the baby didn't want to come out! Macsen Samuel Evans was finally born on Sunday, after four days in labour and an emergency cesarean section, weighing 8 pounds 10 ounces. We've all been on pins waiting, but thankfully mother and baby are fine.
Angharad & Macsen
Normal service will be resumed next week.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 5


If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Dr Nefar is a bit like this picture:
Nefar
Chapter 5

They were glad to be back in safety on the Kestrel. Doctor Sebu Nefar and Medic James Tomos entered the shuttle as soon as they were secure in the hanger. Bewhiskered Nefar was Kohathi, a lot younger than he looked. Young Tomas was human but born and raised on a cargo ship. Nefar took a quick biological scan of Tanu, who became hysterical, and had to be sedated.

'You’d think he'd be grateful,' said Hoy, unbuckling his harness and standing up.

'Put yourself in his shoes for a moment,' said Parks, fumbling with his harness as Tomos began scanning him. 'He's been tortured at least twice, then dragged out through the streets, shoved under a bush, bundled into a shuttlecraft and strapped down. He probably thinks this is the next round of torture.'

Hoy looked shamefaced. 'I didn’t think of it like that, sir. He doesn’t really know who we are, does he?'

Monday, 7 May 2018

Kidwelly to St Clears (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales 1188)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.
Llanstephan Castle
At Kidwelly the party transferred to a ship and sailed up the Tywi estuary towards Carmarthen. They would have passed the castles of Llanstephan and Laugharne, set on rocky crags above the sea. The earth and timber fortresses of Gerald’s day was subsequently rebuilt in stone and are well worth a visit. Then they hurried on to Carmarthen, perhaps taking the road from the usual landing place at ‘Green Castle’ near Llangain.

Gerald believed that Carmarthen was Caer Myrddin, ‘Merlin’s town’, and that the profit had been found there as a child, the offspring of a demon and a mortal woman. In fact, its namespace (‘Caer Moridun)’derives from its origin as the Roman town of Moridunum whose walls were still partly visible when Gerald passed.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 4

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Hoy is a young Jackie Chan.

Hoy (young Jackie Chan)

Chapter 4

They found themselves in an open parking area, with a few vehicles, most with wheels. Only one had hover capability, and it was in a specially-marked parking space. Unfortunately the car park was enclosed by a high chain link fence, but at least they could see there was no one about. They moved away from the lit doorway and crouched down between two vehicles parked close together.

They were surprised to find it was dark, and glad to see the lights were widely spaced, although the vehicles were too. Parks struggled to focus and keep his attention on what was happening. He had come closer to breaking than he cared to admit. The temptation to stop, to let his mind and body shut down was strong, but it was vital he keep it together, not jeopardise their escape.

'Can we steal a vehicle?' said Reuel.

'It would take too long, and we’ve no tools,' said Hoy. 'Now, how are we going to get out of here?'

The car park exit was a heavy sliding gate with a card reader on a post, and an obvious security camera. Hoy and Reuel scanned the fence, looking for gaps. Reuel signalled to wait and slipped off to where the fence joined the building. He had found something.

'The fence has been damaged, and there is a small gap near the wall,' he reported when he returned.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Swansea to Kidwelly (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales 1188)


This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.
Swansea-20130719-00356
On their first day in Swansea the travellers gathered many more recruits for the crusade. Swansea Castle, in the city centre, was built after this visit, so we don’t know where they stayed.

An old man named Cador claimed he was too weak and ill to travel to Jerusalem but offered to contribute one tenth of his possessions if the Archbishop would forgive him half his sins. This is not an uncommon proposition and a good way to raise funds for the crusade, so Archbishop Baldwin agreed. Then Cador suggested that if one tenth of his goods would wipe out half his sins then logically a second tenth would wipe out the other half, leaving him sin free. The Archbishop was amused at the man’s ‘devout cunning’ and embraced the man, but Gerald does not tell us whether he agreed to his request.