Friday, 22 July 2011

Cariad@Iaith, Rhys learns Welsh up the woods.

I had come to Fforest to spend a week learning Welsh on TV. Fforest is a futuristic campsite in a spectacularly beautiful part of Wales. This was to be my home for the next 7 day.

It's like an eco-dome and it is incredible.

Any who, I left the dome to go see what was going on and I was confronted with a friendly camera crew, a sign of things to come.

I went to base camp and met up with the others who were going to be my class mates.
In class with me were Josie D'arby, Helen Lederer, Sophie Evans, Matt Johnson, Lembit Opik, Melanie Walters and our 2 teachers Nia and Ioan (Ian). Colin Charvis was going to join up with the group the next day.

So, after getting into some basic Welsh we were taken down to the river Teifi.

To have a go on a ye olde Welsh boat, the Corical.
We had 10 Coricals and I had seen them on TV and people always fall in the water when trying them, to be honest it was easy.

After an hour on the water we had a much needed dinner.

Then it was time for Matt, Lembit and Sophie to start technology club.

At about 10 o'clock we found the camp site had a bar, I had never seen such happy faces.

After a very broken sleep and a 10 mile run (not really, I just ran to the river and back) I was ready for day 2.

Coffee and lashings of it.

We were still fresh on day 2 and we got involved with another lesson.

The day was set up with a lesson in the morning, and an activity (that they kept a secret), then more Welsh in the afternoon followed by a live TV show at night.

It was so nice that we took the class outside.

After the lesson we had to change into some more appropriate clothing ready for the activity, I said hello to the cows who live outside my dome.

We were split into 2 groups, one on bikes.

The other, my group, climbing trees.

It really was a tight squeeze on my Dinas Powys.

After the blood had again filled my legs we got back in to more Welsh with Ioan who at this point I thought was either called Joan or Ian.

After a hard day learning we all chilled out, except for Josie who had some one on one with Ian, I mean Ioan.

I went for a look around and spied a castle.

I'm a bit of a castle nerd and I've been wanting to visit Cilgerran castle for a while.
When I got there it was shut.

So I walked back and was consoled with an amazing dinner, seriously the food was ace.
Sophie doesn't like vegetables by the way.

Then for some odd reason we had to learn a barn dance.
Still not sure why but it was great fun.

We all got ready. Every night at about 9 o'clock we went to air as a live show. They showed some of the lessons and some of the activities we had done that day, and tonight we were doing our newly learned barn dance live at the end of the show.

After the show was done Helen and Colin headed straight for the bar and I don't blame them.

Another dawn at Fforest.

I met up with Sophie in the canteen. Sophie and some of the others were really starting to shine with their Welsh. Helen and I were the only ones who didn't know any Welsh and hadn't either been taught it in school or been on a course to learn previously.

Day 3, lesson 1.
I was staring to feel tired and was feeling like I wasn't getting as far with the Welsh as I would have liked.

But there was a great team atmosphere and we were all enjoying the experience so much.

Until they took us to a sheep market.

Everyone except Josie was kind of freaked out by the amount of sheep sheep. They look all cute and all that in a field but up close they stink. They smell the same alive as when they are cooked, which kind of put me off them both alive and dead.
They also covered me in feces and I had to throw my shoes away.

When we got back to base we found out the others had been to practice Welsh in a shop buying nice things like Wotsits and magazines. After another lesson and a nice dinner the sun began to dip in the sky and we got ready for another live show.

They were going to talk to me and Lembit about the days experience, Lembit and bought Wotsits and I had told a man his sheep was raining.
My grasp of the language had greatly improved.

This is Gareth and Nia, they both host the live show.
Nia aslo teaches us during the day. Gareth is awesome and has an amazing singing voice which we found out later.

This chef isn't Max or OB from Hollyoaks but a top chef Aled Williams who was trained by potty mouthed TV bully Gordon Ramsey.

He was teaching us how to cook pizza, to be fair he was alright but I did have to give him a few tips on how to make a perfect pizza (and we weren't using a sourdough base either).

We all ate pizza, had a swift half in the bar then, an all to brief sleep and all of a sudden we were back in the class room for day 4.

We gathered on the grass to learn some more and then we were presented with our latest challenge / activity.

We had to get the 8 of us through this web of rope with out touching it.
It seemed easy but it was designed for 10 year old kids.

After we had failed to get everyone through the web we had some down time and Charvis and Matt practiced golf (or their version of the sport).

Then we gathered for the live show.

Matt and I built a fire and Matt found an interestingly shaped piece of wood.

Then on live TV Melanie and Lembit Abseiled (which is a German word, oh the irony, we are learning Welsh) down the wall of death.

This is Eric. He went first, he is over 200 years old and jumps out of planes and climbs mountains when he isn't abseiling. On his 194th birthday he did a bungee jump 26 times.

After the wall of death we all went to Matt's dome to burn more wood and to have a drink and celebrate the welsh language.

It had been a late one and we had celebrated the Welsh language possibly a little too much.
I had ordered some bacon and the cooking staff had been kind enough to warm it gently for me.
They also gave me what looked like a dog's penis but it turned out to be a rather delicious sausage.

Then we were back in the room.
We became a human sentence.

Lembit might have got a bit bored cause I found this on his desk. Read into this what you will but don't be surprised if he goes postal one day.

Then they took some of us to the beach!

We put on wet suits and snorkeles.

We got into the water and dove for crab. I hadn't been in the sea for years it was amazing.

For reasons I don't fully understand and won't even begin to attempt to go into, a gorilla watched us from the shore.

This was what we came for, Spider Crabs.

We went back for the afternoon lesson and found out the others had been skinning rabbits and ripping their guts out, fun.

My new best friend, coffee.

We had some spare time before dinner and Ioan (Ian) thought it would be fun to teach us some Tai Chi, which it was.

Then after dinner there was some bonding time.

And another live show where we cooked the animals and sea creatures we had killed or skinned and eviscerated earlier that day.

Charv loved the crab.

That night everyone went up to the bar and Lowri Evans did some songs and we all celebrated Wales with songs hymns and drink. It was amazing to hear and a night that brought us all together in the best way possible.

I think I might have still been slightly drunk the next morning.

We met up for the penultimate day of lessons.

We were taken back to the river and for some reason the Welsh seemed to click for me today. It had felt like I wasn't getting anywhere, the others were all doing so well. It was like all the Welsh they had known had come together and they could do sentences and everything.
I realised how much I had actually learned. I couldn't do elaborate sentences like some of the others but I knew lots of words and could comprehend so much when I listened to conversation.

We split into 2 groups again. Matt's group were standing on some polystyrene and paddling down stream.

We were in canoes. It was well relaxing to be honest I had been waiting to do this all week.

The others seemed to be having a good time, Lembit had been in the water about 20 times though.

Matt and Charvis took a different approach.

After lunch we got back into the lesson and started building sentences, and some of us put on some nice scarfs.

Then it was the last but one live show.

Earlier they had taught us a song called "down by the sea" or "Ar Lan y Mor" in Welsh.
They made Matt and Sophie do a duet, they were great.
Then they made me Charvis and Josie do it, Josie was good, Charvis and I were not so good.
I had spent 2 hours learning it by heart and when we came to sing it live it was in a completely different key and speed, well that's my excuse anyway.

After the show we wound down with a few steady drinks but nothing like the previous evening.
Lembit made a new friend.

The last day of learning and we had a breakfast of cooked bacon and eggs.

Then we got into position for the final lesson.

After the lesson we were taken to the Tarfan Zinc which is a well known pub.

They sell Big D nuts!

We practiced marrying Welsh and drinking one more time and found that we had nearly mastered it.

Then we headed back for one last meal together.

It was the last show and family and friends came to see us, Big G and Eggsy arrived and were very confused as to what was going on.

Lembit put a suit on and we realised it was almost over. I had made some great friends on my week long adventure at Fforest.

After the live show there was much emotion and Nia our teacher almost cried.

We presented our teachers Ioan (Ian) and Nia with a card and some booze and told them how much of a wonderful experience we had had, and sorry for drawing all the cocks on the white board.

There was even a cake (even if the spelling was slightly wrong). I think I owe Matt some money for this.
We had a great night and thanked as many people as we could for a wonderful week.
The next morning was kind of sad.

I packed up and said goodbye to my home.

It was an amazing week, I wish we could have stayed for another. I was getting really good with the Welsh and had come so far. I really would love to keep on learning.
Thank you to everyone involved and all who watched the show.
Check out the website here.

1 comment:

  1. It really was a brilliant week. We're all genuinely sad to have left.


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