The National Eisteddfod ends today. It runs for a full week but I went just for the day on Tuesday. This was the end point of my 2015-16 long-term goal to improve my Welsh language skills. To make it measurable, my goal included the following points: Attend the Eisteddfod and be able to hold a natural conversation for 10 minutes; have read a Welsh novel; and be able to transcribe a podcast.
While I was at the Eisteddfod I had two conversations with people I'd never met before, which probably lasted about 10 minutes each. I haven't really hit the reading target, though I have read half a novel, and for the transcribing, I did some transcribing of song lyrics at the recent Welsh summer school. I'm therefore considering that I did well enough to declare my goal was achieved!
So, back to Tuesday...
When I was planning my trip, I had considered staying overnight but in the end decided that one day of wandering around on my own would be enough and Abergavnny is just about doable as a day trip. There and back is 5 hours of driving, just under 200 miles. I left at 7.20 am and at 9.45 I was just overshooting the turning into the car park! I quickly doubled back and discovered that they were operating a Park and Ride system of shuttle buses due to the Eisteddfod being right on the edge of the town.
Soon I was exploring the maes (field). The Eisteddfod has been in Abergavenny before, in 1903, so now I know the answer to the question: if the Eisteddfod returns, do they re-use the old Gorsedd circle? The answer seems to be "no" because they had built a new one. The Gorsedd circle is where some of the ceremonies take place.
I spent time in the Learners' Pavilion and attended a talk by Dr Lynda Pritchard Newcombe to launch her new book. I didn't buy it because I have her earlier, more extensive book on the same subject which was based on her Pd.D. work. But the new version is probably more attractive to the average learner as opposed to ones like me who did their undergraduate dissertation on teaching Welsh to adults!
More wandering around ensued which took in the stands selling books and t-shirts (bought one of each) and also, probably my favourite place on the maes, the Tŷ Gwerin (Folk House). I watched part of a workshop given by the triple harpist Robin Huw Bowen and later returned to watch a folk duo (Ryland Teifi plus A N Other).
One more photo giving a general impression of the maes
The weather was mixed, but though it rained on the drive down, it was dry through the morning with only the slightest threat of rain and there was even a bit of sun in the afternoon.
Next year the Eisteddfod is in Anglesey (it alternates N-S), but it's not really going to be much nearer and will take at least as long to drive there due to the roads in Snowdonia being much busier in August than the A470 down through Mid-Wales. Possibly next year I might stay over and spend two days at the Eisteddfod? We shall see...