Art, Books, Entertaining, Literature, Wales, Welsh culture, Wendy Wigley

Champagne and Canapes


Well…  Prosecco and nibbles — wonderful artichoke dip, goat’s cheese and black olives, smoked salmon sandwiches and little cheese scones topped with prosciutto followed by bite sized strawberry meringues.

That, according to my daughters, is how you do a book launch — but that seems to be what they would recommend in any number of situations (where did I go wrong!)

Anyway — it seemed to work. We launched Iolo’s Revenge locally on Saturday.

It was carnival day and the streets were decked with flags and the numerous pubs overflowed with revellers in fancy dress.  Having an artistic director of our own helped — Wendy, the artist who illustrated the book, and who goes to lots of private viewings of exhibitions, colluded with bunting, flowers and colourful napkins.  She also exhibited some of her original artworks that head every chapter.

original art work2

The previous night I had fallen from the kitchen work surface while retrieving a jug from a top shelf — the jug was smashed but I survived, stiffly, despite the numerous tellings-off.  Alan’s son, Daniel, saved the day, by putting out the chairs and remembering all the things I forgot in my percussed and anxious state — including the TV for the silent film show that had taken me weeks to prepare.

Takking to guests

There was a good turn out on the night — about 100! There I am, above, talking to some of them.  The readers: Libby, Alan and Gay did us proud.    The guests all laughed in the right places!


Books at launch



Wendy posing with Su and Richard Wheeler,  of Logaston Press, taking a break from selling books, while I catch up with the signing!

IMG_2042 me

Copies of Iolo’s Revenge are obtainable from Logaston Press



When the mud boiled —


— steam rose from the Kennel Field and drifted over flaming puddles.  The whole town had turned out but the flames were so high and the heat so great that 3000 souls, un-marshalled, stood back in a perfect circle 30 yards from the fire and the moon looked down from a safe distance.

In Llanidloes, the little town is still laid out in a mediaeval pattern of tightly packed timber-framed houses within an invisible (long gone) pailing rampart.  Not surprisingly then —  on the fifth of November, or thereabouts, everyone troops over the bridge to the site of the sheep fair, outside the town — beyond the pale (long gone), safe on the far side of the Severn, for the Bonfire Night celebrations.

The centre of town is deserted.

The centre of town is deserted.

What are we celebrating?  One suspects that it is nothing much to do with the goings-on of 1605 — it would be un-characteristic for the local population to be much concerned about events in London and, looking at the scale of our fire, it is as well that Guy Fawkes was not a Welshman or the course of history might have been very different.  It probably goes back much further.


The fifth of November is the traditional day for turning out the tups, putting the rams in with the ewes, and so is really the first day of the sheep farming year.


Happy New Year!

'The nails in all those pallets could be a problem at future sheep sales'

At the end of the evening — ‘The nails in all those pallets could be a problem at future sheep sales’

Democracy, Local History, Wales

Time warp

Llanidloes hasn’t changed much in two hundred and fifty years.  Take away the cars, cover the yellow lines with horse manure and replace the plastic awnings of the market stalls with canvas ones and you could be back in 1749 when John Wesley, evangelical Nonconformist rode into town and stood and preached on the stone by the market hall where dogs today, as they have for centuries, cock their legs.



1839 was the year that the people of the town rioted because three London police constables were sent to arrest the leaders of the town’s Chartist union.  The Chartists believed in one-man-one-vote, a secret ballot, annual elections, pay for Members of Parliament and the abolition of financial and property qualifications for MPs and that each parliamentary constituency should contain the same number of voters.  That is all.  The authorities were so unnerved that the little town of two thousand people was occupied by the military for twelve months.  It had taken five days for the troops to arrive in this remote part of Wales and this was known as the ‘Five Days of Freedom’, our ‘Celtic Spring’.

Townsfolk stormed this building to free the Chartists

Townsfolk stormed this building to free the Chartists

Yesterday was St.David’s Day, and the market was held as it is every Saturday and has been for centuries:

It is the first town on the River Severn, set in the most beautiful countryside, a good place for the dawn of democracy and a cracking place to do your shopping.  The small independent shops and market stalls, between them, can  service the towns every need.