Land of Song
Monty and Marsha Brown
Wales:Land of Song
Cardiff and the SouthEast: a tour around the capital, which is reorganizing itself to be a world capital, rather than a port for exporting loot wrenched from the bowels of Mother Wales. Down by the harbor there is a complex of new buildings, including the Welsh National Assembly and the Millenium Centre. In the middle of town, coffee shops, outdoor cafes, and places to drink your Brains. (Brand of beer). Above: a video of the Transporter Bridge in Newport.
Nearby Cardiff, we visit the wacky world of Groggs in Pontypridd, (Tom Jones's birthplace), to check on the ceramic figures, mostly rugby players, created by John Hughes and his son Richard. Of course, everywhere in Wales you'll find Tom Jones's birthplace. Maybe not THE Tom Jones of "Delilah," fame, but many other Tom Joneses. Castles at Caldicot (where there's a male voice choir), Chepstow and Raglan. See Monmouth with its unique Monnow Bridge (R); the evocative ruins at Tintern Abbey; the Roman amphitheater at Caerleon; the Transporter Bridge in Newport (well, it's not working right now, but hopefully it will be soon;) Go south to Lavernock Point, where Marconi sent his first over-the-sea wireless signals via Flatholm Island; and Caerphilly, the town, the cheese and the castle and Ty Castell, a B&B where we view the assembly of a big British breakfast.
Here's a review of
WALES: LAND OF SONG
the Welsh-American newspaper published in New Jersey. We met Editor Olga Williams Roberts at the Eisteddfod in Bala, Wales, and interviewed her for the film.
The review is by Bob Roser
When I first received
Monty Brown hails originally from Doncaster in England and was raised in western Canada. He was a professional actor in England and then worked in BBC television. Wales: Land of Song is not his first video and apparently will not be his last either. Marsha was born and raised in upstate New York in the Remsen area, well known for its large Welsh population. They have produced six other travel videos and are both song writers, two of which were used in 'Steel Magnolias.'
But this video is different from the usual travel video. It is personalized, visiting relatives in Wales and also shows much of Wales' most beautiful scenery in the course of 80 minutes. They visit with Sian James, one of Wales' outstanding song writers and singers as she rehearses with the folk group Parti Cut Lloi prior to their trip to perform at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in 2009. I interviewed Sian and some members of the group prior to their arrival as well as meeting up with them in Washington and wrote an article for Ninnau about them. So, I had one of those "Hey, I know these people," moments.
North, Central, and South Wales are each visited. As the website says "We carried a camera from St. David's to Denbigh, from Anglesey to Caldicot and this is the result." There are many visits to specific places rather than just travelogue. Annie Ellis' farm in mid Wales with close and personal meetings with her sheep and dogs; a visit to Groggs in Pontypridd famous for their Welsh sports and celebrity ceramic figures; castles; a male voice choir; Sian James; Welsh B&Bs; just to name a few of the highlights.
This video would make the perfect program for any Welsh Society. Our Welsh society in Fredericksburg, VA, will be showing it at our next meeting. The quality, the positive view of Wales, and the length of the program make it ideal. With Christmas coming up this would also be an excellent gift.
The only thing not realistic about the program is the unusual number of days of sunshine. But then I'm sure the Lord wanted Monty and Marsha to make this film.
Caerphilly is a few miles north of Cardiff. Notice, the castle features a tower which out-leans Pisa's much more famous edifice. In Caerphilly we stayed at Ty Castell B&B and visited the Flower Show. There we discovered the statue of the great Bristish comedian Tommy Cooper, so we just had to put a clip of Tommy in the film. The statue was unveiled by Welsh movie star Anthony Hopkins, a great fan of the comedian.
Part 2 takes us to Swansea and the Gower Peninsula: the surfing beaches, Arthur's Stone, the holiday resort of Oldwalls, a sheep farm with a castle in the back yard, and the scenic Three Cliffs Bay. This is all accompanied by the (real Welsh) music of multi-talented folk duo, Pat Smith & Ned Clamp, recorded live at the Greyhound Inn. Part 3 is called Annie's Farm, because it all revolves around the life of Annie Ellis, who we met through her New York relatives.(Annie's farmhouse at left.) Annie has sheep and cattle and working dogs. She introduced us to local historian Dewi Morgan who immersed us in local history; and a Male voice folk choir directed by folksinger-harpist Sian James. Annie fed us leeks and home made pie and we helped her feed lambs. Her dogs rounded up sheep for us, and we drank in the scenery of Central Wales. You can reach Sian James's website by clicking on her name Sian James , but in the meantime you can listen to this song from her album, "Pur." Crossing the Menai Strait, which separates the island of Anglesey from mainland Wales, The Menai Bridge is a suspension bridge. The Tall Ships of the Royal Navy, in the first part of the 19th Century, had to pass under it. Thomas Telford was the engineer who devised the solution and the bridge opened in 1826. We stayed in a nearby campground for a week. From there we were able to visit Anglesey, the four castles of the Iron Ring, and more cousins of New Yorkers. In Anglesey, we visited the town with the longest name in the World (begins with Llan. . .) maybe. Certainly in Britain. Also the Pilot Boat Inn, the lighthouse at South Stack and lots more.
Sian James: Nostalgia for Merionethshire