Thursday, 29 November 2007


Returning to Trawsfynydd was sad today. I went home to bury my cousin, Glyn. I gave the eulogy

He was very much a local man and very much an old soldier. Some of his old friends came to the funeral today. That was good. Years ago he had served in places such as Aden. He knew something about Muslims that he never shared with people like me.

I noticed that a lot of the old 'paras' now used sticks to help them walk. Perhaps jumping out of aeroplanes isn't a good idea after all.

I had meant to go straight home but had to go to Coleg y Bala to do a piece for tonight's Welsh News, Newyddion. At four o'clock I did a clip on the case of the poor teacher from Liverpool who had called a teddy 'Mohamed'. Its wasn't really wise to do that in Sudan of all places.

I was horrified to hear later on in the day that she would be imprisoned for fifteen days for it. That's bad but that awful Sudanese government is doing far worse things than that to millions of Muslims in Darfur!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Human Resources or Personnel

Today was a really heavy day at work. We had our Human Resources Committee. I couldn't remember whether it was a personnel or human resouces committeee. I played safe and put both down.

In the afternoon, we had a really good interfaith meeting with some key stakeholders. Nigel and Alan from Swansea are taking this line of work on apace.

For that, I am really grateful for the good work of colleagues. I think that we have good days ahead of us.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Efail Isaf, Bishops and Lambeth Palace

Sunday was great. I always enjoy preaching in Efail Isaf. The church was almost full and the sermon on Daniel in the lion's den came in handy.

Monday was a day full of visiting Cytun church leaders especially the Archbishop of Wales and the Vicar General.

Before going home I had a tricky refugee issue to handle. The dividing line between being effective and enabling is sometimes difficult.

Today, I had yet another long journey to London. Lambeth Palace is a 'tidy' place but Rowan wasn't in. At least, I didn't see him.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Wales 12: South Africa 34

Really enjoyed the game. I would have enjoyed it more if Wales had won - but there it is!

There are more important things in life than beating the world champions at the Millennium Stadium. It's just that I can't think of any at the moment!!

Belfast Contrasts

I enjoyed visiting Belfast with my colleagues from England and Scotland as well as Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. We talked, did business and prayed together.

When visiting Belfast, people of my generation will always remember how ordinary men and women went about their lives despite the troubles. The contrasts that were there are now a little less stark.

Belfast, of course, has still acquired everyone's modern contrasts. I noticed that a housing association has its small offices directly opposite the Europa Hotel. Social challenge and opulence occupy the same space but in mutually excluding bubbles.

That's the way the modern world is.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Cytun Women and Englishmen (and Germany 0 Wales 0)

This morning I rushed over to the Methodist Church in Llanidloes. Last night, I did ask one of my female colleagues if I should go. I would, after all, be the only man there.

The group was good but I felt it wise to retreat quickly. Anyway, I had to be back in good time to catch my flight from Cardiff to Belfast tonight.

On the way back from Llanidloes I discovered two things. My new car can go all the way from Brecon to Merthyr while the empty warning light is flashing on the petrol indicator. I also discovered, through listening to my new car radio, that English football fans are terrible at losing.

England weren't good enough. Just be generous and get over it! Wales did have a really fantastic 0:0 draw with Germany last night though!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Park and Ride and Presbyterians

Today, I went to Aberystwyth to see some of my Presbyterian friends. The Park and Ride was really handy. A lot of pensioners with bus passess told me where to go.

We had a really good meeting on how we should work together in the future. I didn't mind, but one of the committee members drew a sketch of me during the meeting. I can't blame the man when such things help him get through Presbyterian meetings. The sketch was flattering as well.

This meeting, to be fair, wasn't eternal in length. In some meetings I sometimes use my MP3 player and pretend that I'm listening to the Welsh translator. It really helps with getting through property reports in particular.

I think that God understands these things.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Terry Grange

Beyond the issues of our monthly staff meeting and a conversation with Rhodri Glyn Thomas at the Welsh Assembly Government concerning the Welsh language what caught my eye today was the retirement of the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police, Terry Grange.

The politicians aren't happy apparently that an officer who would perhaps otherwise be under investigation was allowed to retire. I had every respect for Terry Grange but didn't always agree with some of his remarks.

I'll now have to dwell with the idea that people are innocent until they are proven guilty - or perhaps - until they retire. Regardless, I wish him well.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Methodists and Scrapping Cars

Today, I scrapped my old car and had a really good afternoon with some Methodist friends. There's no link between the two events.

Saturday and Sunday

I couldn't get to a computer this weekend so I missed my blog. Saturday was fun. I joined the Methodist Youth Conference on Saturday and than saw Beowulf and an American Gangster as well as seeing a really good 2:2 international football match between Wales and Ireland. It was good.

I did a BBC interview on Sunday as well as take two services in my old church in Dewi Sant. I really enjoyed the evening session.

Then I had a fantastic time debating whether tolerance should be tolerated with some Christian friends in Dempsey's in Cardiff. My West Wing DVD on Ishmael and Isaac helped. I met the clubbing chaplain, Wendy, for the first time. The people there do their Christian work really well.

Friday, 16 November 2007

My New Car

Tonight, after discovering why not many people use public transport I got a different car. The journey from Cilfynydd to Risca wasn't fun.

This time round I brought a smaller car which should get me to places cheaper. That will be better for the environment and it will stop me speeding. After the events of the past few days I really don't need to drive me or my cars to death.

So there it is. I now have a humble Daewoo Matiz with as much power as my old moped. It has a tidy mileage though at 32,225. That won't last long.

Because I was in a good mood after having a new car, I gave Children in Need £200.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

My Poor Car

I got back very early this morning after being towed all the way back from Dolgellau by two AA trucks. I arrived home in Cilfynydd at about 2 a.m.

All my plans for today fell apart. I meant to go to Ray Gravell's funeral but couldn't.
The train wouldn't get me there on time.

I went to Trustworthy Motors in Risca to get another car. By train and bus that took most of the day. I'll get my nice green car tomorrow.

I met with my good friend Ibrahim in the Millennium Centre this evening. He has done some fantastic work with the Somali community in Cardiff. I'd like to help him some more.

The day ended with a bit of work with a meeting of the Glamorgan Industrial Mission. That went well but I'm so tired. A new friend gave me a lift home

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The AA

I am now in the Little Chef car park in Dolgellau I should be speaking at a meeting of the Porthmadog Parochial Church Council but I'm not.

I'd rather be there than here waiting for the AA man to come and fix my car. I like AA men. They are always nice to me when my cars break down. My cars break down often.

To date, I've never been assisted by an AA lady.That is except for the AA lady that took my call.

I'm amusing myself now by calculating whether it takes the AA man as long to get here as it took me to pronounce "DOLGELLAU" with sufficient clarity to indicate where I am.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Faith Communities Forum

After sorting one or two things in the office this morning I took a couple of trains from Cathays to Paddington.

I joined my new colleague Alan Bayes at the UK's Faith Communities Forum. It went well and it's good to have Alan as part of our Cytun team.

I think that most of us were appalled today that Sarika Singh had once again not been allowed to go back to school in Aberdare because she was wearing a kara bracelet.

BBC Wales asked me to do a couple of TV interviews for tonight. It's always fun to go over to the Millbank studios in Westminster It's far more palatial than the Llandaff studios but not as important to someone like me.

Life did not begin in that Westminster pond that thinks quite mistakenly that it's an ocean.

Monday, 12 November 2007

At The Office

Beyond getting my ticket for the Wales v South Africa match I spent all day today at the office. I love my job but I'd rather be on a beach in South Africa.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Salem Canton

Today, I preached twice in Salem Chapel Canton.

It's one of those Cardiff Welsh language churches that's growing quickly. I preached on Joseph in the morning and the Transfiguration in the evening. It was Remembrance Sunday. I love going to Salem. It's always welcoming and full of children

I also saw Scarlets lose badly to another French team but Manchester United did OK and we are tonight the premiership leaders. I can't have it all my own way I suppose. That would be greedy.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Billericay 1-2 Swansea

What a relief.

This afternoon, Guillem Bauza rescued Swansea from an FA Cup giant-killing as the League One side came from a goal down to beat Ryman Premier hosts Billericay.

Wayne Semanshia, according to reports, gave Billericay a half-time lead when he pounced on Swans goalkeeper David Knight's slip. Bauza scored the equaliser from 25 yards after collecting a long ball then poked home a winner from three yards.

That avoids another Welsh sporting embarrassment I think.

Friday, 9 November 2007

At the Dentist

My dentist in Pontypridd was jovial this morning and didn't want to do anything to my mouth. I was pleased.

I have always wanted to know why dentists (who should know better) are of the view that sensible people like me can hold a conversation with them while having somebody or something in our mouths.

I'm pleased that dentists are there but I can't imagine a job I'd like to do less - with the exception perhaps of a chiropodists.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


Today was all about finance but my first day at work was made easier by a meeting with the Welsh language churches in Cardiff.

I was suppose to talk with them about where we were all going but it didn't start well. I went to the wrong church.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


For several weeks I had been looking forward to the new film on the golden years of Elizabeth I's reign. Just to relax after such a long journey I decided that I would treat myself to a cinema visit.

What gush! It's a poor film with poor history and nonsensical battle scenes. This will be one DVD that I won't be buying.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


My blog has now missed a day. That's a first.

This is because I had a bad Monday in South Africa. I lost my wallet. Whoever now has it is welcome to my overdraft.

On top of that I also dropped my Triton mobile device in the hotel swimming pool. That was not a good idea. It didn't like being that wet.

I also spent most of the day and night in a plane. Its not easy to blog on a plane.

My holiday is over alas and now I'm on my way home.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Yet Another Trek

This was really the last full day of our holiday and we spent it well visiting some falls and the third largest canyon in the world. For a while we followed the pioneers of the great trek.

It was a good experience but the heat was a bit much.

The highlight of the day for me was a brief conversation with Christopher our driver over lunch. We spoke about polygamy, the cost of education and health care. I also explained why the people of Wales didn't have to pay for prescriptions.

I now have the easy impressions of a two week tourist. Many, if not the majority in this country are poor. Many work exceedingly hard to give themselves and their children a better life.

Over a fortnight I have been impressed by many things in South Africa. Above all, I have been impressed by its greatest asset - it's people.

This country has a long way to go. I got the impression that it's getting there.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Kruger Park

Early this morning we were driven to Kruger Park. Driving through the park for several hours we were given the aspiration of seeing the 'big five': lion; leopard; buffalo, rhino and an elephant.

We saw all of them and much more. It was such a thrill to see these fantastic creatures free in their natural environment. It would be a total disaster if they ever became extinct. Since 1983 Kruger National Park has sought to provide these animals with sanctuary from everyone except each other.

The day closed with a visit to the Shangana Cultural Village. The dancing, the singing and the food were all brilliant. The whole evening was much more than I expected.

Above all we were given a chance to enjoy the story and the experience of the Shangaan nation.

The village felt a little like a Kruger Park for people. That's OK though. There is a difference between parking things safely and preserving them as in aspic.

Just a brilliant day!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Bungy Jump

On the way to Port Elizabeth, ready for a couple of flights to Nelspruit today, some of us cracked jokes about having a SAGA bungy jumping excursion. We just don't like being stereotyped as being old Most of us on this trip aren't.

Sadly, on the very bridge that people do the jumping from there was a fatal motor accident just before we arrived on the scene. It was foggy first thing in the morning as we were travelling through.

We had to stay a while as the South African services tried their best to save lives. They succeeded with some.

Sadly, someone lost their life where others willingly risk theirs for fun. It's a strange world.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Plettenberg Bay

If anyone in the UK is thinking of somewhere to spend a cold November day I would thoroughly recommend Plettenberg Bay in South Africa. Dipping my feet into the warm Indian Ocean this afternoon was just brilliant.

Ray Gravell

Ray Gravell was more than a Rugby hero.

For the wider world he will be remembered as one of the heroes of three triple crown wins and two grand slams. He was courageous beyond belief on the rugby pitch. Nothing other than an gentle man but fierce in play.

For Welsh speakers in particular he will always be more than a great rugby player. Back in the summer Ray Gravell used his broadcasting skills to act as host for the Dafydd Iwan and Ar Log concert at the National Eisteddfod. At the end of the brilliant show he was given a standing ovation. Following his illness and the subsequent loss of a limb he was welcomed on stage as a national hero.

He used to run among us as a hero. He'll always stand among us as a giant.