Saturday blog at the Eisteddfod

Day one at the Eisteddfod in Cardiff

Three fascinating public discussions, a Patagonian-Welshman singing Spanish tangos, and…oh…a talk by me. This was a suitably energetic kick-start to our week-long programme at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.

Five loud blasts of the conch shell – which no doubt echoed around the corridors of power at the Senedd building opposite our stand – and, gulp, I stood up with a microphone in-front of hundreds of un-suspecting festival-goers and a small but interested group of people who’d made a point of being there for my talk.  It seemed perfectly appropriate that I was sharing my memories of my sailing trip around the Welsh coast at almost the exact spot where I was photographed at the end of the epic 450-mile, 14-day voyage in 2015.  And what conservation nuggets of wisdom was I able to impart from my experience?  One: our beaches are plagued with plastic and we must do something about it; two: we must be better at adapting to flooding and erosion and three: insidious development continues compromise the beauty and wildlife of some of our most precious coastline and we must all do more to support conservation organisations like the trust to protect them.

Next up, Guto Roberts, Snowdonia’s Cwm Idwal Officer, who started by apologising that he was going to try to summarise the 350-million-year story of the Cwm into a five-minute talk.  Having said that, he did a great job of describing the massive forces of volcanic eruption and geological folding by grasping a booklet with both hands and crumpling it into a mini version of Cwm Idwal.  He then proceeded to explain that his prop for this exercise – the aforementioned booklet – was a newly published education pack which he would now launch officially today.  I’m sure that this wonderful booklet and its online counterpart will be a boon to the thousands of visiting groups that come to marvel and learn at this ‘cathedral of geology and ecology’.  

Then a quick bike-ride to the excellent art gallery at BayArt, ten minutes’ walk from the Eisteddfod to introduce a discussion between Welsh rural-affairs broadcaster Dei Tomos and the National Trust’s Wales Director, Justin Albert.  Think of something between Frost/Nixon and Michael Parkinson, and you’ll get a picture of a revealing and, yes, inspiring, thirty minutes which left me impressed by Justin’s passion for Welsh heritage, as well as his revealing thoughts on how much more there was to do to for the Trust to be relevant to everyone in Wales.

And then the perfect antidote to all this in-depth discussion, an hour of exuberant singing back at the stand, with Patagonian Welshman, René  Griffiths, a real-life Gaucho, complete with cowboy boots, cape and Spanish guitar.