Friday, March 29, 2013


Here I am at Pont-y-pwl, which is what the Welsh call Pontypool. The train station is "Pontypool & New Inn", or "Pont-y-pwl & New Inn". You would have thought there would be a Welsh name for New Inn too, but perhaps it's an exclusively English-speaking inn. Getting here on the train was an interesting experience - I've mentioned in this blog a couple of times that whenever I take a long train journey, someone throws themself in front of the train, and sure enough that's what happened today. I got to Birmingham to find that everything was being delayed or cancelled, including the train I was supposed to get to Newport. But there was one to Hereford that left a mere ten minutes or so late, so I hopped on that. I happen to know that there are trains that go from Hereford into Wales the other way, and then go south down through places like Pontypool, since I was expecting to go through there anyway and was a bit surprised that Cross Country Trains Dot Com was sending me via Newport, so I figured it couldn't hurt to be on that one. The people who work at the station were pretty clueless about what was happening, and were besieged by crowds of people expecting them to help, so I think it's always best to follow the rule-of-thumb "get on the first train that's going in the right general direction".

I only mention that rule when it works. Usually it doesn't, and I end up in Thorpe Culvert (small station on the way to Skegness) for six hours, but today it was just perfect. The Hereford train went a strange circuitous diversionary route to Droitwich, but when it eventually ended up at its destination, there was a Pontypool train on the platform right next to it, just about to leave. I hopped on and arrived in "the 'Pwl" about fifteen minutes later than I was originally supposed to. I'm impressed by my train-catching abilities!

In other news, it's sad to hear that Richard Griffiths has died. I feel I should mention it here, because the news stories all list a huge number of roles he's played, but never mention the two things I'll always associate him with - the starring role in "Pie in the Sky", and Doctor Meinheimer (and his nearly-exact double Earl Hacker) in "The Naked Gun 2½". Brilliant, both of them.

Anyway, tomorrow is the Welsh Memory Championship! I should qualify my comment the other day that I always do badly in Wales by admitting that I've won every previous Welsh Championship, but the competition should be very fierce this year! Lots of people, from beginners to experts, will be there!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wales, here we come!

It's Easter, and it's also the Welsh Memory Championship on Saturday! I have a tendency to do really badly at these things, but I'm at least in better mental shape than I was last year, so we'll just have to see what happens. I'm going down to Pontypool tomorrow, and then finding my way out to Llanover on Saturday morning. I'm sure to forget something important, like my hat or a map of how to get there, and not remember until I'm half-way there on the train...

Monday, March 25, 2013


It's been a while since I researched my family tree, but I logged on to Genes Reunited the other day to find a message from someone in New Zealand who's also descended from my virile great-great-great-grandfather, William Bancroft (his first wife died when he was in his early fifties, so he married a woman thirty years younger than him and had three more children). Maybe I'll dig into my family history a bit more and see who else I can meet...