|Siarad Cymraeg Yng Ghaerdydd|
As a Welshman born and brought up in England I never learned to speak Welsh as a child (even though both my parents
came from Welsh speaking families). A
number of years ago, however, I decided I would learn, even though I was living
in Melbourne, Australia. It has been a slow process but it has been fun and more and
more it has opened up the culture
of my ancestors to me and allowed me to enter into and appreciate the beauty of it's poetic and musical language.
I wanted to see how dificult it was, as a learner, to speak Welsh in the Capital. It is said that one of the seven greatest wonders of Wales is the language. It is a very old and noble language, full of literary richness, however Wales has been an occupied country for a 1000 years and has that most ubiquitous of languages; English to contend with. Hence Welsh is spoken as a first language only in certain areas; those mainly being the North and the West. Cardiff, though the capital of Wales is very predominantly English speaking.
If you have ever struggled with a foreign language then you will understand the problem I had. In a country such as France to converse in the native language is generally a necessity. In Cardiff however you first have to foind out if Welsh is an option. On the one hand I wanted to find Welsh speakers but on the other hand how do you strike up a conversation with complete strangers in a language you are not totally conversant in and quite possibly they are not either? It would require a fair degree of diplomacy. I guess I could have tried a direct apporach and asked in English if they could speak Welsh and could I practice `on' them but that might end any spontanaeity. I decided to throw caution to the winds and throw in a few Welsh greetings and hope that the other would respond and we could continue in Welsh.
|I decided to head towards any Welsh-oriented shops. Cardiff is, to me, one of the charming shopping cities of the world. I say this, not because it is a huge shopping town. It doesn't contain a multitude of stores selling Chinese-made clothes, and other globally branded products, with minor variations in style of surface. It doesn't have super-duper department stores like Harrods or Les Halles in Paris, though Cardiff does have it's locally grown smaller competitors. I'm talking instead about the old. Now, when people speak about arcades these days people generally mean fluorescently lit shopping malls that are generally soul-less. Cardiff is different in as much as the arcades are very old and ornate and fitted with glass rooves, this gives a rather interesting and intimate atmosphere, of light and airyness yet of all-embracing intimacy. The other thing is that there are lots of interesting small shops within including the weird, bizarre and even downright amazing.|
Situated in the heart of the newly-established 'cafe quarter' this Edwardian arcade features several restaurants