Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Gwasg Gomer to close publishing arm

I was sad to read this, since Gomer has printed several of my titles in the past, and I have worked with their publishing arm as well.  They were always very courteous and efficient.......

However, I am not entirely surprised. The Welsh publishing model is based almost entirely on subsidies paid out by the Welsh Books Council, and I have questioned on many occasions the strategy of publishing large numbers of Welsh titles that hardly anybody wants and hardly anybody reads. I don't have the sales figures for Gomer titles over the past few years -- they are never released -- but I imagine that many of their titles will not have sold more than 200 copies, with the occasional title doing well (rugby players and referees are always popular.....). And I have repeatedly made the point that publishers like Gomer have not actually needed to work very hard on their marketing either, since publishing costs are generally covered by grant aid. In that scenario, you might as well just publish a book, collect the subsidies, then then move on to the next one. Throughout Wales, hundreds of titles have been published over the past few years which would never have seen the light of day if publishing had been strictly commercial -- governed (as in England) by the laws of supply and demand.

Anyway, I wish Gomer well -- I hope they flourish as a printers, but even there they are operating in a very competitive world.



Welsh publisher Gwasg Gomer is to close its publishing arm after 127 years in business, it was announced today.

Gomer Press is a printing and publishing company based in Llandysul, west Wales. The company was first established in 1892 and is owned by the same family to this day. Jonathan Lewis, the great grandson of the company’s founder, is the current managing director. Until today Gomer Press described itself as being both a thriving printing company and publishing house and was the oldest in Wales.

Every year, they published over 36 titles, specializing in books which have a distinctive Welsh identity.

In a statement issued by the company, they said:

"Gomer, the printer and publisher, having considered the strategic direction of the company has decided to wind down its publishing department to concentrate on its printing division thus ensuring the future of its 55 employees. In the meantime, Gomer will continue working with authors and the Books Council of Walesto publish titles already scheduled, as well as continuing as a publisher for the 3,500 titles currently in print, ensuring royalties continue to be paid to authors, and the popular books can be printed as and when required."

Gomer Press is a printing and publishing company based in Llandysul, west Wales. The company was first established in 1892 and is owned by the same family to this day. Jonathan Lewis, the great grandson of the company’s founder, is the current managing director. Until today Gomer Press described itself as being both a thriving printing company and publishing house and was the oldest in Wales.

Every year, they published over 36 titles, specializing in books which have a distinctive Welsh identity.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Coming soon -- the whole saga as audiobooks

Good news from Calibre Audio Books -- the registered charity which produces and loans out audiobook versions of books to people with impaired vision or other reading difficulties.  As reported earlier, "On Angel Mountain" is now available in audiobook format:

Following discussions about practicalities it turns out that the readers of the audiobooks actually prefer to work off paperback versions of the books which they can mark with highlights, comments etc to assist in the reading process -- and it appears that the sound of pages being turned is so small that it makes no difference to the quality of recordings.

So copies of the other seven books in the series are winging their way to Calibre HQ, and the recording process will start quite soon.  Calibre depends upon volunteer readers, so although the quality will be less "professional" than readings done by full-time actors and actresses, the books do at least become available to a vulnerable readership made up of people who really do appreciate them.   It's good to be able to do something for people who have a tough time of it.......

There is no money for me as a result of this arrangement with Calibre, but if blind listeners enjoy the books when they are added to the Calibre catalogue, they will say so -- and the word will spread.

And as reported earlier, we are also talking to a fully commercial audiobook company with a view to commercial versions which will be available in the retail marketplace and also through libraries.

House of Angels -- coming next in the recording studio.....

Monday, 8 July 2019

On Angel Mountain — now available from Calibre audiobooks

Good news — Calibre, the organisation that produces audiobooks for those who have impaired vision, has recorded and issued a new audiobook version of ”On Angel Mountain”.  They read it, liked it, and recorded it — 13 hrs and 30 mins of listening.  It’s available (for members only) in various formats — downloadable from the web, on a USB memory stick, or on an MP3 CD.  Full details here:

Apparently the feedback from listeners thus far has been good, and I have now given Calibre permission to record the other 7 books in the series.

There are no payments or royalties involved here — Calibre is a charity, and all of the books on their list are recorded free, to bring pleasure to those who have sight impairment or other medical conditions that make reading difficult or impossible.

There are not many Welsh books on the Calibre list, and I hope ”On Angel Mountain” will go some way towards meeting a need.  Anyway, the deal helps to spread the word about Mistress Morgan and the saga, and will bring a little more pleasure into the lives of many people who have a tough time......

Sunday, 2 June 2019

North Pembrokeshire -- insufficiently authentic?

It's interesting to see this piece about John Seymour and the "self-sufficiency idealists" who flocked to Wales -- and to north Pembs in particular -- in the 1960s and 1970s.  So was there an authentic "peasant society" in north Pembs at the time?  No way -- a part of it might have been "authentic" to an extent that satisfied John and Sally when they first came here.  But as they soon discovered, the community in this area is and was just as complex and multi-layered as any community anywhere.  And the idea that John went off to Ireland after a while because Wales had become "insufficiently authentic" is pretty cockeyed too.  As in all cases where somebody moves out of one place and into another, rather complex push and pull factors were at play........

Land of song or savages? Why the English get Wales so wrong

For those who cross the border dreaming of a mythic retreat of crags and castles, reality can bite hard

 Mike Parker

Extract: Over the past half century, the trickle of English idealists escaping to Wales has become a torrent. Godfather of them all was John Seymour, author of bestsellers The Fat of the Land and The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, who bought a farm in Pembrokeshire in 1964: “I was back in a peasant society where people still brewed beer and killed pigs and we were no longer freaks,” he wrote. In the late 1980s, he too flounced out of Wales, declaring that it was by then “insufficiently authentic”, whatever that meant, and resettling in Ireland. Other green gurus have since come and gone, often hurling disappointed brickbats as they depart.

Friday, 31 May 2019

The new edition of "House of Angels"

Just received from the printer!  The new edition (this is the fifth printing) has a gorgeous new cover designed by Martin -- based on one of the images of Rhiannon taken during the photo shoot with Steve Mallett.  We think the new image captures the mood of the novel really well......

There are some technical changes too -- the pagination is slightly different.  We have the location map, as usual, and also the image of "Martha's water colour" and an image of Martha with the raven.  The paper is slightly lighter than before, making the book open more easily; and the spine margins have been increased a little for ease of reading.

All in all, Biddles the printers have done a great job.  Somehow or other, we have managed to keep the cover price at £7.99.  If we can cover our costs through sales, we will be happy......


Thursday, 30 May 2019

Gavin and Stacey returns for a Christmas special

BBC Press Release:

Bafta and multi-award-winning Gavin & Stacey, starring Mathew Horne and Joanna Page, supported by a cast including James Corden, Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon, Larry Lamb, Melanie Walters and Alison Steadman, is set to return for a one-off special this Christmas on BBC One.

The hit British sitcom, created and written by Ruth Jones and James Corden, will be produced by Fulwell 73, Tidy Productions and Baby Cow Productions.

Ruth Jones and James Corden, says: “Over the last ten years we’ve talked a lot about Gavin and Stacey - where they might be today and what their lives might look like. And so in secret we took the plunge and wrote this one hour special. We’ve loved revisiting Barry and Essex again and bringing the characters back together has been a joy. We’re so excited to get the chance to work with our fabulous cast and crew once more and to give fans of the show a festive treat this Christmas. Thank you BBC for helping to make this happen.”

Gavin & Stacey broadcast over three series (plus a Christmas special) from 2007 to 2010 on the BBC. Gavin (Mathew Horne), an ordinary boy from Essex in England and Stacey (Joanna Page), an ordinary girl from Barry in Wales, spoke on the phone to each other every day at work, they finally met, fell in love and got married. The series went onto explore the simple love story of these two young people from different parts of the UK, and the impact their relationship had on their friends and family.

The sitcom was a breakthrough hit for BBC Three and the 2008 Christmas special and third series moved to premiere on BBC One. The shows 2010 New Year’s Day finale had record ratings for the series with 10.25m viewers.

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: “Everyone at the BBC is hugely excited to be welcoming back Gavin and Stacey to BBC One this Christmas. We can’t wait to see what’s happened to everyone over the last nine years, and what’s next for one of the nation’s favourite comedy families.”

This Gavin & Stacey special (1x60’) is a Fulwell 73, Tidy Productions and Baby Cow Production for BBC One. It has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy. Gavin & Stacey is created, written and executive produced by Ruth Jones and James Corden. It is also Executive Produced by David Peet, Leo Pearlman and Ben Winston. Shane Allen is the Commissioning Editor for the BBC.

Further details will be announced in due course.

Series one broadcast from 13 May to 10 June 2007 on BBC Three
Series two broadcast from 16 March to 20 April 2008 on BBC Three
A Christmas Special broadcast on 24 December 2008 on BBC One
Series three broadcast from 26 November 2009 to 1 January 2010 on BBC One


It looks as if BBC Wales has no involvement in this, in spite of a considerable Welsh component in the story.......

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Uplift through the act of reading

Love it!  Steps at a university in Lebanon.........  helping students to reach the heights.......

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Still life at Ceibwr

At  Ceibwr today, just in time to catch the thrift before it gets too old and dry.....

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Game of Thrones and the Northern Ireland economy

Some interesting information is coming out relating to the economic impact of "Game of Thrones" -- filmed mostly, but not exclusively, in Northern Ireland.  Now that the series is finished (with a somewhat critical reception from most fans) the originators of the project are working on a pilot for a prequel -- presumably on the basis that you can never have too much of a good thing.  However, with 72 episodes shown, one wonders when the "weariness factor" will kick in, and whether there really is a big audience out there wanting more.  We shall see,,,,,

Anyway, the impact of the project, which started in Northern Ireland in 2010,  has been vast. An estimated 350,000 people visit Northern Ireland each year just because of the series, bringing in c £50 million per year in tourism revenue. Beyond that, there is huge value in the "branding" of the province among the audiences (measured in millions) for the series right across the globe.  The calculation is that the project has brought in £251million  thus far -- not bad for an initial investment of c £16 million (through support mechanisms, grant aid and other incentives) from Northern Ireland Screen.

And most of those in the tourism business assume that the "GOT" effect will continue far into the future, just as the Lord of the Rings effect is still being felt quite forcefully in New Zealand.


Game of Thrones is 'game changer' for NI tourism
By Sara Girvin
BBC News NI North-East Reporter

Its long-awaited finale has been and gone but Game of Thrones is still big business for Northern Ireland.
It is estimated to have brought £251m into the economy since production began in 2010, according to the region's film agency NI Screen.
Over the same period, the organisation gave £15.95m in production funding to the hit fantasy drama series.
But that was a worthwhile investment, says NI Screen's chief executive Richard Williams.

"It's been a game changer for the screen industry," he said."This is the biggest show of the decade and certainly within industry terms everyone knows that it's being made in Northern Ireland.
"That has revolutionised our standing in the screen industry all around the world."

On what the future holds for filmmaking in Northern Ireland, Mr Williams says "If we can't collectively sell the supply chain that was behind Game of Thrones, the crew, the studio, well then what can we sell?"
Figures from Tourism NI, the region's tourism development body, paint a similarly upbeat picture.
They suggest that 350,000 people come to Northern Ireland every year just for Game of Thrones - that is one in six leisure visitors.
It is estimated they spend £50m each year.

'Driving people to NI’

The HBO production has turned Northern Ireland filming locations into tourist hotspots.
Tour operator Caroline McComb hosts Game of Thrones tours every day of the year with one exception - Christmas Day.
"For us, Game of Thrones has been that big game changer we always hoped we'd get," she says.
"It's the thing driving people to come to Northern Ireland."
She does not believe business will be affected by the end of the show.

"I don't see any reason why the numbers will dwindle."We've only to look at what Lord of the Rings has done for New Zealand to see that there's absolutely no reason why we can't continue with this in Northern Ireland," she said.
Sean McLaughlin took over at the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy, County Antrim, four years ago.
His restaurant is a refreshment stop for many of the Game of Thrones tours along Northern Ireland's north coast.
"It's gone from one tour bringing in about 18 covers per day to serving approximately 110 to 130 covers per day - just for Game of Thrones fans," he says.
"I think we'll see numbers continue to grow - the lasting legacy of what has been created is phenomenal.”

'Buses never stop’
But the influx of large numbers of tourists to some small villages has caused problems.
Marian Boyle is a resident in Cushendun, County Antrim, and says tourist coaches are disrupting the residents' lives with a "lot of intrusion".
"I'm all for tourism in Northern Ireland but this sort of tourism - herding people in and out - they come to see one thing and that's it," she said.
"For local residents it is frustrating - the constant buses never stop.
"At the weekend when it's busy you can be driving through hundreds of people who just don't see this as a road."
There are also issues at the Dark Hedges outside Armoy, County Antrim.
Just 10 seconds on Game of Thrones was enough to make it a tourist attraction.
Congestion and damage to the trees led to traffic being banned but that is not always obeyed.
More Game of Thrones attractions are in the pipeline and a prequel to the show is being filmed in Northern Ireland.
But tourism bosses admit there is a balance to be struck.
Judith Webb, who is responsible for screen tourism at Tourism NI, says: "Success has meant that we really do need to consider visitor management issues and work is happening to manage those situations."
The show has "transformed Northern Ireland into a leading international screen tourism destination", she adds.
"What's planned will extend the whole life of Game of Thrones - there is a lot of investment moving forward and we're hugely positive about the future.”


Sunday, 19 May 2019

Stormy times......

Another fabulous image from Tez Marsden -- this time from Pwllgwaelod.  Click to enlarge.

Check out his gallery for more wonderfully evocative images from Martha's world.......

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The big 2019 dramas

Here is an interesting list of the big TV dramas for 2019 --  some of them have of course already been shown, or are in progress....

Can we pick up on any trends?  It's not easy -- one might be a trend towards more modern or present-day dramas, which might be explained partly on cost grounds alone, since they are much cheaper to make than costume dramas.   But the big shows -- like "Good Omens" will be so complex that they will cost well over £1million per episode anyway.

Is there a drift away from costume drama?  Difficult to say -- there are some big costume dramas in the mix, including Gentleman Jack, Summer of Rockets (is there a trend towards post-WW2 and Cold War dramas?), The Luminaries, War of the Worlds, Peaky Blinders, Poldark (the final series), and Year of the Rabbit.  Lots of cop shows / crime shows  written to a familiar formula -- there seems to be an insatiable demand for thrillers with nasty (and complicated) villains, troubled police and unconventional investigators.

Witch this space....

PS.  Several others missed off the Radio Times List:  Beecham House, Catherine the Great, Dracula and Tom Jones

Friday, 10 May 2019

Moments later.........

This is one of my favourite portraits from Steve Mallett's fabulous photo gallery of "Martha Morgan" images -- featuring Rhiannon James in the role of the heroic heroine.

This is a reminder of one of the most difficult passages in the saga -- because moments later Martha enters the kitchen with the basket of logs, trips over and loses her baby.  No man can ever hope to portray a miscarriage and its aftermath in print -- and it was probably presumptuous and foolhardy to think that I could do it with due respect and sensitivity.  But that is how the story came to me, and I had to try.........

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Enchanted Land

Just for fun.  I have discovered this amongst assorted ancient papers.  It's a little poem I composed in 1994 as a Prelude to a "Celtic Entertainment" based on local mythology and folklore, presented here in Newport during our 1994 Spring Festival.  Enjoy!


Now come to our enchanted land
Where dragons roar and monsters roam
And down upon the golden sand
Amid the breakers and the foam
A water horse looks out to sea;
For there amid the noonday haze
A mermaid combs her hair, and she
Knows all the distant ocean ways.

On sunlit crags sit holy men
Like David, Brynach and their friends
Whose shadows now and voices then
Have blessed us all, and made amends.
And heroes, giants, princes, kings
Ride through the flaming sunset west
With silver spears and golden rings
Upon some grand Arthurian quest.

The sun goes down, and now we hear
The phantoms of the deep dark night.
And goblins growl, and in our fear
We dread the witch with second sight
Who flies across the winter moon
And casts her spells and leaves, they say,
Poor folk bewitched; and as they swoon
The devil talks while others pray.

The hounds of hell, do they exist
As great black beasts, with glowing eyes?
Who hears the battles in the mist
Or overhead, in moonlight skies?
Who sees the flickering candle glow
Beneath the trees or by the stones?
Who knows the knocking? Who can know
The dusty rattle of dry bones?

But now the growing light of dawn
Sends all our morbid fears away.
We wake and stretch, and with a yawn
We open eyes and see the day.
The fairy folk have come to town
With magic food and purest gold,
With dainty shoe and jewelled gown
And gifts for mortals young and old.

We know the eagle and the wren,
The dancing stones, the prancing steed.
We know the giants and the men
Of mighty word and mightier deed.
Hear Shemi Wad and Aby Biddle
Who tell tall tales of days gone by
While fairies come and madly fiddle
For dancers under azure sky.

Where is this land of moon and sun,
And dark and light, and present past?
Where’s golden girl and man of fun
With magic first and truth at last?
Why, this is our enchanted land,
And nothing is quite what it it seems.
We have our ways, and by our hand
We weave our magic in your dreams.

Brian John
Prologue to a Celtic Entertainment, 1994.

Is Amazon trying to kill off small publishers?

This is based on a post I did a couple of years ago, after Philip Pullman complained about heavy discounting on cover prices.

Virtually all authors have stories of the impact of price cutting at the point of sale. One of the worst offenders is of course Amazon, which is a monster so big that we have to deal with it, like it or not.

Let's take a typical novel from the Angel Mountain series.    I'm a small publisher who also happens to be a self-publisher.  If my print run has been 2,000, the invoice I have to pay is around £4,000 and the printing price per book is about £2.  The cover price will generally be set at £7.99,  giving a 4x markup.  That's smaller than a large mainstream publisher would be satisfied with, because I have low overheads and no author royalty to pay to somebody else.  My profits come from sales, to the book trade at 33.3% discount on the cover price, and to wholesalers at 45% discount.  

When I sell my novels to Amazon, I use a scheme called Amazon Advantage.  The retail monster hardly ever orders more than 6 copies of a title, even for a book which is brand new.  I have to pay the full costs of packaging and postage.  Amazon insists on a 60% discount and insists on taking 3 months to pay following acceptance of the delivery. If I want faster payment, I have to give the monster a 65% discount. So on a £7.99 paperback, it pays me just £3.19, allowing it plenty of room for discounting the book and for selling it for under my RRP. 

The next piece of iniquity is that Amazon pretends, for the sake of its customers, that it has just one copy left of this particular book, and that there are more copies on the way. That's being rather economical with the truth. The real situation (at least, until recently) is that it only ever has two or three copies in stock, and that when one is sold, it orders another copy from me as a replacement. 

The huge Amazon warehouse at Ridgmont in Bedfordshire  (which used to do all the ordering for books) may contain a lot of stuff, but it sure as eggs doesn't hold many copies of my books! Then it gets even worse, since when I get my order for one new copy to be sent off, I have to deal with it immediately (if I don't the monster starts hassling me straight away) and as mentioned above I have to pay the package and postage costs, in this case amounting to £2.40. So to send one copy of the book off to Amazon, it costs me  £2 + £2.40 = £4.40, in exchange for which it pays me £3.19. Not a very good commercial deal? Too right.......

Recently I notice that there have been two changes in the Amazon business model.  For a start, they have now opened up several vast warehouses in different parts of the UK, which operate as independent purchasing centres.  A few months ago I received three orders for the same title -- with each copy to be shipped to a different warehouse.  I complained about this, and got the response that this was a temporary situation, with an assurance that ordering would be centralised once again into the Ridgment warehouse once things had settled down.  That has not happened -- I still get very small orders from different Amazon warehouses all over the UK.

The second change is that they have clearly changed their algorithm so that  for "backlist" titles (which sell in small quantities, and intermittently) they are maybe now not holding any stock at all -- and expect suppliers to ship off single copies to them immediately, as and when orders come in from customers.  They have also started sending back "requested returns and returns of overstock inventory" to suppliers, with no discussion and no advance warning.  Today, without any warning and with no explanation,  I received a parcel containing two copies of one of my most recent and best-selling titles -- and I wouldn't mind betting that before long I will get an order for one copy of the same title from the same warehouse.

The only reason for selling books through Amazon is that I get publicity from it -- the Amazon web-site is where most initial Google searches end up. If you are a new writer and you think it's brilliant if Amazon is "prepared to stock" your paperback or hardback books, think again. You probably won't make a single penny from the deal, and had better budget for considerable losses.  

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Literary Atlas Wales

The big Literary Atlas Wales project appears now to have finished, and the essential data is all on the web site.  It has been a peculiar exercise, partly geographical and partly literary, largely focussed on 12 selected novels which are probably the standard texts examined in literature courses in the Welsh universities.  (The locations for these are shown by red dots on the map above.)  We can argue till the cows come home about whether these 12 texts are "representative" of English-language literature written or based in Wales -- but they were not chosen to give visitors a cross-section or a rounded impression of what makes Wales tick.  As we can see, none of the 12 novels was based in west Wales -- a strange omission since Pembs and Carms are not exactly literary deserts......

But "literary tourism" does not seem have been the objective of the organizers of the project -- and it's interesting that Visit Wales does not seem to have been associated with the project at all.  There will be varying opinions on whether £500,000 of taxpayers' money has been well spent.  Was the project really innovative and worthwhile, or was it an academic indulgence?

This is a statement of the objective of the project:

Literary Atlas is an interactive online atlas of English-language novels set in Wales.

Literary Atlas also includes maps which locate the main geographical locations of all English-language novels in the Welsh collections of Cardiff University, Swansea University, and the National Library of Wales. Explore these locations.

Literary Atlas includes 'distant' maps and 'deep' maps which locate all geographical references (or 'plotpoints') in twelve English-language novelsprimarily set in Wales.

Literary Atlas includes artistic 'maps' of these twelve novels which offer unique and provocative interpretations of what we might call the 'literary geographies' of these books.

Literary Atlas includes maps which locate all the blue writer's plaques which commemorate the links between particular geographical sites and famous Welsh writers.

Through using 'distant', 'deep' and 'artistic' variations on mapping, Literary Atlas hopes to stimulate new understandings of literature and place and the geographical nature of the human condition.

Anyway, there is some interesting material on the web site, particularly associated with the "library map."

As we can see, 571 "Welsh" novels were published between 1800 and 2019.  That's quite an impressive output.  On the interactive map you can click on any dot and see the author and title.  But Wales's literary output was very slow to start with, since only 16 novels were published between 1800 and 1900:

After 1990, things started moving, with 315 novels published between 1900 and 2000:

And the rate of publication speeded up even more after the year 2000, with no less than 254 novels published in the first nineteen years of this century. 


There are plenty of talking points here; and I imagine that there are scores -- if not hundreds -- of other English-language fiction titles written and published in Wales that do not appear on any databases or in the publishing catalogues of the main publishers.  Many self-published or small press titles are omitted.   However, to their credit the organizers of the project have said that if readers or authors send in the details, other titles can be added to the database and the map.

One interesting question relating to the 254 novels (at least) published since 2000 -- in the era of subsidies and publishing grants. How many of these modern titles are truly commercial, in that reasonable numbers of people actually buy them and read them?  Another interesting map would be one showing sales figures for the titles plotted -- but perhaps that would be too much to ask........


Friday, 26 April 2019

Better than Poldark, different from Game of Thrones....

We have been pondering on the “unique hook” which might bring in a production company or broadcaster to take on the Angel Mountain Saga.  

In any pitch there is a need to demonstrate that your project has quite enough uniqueness in it to make it appealing.  In the case of On Angel Mountain, a young widow sees off all her enemies one by one — and kills some of them with her own hands — with the aid of her own “special powers” and the assistance of a wizard, an eccentric assortment of guardian angels, and a strange raven which is the spirit of a sacred mountain. By comparison, Poldark is distinctly mundane…..

This is an interesting list:
Worth looking at carefully to see what the USP might be in each case…..

It's a salutary exercise to look through this list and ask what the USP might be in each case.  Anything by Julian Fellowes is wonderful.  Popular and even perennial themes involve posh people doing silly posh things, quirky troubled detectives solving crimes, poor people having a hell of a tough time, young people coping with rites of passage, etc.

Our project migh be suffering a bit -- in a negative way -- from the Poldark effect. Commissioners may think On Angel Mountain is too similar — same period, same rough coastal landscape etc. Poldark is doing its last season this year — and although the BBC has hyped it up, it's success has not been spectacular, and while there has not been a big fall-off in viewing figures, many critics and outside observers have started to feel bored.   By all accounts, the actors have been bored too, and have wanted to go off and do other things.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Good Friday at Ceibwr

I thought I should share this one.... the thrift is just starting.  Give it a week or so more and it will be at its best along the coast path.....

Monday, 15 April 2019

Martha the shipowner

Martha was a shipowner...........

We attended a jolly event the other evening, commemorating the voyage of the "Albion" from Cardigan to New Brunswick in 1819, carrying 160 souls from Ceredigion who were intent on making a new life in a new land.  Mike Francis's lovely painting of the brig was inspired by the work of the Russian artist Aivakovsky.

No painter has ever mastered the art of painting waves in the same way as Aivakovsky -- how on earth did he manage to capture their translucent quality?  Sheer genius.  The painting below is one of his best.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Game of Thrones and the Northern Ireland economy

Here we are in the midst of the latest hype -- the last series of Game of Thrones is just starting, and the marketing process is well under way.......

Three years ago the economic impact in Northern Ireland was estimated at c £150m, and the figure by now will be substantially higher.  Tourism NI has worked hard at flagging up the key locations and in promoting a vast range of "ancillary" tourism-related activities, but of course there are very large economic impacts too in all sectors of the supply chain.  Filming a big series is an immensely complex business, providing incomes for many thousands of people in the filming neighbourhoods and much further afield.

For years I have been trying to flag up the potential significance for Wales of a big drama series set in Wales and telling the story of Wales --   but neither BBC Wales nor Visit Wales seems particularly interested, and I am not sure that the Welsh Government is either.

People keep on complaining about the very poor media portrayal of Wales and its story (see below) but nothing ever seems to be done about it.  There is more to Wales than natural history and rugby.

Fine words on all sides, but no initiatives.  The word "irritating" doesn't even begin to cover it........…/11/bbcs-portrayal-wales-welsh/…/the-pitching-in-disaster-shows-that…/…/……/we-must-fight-back-against-a-popula…/……/raymond-williams-question-w……