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Monday, 21 July 2014

Welsh Legend Monday - Twm Sion Cati, the Welsh Robin Hood

Oh yes, it's not just Sherwood Forest that has a famous outlaw who stole from the rich (although it's not confirmed that he gave his ill gotten gains to the poor, but we'll gloss over that.)

As a child, growing up in West Wales, I was enthralled by the tales of Twm SiĆ“n Cati. He  may have become a legendary figure in Welsh folklore. but it seems he actually existed. Thomas Jones, to give him his real name, was of noble blood, born around 1530, supposedly the illegitimate son of the squire of Porthyffynnon (Fountain Gate), near Tregaron, mid west wales and Catherine (Cati), the illegitimate daughter of one of the ancestors of Syr John Wynn of Gwydir. (a rather immoral lot some of these noble families), although it is actually more likely he was  the son of a farmer, Sion (John) son of David ap Madog. It was  common practice in rural Wales, traditionally a matriarchal society, for children with common names to be nicknamed after their mothers, so he became known as Twm Sion Cati.

Twm Sion Cati earned his reputation, roaming the rugged west and mid regions of Wales, robbing from the rich. It is thought he had some formal education and  was a talented poet. He appears to have progressed from being a a common thief and highwayman into quite a crafty and clever conman.
 According to one well known tale he once stole a fine chestnut mare from a farmer named Powell. Twm then painted the animal grey and sold it back to the farmer - who didn't find out how he'd been cheated until rain washed the paint off the horse!

Another tale tells how Twm stayed an inn overnight and learnt that a certain highwayman planned to  rob him the following day. He had a large sum of money with him and allowed the rumour to get around that he had the money hidden in the pack saddle of his horse.The next day, as the robber accosted him, Twm dropped the empty packsaddle in the middle of a pool. The highwayman waded into the pool to fetch it and Twm made off with the highwayman's own horse.

Another time a shopkeeper tried to cheat him by selling him a pot with a hole in it, while claiming the ot was sound. Twm dropped the pot over the man's head, saying that there was certainly a hole in it or he would not have been able to fit such a large thing as the shopkeeper's head inside it!

He was reputed to be compassionate though, and to have avoided hurting those from whom he stole. It is said he was able to secure his victim by firing an arrow which would pin the rider to his saddle, rendering him unable to move, but unharmed

Twm often hid from his arch enemy the Sheriff of Carmarthen in a cave on the slopes of the rugged, densely wooded Dinas Hill, about 12 miles north of Llandovery, close to the village of Rhandirmwyn. Beneath the cave, the mountain river Pysgotwr joins the larger River Towy and thunders through the rocky gorge below. These days Dinas Hill is on RSPB nature reserve and  can be visited by tourists and visitors interested in the legend of Twm Sion Catti.

When Elizabeth 1st came to the throne he was pardoned and returned from Geneva where he had fled to escape the law. He served as steward for the lordship of Caron and later a Justice of The Peace and geneologist, becoming wealthy and marrying an heiress widow. becoming much loved and respected until his death in 1609.

There are several books written about this loveable rougue, including Lynn Hughes' book about Twm, entitled 'Hawkmoor', which was serialised by the BBC in 1977.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Today we're roasting...

UK Author Rachel Brimble.

Come and join the fun at our virtual beach party (now we're actually in the middle of a real British summer, with sunshine and everything) and and you could win your very own copy of 'What Belongs to Her'.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Unleashed - Book Blast and Giveaway

Untitled Document

Choose the Intro to Unleashed

Sydney Rye is coming to Audio and we need your help picking the narrator!
Emily Kimelman's "Sydney Rye" series features a strong female protagonist and her rescue dog, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don't mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!

Haven't read Sydney Rye yet? Download the first book, UNLEASHED, for free on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, or Kobo and see how she sounds in your head then vote for the best narrator!

Voting enters you to win all sorts of great prizes including Amazon gift cards, signed books, and the finished Audio book! Add to your chances of winning by joining Emily's email list, liking her Facebook page, or telling your friends about the contest.

Here are your choices: (Please vote via Rafflecopter Below)


Prize Details

Every vote, like, share, or sign up is an entry for the "grand prizes" 
$20 Amazon or BN Gift Card
Copy of the Finished Audiobook

More about UNLEASHED:

UNLEASHED is the first book in Emily Kimelman's best selling Sydney Rye series of mysteries.

When the series begins Sydney Rye is named Joy Humbolt. She does not like people telling her what to do, so it comes as no surprise that she was just fired from her last job. When she buys Charlene Miller's dog-walking business on Manhattan's exclusive upper east side, it seems like the perfect fit: Quiet environment, minimal contact with people.

But then one of her clients turns up dead, and Charlene disappears. Rumors say Charlene was having an affair with the victim--and of course, everyone assumes Joy must know where she is. Joy begins to look into the crime, first out of curiosity then out of anger when there is another murder and threats start to come her way.

When police detective Mulberry is assigned to the case, Joy finds a kindred spirit--cynical and none-too-fond of the human race. As they dig deep into the secrets of Manhattan's elite, they not only get closer to the killer but also to a point of no return. One last murder sends Joy Humbolt hurtling over the edge. Her only chance of survival is to become Sydney Rye.

The Rest of The Sydney Rye Series:

DEATH IN THE DARK (A Sydney Rye Novella, #2) 
INSATIABLE (A Sydney Rye Novel, #3)
STRINGS OF GLASS (A Sydney Rye Novel, #4)
THE DEVIL'S BREATH (A Sydney Rye Novel, #5) Coming April 2014

Emily Kimelman Biography

Emily Kimelman is the author of the best selling "Sydney Rye" series of mystery novels including UNLEASHED, DEATH IN THE DARK, INSATIABLE, STRINGS OF GLASS and the forthcoming THE DEVIL'S BREATH. Emily lives with her husband, Sean Gilvey, and their dog, Kinsey Millhone "Pup Detective", on a trawler docked in the Hudson Valley during the summer. She spends her winters traveling to where ever the next Sydney Rye Novel takes place. Right now she is in Costa Rica working on Sydney Rye #6.

If you've read Emily's work and liked it please contact her. She loves hearing from readers. You can reach Emily via email ejkimelman@gmail.com or on twitter @ejkimelman. Follow her on Instagram to see pictures from Emily's latest adventures. Visit www.emilykimelman.com to learn more about Emily and the Sydney Rye series.








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Monday, 14 July 2014

Monday's Welsh legend. Cantre'r Gwaelod - the Welsh Atlantis.

AberystwythThe town of Aberystwyth, where I spent my childhood overlooks the beautiful Cardigan Bay, where dolphins and porpoises play with canoeists and surfers.

 According to legend, there was once a prosperous, low lying kingdom, known as Cantre'r Gwaelod, which stretched along the coast where now the waves lap against the sandy shores.The kingdom was a community of merchants and prices and comprised sixteen thriving cities.

In order to protect the kingdom from the sea, a number of steep embankments were built, with gates, or sluices which were only opened at lif water was needed to irrigate the fields, and kept closed at high tide.

The Prince Gwyddno Garanhir ruled over the land, and he  delegated the working of the sluices to the control of a man called Seithennin,  decribed as a notorious drukard.  One night he became so inebriated he forgot to close the sluice gates and the sea poured through, drowning the kingdom which vanished forever beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay.  At times of danger it is said the bells ring out from the ocean's depths. A famous folk song 'The Bells Of Aberdovey' supposedly refers to the legend.

About seven miles along the coast from Aberystwyth, between the town and Aberdovey, lies the old fishing village of Borth and Ynyslas, Every winter, after storms have scoured away the surface of the sand, at low tide large areas of peat appear, littered with tree stumps and fallen tree trunks. Radiocarbon dating suggests these trees died about 1500 BC. The remains of the ancient forest were especially evident earlier this year when fierce storms swept along the coast, causing much damage and uncovering fresh areas of peat. And in 1770, Welsh antiquarian scholar William Owen Pughe reported seeing sunken human habitations about four miles off the Cardiganshire coast, between the rivers Ystwyth and Teifi.
So perhaps the idea of a submerged kingdom may be more than just a legend, after all.

I often incorporate snippets of Welsh legends into my writing, and I mention the legend of Cantre'r Gwaelod in my  fantasy novella Dancing With Fate, only I use the more ancient name of 'Maes Gwyddno.'

"He’d never known anyone to dance as she did. The way she swiveled her hips had him mesmerized. Her voice was soft and clear, with a haunting quality. It reminded him of the musical bells of Maes Gwyddno, the civilization that now lay drowned beneath the sea. At times of danger, if one listened hard enough, one could hear the bells ringing from beneath the waves."

I  hope you've enjoyed hearing about today's legend.  Do you know any other legends which bear a similarity to 'Atlantis'?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Monday's Welsh myths and legends - the Welsh Loch Ness Monster.

Llyn Afanc is a lake near Bettws y Coed (Translation 'Prayer House In The Wood) in the Snowdonia National Park and is named after the legendary 'Afanc' (pronounced Ahvank)

A lake monster from Welsh mythology, the afanc can also be traced through references in British Celtic folklore, and has been linked to various other places in Wales.

The demonic creature was variously said to look like a crocodile, giant beaver or dwarf,and to attack and devour anyone who entered its waters.

There are many variations of the legend, including one which has the mosnter dwelling at Aberdyfi, and of King Arthur slaying the monster on the shores of Llyn Barfog (the Bearded Lake)  Near Llyn Barfog is a rock with a hoof print carved into it, along with the words Carn March Arthur (stone of Arthur's mare), supposedly made by the horse when Arthur lassoed the afanc with a magical chain and his steed, Llamrai, dragged it from the deep.

Another legnd says many men had tried to kill the monster but its thick hide was impervious to sword or arrow. The wise men of the valley decided  if force wouldn’t work, then the Afanc must somehow be enticed out of his pool and removed to a lake far away beyond the mountains, where he could cause no further trouble. The lake chosen to be the Afanc’s new home was Llyn Ffynnon Las, under the  shadow of Mount Snowdon.

Afanc by Elle Wilson
Courtesy of Elle Wilson
The blacksmith  forged strong iron chains  to bind and secure the Afanc.  There was still the problem of how to entice the monster from the lake. It appears that the Afanc, like many other monsters, was rather partial to beautiful young women, and the brave daughter of a local farmer volunteered for the task. She approached the Afanc's lake while her father and the rest of the men remained hidden a short distance away. Standing on the shore she called softly to him,and when he surfaced sang him a soft Welsh lullaby. So sweet was the song that the Afanc slowly fell asleep.

The men leapt from their hiding places, and with a team of mighty oxen dragged the creature to Llyn Ffynnon Las. There the chains of the Afanc were loosed, and with a roar, the monster leapt  into the deep water, where it is said, he remains to this day, unable to escape to wreak havoc because of the steep rocky banks of the lake.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Welsh legend Monday - The story of Gelert

The Aberglaslyn Pass
In the heart of Snowdownia, a short walk from the village of Beddgelert, (Gelert's Grave)  two stones mark a single, small grave, one at the head and one at the feet.
According to legend, the stone monument in the field marks the resting place of 'Gelert', the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great. The story, as written on each tombstone, one in English and one in Welsh, reads:

"In the 13th century Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, ‘The Faithful Hound’, who was unaccountably absent.

On Llewelyn's return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince alarmed hastened to find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound's side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog's dying yell was answered by a child's cry.

Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here".

Isn't that sad?  I suppose the moral is never act in haste, or jump to hasty conclusions. It makes me sad to think the loyal hound's bravery was rewarded by death at the hands of his beloved master, but he gained immortality as his story has been handed down through generations.

Friday, 27 June 2014

On the Roast today...

Portals - a fantastic fantasy anthology by some six authors. Come and enter the contest to win a copy plus a Gift Voucherhttp://authorroastandtoast.blogspot.co.uk/