Friday, 1 August 2014

Eisteddfod Day 1

One could be forgiven for thinking the monsoon season had started today. The rain came down in sheets. It was with a heavy heart that I left the comfort of tea and biscuits to head of to my home town of Llanelli. I took the scenic route over the Trimsaran mountain with the Welsh farms and cottages looking lovely even in the rain. Many were draped with the red white and green of Wales and numerous Welsh flags flew on makeshift poles or else were cellotaped to the insides of windows. My first glimpse of the Maes came as I turned down St Margaret's Drive near Stradey Park. The sight was impressive with the backdrop of the Gower coastline. I parked up along one of the side roads and walked along Sandy Road looking at the houses bedecked in bunting and flags. The rain had taken its toll on the site and pools of water were now formed and had been made a murky grey having been mixed with the temporary hardcore. No wellies for me, I preferred a pair of stout walking boots. I waltzed in and sought out some help and guidance from the man at the gate. He directed me to the ticket office from where I was to pick up my press pass. Alas, even with technology,it was not ready. It gave me time to take a look at the site and visit some of the halls. First stop was the main pavillion 'the pink tent'. It is very impressive both in scale and layout. The stage was enormous and it was already well in use as children and adults went through their paces for tonight's opening show. Having sampled some of this wonderful rehearsal I ventured out into the daylight once more and behold the rain had stopped. People were busy setting up tents, stands and assorted displays. I made a note of the location of the coffee shop and proceeded to nose around the maes. There is something for everyone on the site. Lots of catering stalls, decent toilets, numerous exhibition stands from tractors to baking. There is a play area, a science area,book shops, a theatre, various smaller halls, a sports area, every major university in Wales appears to be there too. There are lots of sign posts and the paths are wide and manageable with picnic and seating areas dotted around the grassy banks. I left the site to get some distant shots of the maes and made my way up to Elgin Road in Pwll. I happened to meet a gentleman by the name of Malcolm Williams. He told me that he had been watching the place being set up for around 5 weeks. 'Why have they called it Eisteddfod Carmarthenshire'? he asked.'This is Llanelli.' A proud Llanelli man he remembered the old industries which once occupied the same site. It really is hard to believe that it was anything else as we looked down onto this wonderful view stretching from the Llanelli docks right across to Worms Head on the Gower. The only thing that was missing was the sunshine. I asked for directions up to the CROESO sign high up on one of the hills overlooking Pwll. Malcolm directed me to a path, which he assured me would lead me to the said sign. After an hour of beating my way through head high undergrowth I gave up and made my way back down, soaked to the skin. Was it worth it? A resounding YES!