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MY STORY…and the reason for this blog

TAKEN FROM MY FACEBOOK PAGE:

20 July · Dubrovnik never disappoints-I love it here and just sitting dangling my feet in the crystal clear water has calmed (and cooled) me down.  Everytime I come here I see something new…..I love the narrow, steep alleyways and I love the drawbridge you have to cross to enter the 13th century walled town. I love the fact that you can safely fill your water-bottle from any of the numerous fountains and walk on stones made shiny by millions of feet over hundreds of years. I love the fact that the guy in this outdoor restaurant remembered me and called me by name, welcoming me as an old friend, insisting I have a free beer……and you know what? There are times when only an ice-cold beer in a place where someone knows you, will do. Cheers x

Travelling to Swansea, United Kingdom fromRhodes International Airport

23 July · I don’t want to see ONE single comment on here. I mean it. Or I WILL delete you.

23 July · Copied from my son Scott’s site:

‘I’ve spoken to everyone I can think of who should know and so I hope nobody finds out this way but I fear that for some this will come as a horrible shock. My brother passed away two days ago in Thailand.

Arrangements are being made for his return to the UK as soon as possible and I speak for both myself and my mother, and all our family, when I say your kind words have helped and are helping us through a very difficult time.

Those who will need to know funeral arrangements, I will be in contact when more details are available.

I understand people need to grieve as do I, and I only ask that if anyone needs to make contact they do via me, and obviously only if necessary.

25 July · There are no words I can find to express how heartbroken Scott and I are. Our hearts are in a million pieces and even if we may one day manage to put them back together, there will always and forever be a massive, vital piece still missing from them and our lives are never going to be the same. Never.
The kindness and compassion being shown to us is breath-taking by family and friends….and total strangers.
We have had hundreds and hundreds of messages and I simply don’t have the energy to reply individually so please forgive me, but I know you’ll understand.
For all the food, baking, cooking, shopping, lifts and million other things you are doing for us I will never be able to thank you adequately.
To Ross’s friends who are as heartbroken as we are I am so very proud of you all-I have watched you all grow up from little boys into wonderful young men and Ross would be so proud of you all now and especially the way that you are looking after me and his darling brother.
To Phil in Thailand thank you SO much for everything you have done over there for Ross and his heartbroken Dad-thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you and to all his friends over there, I know you are all in shock as we all are.
I have just got off the phone with Alex, Ross’s Dad who is bereft. But he and Phil have now got all the documentation needed to repatriate our darling boy, who may be flying home to us on Tuesday or Wednesday. I will let you all know the funeral arrangements when we have them.
And Scott. Oh my darling Scott…you are my rock and what you have done over the last few dreadful days-from letting people know, talking to Embassy officials, the Home Office, International Funeral Directors and just making sure Ross gets home safely to us as quickly as possible and saving me from having to do any of it-all while still visiting your Grandmother in hospital every day and keeping this awful news from her until I could be there to tell her with you…..you have a strength in you that I didn’t realise you had and I love you so very much and am so so proud of the man you’ve become.
And Ross. My darling, darling boy with the big heart, big grin, big talent and big hugs….you should have no regrets. You did everything. You tried everything. And you went everywhere. You LIVED your life to the absolute fullest and we told each other almost every day that we loved each other-for that I am eternally grateful. You knew you were loved and you always will be.
Sleep well my angel and I’ll have another ‘Rossy-hug’ one day.
I love you.
Your broken-hearted Mum ❤

26 July At 3’10 when we acknowledge the orchestra, they stand and far left you’ll see my darling boy Ross on guitar…and there’s a moment…..where he looks at me and I look at him and he grins at me….I’ll never forget that night-or the party after! Swansea Girls finale at Swansea Grand Theatre 2008

“Swansea Girls” the finale to the celebrated musical “Swansea Girls” performed at Swansea Grand Theatre in 2007 and 2008. Written by Lynne Mackay. The…

YOUTUBE.COM

28 July Scott has had a call from the International Funeral Directors who are working for us and they now have Ross in their care.
They couldn’t get him on a flight tomorrow, but have provisionally booked him onto a flight on Thursday back to the UK and they will be bringing him all the way directly to Swansea, then hand his care over to Websters in Marlbourough Road Chapel of Rest.
There will still be British formalities to then be addressed, so we don’t know yet when we can go ahead and organise his funeral.
We will let you all know when he is back in Swansea ❤

28 July  · My very dear friend Kevin has known the boys since they were little-and they were both thrilled to bits to learn that their Mum actually KNEW ‘Clown Kev’!
He has very kindly agreed to officiate at Ross’ funeral as he is also an ordained Minister.
Here is Kev singing so beautifully in the original production of my musical ‘Swansea Women’ at the Grand Theatre-I am playing the piano….Ross is on guitar.
This is how I imagine my darling Scott must have felt exactly one week ago when he had to tell me the dreadful news.
From my heart to yours, my darling boys ❤

Someone Else’s Son – Kev Johns

29 July  · Ross will be making this same flight and will be arriving in the UK at 0700 tomorrow morning-for his friends who want to track his progress. The flight is TG910/30 ❤ xxx

29 July · Swansea · We have just received a beautiful potted yellow rose bush from Guernsey Flowers, but sadly, there was no card, so we don’t know who it’s from?
Yellow roses are my favourite and Ross bought me many, many bunches-usually to soften me up before telling me something he’d done, bless him.
On the day of the funeral we are asking that those who wish to do so all wear a yellow rose,,,,,for Ross xxx

29 July · Swansea · Ross has left Thailand and is on his way home heart emoticon

30 July · Ross is in the UK. His journey on to Swansea won’t start for a few hours yet but soon he truly will be on his way home to us heart emoticon

30 July · We’ve just heard that our darling boy left London 30 minutes ago and is now on the M4 travelling travelling towards his beloved Wales and even more beloved Swansea-he should arrive in about 3 hours. Safe journey my darling-nearly home xxx

30 July · I’m so glad that the sun is shining to welcome my beautiful Ross home

31 July · Swansea · Just to let you all know, Ross is safely in our Chapel of Rest.
The Coroner rang Scott this morning and all is ok-she just needs a few more details from Thailand and is doing everything she can to avoid ordering a 2nd post-mortem.
A few things didn’t add up to her, but after speaking to Scott she said that made more sense so she wants to see the CCTV footage he told her about.
She was really lovely.
As today is Friday, the offices in Thailand are already closed so it will be next week now before things can move forward…and may well be another week after that before we can finally arrange his funeral.
For those who don’t know and are afraid to ask, Ross was on his scooter and not travelling very fast, but crashed into the back of a parked truck. They said he was dead on impact.
However, when Philip and Alex saw CCTV footage, it looked to them like Ross suffered a seizure first, then crashed. That made more sense to the Coroner in view of the findings of his injuries that she had in front of her. She is now requesting the CCTV footage and a map of the accident-site.
Ross was prone to seizures-particularly if he was over-tired, excited or stressed.
And he WAS excited, because he was not only finally going to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia with his Dad who was treating him to a holiday, but after that, he was coming home. He’d decided that that was what he wanted to do after coming home in March for a wedding and I was thrilled.
I am praying that he DID have a seizure and was already unconscious before hitting that truck, so he would have not known anything about it.
Scott and I will let you know more when we can.
Thank you is inadequate for what everyone close to us has been doing-way too many to name, but I will NEVER be able to repay the absolute love, kindness, compassion and humanity that you have shown to me, Scott and Mam.
It’s going to be a very hard few weeks, but with you here, we WILL get through…and Ross, oh my lovely boy, you would be SO proud of everyone you love x

31 July · The Coroner has seen more evidence and agrees it was a seizure so has told us there is no need for Ross to undergo a 2nd post-mortem. An inquest will be opened next week but she said it will only last minutes and be straight-forward, then the death-certificate will be issued. We can then register Ross’ death. Oh I can’t believe I’m saying these words.
I have spoken to Websters who have our boy in their Chapel of Rest and they will call on Monday to arrange a meeting. Richard will be handling it-the same lovely man who looke after my darling father so well and with such dignity 12 years ago.
Once Scott and I have met with Richard, we will have a date to give you all xxx

1 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Last August when Ross came home, he went to Marks and Spencers to buy some trousers and when he got home, he said ‘I got you this cos I know you love your candles-they’re selling them in M&S for Rememberence Day….(Long pause)……….I wouldn’t have got one, but the girl on the till was hot!’

ROSS CANDLE

1 August · Today was very hard…..think that’s the most visitors we’ve had in one day, but how brave you all are to make such a difficult visit-some of you for the 2nd or 3rd time-thank you so much-it means a lot. To Ross’ young friends: most of you have never had to deal with a tragedy like this before-you are simply wonderful and I know now why Ross loved you so-and you will all always have a special place in my heart xxx

2 August · Just spent 2 hours talking to a reporter from the Evening Post (at home)…..surreal

2 August · The EP photographer has been and AGAIN, I can’t tell you how lovely and kind he was. I found it hard though and when he took one of me holding Ross’ picture I totally lost it….not because of him, but because of WHY we were doing it. This is all just so hard

2 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App · The article about my lovely Ross will be in tomorrow’s Evening Post and on their website from 0630 tomorrow morning. I’ve read it and it’s my words-i hope I did him proud.

2 August · The morning after I’d got the news about Ross, well as you can imagine, I hadn’t slept a wink and at about 0400 I went upstairs and out on deck to get some fresh air. I sat and watched the sun come up and it felt very spiritual. I thought to myself ‘I need to remember this’ so I went and got my tablet and took this photograph x

11813373_10153038043175794_4887323439716783794_n

3 August · For those of you living away, you can read about my lovely Ross here, where you can also leave comments:

http://http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Swansea-musician-Ross-Mackay-killed-Thailand/story-27531239-detail/story.html#ixzz3hjFqhSRj

He made the front page x

3 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Just done an interview with the Western Mail. Numb x

3 August · Daily Mail Online · MailOnline….didn’t speak to them-got my sddress wrong-left there 2008….got other info from google……but i don’t give a damn. The more peopke who know about my darling Ross and how lovely he was, the better x

http://http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3184119/British-musician-dies-suffering-seizure-riding-scooter-Thailand-crashing-truck.html#comments

British musician, Ross Mackay, 27, died after suffering what is believed to be an epileptic fit while driving a moped in the city of Pattaya in Thailand, where he had…

3 August · Wales Online ·

Oh bless him  ♡

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/our-hearts-million-pieces-talented-9780037

Ross Mackay, son of Swansea Girls writer Lyn Mackay, has died in a road accident involving his moped and a truck in Thailand

4 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Today’s Western Mail newspaper

4 August · Ross in my classroom at Dylan Thomas School, rehearsing for ‘Swansea Girls’ and playing his precious ‘Black Beauty’ x

ROSS

4 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App ·

Matt-you have been at Scott’s side for more years than I care to remember, becoming one of Ross’ best mates as well. The moment my darling Scott’s life changed forever, you were there immediately for him and stayed there through those awful days until I got home. And now you tell us that you’ve had a star named after Ross! I really am lost for words. For the many visitors who met you today it is obvious that you and Scott are cut from the same cloth and I love you for loving both my boys xxx

5 August · Scott and I are will be unavailable this morning due to meeting with our funeral director. I hope this afternoon, we will be able to give you the date x

5 August · Just found this video from the infamous holiday in Turkey I took Ross and Rhodri on in 2004…love hearing his voice and seeing him in yet another cowboy hat….he really did think he was Indiana Jones

5 August ·Now that we’ve spoken to Alex (Ross’ Dad), we can now tell you that Ross’ funeral will take place on Friday 21st August, 12 noon at Morriston Crematorium-to which everyone is welcome, with a private, invitation-only service at Marlborough Road Chapel of Rest prior to that at 1045 (due to limited space there).
More details will follow later about his wake-to which you are all welcome.
That will be exactly one month to the day that he died, which I can’t actually believe….as it feels like months and months have passed already

5 August · Ross won an Eisteddfod poetry prize in Olchfa when he was in Year 7.
His English teacher at the time was Janet, who I later met, got to know and became close friends with, when she moved to my school to teach.
She wrote me a beautiful letter recently, recalling one of the lines that she still remembers Ross wrote in that poem about Swansea: “drunk men singing the wrong words to the right tunes”.
Today, my amazing friend Janette brought me this silver heart engraved with “wrong words…….right tune”
HEART FRONT HEART BACK

6 August · Swansea · I just wanted to say another ‘thank you’ to the 130 of you who have been brave enough to visit and cry with us, the 200+ who have sent us beautiful cards and the 40+ of you who have sent such stunning floral tributes….not to mention all the cooked dinners, the food-boxes, the cakes, the beer and wine (!) the candles…the beautiful letters and emails, the gifts, the thoughtful messages on here, the lifts…and oh, I could go on and on and on.
‘Thank-you’ once again seems and feels inadequate for what you are doing for us-and for Mam too and we will never, ever forget your kindnesses.
We face a fairly awful 2-week wait now until we can say goodbye ‘officially’ to our beautiful Ross, but with your help, we will get through it-you know who you are.
With all our love,
Scott and Lyn xxx

6 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Oh what I’d give for a night filled with sleep-not tears

6 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App · A beautiful tribute to my beautiful boy, from my sister in Australia xxx

http://http://chichialamode.com/2015/08/06/malachy-ross-mackay-a-celebration-of-27-earth-year/

6 August · http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Funeral-date-set-city-musician-died-Thailand/story-27553408-detail/story.html

6 August · Up all night…still can’t shift this nasty headache either-had it since Sunday now…so gave in and went to see my doc first thing….it’s all just the effects of shock but my bp is a bit low as well…so gave me some good advice on which meds to use together that I know agree with me and hoping a day of those mean I get some sleep tonight x

6 August · Very sorry, but I’m just not up to any visitors today-sorry to the ones who rang me yesterday to arrange, but these meds are kicking in and feeling very sleepy x

7 August · Following Ross’ cremation (at 12 on 21st August), we invite all of you to join us and celebrate his beautiful life at Swansea Rugby Club (St Helen’s), right through into the evening.

I have told the boys to bring their guitars.

At dusk we will release a lantern for him.

We are asking for donations in lieu of flowers to help us have 2 permanent memorials for Ross in Swansea and in Pattaya, to mark his life.

We would also like everyone who wishes to, to wear a yellow rose to his funeral.

I have just had to write his obituary……something no mother should ever have to do for their child x

7 August ·We’d gone to support Scott at Penllergaer Primary Sports Day and Scott won a race, so he was getting lots of kisses and cuddles….feeling left-out a bit and not to be outdone, Ross came stomping over and plonked a huge kiss on me…and for once, my Dad was in the right place at the right time with his camera

CNV00002

7 August · Thank you for the hundreds of beautiful letters, texts, emails, fb messages and comments-hard to write, harder to read, even harder to believe

10 August · BlackBerry Smartphones App ·

http://www.family-announcements.co.uk/sout…/…/3864629/mackay

10 August ·

Today has been a particularly bad day and full of tears

14 August at 09:30 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · This time next week we’ll be getting ready to say a formal goodbye to our darling Ross. Still can’t believe it really x

15 August at 18:33 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Been a long day today.

16 August at 22:10 · Swansea ·12 years ago today we lost my wonderful Dad-
Malachey Lawrence Sinnott….
next Friday we’ll say goodbye to his adored Grandson, my son
Malachey Ross Mackay
Look after him, Dad  💔

17 August at 12:41 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Ross’ beloved Gibson has just arrived safe and sound from Thailand thanks to his Dad, Phil and Scott x

ross gibson

18 August at 11:54 · Swansea · Gave up trying to sleep just after 1 this morning and came downstairs. Sorted all the flowers out-quite sad having to put some of them out into the garden refuse recycling bags-4 full bags of flowers out there now for collection.
Did a few other quiet jobs so I didn’t wake Scott.
Had another good cry and sob over some memories of my lovely boy.
Then got dressed, had breakfast and went to Uplands to get Ross’ picture enlarged and framed for Friday.
Carried on into town and got display boards for the wake and guitar strings for his Gibson, bless him-had a sad talk with the boys in Cranes who are lovely and knew Ross well.
Then rang the hospital for the 2nd time and this time, Mam was back from theatre and all seems well-she’s sleeping-huge relief to know she was back in her room.
Funeral Director is here soon, then I’ll go down the hospital to see Mam and hopefully see the Doctor as well.

18 August at 15:46 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Just opened the paper and saw this ep august 18th

18 August at 23:01 ·

Here is the paperwork from Matt’s amazing gesture to name a star after Ross in the Capricorn constellation…so special-and so are you, Matt-Ross would love this! He really would

ROSS STAR 1 ROSS STAR 3 ROSS STAR 4

19 August at 16:03 · Edited · Today has been one of the worst days of my life-with at least one more to come. Had a funny turn in Debenhams. So grateful that Julie rang me and realised I needed rescuing and did exactly that. Now it’s going to get weird…..
She took me to the Chattery in Uplands as I had to collect Ross’ photograph for the crem.
We were at the back and I sat facing the door, she had her back to it.
One of the ladies who works there was asked by a large party n the front part, to take their group-photograph, so was facing me.
I looked up and saw not her, but my Dad!!!
I whispered to Julie “look behind you over your left shoulder” and she went white and said “OMG-it’s your Dad!!!”
Then everything just snapped back to normal and the lady was herself again and went back to work.
Every hair on my neck and arms stood up.
Very strange but Julie said it was ‘a cwtch from your Dad’ x

20 August at 03:08 · Given up trying to sleep…feeling really, really sick to my stomach..having a cup of tea with sugar, 2 plain biscuits and a yoghurt in the hope they settle it a bit…..because there are no tablets to take to cure this frown emoticon

20 August at 10:10 · Sadly, although my Mum is a little better today, she suffered a serious setback this week which means that she will be in hospital longer than expected and therefore, she will be unable to attend her beloved Grandson Ross’ funeral tomorrow.  My wonderful Aunt Marie (Mam’s sister) is going to go and sit with her.

20 August at 13:34 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Mam is looking so much better-am SO relieved I can’t begin to tell you….but saying goodbye until after the funeral was very, very hard for both of us x

20 August at 14:54 · My tummy is doing back-flips as the time is nearly here for me to go and sit for a while with my beautiful boy at the Chapel of Rest

20 August at 15:35 · Swansea · Crying again….this time because of all the profile pics I’m starting to see that have been changed and are now a yellow rose in honour of Ross……I am SO touched-thank you x

guitar an rose

21 August at 09:31 · Swansea · As I was getting ready for the worst day of my life, the same song-lyrics keep playing in my head “my hands are shaking and my knees are weak, I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet”….’All Shook Up’ is about right….
Totally overwhelmed and filled with immense pride to see my Facebook newsfeed absolutely covered in yellow roses-you will NEVER know what that did for my heart when I got up this morning and saw it….
Later on, I will post my tribute to Ross, but now, for the first time, let me say the words I’ve been dreading….
Rest in Eternal Peace, my beautiful, beautiful boy x

22 August at 08:40 · My son Scott yesterday walking in front of his brother, dressed in his Mackay kilt. He really is my Braveheart

http://http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Musical-goodbye-Swansea-musician-Ross-Mackay/story-27652420-detail/story.html

22 August at 09:16 ·As promised, here is the transcript of my words yesterday:
LETTER FOR ROSS

My darling Ross, from the moment all 12lbs 10ozs of you bounced into our lives and you crawled in your incubator, I knew you were going to be special-and I was right.

You idolised Scott from the moment you clapped eyes on him and he adored you right back. This never changed and it was a source of great pride to me that the 2 of you were always so close.

You were REAL boys-into everything, doing everything, getting dirty and loving it and constantly ending up in casualty with some injury or other-like the time you ended up there when you were about 3 or 4, after breaking your toe playing ‘catch’ with your brother. The Doctor looked confused and so I told him to ask you WHAT you were playing ‘catch’ with…..back came the reply…….…’breeze-blocks!!’

You were both fearless…although where Scott would hurtle down a hill, jump a wall then realise that he probably shouldn’t have done that….you would follow him, hurtle down the hill…stop…look at the wall…think ‘I probably shouldn’t do this’…then do it anyway.

You were SO very close to Grandma and Grandad, having a very unique and special relationship with them and as you grew old enough to understand, you were absolutely thrilled to discover that you were named ‘Malachey’ after Grandad-in fact you went through a phase of wanting to be called ‘Mal’ just like him.

You loved your Auntie Jayne to bits and when she met and married Uncle Peter, you loved him too. You were so proud along with Scott, to be ring-bearers at their wedding and looked so smart in your morning suits that I thought I would burst with pride.

Ross, you would be SO very proud of what Scott has one for you and I in the last few weeks-he has been nothing short of heroic and through his tireless efforts, he got you home to us quickly and safely-and I know that you would have done exactly the same for him.

From a very early age you would ‘plinky-plonk’ away on the piano and pick out tunes-thinking that this was normal and that everybody could do it-it was years before you realised that you actually DID have a talent-you’d never take MY word for it.

It was a constant source of joy to me that both you and your brother were so musical-you on guitar and piano and Scott on drums and guitar and both with great singing voices.

Although both of you had played in the pit of the Grand Theatre with me for some shows, when all 3 of us finally got to play together on stage at the Grand Theatre-funnily enough, with our dear friend Kev, well those concerts were very rare and special moments that I will never ever forget…..although I did question the decision of the theatre-manager to offer the band an open bar BEFORE the shows!

As you grew from a child into a man you still displayed the same adventurous, caring and loving nature and drew people to you.

Your close circle of friends were SO important to you and a call from any one of them-girl or boy-would see you dropping everything to be there when they needed you. You would be so proud of them now Ross, because they dropped everything and came to us and haven’t left our sides since we got that awful news.

You dealt with your seizures with courage and fortitude and lived life to the full, not allowing anything to stop you.

Ross, please forgive me for being weak, but there will be no singing here today. Singing, for both you and I has always been a joyful thing. Today is not joyful. Not for me. I can’t sing today.

But there WILL be singing again-I know that there are several guitars in the boots of cars here today, ready to go down to your wake and there will be music and laughter-just as you would want there to be-as we remember you and celebrate the love and laughter that you filled our lives with.

You were a big man with a big grin my darling, who gave the best hugs and who had a huge, loving heart. And I loved you oh, so very, very much. I always will.

From a very young age, the 3 of us found saying ‘I love you’ to each other very natural and very easy and I told you every time we spoke or messaged each other that I loved you and without missing a beat you would tell me that you also loved me.

They were the last words we said to each other and for that, I shall always be truly grateful.

The pain of losing you so soon is unbearable and I cannot find the words to express just how much I am going to miss you and yearn for you. But I am so very, very grateful that I had you for those 27 years and that we were so very happy and so very close. My loss really IS Heaven’s gain.

I love you, my darling boy.
Until we meet again, sleep well,
With my eternal love,
Mum x

22 August at 09:22 · For those who were asking me to post the list of songs we used yesterday as they wanted to listen to them again, here is the list-and the explanations as to why each song was special to Ross x

MUSIC FOR ROSS ORDER OF SERVICE

22 August at 14:49 · About to go with my sister and brother-in-law and place Ross’s wreaths on my Dad’s and Uncles headstones

22 August at 18:03 · Got a bit emotional this afternoon when we placed the flowers on the graves of my beautiful Dad and my wonderful uncles…but we st on the bench besides him in the sunshine and talked about him and Ross and there was laughter s well as tears…even when we spoke about yesterday

cyril and hans dad

22 August at 18:27 · I can’t write about yesterday yet….but I will…..

23 August at 18:10 · The flowers done for us by Jan at Heavenly Wishes were absolutely stunning-including the heart-wreath, the thistle-heart wreath, the guitar and all the buttonholes, the roses for the table-centres, the condolence-table display and the single rose for me to place on my sons’ coffin. Thank you so very, very much xxx

THISTLE ROSes from fiona and kirsty Swansea-20150820-01102 Swansea-20150820-01101 Swansea-20150820-01091 from all lyn's friends Mam, Peter & JAYNES FLOWERS ROSS plain yellow rose SINGLE ROSE ROSS from Mum

23 August at 19:15 · Thank you so much to Corrin and Lisa, not only for the amazing electric-guitar/vinyls stand they made and the 150 beautiful and personal cupcakes that they made for Ross’ wake, but for also turning up at the house the day after Ross died with a huge box of groceries for Scott to help him over the next few days-including a huge and beautiful cake x

cupcake CUPCAKES cupcake and rose

23 August at 20:50 · To all the family and friends of mine, Scott and Ross, who came to Scott when he really needed you and then stayed even after I got home;
who hugged us, cried with us, laughed with us; drank with us; shopped for us (even for girly things for me-sorry boys!!); then cried some more;
gave us lifts, brought us food, organised flowers and just sat with us and said nothing; who sent over 70 stunning floral arrangements and bouquets; who sent over 300 cards; who just held our hands….
To all of you…you are magnificent and Scott and I will never find the words to tell you how we feel about you….so once again, music is needed…….

23 August at 21:33 · To all the family and friends who flew from all over the world, travelled from all over the UK, took time off work and just made that extra effort to come and say goodbye to Ross and to be with us, thank you all from the bottom of my heart-Ross would have been SO very touched and humbled that you all went that extra mile for him…literally x

23 August at 22:51 · To all of you friends, mutual friends and friends-of-friends who turned facebook into a yellow rose-garden on Friday-thank you. As I think I said on the day, you will never know the impact that had on me-it felt like Ross really was everywhere and being thought about with loving and caring thoughts-thank you from the bottom of my heart 

plain yellow rose

24 August at 00:40 ·

To Kev.
Darling Kev,
You, Rosie and I go back a LONG way and we’ve both had our ups and downs along the way, but your friendship is one I have always treasured.
When you said that you would officiate for us on the worst, saddest and most dreaded day of our lives, Scott and i were so relieved, because it meant that Ross would be represented by someone who had watched him grow up from a little boy into a young man and who knew him very well.
You had also worked alongside him and Scott in various concerts and charity events that we did together; our 3 ‘An Evening with Kev & Lyn’ at the Swansea Grand Theatre and others.
I have always told you you had wonderful voice that people should hear and when in ‘Swansea Women’ you played ‘Billy Post’ I was SO proud of you….and of course Ross played guitar in the pit orchestra with me as MD and on Keyboard1.
You went above and beyond, calling and texting and visiting us over these long sad few weeks.
On Friday, who were simply wonderful. You found the right balance of seriousness, faith and humour-even though I know, at times, you also found it very hard.
You spoke about BOTH of my beautiful boys from the heart and with a compassion that only comes from years of knowing them both personally.
You guided Ross’ heartbroken young friends throughout and they knew you had their backs.
You were our rock that day and when you looked at me at exactly the moment I needed you to, it pulled me through.
I love and adore you and will never, ever forget what you did for Ross and for us….and what you said was right…Swansea people ARE special-especially you.
With all my love,
Your friend,
Lyn x  Someone Else’s Son – Kev Johns

24 August at 12:28 · Swansea · To all ‘the boys’ and girls.

From the time I started meeting you as you became friends with Ross (and Scott) and a part of our lives from as young as 5/6 years old, you have been a very special group of friends.
Over the years, I have watched you develop into warm, loving, talented, generous, caring, industrious, ambitious, adventurous, fearless, individual and pride-generating young adults….and Ross adored each and every one of you.
You WERE his life.
What you did reflected on him and vice-versa.
As you grew up and tended to congregate in my house, it never ceased to amaze me JUST how much food you lot could get through-a herd of giant locusts couldn’t have done a better job of emptying my fridge, freezer and cupboards!
I loved seeing you all in the garden and as you got older, I loved to hear you playing your guitars and singing away….just a happy bunch of kids.
I loved watching you all get dirty playing rugby or football-I didn’t love all the trips to A&E though!
I loved that you all came to our Christmas Eve parties and totally joined in, singing around the piano on the tops of your voices-it always made Christmas so special in our house-I especially loved Ross in his Santa suit!!
I loved that as young adults, you much preferred chilling in Singleton, bonfires on the beach, live music gigs, or just congregating in each others houses, to Wind St and that culture.
I loved that you would sing and dance and go to festivals and get muddy and dirty and not care a jot….I didn’t love Ross trashing my car once though by driving over a tree-stump!!
I love the adults you’ve become and I love how you all dropped everything and came to be with us over this last gut-wrenching few weeks.
Your sorrow was and is as real as ours-we know how much you loved Ross.
On Friday, you were astonishing. You all looked so, so sad it almost broke what was left of my heart. To walk up behind the hearse as you did, shoulder-to-shoulder; to have to carry Ross in on his final journey must have been heart-breaking for you: to encourage me out of the car and hold me when I couldn’t remember how to breathe or walk; to escort me down the aisle on the longest walk of my life; to speak for him; to cry for him….and later….to laugh about him and to once again sing for him and play your guitars-and oh, how incredible that guitar-playing was-it was perfect.
I don’t know what else I can say, but thank you. Thank you for being such a huge and happy part of Ross’ life and for making him so very, very happy. He would have been bursting with pride for you on Friday.
He was coming home to be with you as you all enter the next stage of your adult life and was so looking forward to it.
Kev said on Friday that it was the people that make Swansea special…and it’s future as a warm, welcoming city is assured with people like you living here.
I love you all and pray that you will continue to be a part of my life, because when I see you, I see my darling Ross.
With all my love,
Lyn x

25 August at 20:55 · I was trying to remember all this to tell someone on friday evening but brain wasn’t working….so here’s the info on where Ross’ name ‘Malachey’ came from:
The Book of Malachi (origin of ‘Malachey’) is the last book of the Old Testament.
It is also a gemstone-Malachite, which the Egyptians used to grind up to make green eyeshadow. They also use the stone in amulets, believing it would protect them x Malachite gemstone meaning

26 August at 10:23 · Mam is coming out of hospital today=good
Jayne and Peter left to return to Australia=bad
That’s today.

26 August at 13:05 · Been out…walked around Sketty…came back.
The yellow roses on my nails still look good despite doing all the dishes without gloves….

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27 August at 10:11 · What is it with THIS year????
Before Ross passed away, I’d already heard of some dreadfully sad, untimely deaths-more than seemed ‘normal’-so much so, a few people had commented to me that they’d never known a year like it for bad news…..and since Ross, there have been many more…
Just today a dear friend has lost her brother.
It’s numbing…bad news after bad news.
Is there something written somewhere about 2015??
Was it destined to be a really sad year?

27 August at 12:23 · I’m quoting my friend Buzz here:
“The best thing about Facebook is that at special times in our lives both good and bad, you can stay in touch with friends from all over the world, without harming a single tree!!” Agreed x

27 August at 13:27 · Please forgive me if you were at Ross’ funeral and I haven’t thanked you for coming-it was all a bit too much and there were so very many there-I know I certainly didn’t see everyone-it was all a bit of a blur, to be honest. But from Scott and I, ‘thank you’ for taking the time to come and say goodbye to Ross x

28 August at 19:16 · This time last week, we were at the wake of my beautiful boy Malachey Ross. It feels like 10 years ago to me….I can’t believe just a week has passed. Time has changed for me…or at least, my concept of time has changed.
The night before Ross’ funeral, I went to the Chapel of Rest with Julie, to sit with Ross for a while. Richard was there and was so kind.
We sat and we looked at all the beautiful flowers and I stared at the Welsh Flag draped over my boys’ coffin and we spoke about him and remembered some funny things-so we laughed.
Then I asked Richard to move the drape a little so I could see Ross’ brass name-plate….I don’t know why…maybe to prove it was him??
With the flag on it, somehow it seemed to disguise the fact that it was a coffin…but with the flag removed, it suddenly hit me like a sledgehammer that this, in fact, WAS my son’s coffin.
I was suddenly and unexpectedly overcome with the most intense feeling of wanting to rip open the lid and just cwtch him…..give him a hug and tell him that everything was going to be alright….that I’d look after Scott for him and that Grandad would be there to meet him. It was one of the most intense moments of my life and it took every ounce of restraint not to do what I had this intense urge to do.
Then we covered the coffin again and we left-and I felt….oh I don’t know……peaceful?
I didn’t get much sleep that night.
In the morning, every single thing I did seemed surreal-as if someone else was doing it. Because every single thing I did was in readiness for Ross’ funeral and I couldn’t get my head round that.
As family and close friends arrived at the house, it got very emotional.
When I saw Scott in his kilt-he looked so handsome I thought I would burst-he was my Braveheart.
The 2 funeral cars took us to the Chapel of Rest and seeing all of Ross’ closest friends there was heartbreaking-they all looked so very young again.
It was very sad as Kevin spoke and music we’d chosen played and there were many tears. I don’t remember much of the detail, but I do remember Kev saying that he’d never seen a Chapel of Rest so full and I felt proud. Proud of Ross.
We then travelled to the Crematorium and I had such a shock to see hundreds of people there as we approached.
When Richard, Kev and Scott got out and walked up the drive in front of Ross….it was SO respectful and so, so dreadfully sad.
And then it happened.
I couldn’t breathe. I suddenly forgot how. I was totally overwhelmed by grief all of a sudden and just sat there sobbing and struggling to get my breath. My sister Jayne was incredible and she very gently and very slowly got my breathing back to normal and eventually I was able to get out of the car-but I don’t remember doing that. I think it was possibly hearing the first strains of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which made me breathless….I do remember holding on to Robyn for all I was worth, but I don’t remember walking up the steps or down the aisle.
I do remember glimpsing Scott carrying his brother and thinking that he shouldn’t be doing that….none of them should-Peter, my brother-in-law, Matt-Scott’s best friend and Ross’s closest friends-Jon, Rhodri and Mike…..I felt so very sad that they had to do this dreadful thing.
I remember crying and laughing in equal measure throughout the wonderful service led so beautifully by Kev…and I remember placing the single long-stemmed yellow rose by the head of the coffin holding my boy.
I remember listening to Scott as he spoke so eloquently and with such feeling about his brother and once again being overwhelmed with pride for the man he has become.
I remember just staring at his vintage ’72 Gibson-which had never looked so clean, standing there next to his coffin and feeling just so sad that he would never play it again.
I also remember feeling totally, gut-wrenchingly heart-broken as well.
I remember the receiving line-but not everyone I had a hug/kiss off.
Then we left and went to his wake-and I had to once again fight the urge to run back in and get him out of that coffin and shout at him for playing such an awful joke on us….but it wasn’t a joke, it was real.
What a send-off he had. It was perfect.
This week, Scott and I have both said that we haven’t had a single moment of ‘we should have said this-or we should have said that…or we should have played THIS music or THAT music’….and so on and so on…we both felt that we got it right-for Ross….it was exactly as he would have wanted it to be.
The venue and food were perfect, the beer flowed and when the boys then got their guitars out and started singing…well it was just wonderful.
It was so lovely to see family and friends we hadn’t seen for a while-and all there because of Ross-who would have been first at the bar, first in line at the buffet and first to get his guitar out…and yes….probably first to get absolutely steaming drunk as well.
He was no angel….but he was MY angel….and now he’s up there-an angel in training-probably causing mayhem…oh I hope so.
So, thank you to all of you who played a part in saying the perfect goodbye to my imperfect, but beautiful, Ross.

29 August at 16:10 · A piece of advice….get your photographs printed out!!!
The fact that I was able to put my hands on so many lovely photographs of Ross and choose suitable ones for various things was worth the world.
It also made me realise that for the last few years, I’ve hardly printed any actual photographs out-they’re all stored on hard-drives….
So little by little, over the next few months, I’m going to get them all printed-there are some amazing deals online.
To physically HOLD his photograph in my hand is very comforting…and to look back at the thousands I have here charting his growth and his life….oh I am SO glad I took them x

29 August at 18:34 · The cards…….I intend to reply to those I can, just give me time

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29 August at 18:37 · These beautiful pictures of BOTH my lovely boys in full Mackay-Tartan kilt-outfits, were taken in 2003 at the Wedding Vows Renewal Ceremony of their Auntie Ann & Uncle Douglas-both of whom came down from Scotland on the sleeper train for the funeral. They’d had the photographs enlarged and one of them framed for me….and I shall treasure them always x

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30 August at 00:14 · My boys x

birth pic

30 August at 12:33 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · I was lucky enough to be given some Pandora vouchers by 2 friends not on facebook, so I slipped into town yesterday and got 3 in Memory of Ross: a heart with the January birthstone; a barrel of stars and a Celtic-weave ball…I think he’d approve x

pandora

30 August at 18:44 · Just got home…Mam ok-ish……to say I am mentally and physically exhausted would be the grossest of understatements

31 August at 11:10 · 42 years ago today I became a professional entertainer….blink of an eye…..

31 August at 19:01 · My father would go the night before and bury ‘treasures’ in the woods behind his and Mam’s house (usually gold-wrapped chocolate coins and old rubbish he got from car-boot sales). He’d make an ‘old treasure map’.The following day he’d pretend to find it and off he, Scott, Ross and the dog would go to find the treasure, ‘Indiana’ stomping off as proud as punch

INDIANA 3 INDIANA 2 INDIANA 1

2 September at 12:31 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · A day of new normality perhaps, after a simply dreadful day yesterday
Had the black nails re-painted a lighter colour and the yellow roses removed-which felt disloyal to Ross, weirdly, but had to be done.
Now having coffee with Mabe xxx

2 September at 18:43 ·Well, that’s a milestone moment-just taught my first lesson since…well, you know. And it was great…had an adult pro- student practically bounce out of the house, all fired up lol!! Spent this lesson mentoring and planning so not much singing but it was great!! Did me the world of good as well-and I didn’t cry once xxx

5 September at 12:51 · Hi can i please ask any parents bringing their children for lessons this week to please NOT talk to me about what’s happened, as a parent did that on Thursday which set me off, leading to me having to cancel lessons…and up until then, I was managing ok. Thank you x

5 September at 13:35 · THE TRUTH HURTS.
It’s nearly 7 weeks now since we lost Ross…but it feels like years to me.
I feel like I’m on the edge of a very deep, very black hole and it wouldn’t take much to push me over.
It hasn’t helped realising how let down I’ve been by some people I really thought were friends.
I’ve heard it said before by others, that it takes a tragedy like this to make you realise exactly who your friends are-and more importantly, who aren’t…but I never thought that it would apply to me.
Having recently taken down the hundreds of sympathy cards we’ve been sent from all over the world and carefully made a note of who each one was from; then gone into my email inbox, my facebook inbox and ‘other’ inbox and started to get round to thank everyone I hadn’t responded to yet for their beautiful, heart-felt messages; then turn to my mobile and do the same with all those text messages and whatsapp messages, has made me realise what wonderful family & friends we have and how lucky we are.
It has, however, also shown me some rather odd and quite disturbing things.
The Victorian term ‘coffin-follower’ still applies, as I have had loads and loads of friend requests and emails from total strangers with whom I have no mutual friends, who obviously just read about it in the paper and wanted to be part of this tragedy-weirdos-you know the sort-the ones who turn up at a wake just for the free food and to cadge free drinks.
I also have huge gaping omissions….which tbh has been a shock and intense disappointment, to discover that some people-whilst pretending to be a friend, most certainly aren’t.
Seven weeks…and no text, no personal message, no email, no card, no flowers, no visit…from people I REALLY thought were not just friends, but CLOSE friends.
And don’t give me the old ‘I didn’t know what to say’ because NOBODY knew what to say. Nobody.
But it still didn’t stop them coming, those ‘real’ friends….some of whom were actually not very close to me-until now…they came….they came undaunted and unflinching, to pay their condolences, or show they were thinking about us by sending a card, email or text, or a message on here…or just to sit and cry with me and make endless cups of tea.
So do you really think, in view of all this that I want you as a ‘friend’?
Of course not.
However, I am also very aware of the old adage “keep your friends close but your enemies closer”…so over the next few days as I quietly carry on deleting and unfollowing…I shan’t be deleting everyone that I should…..because one day…Karma WILL get you, so I don’t have to.
But now I know.
I know who you really are.
Conversely, other friends, REAL friends-both old and new, have stepped up and gone above and beyond the human condition, showing kindness, compassion and loyalty that I have found truly humbling, breath-taking and sometimes overwhelming.
I am so very honoured that these wonderful people are now what I consider to be my ‘best’ friend and i know how lucky i am to have them.
You really are special people and I love you all dearly x

5 September at 13:50 ·Me, being photo-bombed by Ross-before the term was invented-on my 50th birthday x

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5 September at 13:52 · My beautiful, beautiful boys x

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FAMILY 1

6 September at 22:17 · Well thanks to the generosity of Alan & Tara (who have their wedding anniversary today!!! Happy Anniversary!! ♥), I have just got back from my first social outing for 7 weeks…and we had SUCH a lovely time with lovely people…and again, new friendships were formed. LOTS of cocktails, lots of laughter and chat…and for the first time in 7 weeks, a whole day when I haven’t cried-thank you so much all of you-it was just perfect. Alan and Tara, we can’t thank you enough xxx

7 September at 14:27 · So over the last 7 weeks, I’ve tried specialist teas, herbal remedies, Horlicks, Hot Milk, Hot Chocolate, JD & Coke, relaxation techniques, relaxation cd’s, sleep-music, sleeping tablets, Bach remedies, special baths…and NOTHING got me to sleep……until last night, when I had my first proper sleep for about 7 hours….all thanks to COCKTAILS!!! Right there-that’s your answer to insomnia-cocktails!!

7 September at 19:55 · I did it!! THREE vocal lessons back-to-back and I didn’t cry or melt-down once!! Thank you SO much to my young students and their parents for NOT talking about ‘it’ But we did it! Am SO chuffed…just hope it continues x

7 September at 22:30 · Scott on drums, Ross on guitar, Nick on bass-taken at the Grand Theatre during ‘An Evening with Kev & Lyn’ (which we did 3 times as it sold out each time) I was SO proud of the boys. I AM proud of the boys. Happy times x

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8 September at 03:20 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Give up. Getting up…movie and hot chocolate-see if that works x

8 September at 04:11 · 0400…so the hot chocolate didn’t work. Guess this is the price I pay for sleeping last night-no sleep tonight. Hey ho…one step forward, two steps back….sigh

8 September at 06:37 · …and after a one-night break…the sleepless, endless, sad-thoughts-filled nights are back

8 September at 15:42 · BlackBerry Smartphones App · Meet Robbie the Rhino…who now joins Kevin the Komodo Dragon and Jack the Jaguar in Ross’ menagerie smile emoticon Robbie is very special because he’s made out of Malachite and was my first-ever auction attempt on eBay-for a fiver

menagerie rhino

9 September at 10:01 · the no-sleep took it’s toll…after seeing to mam yesterday, felt very strange on bus on way home…so quickly ate something but was very sick soon after…ended up in bed by 8 and aching all over as a result but there we are x

23 hrs The boys enjoying a game of football and picnic at Singleton Park

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23 hrs · Edited · Ross’ first painting session-the yellow pvc coverall was genius!

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23 hrs · Edited ·

Singing at the funeral of a dear friend’s son….little did I realise that 3 years later-almost t the day, it would be my own son’s funeral. God bless them both

20 hrs · Well now, this is weird. When Ross died, it was really upsetting me that I couldn’t find my old Jim Croce book as he’d taken it back to Thailand with him to learn ‘Time in a Bottle’ and ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’. I made sure I wasn’t imagining it, by going through my cupboard looking for it and asking a couple of friends to do the same to no avail-it meant a lot as it was the last song I taught him from a book. Anyway a couple of days ago, I messaged Phil in Thailand to ask if he could go and have a look for it for me. Then….tonight when Luke was here, we went in the cupboard to get a songbook out and right at the front was this book!!!! Make of that what you will……

12 September 2012 Singing ‘SONGBIRD’ for Steve, as his coffin was brought in….hardest sing I’ve ever has to do….but so honoured to have been asked and so honoured to have known such a lovely, lovely man x 3 Years Ago Today

3 hrs ·

Today is a bad day. Yesterday was pretty bad as well. Heart palpitations aren’t helping…making me feel on edge/scared…but apparently a fairly ‘normal’ response to intense grief. Whatever. Today is a bad day.

DON’T ASK ME WHY…..

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In July it will be just 3 years since I lost Ross…and yes, dear reader, I am totally aware that I used that word and not the obvious…I still can’t bring myself to say that he died….’lost’ seems less permanent somehow.

The main reason I’m writing this post is because of stuff on Facebook that I have to deal with every day and am still really struggling with.

Almost every day I have to face yet more invitations to events I have absolutely no intention of attending.

I can’t.

I just can’t.

Socialising to me is almost impossible still.

I find crowds hard to deal with…I find painting the smile on almost impossible and am loathe to ‘join in’. Although as an entertainer, when I’m at work performing, most of the time I am totally fine…odd isn’t it? But as me??….too hard.

Too hard to ‘act normal’.

I have been home since December 13th and haven’t been out at night hardly at all…maybe once…I can’t remember.

I’m agoraphobic and I’m claustrophobic as well.

Yeah, I know.

I still find all the normal things that people are doing frivolous and upsetting. Going out, going on holiday, meeting up with friends and so on.

I’ve watched them over the last few years, getting on with their lives and just doing ordinary things and I envy them so much because I just can’t. My grief is so heavy that it makes moving too difficult. It makes everything too difficult.

I think I’ve been for coffee 3 times in the time since I’ve been home and then scuttled home afterwards into the sanctity of the house.

The only place I go regularly is down to Mam-and she’s been quite poorly recently so have been down there a lot, adding to my stress-I hate seeing her in so much pain.

I don’t want to go anywhere and I don’t want to do anything.

Except I do.

I really do.

Go figure.

So when I get these constant bloody invitations, all it does is rub it in how weird I have become and make me feel pathetic and weak and useless. It really rubs in how much I’ve changed.

Nice.

It’s the same with those stupid quizzes and things and people still insist on tagging me in! I un-tag myself immediately but not before I have seen what the quiz or whatever is about and it’s always something completely stupid and inane and makes me angry that whoever tagged me thinks that I am actually the right person to involve.

They don’t know.

They say they do and they think they do, but they don’t know.

Unless it’s happened to them.

I watched a heartbreaking live debate the other night on TV, talking to the Mums and Dads of murdered children….and so much of what they said resonated with me. One lady said that three and a half years on, to her, it’s only just happened and she still can’t believe it and that it has devastated her and changed her forever.

I totally get that.

Totally.

I see silly photographs on Facebook and still find it very hard to comment…I feel disloyal…disloyal to my grief, I guess. Or disloyal to Ross? But that’s what I don’t get, dear reader…he had such an amazing sense of humour and laughed a lot…so why am I struggling with allowing my own humour out?

I put things onto Facebook myself, don’t get me wrong, but oh, if you only knew the debate I have to have with myself before I post it onto my timeline…I agonise over it and sometimes, a few minutes later, I’ll go back on and delete it.

Sigh.

It’s a constant battle and a constant struggle.

Constant.

It’s my 60th birthday in March and I’m absolutely dreading it-in fact, I’m desperately hoping that I’ll be away working for it, I really do. People are already asking me what I’m doing for it and I just don’t answer…I don’t want to do anything to be honest. I really don’t.

Already today-as it’s Valentines Day-my inbox is once again full of those awful chain-posts that people still insist on sharing with ALL their friends…including me.

I wish they wouldn’t

DON’T ASK ME WHY-BILLY JOEL

PUERTO MADRYN, PATAGONIA, ARGENTINA

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“Well.

Where to begin?!

Today has been one of the most emotional, exquisite..and at times, surreal day I’ve ever had.

I’ll remember today for the rest of my life.”

That’s what I posted on Facebook a couple of years ago after my first visit to Patagonia in Argentina, dear reader.

Welsh Patagonia.

It absolutely blew me away.

As a child growing up in Wales, we were taught about Patagonia in our geography and Welsh History lessons…but it all seemed so fantastical and far away and even…mystical.

Where was this strange land where they spoke WELSH, cooked Welshcakes on a bakestone and went to Welsh chapels??? Even at that age I was very intrigued.

They even have their own flag-a mix of the Welsh and Argentinean flags…

WELSH PATAGONIA FLAG

I used to ask my Dad about it and he got me some books…I was completely and utterly fascinated by it all and dreamed that one day I would go there and see for myself that it really existed.

To give you a brief outline of the history between Wales and Argentina, I’ve taken this from Wikipedia….

In 1861 at a meeting held at the Bala home of Michael D Jones in north Wales, a group of men discussed the possibility of founding a new Welsh promised land other than in the USA. One option considered for this new colony was Vancouver Island, in Canada, but an alternative destination was also discussed which seemed to have everything the colonists might need in Patagonia, Argentina.

Michael Jones, the principal of Bala College and a staunch nationalist, had been corresponding with the Argentinean government about settling an area known as Bahia Blanca, where Welsh immigrants would be allowed to retain and preserve their language, culture and traditions. Granting such a request suited the Argentinean government, as this would put them in control of a large tract of land which was then the subject of dispute with their Chilean neighbours.

The sailing-ship Mimosa sailed from Liverpool, England on 28 May 1865 to Patagonia, South America with a group of about 153 passengers with Captain George Pepperell and a crew of 18. Thomas Greene, an Irishman from Kildare, had been appointed as ship’s surgeon.

By the time Mimosa made the voyage she was already past her prime, having been built in 1853 at Hall’s shipyard in Aberdeen. She had not been designed to carry passengers, but had been converted for the purpose. The cost of fitting provisioning and chartering the ship was £2,500 and the 153 passengers paid £12 per adult or £6 per child for the journey. Before the 7,000 mile, estimated 6-month voyage (actually took 65 days), the emigrants assembled at various points, not always their places of origin, to prepare for the journey, including Aberdare, Birkenhead and Mountain Ash.

They landed on 28 July 1865 and named their landing site Porth Madryn. They were met by Edwyn Cynrig Roberts and Lewis Jones who had already arrived in Patagonia in June 1865 to prepare for the arrival of the main body of settlers.

Their aim was to establish a Welsh colony which would preserve the Welsh language and culture. The proposed site for the colony was in the Chubut River valley. On 15 September 1865 the first town in the Chubut colony was named Rawson, and the settlers went on to build the settlements at Gaiman and Trelew.

Unfortunately the settlers found that Patagonia was not the friendly and inviting land they had been expecting. They had been told that it was much like the green and fertile lowlands of Wales. In reality it was a barren and inhospitable windswept pampas, with no water, very little food and no forests to provide building materials for shelter. Some of the settlers’ first homes were dug out from the soft rock of the cliffs in the bay.

Despite receiving help from the native Teheulche Indians who tried to teach the settlers how to survive on the scant resources of the prairie, the colony looked as if it were doomed to failure from the lack of food. However, after receiving several mercy missions of supplies, the settlers persevered and finally struggled on to reach the proposed site for the colony in the Chubut valley about 40 miles away. It was here, where a river the settlers named Camwy cuts a narrow channel through the desert from the nearby Andes, that the first permanent settlement of Rawson was established at the end of 1865.

The colony suffered badly in the early years with floods, poor harvests and disagreements over the ownership of land, in addition the lack of a direct route to the ocean made it difficult to bring in new supplies.

History records that it was one Rachel Jenkins who first had the idea that changed the history of the colony and secured its future. Rachel had noticed that on occasion the River Camwy burst its banks; she also considered how such flooding brought life to the arid land that bordered it. It was simple irrigation and backbreaking water management that saved the Chubut valley and its tiny band of Welsh settlers.

Over the next several years new settlers arrived from both Wales and Pennsylvania, and by the end of 1874 the settlement had a population totalling over 270. With the arrival of these keen and fresh hands, new irrigation channels were dug along the length of the Chubut valley, and a patchwork of farms began to emerge along a thin strip on either side of the River Camwy.

In 1875 the Argentine government granted the Welsh settlers official title to the land, and this encouraged many more people to join the colony, with more than 500 people arriving from Wales, including many from the south Wales coalfields which were undergoing a severe depression at that time. This fresh influx of immigrants meant that plans for a major new irrigation system in the Lower Chubut valley could finally begin.

SUSAN WILKINSON WROTE:

The 153 passengers came from all parts of North and South Wales, many of them following their preacher (there were three), and most had never travelled beyond their villages. There were 56 married adults, 33 single or widowed men and 12 single women who were either sisters of married passengers or servants, and the remainder were children or babies.

Finally, just before dawn on Thursday, July 27, Mimosa sailed into a natural harbour, a semi-circle of rocks, some 8 miles wide and 22 miles in length, and dropped anchor.

Sleep was impossible, and most of the passengers, dressed in their Sunday best, were up at 4am, pacing the deck in their desire to sight the land where most would spend the remainder of their lives. The sun rose, and they awaited some sign that their arrival had been seen.

At last, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, a gunshot from shore shattered the silence and by late afternoon Lewis Jones and Edwyn Roberts rowed out to where Mimosa was anchored and came on board. Disembarkation took more than a day, as the passengers had to be rowed the 20-odd miles into shore along with their possessions which included farm implements and pieces of furniture.

The ship’s cook Amos Williams from Caernarvon – evidently deciding that the uncertainty of what lay ahead for his countrymen was preferable to the certainty of what lay ahead on Mimosa, elected to remain with the colony. (Thomas Greene remained with the colony until the end of the year.) Finally, the next day (a date that is celebrated every year in Wales and Patagonia as Glyn y Glaniad) all gathered on the beach. A short sermon of thanks was held, the child who had died the day before was buried, and the place where they stood was named Port Madryn after Madryn Castle on the windswept Llyn Peninsular in North Wales.

Little is known of Mimosa after her voyage to Patagonia except that in the following year the entire crew mutinied over short rations and Pepperell was incarcerated on board. Even the painting of her executed in her sailing prime outside Sydney Harbour has disappeared. Having been exhibited in the Parker Gallery in Pimlico, London, some years ago, it was bought by a collector living on the Isle of Wight. Upon his death, the painting again changed hands, and to date has not been traced. Whatever Mimosa’s demise, her name lives on, inseparable from those of the only passengers she is known to have carried.  Susan Wilkinson, author of Sebastian’s Pride, is the great-great-niece of Thomas Greene, the doctor on the Mimosa.

When I got to Patagonia, I was working on an amazing 3-month cruise, going from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro then back to Santiago-doing that part of the journey 4 times, which took us south, around Cape Horn and up north to Rio, all on board the Golden Princess cruise-ship. The 2 reasons I agreed to go on such a long cruise dear reader, is that the ship would be going to Patagonia and the Falklands (I’ve written about that in a different blog-post) and I thought that I may never get the chance again.

We docked in Puerto Madryn, at 0600. I was besides myself with excitement and got up early to watch the sunrise and sail-in. ..

At 07.30 joined the other passengers booked on the ‘Welsh Heritage’ trip, which I’d treated myself to. There were quite a few Welshies on board the ship (including about 8 from Swansea!), plus North Americans with Welsh Roots as well as people of other nationalities.

I couldn’t help comparing what we were seeing with what those original settlers must have seen on their arrival…now, it’s a modern pier with a couple of shops……..

Be warned, as you can see from the pix, it’s quite a walk from the ship-the pier is a long one, so anyone with mobility issues needs to arrange for assistance…

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We left the ship at 0800. It was already scorching hot and the sky was….huge….and very blue….

Luckily the coach was right beside the ship and we were glad of its air-con.

We drove through the flat, dry, sun-burnt pampas ranches and our guide Marcella was fantastic-telling us all about the Welsh landing on July 28th 1865 (they were celebrating the 150th anniversary that year with lots of special events).

Many of the chapels that these settlers built are still standing and they are still looked after by their descendants.

Eisteddfods and Cymanfu Ganu’s are held regularly and they have a Bardic chair-just like we do in Wales.

Entries are now so great in number that they have to hold ‘rounds’ for a couple of weeks to get the finalists-who are all singing/speaking and performing in Welsh!

It was quite odd seeing Welsh street-names, named after those pioneers as well as Welsh towns and cities. You saw things like a local garage-owned by Rodrigo GRIFFITHS, or José THOMAS…or Manuel MORGAN…plus Owen, Evans, Jones, Lewis and so on. Made me smile…made me proud.

Now and then, in the distance, you saw what she called ‘oasis’ areas with lush vegetation and trees-this was because of the Welsh-they brought the seeds with them and built irrigation systems and aqueducts to carry water…so wherever you saw green you knew there was water….and every single blade of grass that now grows in this region was brought here by the Welsh. Every blade.

Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

We couldn’t get over the huge flocks of Hawks!!! We’re so used to seeing one on it’s own-usually hovering over a motorway…but these were in flocks of about 20 and huge birds!

Talking of huge birds, we were also really lucky and saw a flock of Rhea-the Ostrich-type bird. It was brilliant to see them in the wild.

Our first stop was in Dolavon (pronounced ‘Doll – a (as in ‘have) -vonn’ the way we’d say it, with the emphasis on the ‘a’) at the original flour mill that was brought over piece-by-piece from America about six years after the first Welsh settlers arrived….and here it was, still in use! It’s still fully operational and although in its heyday, it produced 250kgs of flour per day, now he just makes enough to produce the bread and pasta for his restaurant which is attached to the mill-he also sells it as well.

Inside the restaurant there are many mementos and artefacts-almost like a musem…

it was really interesting and even more so when he showed us a short film, showing all the Welsh Chapels and b/w stills from the first days-actually, we got a bit emotional watching it……well okay, we got VERY emotional watching it!! I think it was the black and white grainy images in the film of those incredible people that got to us more than anything…made it very real.

We were of all nations, standing watching and listening to this video You can hear the impact this unexpected film had on us all, as we stood for the 8 minutes it lasted in the Argentinean heat watching it in awe…..

Our next stop was at the town of Gaiman-now it’s called that, because the local indigenous Indians called it that and they got on so well with the Welsh and vice versa that the Welsh decided not to change the name.

Right there, you have the intrinsic difference between the Welsh arriving as settlers and what happened in other countries.

The Welsh never tried to ‘civilise’ the Indians, or enslave them. Instead, unlike many other invaders, they lived and worked alongside them in peace and quite quickly, relationships flourished and marriages happened between the two races…..

We went to a Chapel and were greeted by 2 older ladies and a man in his 50’s-they all spoke fluent Welsh, but were Argentinean.

I whispered to the lady beside me that one of them-Irma-looked Welsh and she agreed…then Irma told us she was a direct descendant!

Irma took the lead at the pulpit and told us the history of the Chapel and how it’s still the heart of the community. They had an organ there that came over on The Mimosa with the first settlers! She asked if anyone could play and I could feel 50 pairs of eyes looking at me lol! So up I got, to shouts of ‘play ‘Calon Lan, Lyn!’

I played and sang it-and so did a load of others-we even had harmonies!! Irma and our other hosts sang it in Welsh at the tops of their voices. It was a magic moment-and a couple of the Americans/Brits filmed the whole thing.

Now….the guy who was there? Turns out he’s Head of Tourism for Patagonia and was there purely by fluke to visit his mother! His name is Waldo Williams lol!!

Anyhoo…after the musical interlude he came over and was chatting away to me, asked me for my card and then he asked if I’d be interested in coming back at the end of July to be a judge in the big Eisteddfod and also to perform! Never happened though…

Little did we know, but after we left, he made a couple of calls…..

Back onto the bus we went and drove on to the town of Tre-Law, where we visited a fruit-farm. You could see his irrigation system-the very one built by the Welsh-being used….

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Marcella had explained that all the farms around still used the original system and it flowed from farm to farm-including her own family farm. It has never been bettered. She told us that the settlers had to walk 40kms after arriving to settle…imagine that…with all their hot clothes and all their belongings…and in that heat.

Anyway, back to the fruit-farm…..

As we got off the bus, I immediately sprayed myself before a squadron of mozzies turned up…a lady asked if she could spray herself as well and before I knew it, I’d sprayed most of the people on the bus lol!!

There were herbs everywhere and a lot of lavender….

I swear, the cherries on the trees were as big as tomatoes and absolutely delicious…and don’t start me on the raspberries-lush beyond!!!

I was just being force-fed cherries by Juan, the farmer and laughing with him……..

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……when a TV crew turned up!

They chatted to Marcella in Spanish who pointed to me, then talked to the farmer-in Welsh, then all of them plus 2 camera-men came over to me-the passengers were besides themselves. But me…what a state I was in!! No make-up –no point in all that heat!! I had cherry-juice dripping from a mouth (that suddenly felt very dry)….down onto a white shirt…gulp! I was a mess!

But yes, after using my emergency stash of wet-wipes, brushing my hair and putting on more lippy, they interviewed me for Channel 7 News…and it went alright-I even spoke some Spanish.

They asked about life as a singer…what was it like to work on a cruise-ship and how big was it, how many passengers and so on….what part of Wales I was from etc…but…just as I thought I’d done ok and that it was over, she asked me if I could sing ‘Calon Lan’ (what is it with that hymn?!) for them? So I did.

Straight to camera.

Standing there, amongst the cherry-trees, with all the passengers watching from behind the crew and I have to say, thought it sounded alright-the passengers by this point were either crying or clapping or both lol! Surreal. Standing in the Argentinean heat, on a fruit-farm, singing a Welsh Hymn …in Welsh. Bizarre.

Marcella was wrecked (she was pregnant and very hormonal though!)

The presenter asked me for my card/website as well.

After all that excitement, we needed sustenance-and the loo!!

So back onto the coach we went and headed into the town, where our next stop was at a gorgeous little tea-room called ‘Ty Gwyn’. It means White House….yes, I know…and I’m currently working on a mammoth blog about the Welsh impact on the USA so watch this space!

Inside the tables were laid out in such a familiar way that it was like tea-time at Nana’s used to be.

I was fixated on the knitted tea-cosies!! (Welsh Tea was used of course!). I hadn’t seen one for ages. Made me smile.

It was all delicious…Bara Brith, Welshcakes, Tisian Lap and other Welsh goodies.

Then, we had a real surprise…the TV crew walked in-they’d decided we were fun and wanted to follow us!

At this point, a small choir appeared-mostly music students, but with a few older ladies as well…and they sang to us in Welsh, then Spanish and then an Argentinean folk-song.

It was beautiful singing. But…the one that got me all teary, was the Spanish one-it was ‘Nearer my God to Thee’….and the harmony and feeling was just stunning-I cried like a baby…and set off others around me. My camera battery was running out though…but I did manage to get a little bit of them singing Amazing Grace-in Welsh-which I’ve used at the end of this blog, dear reader.

They sang with hiraeth.

They did.

Honestly.

And no, I don’t get it either! Unless….they are Welsh at heart…their hearts are Welsh…many of them told me exactly that when I spoke to them. A lot of them are part of an exchange programme for students between Wales and Argentina and they all said that although born in Argentina, they felt Welsh and that Wales was their homeland. It was very humbling to hear them speak with such passion about my own country.

More tears.

Our final stop was at a museum which used to be the railway station office (built by the Welsh) I got interviewed again by the TV crew-who by this time had been to my website and downloaded Lord alone knows what to use on the News programme! Sadly, I’ll never know because it went out on the channel’s 6pm news programme after we’d sailed, so I never saw it-despite trawling the internet that night.

The artefacts and personal belongings they had there in the museum that came over on the Mimosa were very poignant-particularly a ladies fan, made entirely out of Welsh slate-a little bit of home…and of course, there were Welsh Blankets and a Welsh-Dresser.

After that, we made our way back to the port.

All the time, Marcella kept up a really excellent narration and gave us lots more information…including one story about the Welsh women in particular that I decided was probably just folklore, but worth investigating the next time I was there.

I think we were all emotional wrecks by the time we got back to the ship, but oh, what a wonderful day.

I came back a week or two later when the ship made the reverse cruise and decided this time to have a really good look around Puerto Madryn itself, having looked into the story Marcella had told us about the women.

It’s a typical bustling sea-port town…although the only pier I saw was the one for the cruisers-although there were many fishing boats around as well, which you can sea on the beaches either side as you walk along the pier to the town.

There are a lot of tour-operators offering all sort of trips in the area and they were doing a roaring trade-not just with the passengers pouring off the ship, but with other tourists and lots of back-packers.

Along the front, there are many little bars and cafés for you to get refreshments and of course, the beach is lovely too if you just wanted to laze and soak up the vitamin D.

The town itself is modern with everything you’d expect to see…High Street names, fashions, mobile phone shops and so on-a modern town.

I ignored that however, because I was a woman on a mission!

I’d been intrigued by a story that Marcella had told us on the previous trip and had tried to investigate it-but it’s one of those stories that you either believe or you don’t.

The story goes that two babies were born on the Mimosa-including one to the leader of the settlers.

When they finally got to land, the local Indian chief was there with his people and they must have been very worried about how they were going to be treated by these incomers.

The new mother stepped forward and with her new baby wrapped in a Welsh blanket, offered the baby to the chief. He took the baby, looked at it, smiled then handed the baby back.

That one act showed that the Welsh came in peace, to live alongside, not take over.

So I went in search of evidence…….

On the promenade….no…DOMINATING the promenade is an amazing monument, with a bronze statue of a settler-woman at the top of a steep incline-meant to represent the 40-mile trek they had to make.

It’s fantastic.

And the fact that it’s a woman at the top speaks volumes.

Around the bottom of the plinth, are brass reliefs, depicting scenes from those early settler days….including this one…..

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As you can see, if clearly depicts Welsh settlers and the Indian chief…but what’s interesting is that they are already mingling…and there’s a woman there with a baby…and the chief has his arm outstretched…so as far I’m concerned, it happened.

All around the monument were awards and gifts from all the different provinces of Argentina and from the government itself….

I saw children playing in the local Primary School and little ones from the local nursery school in fancy-dress going to the park….

There are plenty of seating areas and little parks and statues to keep you interested and occupied…and of course, the beach….

I loved all the little quirky shops, especially the artisan-led craft shops.

I met a friend from the ship and as we enjoyed a glass of wine outside a café, I suddenly hear a woman’s voice call ‘Leeeeen!!’ It was Marcella! She greeted me like an old friend and joined us for a drink.

As we sat there in the sunshine, looking at the beautiful water and blue sky, with happy children laughing nearby in the shadow of the amazing statue, I wondered what those first settlers would say if they could see it now? See what they created? Ironically, when they first arrived and thought about leaving, many asked the British Government to re-settle them in the Falklands, but they were refused.

The pictures that I saw there on that day in the museum….the video that I watched in the old flour mill….the statues and memorials and awards I saw….all a testament to what this barren, bleak land was like when the settlers arrived, dear reader, really brought home to me and to everyone who saw them, just what they’d achieved in a very short space of time.

They were remarkable, brave, incredible, adventurous people…women stood and worked shoulder-to-shoulder in equality with the men….and they were Welsh.

I am so proud of them and the legacy they’ve left behind-but I’m also proud of the Patagonians who keep what they started going.

Now THEY are all AMAZING!

But most of all, dear reader, I am proud to be Welsh.

TY GWYN WELSH CHOIR-AMAZING GRACE

 

I’M NOT FANTASTIC; BUT I’M NOT PLASTIC!

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Much has been made in the British Press recently about plastic and our use of it…or rather, the carnage it causes as waste-especially to wildlife and the oceans-and as someone who spends a lot of time on cruise-ships, I have seen this for myself.

For a long time I, like many others, have been moaning about how much plastic is used to package the food we buy and getting angrier and angrier as it’s us, the consumer being blamed and not the people whose fault it actually is-the manufacturers!

But at last, dear reader, something seems to be being done and the buck has been firmly stopped at the doors of the mass-producers!

Funnily enough, at Christmas one of the nicest things I saw was in Swansea Market. I went in to get quite a few things and the fresh produce stalls were doing a roaring trade. In fact, they were 4 or 5 people deep at the fruit and vegetable stalls, which I was delighted to see.

People were given kitchen sink bowls which they then filled up with all the produce that they wanted-and here, it’s perfectly okay to have one potato or two tomatoes-that’s the beauty of the market, you can buy exactly the amount you need so there is far less waste of food.

Once the bowls were full, they handed them to the assistants (as did I) and then we handed over our shopping bags for all that we’d bought to be emptied straight in.

Easy. And so environmentally friendly-just like it’s always been-and the best bit is that it was all local too.

Go to the local supermarket however and a LOT of the fresh produce is wrapped in plastic and labelled. Some (like tomatoes) are even double-wrapped making it twice as bad!! They’re in a plastic tray which is then put into a 2nd plastic bag. Sigh.

At one of the meat stalls, I bought 2 slices of bacon for Mam that she’d asked for, plus one sausage and two slices of cooked ham…all of which was put into greaseproof paper and then into a paper bag-and all of which lasted my mother a week in her refrigerator.

As you know, Janette runs stall 44 and makes fantastic baked goods. Buy 5 of her Welshcakes-which she gives you in a paper bag, bring it home, put it into a tin or Tupperware container and they’ll last over a week, tasting as fresh as the day you put them in.

I understand that plastic has its good uses as well-don’t get me wrong, but it’s the unnecessary use of it that drives me nuts.

You know, one of my strongest memories from when I was small was going into High Street Woolworths in Swansea with my mother and her buying a few slices of luncheon meat and then going to the next stall where she’d buy a bag of broken biscuits-so much cheaper than others and just as delicious.

Now, in some brands, you have to open a cardboard box, take out a plastic tray and undo the cellophane wrapping around it to get at the biscuits!

Bloody ridiculous.

It’s the manufacturers who have turned us into a throwaway society.

Not us.

Although……..

Maybe if more of you went to the local shop or to the local market to get your shopping, things wouldn’t be so bad-and you may be pleasantly surprised by how much money you’ll save too.

I once wrote a song for my musical ‘Swansea Girls’ bemoaning the way that women were putting all sorts of crap into themselves in the name of beauty…some of which is actually derived from plastic…shudder. They alter their appearance so much that their face actually starts to look plastic….like a doll…..and not a pretty one either.

The song is where the title of this post comes from….hope you enjoy it…and hope you re-think your shopping habits and that the manufacturers get their acts together

BOTOX BOOGIE-LYN LAWRENCE (SWANSEA GIRLS)

HE’S OUT OF MY LIFE

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Well dear reader, I had such a lovely-but poignant-surprise last night.

Years and years ago (and I mean YEARS!! Back in the 70’s and 80’s) I got to know a local legend of a drummer called Derek Morgan. I first met him in the musical instrument shop where he worked-John Ham’s…where I bought most of my gear from-there and Picton Music.

He played drums at some clubs in South Wales and I worked with him a few times.

It was always brilliant to walk into a club and see someone of the calibre of Derek playing there, because you KNEW you’d be in safe hands…and in my case, as a pianist, I’d also know that he would only work with a GOOD organist, so it would be a chance for me to get away from the keyboard and sing with the organist playing-a very rare opportunity for me!

Anyway, just before Christmas, I was contacted by Derek’s son Paul who had been going through his Dad’s belongings after he passed away and he found numerous cassette recordings of gigs his Dad played at-and in amongst them was one where we played together!

It was recorded at a club in Trebanos, South Wales sometime in 1981 we think-going by the release-date of the songs I sang that night….which were:

SET 1:

  1.                 OPERATOR

  2.                 DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME

  3.                 ABBA MEDLEY: GIMME, GIMME, GIMME/MAMMA MIA

  4.                 I’D RATHER LEAVE WHILE I’M IN LOVE

  5.                 HE’S OUT OF MY LIFE

  6.                 DON’T STOP/I WILL SURVIVE

 

SET 2:

  7.                 COTTONFIELDS

  8.                 9-5 (MORNING TRAIN-SHEENA EASTON)

  9.                 SUNSHINE AFTER THE RAIN

10.                   SUPERTROUPER

11.                   PEARL’S A SINGER

12.                   STOP THE CAVALRY/WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS/MICHAEL ROW YOUR     

                BOAT ASHORE/SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT/AMEN/SHE’LL BE COMING

               ‘ROUND THE MOUNTAIN

It’s amazing that I still sing all of those songs….and they are still requested too-and not just by people my age, but by younger people, which is lovely.

What ‘got’ me is the audience respect. There is no riotous shouting or screaming during a song…they didn’t clap just because there was a key-change….they listened. Oh they sang along to the more upbeat songs, but the ballads…particularly this one…well you could hear a pin drop. And this is just a bog-standard workingmen’s club with probably 500-600 people in the audience.

Brilliant people.

They particularly responded to the Michael Jackson song ‘She’s Out Of My Life’ (I changed it to ‘he’), for which I gave Derek a rest and it was just me and my beloved Fender Rhodes Suitcase 88 piano.

I know all of this, because last night, Paul contacted me again to say that he’d converted the recording to Mp3 and was sending it to me.

I wasn’t expecting much and thought the quality would be poor-but bearing in mind, this was just an old cassette recorder…it’s really rather good!

Listening to it last night made me cry.

It reminded me of such a happy, hopeful, exciting time.

I was 23 and had already been performing for 8 years…can’t believe it, but this year marks my 45th year in showbiz…..my first gig was in 1973.
I sound so young.

The following year I met my husband-to-be and father to my 2 boys….you know the rest, dear reader.

Anyway, I wrote about all of the above on Facebook last night and it roused great interest and overnight I had a dozen messages asking me to put one of the tracks on.

Well, bowing to pressure from a few peeps, I put together a little clip from the recording sent to me by Paul Morgan yesterday….I isolated the one track and I’ve used photographs taken around the same time as well to illustrate it.

How ironic, dear reader, that it’s that song…the words now are so moving and so poignant…and so true…but for all the wrong reasons.

Thank you SO much Paul-this is a lovely memory and I will treasure it.

Hope you all enjoy listening to it.

HE’S OUT OF MY LIFE-LYN LAWRENCE

MONTEVIDEO II

facebook badge finalistWell dear reader I am not trying to confuse you at all, I promise, but yes, this is ANOTHER blog about Montevideo in Uruguay. I re-read my first one and realised that I’d left a lot more information and detail out of it, so felt I had to rectify that…so here is Montevideo Mark II! I’ve copied the original blog and have added the new to it, just in case this is the first time that someone will have read it.
In late 2014, early 2015 dear reader, I was fortunate enough to spend almost 3 months in South America, spending most of it around the Southern tip of the continent, travelling between Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Santiago in Chile several times on the ship ‘Golden Princess’.

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I saw many wonderful sights and had many amazing experiences.
One of the places I really fell in love with was Uruguay-although I only got to see the capital city Montevideo which is home to nearly half of Uruguay’s population.
Montevideo is a vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life, past and present, laying along Montevideo Bay….where you can find casinos and restaurants as well as a fantastic beach…..
The city centre revolves around the Plaza de la Independencia, once home to a Spanish citadel……

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From there you can easily walk to the old town (Ciudad Vieja), with its abundance of art deco buildings, colonial homes, horrid skyscapers and other buildings that you would expect to see in a major city.

There are many landmarks or you to see on your walk around, including the towering Palacio Salvo and the grandly-pillared Solís Theatre…..

Mercado del Puerto is an old port market filled with many steakhouses, where the sights and sounds…most mostly the smell of sizzling meats is…hunger-inducing!

Just like Barcelona in Spain, they too have La Rambla-a really lovely waterfront promenade, which takes you past fish-stalls, piers and parks.

This guy intrigued me….turns out, he’s a knife-sharpener and was doing a roaring-trade…he powers his sharpening-wheel by pedalling….so quirky and old-fashioned, but s good to see….
FB_IMG_1517733784512.jpgLike most cities, it has its run-down areas, its upmarket areas and everything else in between….peppered with bars and cafés where you will see the locals drinking copious amounts of mate (pronounced mah-tay), a kind of bitter tea. It makes a good souvenir to bring back as it comes in boxes with a variety of flavours.

By going there four times, I made a couple of friends in local shops and they were lovely, telling me all bout the history of the place and were fiercely proud of their country and to them the worst insult you could give them was to compare them to the other South American countries-how dare you!
They are different.
They are better…and in a lot of ways, I have to agree.
I learned a lot about the history of the country, which is pretty tragic to be honest…all the indigenous population were systematically slaughtered by the Spanish, Italian, Portugese and British as they ‘found’ the country and tried to claim it for their various Kings and Queens. Only 6 local Indians were saved by a German missionary who managed to smuggle them out and got them to the safety of Germany.
Six.
Out of an entire population of around 28,000.
Horrid.
So today, all Uruguayans are descendents of the invading Europeans. Just think of that for a second…all but 6 of the people who’d been living and working THEIR land were murdered. It beggars belief.
Like the rest of South America, Urugay is football-crazy! (Proper football-not the American version ;)) In fact, it was Uruguay where the first football World Cup was held!
They were the only South American country to refuse entry to fleeing Nazi’s after WW2 as well. So commendable.

One interesting and a bit shocking to us , were the market stalls openly selling Marijuana/Cannabis!

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As an Uruguayan citizen, you are free to buy, sell and grow marijuana, which was firstly decriminalised in 1974, then eventually legalised in 2013. Be warned though-it is illegal for non-Uruguayans to buy it. However, they CAN accept it as a gift, or share a smoke with a Uruguayan mate! Maybe that’s why the place has such a laid-back, chilled-out feel lol! See http://www.euronews.com/2018/01/10/government-supplied-cannabis-uruguay-s-controlled-high
One other interesting thing you can see is the sexual diversity monument, erected in 2005. You can find it Policia Vieja St, between Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza Independencia. The plaque reads “Honouring diversity is honouring life; Montevideo is for the respect of all identities and sexual orientations”. Something to be proud of, I think.
Military historians will of course know all about the German WW2 warship the Admiral Graf Spee. This is what happened after it was damaged by British Warships (I took this from Wikipaedia):
As a result of battle damage and casualties, Langsdorff decided to put into Montevideo, where repairs could be effected and the wounded men could be evacuated from the ship. Most of the hits scored by the British cruisers caused only minor structural and superficial damage but the oil purification plant, which was required to prepare the diesel fuel for the engines, was destroyed. Her desalination plant and galley were also destroyed, which would have increased the difficulty of a return to Germany. A hit in the bow would also have negatively affected her seaworthiness in the heavy seas of the North Atlantic. Admiral Graf Spee had fired much of her ammunition in the engagement with Harwood’s cruisers.
After arriving in port, the wounded crewmen were taken to local hospitals and the dead were buried with full military honours. Captive Allied seamen still aboard the ship were released. Repairs necessary to make the ship seaworthy were expected to take up to two weeks. British naval intelligence worked to convince Langsdorff that vastly superior forces were concentrating to destroy his ship, if he attempted to break out of the harbour. The Admiralty broadcast a series of signals, on frequencies known to be intercepted by German intelligence. The closest heavy units—the carrier Ark Royal and battlecruiser Renown—were some 2,500 nmi (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) away, much too far to intervene in the situation. Believing the British reports, Langsdorff discussed his options with commanders in Berlin. These were either to break out and seek refuge in Buenos Aires, where the Argentine government would intern the ship, or to scuttle the ship in the Plate estuary.
Langsdorff was unwilling to risk the lives of his crew, so he decided to scuttle the ship. He knew that although Uruguay was neutral, the government was on friendly terms with Britain and if he allowed his ship to be interned, the Uruguayan Navy would allow British intelligence officers access to the ship. Under Article 17 of the Hague Convention, neutrality restrictions limited Admiral Graf Spee to a period of 72 hours for repairs in Montevideo, before she would be interned for the duration of the war.
On 17 December 1939, Langsdorff ordered the destruction of all important equipment aboard the ship. The ship’s remaining ammunition supply was dispersed throughout the ship, in preparation for scuttling.
On 18 December, the ship, with only Langsdorff and 40 other men aboard, moved into the outer roadstead to be scuttled. A crowd of 20,000 watched as the scuttling charges were set; the crew was taken off by an Argentine tug and the ship was scuttled at 20:55. The multiple explosions from the munitions sent jets of flame high into the air and created a large cloud of smoke that obscured the ship which burned in the shallow water for the next two days.
On 20 December, in his room in a Buenos Aires hotel, Langsdorff shot himself in full dress uniform and lying on the ship’s battle ensign. In late January 1940, the neutral American cruiser USS Helena arrived in Montevideo and the crew was permitted to visit the wreck of Admiral Graf Spee. The Americans met the German crewmen, who were still in Montevideo. In the aftermath of the scuttling, the ship’s crew were taken to Argentina, where they were interned for the remainder of the war. Admiral Graf Spee’s salvaged rangefinder
The wreck was partially broken up in situ in 1942–1943, though parts of the ship are still visible; the wreck lies at a depth of only 11 m (36 ft).
The salvage rights were purchased from the German Government by the British, for £14,000, using a Montevideo engineering company as a front. The British had been surprised by the accuracy of the shooting and expected to find a radar range finder, which they did. They used the knowledge thus acquired to try to develop countermeasures, under the leadership of Fred Hoyle at the British radar project. The Admiralty complained about the large sum paid for the salvage rights.
In February 2004, a salvage team began work raising the wreck of Admiral Graf Spee. The operation was in part being funded by the government of Uruguay, in part by the private sector as the wreck was a hazard to navigation. The first major section—a 27 metric tons (27 long tons; 30 short tons) gunnery range-finding telemeter—was raised on 25 February.
On 10 February 2006, the 2m, 400 kg eagle and swastika crest of Admiral Graf Spee was recovered from the stern of the ship; it was stored in a Uruguayan naval warehouse following German complaints about exhibiting “Nazi paraphernalia”.
Here are some photographs I took at the pier and surrounding area, where there are several Graff Spee monuments/relics….

But….as far as Ross was concerned, their main claim to fame is that it is Uruguay (not Argentina as popular belief would have it) is the original home of the Gaucho. The original cowboy.
He asked me to find the monument which he’d read about so I promised that I would.
You already know about the hat 
Anyway, on one of my visits, I made it my mission to find said monument-it was a hell of a walk for me, involving many stops and sit-downs to rest my weary legs, but eventually, I found it at the other side of the main shopping street……

I really enjoyed my visits…….

…..and I really wanted to go back to Montevideo someday and to take the boys with me-perhaps before they settle down with families of their own-a last ‘3 Musketeers’ holiday together.
I can never go back now.
It would be too hard…….too sad……something else that he’s never going to see….but at least I got to tell him about it and he got to see the monument-albeit in a photograph.
But you should go, dear reader. If you get the opportunity, do go. It’s an incredible place, it really is.

NOCHA LOCA-ROMBAI ft MARAMA

RAISE A GLASS FOR ROSS

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Well dear reader, today is just as bad as I feared it was going to be…in fact, if anything it’s worse 😦

I’ve cried a river of tears for my lovely boy Ross on his 30th birthday.

It’s been a tough day.

I packed my trolley with all the things I need to clean the grave-I keep it all together in a bag, ready to go.

I put on my malachite jewellery…felt like concrete around my neck and in my ears 😦

I got the bus into town and went down to get the flowers-15 yellow roses and some white/yellow flowers & foliage.

I cried all the way.

Then I bumped onto the Dad of one of Scott’s best friends and the floodgates opened….I could hardly breathe.

Friends were ringing me but I was cutting off the calls because I knew that if I’d heard their voices I’d be finished.

Several friends messaged me to say they would take me in the car, but I couldn’t inflict my sadness onto them….I just couldn’t-I felt I’d be better alone.

I got the next bus down to Oystermouth and debated getting a taxi up the hill to the cemetery, but it was a nice day so decided to walk-big mistake, but hey-ho.

I cleaned the grave, crying all the time, then arranged the flowers in the holder-didn’t do a very good job, but bending was killing me and it was icy cold, so did the best I could…

I was really pleased that the flowers I placed just before Christmas were still looking quite lovely and also, dear reader, that the little china cherub I bought him in Blankenburg is still there in one piece…

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I put all my things away and then just sat on the bench crying, when I heard ‘what do you think you’re doing here on your own?!!’ It was Janette! She’d come to find me, bless her. So more tears and hugs, then we sat for a little while before the cold drove us away.

I’d kept 4 of the roses back-one for me to press and 3 for his memorial bench. So Janette took me down to Singleton Park and we walked down to the bench and laid 3 roses-one for each decade of birthdays….and the 3rd one he has not been on this earth for…..

We both commented that the bench is already well-worn, so is obviously a popular one to sit on with park-users-the views are spectacular in front of it, with the lake to the side and the Swiss Chalet behind…it’s a great place to just sit.

After a while, Janette brought me home and we said our goodbyes.

I came in, had a snack and then saw photographs starting to appear on Facebook of people raising a glass for Ross on his special birthday, so decided to do the same and opened a bottle of prosecco….

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Scott went down to see Mam-I told him to tell her I’d ring her later because when I spoke to her this morning I started crying as soon as I heard her voice, so need to steal myself before calling her.

So there you have it, dear reader.

Ross’ 30th birthday.

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If you feel like doing so, then raise a glass to him today…he’d like that…as you know, he liked a drink and he loved a party.

TIME IN A BOTTLE-JIM CROCE

 

 

 

A VERY SPECIAL BIRTHDAY

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Today dear reader, I am too sad for words.

Today should have been Ross’ 30th birthday.

I’ll be on my way soon to go into town and buy flowers as soon as the shops open.

Then I’ll get the bus to the cemetery and I’ll place flowers on the grave of my youngest son. And once again, no doubt, I’ll stare at the headstone, trying to believe what I’m seeing….but failing miserably.

If I am up to it, later, I’ll go and sit on his bench for awhile. I’ve already been sick twice during a sleepless night thinking about him.

It’s unreal.

Except it’s not…it’s my reality and it’s a living nightmare. A living, breathing, horrific nightmare.

It’s so cruel.

And I hate it.

Happy 30th Birthday, Ross xxx

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN-LED ZEPPELIN

TODAY

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Today I should be going into town for a day of shopping, feeling excited and looking forward to the weekend.

I should be looking at my various lists (I am definitely a ‘list’ person, dear reader!) and smiling at the various things I’d have to get.

There’d be balloons and decorations, table decorations and banners to pick up.

I’d really enjoy mooching around the shops picking up lots and lots of silly little things to go alongside the special gifts already bought and safely wrapped up and hidden.

I’d collect the special birthday cake I’d ordered and offer up a silent prayer that he’d like it…and that I got it right….but then think to myself that it would okay-I’d just blame all of his friends who I’d cornered for ideas!

Then I’d be off to the supermarket to pick up party food and booze…LOTS of booze! I’d probably also pick up yet more little gifts for him.

Why?
Why all this fuss?

Because on Sunday, dear reader, my lovely Ross would have been 30 years old.

And we would celebrate for the whole weekend and he’d have an absolute ball!

He’d be out tonight as it’s a Friday, starting the celebrations as the weekend began.

I’d use the time to wrap the presents and hide them along with the cards that would come in the post or be dropped into the house by friends and family.

Then tomorrow we’d go somewhere nice for a family lunch with Mam, laughing and generally making merry, before he and Scott would then go to join their mates again at some pub or somebody’s house to party the night away.

On Sunday, we’d have a party for him…starting here at the house, but Lord knows where they would end up.

I’d start the day off with a full breakfast for the two boys which they would demolish in seconds,

Then he’d open all his presents with the unabashed glee of a child at Christmas and love everything….although he might look at me with that sideways nod of his at a couple of the gifts as if to say ‘really Mum????’ REALLY????!!! Then he’d hug me….with one of those amazing bear-hugs he gave…or as we called them ‘a Rossy-hug’. What I would give to feel him hug me again.

There’d be a LOT  of laughter and a lot of drinking and silliness and he would love every single minute.

I have no doubt that he and his mates would have a dress-up theme going….I wonder what they’d have chosen? They loved…(love…do they still?) dressing-up and would do so on a whim.

I can’t believe that none of the above is going to happen.

That instead of all this, the only gift he’ll be getting are the yellow roses I’m going to place on his grave and also on his bench.

And instead of lots of laughter, there will probably be a lot of tears.

A lot.

I feel sick just thinking about Sunday….the time between now and then is heavily laden with memories of previous ‘big’ birthdays…his 10th….his 16th…18th….21st….and now this one…the next ‘big one’…and the first big one he isn’t here for.

It’s unbearable.

WONDERWALL-OASIS

AN ORDINARY DAY

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I had a lovely day yesterday, dear reader. Really lovely.

My friend June had come down from Liverpool and although we speak regularly through Facebook, keeping in touch with each others’ lives, we hadn’t actually met up since the end of 2012. We’ve both been through a lot and gone through big changes in our lives since then.

She’d never been to Swansea and as if on cue, the sun came out and the skies and sea turned blue. It was a beautiful-but cold, day.

I took her into Swansea Market to meet Janette and get her some Welshcakes to take home with her, then we got the bus down to Oystermouth, where after a coffee we set off on a walk.

We enjoyed a lovely walk along the promenade and sat with drinks to enjoy the view across the bay back to the city…..

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…….and she commented that with all the white buildings and such a glorious bay, we could be anywhere in the Mediterranean. I told her about my quest to get the big cruise-lines like P&O, Princess and Cunard to add Swansea onto the British Isles cruises and she was shocked that they haven’t. Don’t even start me!

We walked back to Oystermouth and had a look around the shops before catching the bus back into town for food-we’d missed out lunch-which was delicious. Then we said our goodbyes as she was leaving on the train this morning to return home. I took this lovely pic of her with Mumbles in the background…..

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As we chatted, I was telling her how losing Ross has changed me-profoundly….and probably…possibly….forever. Even just little things now can be catastrophic in their impact on me.

But it was a lovely day.

Then today happened.

It’s another glorious day here in Swansea-skies are blue, sun is out and although cold, it’s the sort of day that makes you want to go out. I’d planned on doing a bit of shopping for Mam then going down to hers.

But when I got up and tried to open the front door to bring the rubbish bags in, I couldn’t open the door. Couldn’t even get my keys in. Turns out that when Scott took the rubbish out before he left for work, he’d inadvertently left his keys in the door!

I felt the 1st prick of tears as I had to run upstairs to get dressed quickly and try and go around the back of our terraced house to come and sort it (I was afraid that someone may take the keys and we’d have to get the locks changed!), but builders have moved onto the patch of land at the back and have cleared it ready for building…and they’d also locked the cattle-gate there, so I couldn’t get through.

I felt the 2nd prick of tears as I just stood there wondering what to do. There was no way I could climb over the gate.

I messaged my lovely neighbour Helen, who rang her housemate Kath and she came around to get the keys out of the door and open it for me.

Problem sorted.

I’ve been sitting here, crying ever since.

Crying.

How absolutely bloody ridiculous is that???

It’s like as if I genuinely cannot cope with ANYTHING out of the ordinary that happens…even the most trivial of things has a massive impact on me. It’s absolutely ridiculous. But I can’t stop my reaction.

So now, I’m NOT going shopping and I’m NOT going down to Mam’s. I can’t. I can’t cope with having to do any more today. The whole day has now turned a light shade of black and I’m fighting myself to stop it getting darker….all because I got locked in….to my OWN house!!!!

It’s pathetic.

I’m pathetic…for allowing it to happen…but there you go…this is what my life is like now.

My cousins messaged last night to organise an evening out and they’ve set a date for late February….it started me feeling really uneasy and wobbly then…actually, now I think about it…perhaps that was the start of the blackness descending…maybe. I feel really unable to plan ANYTHING. To make plans for a couple of weeks away…I just can’t do it. It’s because I don’t know what I’ll be doing in  a couple of weeks or what I’ll be like…but in reality, I know it’s because of the phonecall I had, out of the blue, so unexpectedly…telling me that my beautiful boy was dead.

It’s left me with a fear of tomorrow……of all my tomorrows…..the unknown…the unexpected…the unplanned…..

A deep, deep fear.

INTO THE UNKNOWN-BLACKCHORDS

TRAVEL BLOGS

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Well dear reader, I’ve had several people asking about specific travel-blogs that I’ve written, so here is the current list of the ones I’ve published so far for you-you can just type the title (listed underneath) into the search-bar on the right of the front page of my blog to find them:

  1. BARCELONA 1
  2. BARCELONA 2
  3. BERGEN
  4. BLANKENBURG
  5. CAMBODIA
  6. CAPE HORN
  7. CHILEAN FJORDS
  8. GEIRANGER
  9. GLACIER ALLEY
  10. GOTLAND
  11. KOTOR, MONTENEGRO
  12. LISBON
  13. MALMO
  14. MONTEVIDEO
  15. MONTEVIDEO II
  16. MYKANOS
  17. NAN LIAN GARDEN, HONG KONG
  18. OLDEN
  19. OSLO
  20. PATAGONIA, ARGENTINA
  21. PORTO
  22. PORT STANLEY, FALKLANDS
  23. PUERTO MADRYN, PATAGONIA
  24. ROME
  25. SANTORINI
  26. SARANDA, ALBANIA
  27. SORRENTO
  28. ST PETER PORT, GUERNSEY
  29. ST PETERSBURG
  30. STAVANGER
  31. STOCKHOLM
  32. SYDNEY
  33. TALLINN
  34. USHUAIA
  35. VENICE
  36. VIETNAM
  37. VIGO

So a lot of information there for you 🙂

Happy travelling 🙂

KING OF THE ROAD-ROGER MILLER