Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Happy 55th Birthday to Gioachino Rossini!

It's February 29th! A rare day indeed!

I always enjoy Leap Years because in my mind they're associated with the Olympic Games - falling as they do every same 4 years as the summer games which this time around will of course take place in London.

But as a fan of classical music, there is an extra reason for my being a fan of this quirky date.

On February 29th 1792, Gioachino Rossini was born and he is one of my favourite composers. Today then would've been his 55th birthday but as he was a Leap Day baby - it means that he is in fact 220 years old!

Though he passed away in 1868 in his 76th year aged just 19 (I know but I can't resist!) his musical masterpieces remain.

As a celebration of this special birthday then, here is one of my favourite compositions from the 'Italian Mozart' - the Overture to La Gazza Ladra or as it's more lovingly called, 'The Thieving Magpie'.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

My Classic FM 'Hall of Fame' Dilemma - What would your Top 3 choices be?

Anyone who dips in and out of this blog from time to time will I'm sure have picked up on my love of classical music. It's a childhood thing that has stayed with me and indeed grown, throughout my 29 years.

But it's only in the last few years that I have become an avid listener of Classic FM (it is now my bed-side radio station of choice). In particular, it is only over the past 2 years that I have become ingratiated into the Classic FM Hall of Fame Top 300 Countdown.

Classic FM have been counting down the great British public's favourite classical compositions through its Hall of Fame since 1996. But only over the past two Easter weekends have I taken particular notice of recent trends.

2012 Hall of Fame
Well this year, I'm actually going to make my mark by voting for the first time in this annual classical feast.

To be precise, I have 3 votes available to me in all which you'd think would give me plenty of scope in deciding my personal Top 3 classical compositions of all-time. But it's not that straightforward! The more that I have listened to Classic FM over the years, the wider my knowledge and appreciation of a wide range of classical pieces has developed.

Narrowing that wealth of music down to just 3 submissions has therefore become a near impossible task!

I am still mulling over those choices which must be submitted online before Wednesday 29th February. So I have barely a week to make that decision!

Here are just a sample of the kinds of classical pieces that I adore (with their 2011 Top 300 Hall of Fame position in brackets)...

Copland - Rodeo (No. 274)

Gershwin - Walking the Dog (No. 268)

Wagner - Lohengrin (No. 248)

Rossini - The Thieving Magpie (No. 212)

WaltonCrown Imperial (No. 208)

Schubert - Ave Maria (No. 186)

Rossini - The Barber of Seville (No. 180)

Strauss (Snr) - Radetzky March (No. 162)

Williams - Star Wars (No. 151)

Rossini - William Tell Overture (No. 116)

Faure - Pavane (No. 115)

Beethoven - Fur Elise (No. 114)

Verdi - La Traviata (No. 109)

Ravel - Bolero (No. 101)

Bizet - Carmen (No. 87)

Verdi - Narbucco (No. 69)

Puccini - Madam Butterfly (No. 68)

Wagner - Tannhauser (No. 67)

Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite (No. 63)

Mozart - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (No. 59)

Strauss (Jnr)- Blue Danube (No. 57)

MozartMarriage of Figaro (No. 51)

MozartConcerto No.21 (No. 48)

Beethoven - 5th Symphony (No. 39)

Mascagni Cavalleria Rusticana (No. 32)

Beethoven Moonlight Sonata (No. 28)

Sibelius - Finlandia (No. 25)

Dvorak - Symphony No.9 (New World) (No. 24)

Beethoven - 7th Symphony (No. 23)

Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue (No. 22)

Saint-Säens - Symphony No.3 (No. 21)

Grieg Piano Concerto (No. 20)

Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture (No. 17)

Pachelbel Canon (No. 13)

Holst The Planets (No. 12)

Vivaldi - Four Seasons (No. 11)

Beethoven - 9th Symphony (No. 10)

Mozart - Clarinet Concerto (No. 5)

That is a mere selection of almost 40 of my favourite classical compositions from a wide range of composers.

But how do I whittle them down to just 3 choices?! Well, I'll have to and I will report back within a week or so with the results.

In the meantime, what about you dear reader? What would your 'Top 3' classical choices be? Anything from the list above or something completely different? Please do comment with your personal choices, I'd be interested to find out.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Queen to Rock Knebworth - 25 years on!

I'm excited I'll be honest with you!

A good friend of mine Robin Whitmore called me this evening to tell me that Queen are to headline the Saturday at the 3-day Sonisphere in early July - at KNEBWORTH!

Queen's final live gig with Freddie Mercury was at Knebworth in front of some 120,000 fans on August 9th 1986 - Robin was there! I wasn't even 4 at the time so the chance to see Freddie live passed me by but an opportunity to see Brian May and Roger Taylor live at that holy grail of a Queen venue is one that I will not let go!

I've seen them both at a gig in the CIA a few years back with Robin and we've both also attended a Queen International Fan Club convention! But then we are both members of the International Queen Fan Club so it's very much allowed!

We can purchase up to 6 tickets and with Queen fan club members getting first refusal before the tickets go on general sale on Thursday, Robin and I are keen to snap them up in the next 24 hours! If any other fans are keen to attend, contact me immediately!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Ceredigion County Council Vs Hywel Dda LHB (Part II) - "There will be beds in Cardigan Hospital"

In my last blog post, I commented on my questioning the Hywel Dda Local Health Board's lack of communication with the wider public when we met them as a Council on Thursday.

My second point was on the Cardigan Hospital development and I wanted to dedicate a seperate post to this issue, such is its importance to the residents of Cardigan, southern Ceredigion and north Pembrokeshire.

The Hywel Dda Chief Executive Mr Trevor Purt had already made supportive noises towards the Cardigan Hospital development by the time that I was called to speak but I pressed him on the same point again. Whilst progress is finally being made now that the sale of the site itself has been completed, the question of the future provision of services within the new build is very much being debated - in particular, the question of community beds.

I told Mr Purt that I was going to quote what he had said earlier in the meeting in the future and he re-iterated the sentiment to me there and then in the Council Chamber.

To quote the Chief Executive of the Hywel Dda Local Health Board:
"There will be beds in Cardigan Hospital".
I'll remember that and I've now quoted it for posterity to ensure that this becomes a reality. He will not be allowed to go back on his word.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Ceredigion County Council Vs Hywel Dda LHB (Part I) - 'A Public Relations Disaster'

Yesterday morning, a special meeting of Ceredigion County Council was held to meet with the Chief Executive and senior officers of Hywel Dda's Local Health Board. The meeting had been called after Cllr Elizabeth Evans from Aberaeron and I proposed and seconded a motion back in November, requesting this very meeting as I blogged about at the time here.

The request to meet with Chief Executive Mr Trevor Purt and his officers came with the backdrop of a fierce public reaction to the proposed changes that the Hywel Dda LHB are seeking to implement at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth. It also gave Councillors the opportunity to quiz this most illusive of individuals on health projects in Aberaeron, Tregaron and Cardigan (please read my next blog post, Part II for updates on Cardigan Hospital).

The long wait to speak...
The meeting was due to begin at 9.30am and had been designated to run until 11.30am when an Economic Development Scrutiny Committee meeting was due to start.

The Hywel Dda LHB began with an hour long presentation and it wasn't much before 10.45am before Councillors could begin asking their questions. An hour an been set aside for a Q&A but it soon transpired that that clearly wouldn't be enough. In 8 years on the Council, I'm not sure if I've ever seen anything quite like it. I thought that I'd put my hand up to grab the Chair's attention early enough but sure enough, many of my colleagues had clearly beaten me to the early punch.

Having scribbed a number of notes down during the presentation, I found myself waiting...and waiting...and waiting to be called to speak. Normally, there isn't that much of a wait to be called but yesterday, more Councillors requested to speak in a single debate than possibly any other that I can recall since my election to the Council in 2004 - a clear demonstration of the strength of feeling on the matter held by those of all sides of the political divide on this issue.

I began to increasingly wonder whether the Chair Cllr Catherine Hughes had in fact seen me gesture to her earlier in the meeting when finally, after over 2 hours of questions from the floor and answers from Mr Purt and his colleagues, I was called.

"A PR Disaster"
Much of what I was going to say and been touched upon by those who had spoken previously but I had waited long and patiently for my moment, and I was not going to let those scribbled down and almost illegible notes go to waste.

Usually, I sit down when giving speeches in the Chamber. On rare occasion to I stand when I have my say. There are Councillors meanwhile who are to the contrary. It's clear that Beulah's Cllr Lyndon Lloyd is a lay preacher in his spare time as the overwhelming majority of his speeches (or sould I say orations?! But I must admit to secretly enjoying them as he often peppers them with historical facts and anecdotes which as a historian, I'm bound to lap up!) during these past 8 years are made from standing. But he is a relatively rare exception - very few Councillors have been known to do so. Only the leader, Llandysul's Cllr Keith Evans and Llanfarian's Cllr Alun Lloyd Williams to my recollection ever make a concerted habit of doing it.

Well yesterday was different. My colleagues Cllr Elizabeth Evans from Aberaeron and Aberystwyth Central Councillor Ceredig Davies both stood for their interventions and I was in the mood to follow suite. It was as such that I re-iterated to Mr Purt and the Hywel Dda executives in front of me that they could not expect a 'dialgoue' (their word) with the public if they weren't in the room. They refused to turn up at a public meeting in Tregaron before Christmas which I attended after community beds in Tregaron Hospital were cut without public consultation. They then refused to attend last week's public meeting in Aberystwyth which was successfully organised by the Town Council and in which over 500 local residents attended.

I stated that the Hywel Dda LHB were creating a vicious cycle in which they were feeding the increasing lack of faith of local residents in the Health Board by refusing to attend public meetings to give their answers to the many concerns raised. It was as I called it from their point of you, a "PR disaster".

After I spoke, Cllr Gareth Lloyd from the Llandisiliogogo ward backed up my comments and continued in the same vein. Though I'd had to wait, there was a longer wait for others as the meeting continued for another hour until 2pm.

By my count, 34 of the 42 Councillors were present at the meeting. During the 3 hour Q&A session (a 4+ hour meeting in total), some 22 of those 34 Councillors spoke in the debate. That's over half of the entire Council requesting to and speaking on a single topic. It was well planned that this was a one-topic meeting but still, I can't recall in 8 years a debate in which so many Councillors requested to speak.

Did Trevor Purt and his team of ten really listen to the concerns raised yesterday? Only time will tell. Did I feel a quiet satisfaction in getting that anger and frustration off my chest? You bet!

Stay tuned...
In my next blog post, I'll comment specifically on my comments on and Mr Purt's response to the Cardigan Hospital development...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Eddie Butler's Welsh Towns: Cardigan

Last night, the Welsh rugby legend Eddie Butler presented the 2nd in his 4 part series looking at the history of 'Welsh Towns'.

As the information going alongside this accompanying BBC iPlayer clip reads:
"Eddie Butler explores the story of Cardigan. Today it's a quiet market town, but it has a rich and turbulent history dating back over 900 years. The town first made its mark in the 12th century when Rhys ap Gruffudd ousted the Norman invaders and built his own castle there. In celebration, he held a festival of music and poetry - the first ever Eisteddfod. In the early 19th century, Cardigan became Wales's busiest port and a centre for shipbuilding, employing a thousand men in its maritime industry. The railway ended Cardigan's heyday as a port, but the town continued to prosper with its stylish Guildhall and busy market. In the 21st century Cardigan has struggled like many small towns, but a 10 million-pound grant to restore its castle will hopefully give the town a new lease of life".

The iPlayer link to the 30 minute episode can be watched for the next 7 days here.

My take on it as a former Mayor of the town?

Well, in just 30 minutes, Eddie managed to cover the importance of the Eisteddfod, St Mary's Church, the Port, the Cardi Bach Railway, the Mwldan, the Guildhall, Barley Satuday, Cardigan Fair, sport, the manufacturing of jeans and the castle to our town.

He did so by speaking to the right people. He spoke to amongst others, historians Glen Johnson, Father Cunnane and Donald Davies, to local poets Dic Jones (an old interview clip before he passed away in 2009) and Ceri Wyn Jones, the former owner of Cardigan Castle, the formiddable Barbara Wood (again, an old interview clip before she passed away in 2009), and to our sporting champions Grand National winner Hywel Davies and 4-time World Powerboat Champion Johnathan Jones.

Well done Eddie Butler. This proud historian and adopted-Cardi couldn't have written a more concise and all-encompassing 30 minute history of our fantastic town if I'd tried!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

One Moment in Time: RIP Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

What awful news to wake up too on a Sunday morning.

When Michael Jackson died suddenly in 2009, aged just 50, I was saddened and shocked but inevitably not surprised at the news. He had lived such a rollercoaster life in the limelight that it almost seemed inevitable that he would be shot down in controversial circumstances, such was the way that he lived his life. It was nevertheless a shock on hearing the news.

A Gifted Songbird
But today's news that Whitney Houston has died aged just 48 has more than shocked and saddened me. It has truly upset me in a way the death of Michael Jackson didn't.

I was a fan of both. I had his greatest hits and I'll admit it now that I long ago bought her greatest hits too and for good reason.

Whitney of course came from a cherished line of prodigious talent. Her mother was gospel singer Cissy Houston, she was a cousin to singer Dionne Warwick as well as having Aretha Franklin as a godmother. But her troubled marriage to Bobby Brown and her later life of excess would ultimately prove to be her undoing.

One Moment in Time
For me, there is one song in her repertoire that I adore above all others. Is it because I'm a sporting fan? Yes very possibly but her official anthem for the USA team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics for me, epitomised perfectly what it was meant to do. It's an inspirational anthem which I feel is undervalued and often forgotten when laid alongside her other many hits.

Here is Whitney giving us One Moment in Time, ironically at the same Grammy Awards that she was supposed to be attending tonight before her untimely death.

Poigniantly at this time, I can do no more than conclude with her final lyrics.

"I will be free"
You are now. RIP Whitney Houston.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Shame on Luis Suarez. Shame on Liverpool FC

I haven't made any comments on the Evra Vs Suarez saga to date but today's latest development as viewed in this clip below has forced me into a response. For those who don't know (where have you been if you don't?!), I'm an Aston Villa fan and therefore have no additional gripe with one of these teams over the other - my views are those of a football fan.

I wouldn't be surprised if people who have gone to sports management colleges agree with me on this.

It is to Luis Suarez's shame that he didn't shake Patrice Evra's hand after the latter reached out to do so at the start of today's big match. Suarez has paid the price with a long ban and should've had more about him than to reduce himself further by rebuffing what was a laudable act by Evra in the trying circumstances.

It further reduced any respect I have for a club after recent comments by manager Kenny Dalglish on Suarez's return from suspension only inflamed matters further. Dalglish should know better than to say what he did.

The Warren Gatland Example
Indeed, a good example of a manager speaking the truth of a situation even if it doesn't necessarily help his own team was that of Welsh rugby coach Warren Gatland when he admitted last weekend after the tense Ireland Vs Wales 6 Nations opener that Bradley Davies should've been given a red card instead of the yellow that he received for that spear tackle in the 2nd half. Gatland was right and us Welsh were very lucky that referee Barnes didn't see it that same way at the time.

Sometimes, managers need to rise their heads above the din and the parochial nature of sporting life and actually say what is right. Dalglish didn't and today's actions by a petulant Luis Suarez further goes to demonstrate just how out of touch he and his football club are on this matter.

For that alone, I was delighted that Manchester United ended up winning the game.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Mike Bassett: England Manager!

Sorry, but all things considered after what has been an incredible 24 hours for English football...I just couldn't resist!

Happy 80th Birthday to a Cinematic Maestro - the John Williams Sound

Surely cinema's greatest ever film-score composer, John Williams, celebrates his 80th birthday today.

His compositions are instantly recognizable and act as a veritable walk through of a 'Who's Who' in late 20th century and early 21st century cinematic history.

He has won 5 Academy Awards (47 nominations) and 4 Golden Globes (22 nominations) and 20 Grammys (59 nominations). His 47 Oscar nominations makes John Williams the record-holder for the most Oscar nominations for a living person and is the second most nominated person in the history of the Academy Awards behind Walt Disney's 59. Forty-two of Williams' Oscar nominations are for Best Original Music Score and five are for Best Original Song. He won four Oscars for Best Original Score and one for Best Adapted Score.

This happens to be my 500th blog post. But instead of using many words as for one who enjoys writing has become my custom, I will break from that to leave instad a sample of his wonderful musical legacy, to speak for itself...

1975 - Jaws

1977, 1980, 1983, 1999, 2002 & 2005 - Star Wars

1978 - Superman

1981, 1984, 1989 & 2008 - Indiana Jones

1982 - E.T.

1990 - Home Alone

1993 - Schindler's List

1993 - Jurassic Park

1998 - Saving Private Ryan

2003 - Harry Potter

2011 - War Horse

My favourite of these? Either Indiana Jones or Home Alone...or Superman!
Happy 80th Birthday John Williams!

ELO - Livin' Thing

On my new (ish) mobile Android phone, I've got this Shazam app which can sample any 30 seconds of music and pretty much without fail, instantly tell you what song is being played and by whom.

Loads of people have it or a similar such app of course but that doesn't stop me from showing it off at any given opportunity! Students in accredited online colleges for music would love this, too.
Having said that, I've rarely actually used it for it's proper purpose. Most of the time I use it to decipher a song I already know to show those with me at the time how it works.

But last week, it happened to do exactly what it's meant to do. I was sitting in Aberystwyth's Varsity with a friend Rob Hardware when I heard the strains to a song that I recognised  but which I could not place. It was a song which I had not heard in a long time and which, despite my eclectic love and knowledge of most things musical, I would never in a month of Sundays have placed.

This is where for once, my Shazam app came in handy for the right reason. I pointed my 'phone up in the direction of the nearest speaker for the 30 or so seconds required for it to collect the sample and within seconds it gave me an answer that pleasantly surprised me.

The song with that catchy hook in the chorus which I had not heard for years but which I instantly knew I liked on hearing it again was Livin' Thing by of all groups, the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). It was one of those wonderful dawning moments of realisation. I've always had a soft spot for that unique ELO sound even though I would't go so far as to call myself a fan. I clearly didn't have enough of a knowledge of their back catalogue otherwise I'd have known that Livin' Thing, with it's wonderful use of strings (which I've always enjoyed in a good pop tune) was their song.

But now I know, and I will never now forget that lovely musical fact because of my snazzy Shazam mobile app.

Monday, 6 February 2012

The King is Dead: Long Live the Queen

Today is the 60th anniversary of Accession Day. On February 6th 1952, a young Princess aged 25 learnt whilst in Kenya, that her father had passed away in his sleep. Her father was King George VI and she would now become Queen Elizabeth II.

A year ago I wrote here about my interest in the Royal Family and of her many accomplishments amassed during the past 59 years. She is now, as I also blogged here back in May, the second-longest reigning monarch after her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria.

Here is an account of those days of accession.

For those who wish to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, that opportunity will come in June. Today is not a day of celebration. It is a day of recollection and of quiet reflection for the passing of a King, a husband and for a father.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Going Global

Though my blogging musings have been lighter over the past month or so, this blog has nevertheless made some international strides in recent weeks.

Firstly around Christmas, I was contacted by a business from across the pond in America asking for an opportunity to advertise with selected links in blog posts that matched their product. You probably won't have seen then, but they are there and in the last few days, the $40 (£25) payment reached my bank account via PayPal. It's only a small amount but after just over a year, it's a pleasant bonus to find that my musings can help earn me a little money along the way! More than that for me, it's great to know that people from all over the world are reading this blog.

BBC World Service
It's a surreal concept but it was re-iterated again yesterday when my Innocent Until Proven Guilty - Chris Huhne & John Terry blog post of earlier that morning was picked up by the BBC. I had a call in the afternoon from a BBC World Radio Service researcher in London asking for me to contribute on their 'Have Your Say' programme with Neil Hamilton and former Chicago politician Jim Laski about being innocent until proven guilty. I've spoken on radio many times - mainly on local or regional radio. Never have I spoken on the World Service! It was again a rather surreal 10 minutes and though I was interupted a few times by the presenter it doesn't bother me - you roll with the punches in such an environment! It can be heard here.

It was neverthless great that this little blog of mine managed to catch the eye and gave me that opportunity to speak to the World in this way that I have never quite experienced before.

A Small World
People from 178 nations or territories have visited this blog over the past 17 months or so. That has been one of the greatest enjoyments that I have taken from this blog in that time - the realisation that it really is a small world and we are all just a click away from touching the lives of others.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Innocent Until Proven Guilty - Chris Huhne & John Terry

I know it's a rather boring thing to believe, particularly when you read a lot of the newspapers nowadays, but I still hold onto that most basic tenet on which our judicial system is built - that you are innocent until proven guilty.

It is a particularly apt moment to re-consider this in light of two high-profile cases this week. People who frequent sites like may have a special interest in these cases.

Chris Huhne
Chris Huhne's decision today to stand down from the Cabinet to fight his case is a sensible one. He pleads innocence on the charges of perjury and if he is to fight his battle for that truth then he is right to do so without the weight of Cabinet responsibility on his shoulders.

It will mean a minor Cabinet reshuffle which will we are told likely bring Ed Davey MP into the Cabinet. He will have a tough task as Chris Huhne proved to be an effective Cabinet Member on Climate Change. Huhne's future now of course depends on that court case. The course of British Justice will take its course and we will have to take it from there. In the meantime, he remains the Member of Parliament for Eastleigh.

John Terry
The case of England's football captain is a slightly different matter. He too will face his day in court in July having pleaded not guilty to charges of racism against Anton Ferdinand.

The big question was whether he should (a) remain England Captain and (b) remain a squad member going into the Euro '12 Finals which will conclude a week before his judicial appearance.

Well, he is of course innocent until proven guilty as I say and I therefore see no reason why he should be excluded from the English team. If Fabio Capello believes him to be central to the English set-up, then he should go to the finals.

But should he remain as the England Captain? I have to say no. Considering his previous history having been stripped of the English Captaincy after his affair with the wife of a colleague, his position was precarious. As the moral leader of his nation's footballing hopes, it was not appropriate that he hold that position at this time. It is therefore in mind to the FA's rare credit that they have this morning formally announced that Terry will not captain the team going into the summer.

The difference here is that Huhne rightly fell on his sword whilst Terry failed to make the same call and found the decision made for him.

Time will tell how the judicial system will treat them both in the months to come but it would seem to me at this moment that the one has dealt with the situation in such trying circumstances with more dignity than the other.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

My Internet Stat Porn Monthly Report (17) January

Here is my seventeenth monthly round-up of blog figures for anyone who is remotely interested in who reads my little blog. These stats for the month of January come courtesy of google analytics.

A Calm Month
In one way, January was a busy month, in another, it was not.

My output for the month of 15 blog posts was my lowest ever and indeed was less than half of the 33 written in December. Despite this, my January total viewing figures were nevertheless actually up on the previous month.

In January, I had a total of 3,019 absolute unique visitors to my blog (up on my December total of 2,753 though down on my May record of 6,485). Those 3,019 absolute unique visitors made 3,215 visits to my blog in January (again up on the 2,954 total from December though again down on the 6,908 record from May). They viewed 7,499 pages (marginally up on the December total of 7,310 pages but down on the the October record of 11,517 pages).

The top 10 stories by direct page views that you've read this past month were:

1. Andy Murray Needs to Summon the Rory McIlroy Spirit for Sporting Immortality
2. Why Alex Salmond rightly holds the Ace in the Unionist Pack
3. Labour's Leighton Andrews' Extraordinary Live TV Coco Pops Outburst
4. 9am: Swansea City AFC - Premier League!
5. On Becoming Engaged!
6. The Aberfan Perspective
7. 'The King's Speech' - The Book Vs The Film (SPOILER WARNING!)
8. Nos Da i 'Denz' o Pobol Y Cwm - 1984-2012
9. Brian Blessed, Chancellor of Cambridge University?!
10. Total Football: In Praise of Swansea City

Of the 10, only 4 were written this month though this isn't surprising considering I'd only written 15 in total this month. The other 6 are popular blog posts written in months past that continue to attract hits. The 4 that I wrote this month came in at No.2, 5, 8 and 10.

They included the news of my engagement and also a rare bilingual Welsh post on the 'death' of a favourite fictional character from the Welsh soap opera Pobol Y Cwm. I need to write more in Welsh and this will hopefully spur me on to do so.

Blog Traffic
Of all of the blog visitors this past month, 12.10% were through direct traffic (up from 11.61% in December), 23.67% came from referring sites (down from 28.33% in December) and 64.23% via search engines (up from 60.05% in December).

The bounce rate for the month was 19.50% (up on the December total of 14.69%). 81.40% of the total were new visits as opposed to 18.60% returning visitors.

An International Blog!
The visitors to my little blog came from 86 countries/territories this month - down from my December tally of 97 and down further on my May record of 123, with a cumulative total of 178 countries/territories having supplied visitors to my blog to date.

The top ten countries to date are as follows (with position change from December & % of total views):

1. United Kingdom (No Change) 52.3% (+0.2%)
2. United States (No Change) 18.2% (-0.1%)
3. Brazil (No Change) 2.1% (-0.1%)
4. Germany (No Change) 2.1% (=)
5. Canada (No Change) 1.9% (=)
6. Australia (No Change) 1.6% (-0.1%)
7. Holland (No Change) 1.5% (+0.1%)
8. Ireland (No Change) 1.3% (-0.1%)
9. France (No Change) 1.3% (+0.1%)
10. Poland (No Change) 1.1% (-0.1%)

A calm month with relatively marginal changes all-round.

It has continued to be a very cosmopolitan blog this month and honourable mentions must go in particular to the 3 new countries/territories that have provided its first viewers to my blog this January.

Grenada, the US Virgin Islands and Lesotho have all supplied its first reader to my blog during the past month!

Fair play to them all, and to you all, for putting up with my ramblings!