I was born and brought up in Liverpool. Encouraged by a Welsh friend, my parents bought a condemned quarry workers cottage in Llanberis in 1966 and we would visit most weekends and holidays, firstly whilst we renovated it and then for breaks.
I had many Welsh friends, starting with the girl a couple of doors down that I played with as a child. (I remember wearing the backside out of my jeans on a slate “slide” we found on the hill behind our gardens).
Moving on eventually to teenagers where we used to spend hours hanging out in Wendy’s cafe or travelling across the border into Denbighshire on a Sunday night to get to the nearest open pub!
All my friends spoke only Welsh until they went to school at 5 when it was beaten out of them – quite literally in some cases, so although they spoke Welsh to each other, they very kindly spoke English for me, and other than some rude phrases and swear words they didn’t teach me any Welsh.
All my family gradually moved to North Wales and my nieces speak Welsh, and one even teaches in Wales. However, I live in deepest Hampshire where my neighbours are completely baffled by my desire to learn Welsh, being of the nature and generation that see Welsh as an obscure and dying language of a country that would be nice to visit if it weren’t for the inhabitants!
I knew my Grandmother was Welsh (although she died 30 years before I was born). Having done my Ancestry DNA lately, I find unsurprisingly that I am almost entirely half Welsh, half Irish. The language just feels very familiar and I almost feel I should be able to switch to speaking Welsh – whilst at the same time being on the verge of telling myself I have no facility for learning languages and I will never get anywhere. I have to keep putting that voice of doubt into a metaphorical box and shutting the lid. I love the way SSIW teaches with such positive and encouraging phrases. It really helps inspire me to keep going.
My only worry is that I will be too old to use my learning (and I am only at the very start of my journey) and that I won’t have the chance to immerse myself in the language, although I am also terrified of speaking to anyone else at this stage. So I am doing it on the basis of – well why not? Just enjoy the challenge for itself and take it one day at a time.