Saturday, 16 September 2017

Greenmeadow Allotments Toilet

Officially Opening Greenmeadow Allotment Association Toilets

It was a real pleasure last Saturday (09/09/2017) to officially open the new composting toilet at Greenmeadow Allotments. The toilet was built with the help of the Big Lottery Fund and will make using and enjoying the allotments so much more accessible to everyone.

The opening was part of a community open day which was really fun - music, BBQ, and an awesome splat the rat game! Marianna had a great time and, at the end, I was presented with the most gorgeous flowers. My mum was super jealous when I got back. :)

For more like this, please click the image below:
15 Seconds of Fame - find me in the press

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

All Cisterns Go!

Toilet Opening at West Pontnewydd Community Centre

I attended an event with a difference the other day - opening the new disabled toilet at West Pontnewydd Community Centre, with a ribbon made of toilet roll and everything! :D

The South Wales Argus covered the story on September 13th:

A community centre in Cwmbran has transformed a storage cupboard into a new disabled toilet to improve the facilities for service users. The West Pontnewydd Community Centre were able to accommodate the new commode by participating in the Welsh Government’s Warm Homes programme. 

The new facility was made possible through a collaboration between the Being Greener project at Melin Homes, Torfaen council, renewable energy installation firm Gibson STS and Torfaen-based company Laporsa. 

The Mayor of Torfaen, Cllr Jessica Powell, cut the “toilet roll ribbon” to officially open the new facility and said; “The centre isn’t “flushed” with money, this will make a huge difference for the whole community.” 

The centre’s chairman, Mark Eley said: “We run the centre through volunteers, we desperately needed disabled facilities but we just didn’t have the money. We have so many activities for the local community and now we are accessible for all. We are overwhelmed by the generosity and help.” 

David Bolton, the assistant director of Being Greener said: “Improving the energy efficiency of people’s homes is just a small part of what we do. It is so important to help the local community and making a difference to those living in the area. We couldn’t achieve as much as we do without the commitment of Welsh SME’s.” 

Amy Williams, the service transformation manager with Torfaen council said: “Through Welsh Government Warm Homes funding, and working with Melin Homes as project manager, Torfaen CBC Housing department are thrilled that the energy efficiency of a number of properties in the Pontnewydd area has been improved. This work and the wider community benefits it has achieved is key in improving the lives of people in the community and delivering on the Affordable Warmth Strategy.”

West Pontnewydd Community Centre's Toilet Opening

The story was also covered on the Melin Homes Blog.

For more like this, please click the image below:
15 Seconds of Fame - find me in the press

Monday, 4 September 2017

Fanfiction Author Meme

Fanfiction Author Meme

Positively ancient fanfic author meme put together by Tomoe:

1. Start with a brief introduction of yourself.

Fandom oldbie here. Welsh born and raised.

2. Fabulous! So, what got you into fanfiction to begin with?

A long, long time ago - almost 20 years now, in fact - my ten-year-old self was surfing the net for any and everything Dragonball Z, one of the few shows my younger brother and I could agree was worth watching. I came across Some Random Guy's DBZ Rewrite and a whole new world opened up before my very eyes.

(I had the whole thing saved to floppy disk until they went the way of the dodo!)

Dragonball Z

3. I see, so what kind of fic do you like to write?

Despite being one of the least romantic people on the face of the planet - my partner will attest to this - I love writing and reading about it. The more tragic and overly sentimental it is, complete with over the top declarations and pining to literal death, the more I enjoy it.

4. Do you tend to stick to the same characters / pairings? Or are you a fandom whore?

It depends on the fandom, to be honest. In some I'll write anyone, solo or paired up, while in others I can't bear the thought of writing anything but my OTP.

5. What is your most popular fic and why do you think people like it so?

My most kudosed fic on AO3 is for the Hobbit - Bilbo/Bofur, and sickly sweet into the bargain. I guess my readers are as big on romance as I am.

Bofur in The Hobbit

6. Forget other people, what is the fanfic you've written you're most proud of?

My view on this changes all the time! I'll go with xx for the simple reason that at just over 28k, it's the longest completed fic I've ever written. I usually go for short stories in the 1k - 5k range, so it's an achievement for me.

7. Do you find writing easy? Hard? What are the most difficult aspects of writing you struggle with?

Fairly easy, to be honest. I usually write about 2.5k of fiction a day, because I find it relaxing. I need to have at least a vague idea of where I'm going with the story though, and to make sure it 'flows' which I can't really explain beyond 'I know it when I see it'. Sometimes I'll have a word doc open for hours waiting for the right word to make a sentence flow properly.

For the most part I only struggle to write in two instances. In scenario A I know exactly how I want a story to go, and that makes it kind of intimidating to start on it. What if I can't get a scene out of my head and into type without losing something vital? In scenario B I have no idea what to write and a deadline looming. This is entirely self-inflicted through signing up for fic exchanges. Every time I finish one I say I won't sign up again... then there I am two days later working on a 'Dear Author' letter.

8. Where do you post your fanfic? Journal, archive, personal website?

When I started out I posted to FFN. Then LiveJournal was my main hub for a few years, especially when I got into fandoms that existed primarily on anon kinkmemes because FFN refused to host anything featuring explicit content. I never really bothered with single fandom archives because it seemed like too much hassle. People complain about AO3 but it totally transformed the experience as a reader and a writer. The ability to find so much content in one place, no fear of having your work deleted or your account suspended, a consistent look instead of having to deal with people's badly formatted personal sites or LJ skins... Yeah, fandom newbs today have no idea how good they've got it.

These days I post almost exclusively to AO3 and, if I ever track down the memory stick with all my old kink meme stuff, I'll archive the rest of my fic there too. My only real gripe with the site is freeform tags and that's mostly because they're such a pain in the arse to deal with as a tag wrangler.  I don't like seeing unfilterable tags messing up my wrangling page!!

9. Are there any fanfic trends / cliches you can't stand or are just sick of?

Not really. If I don't like something I just don't read it. *shrug*

Clan of the Cave Bear
Ayla, the original Mary Sue.

10. Do you use a beta reader?

Nope. I write too much, really, to go to that much effort over a fic. Plus I would end up never posting anything; by the time it came back from beta I would have written a bunch of other stories I liked better anyway.

11. What was the first fandom you wrote for? Do you still like / participate in it?

Dragonball Z. It was an awful (and I mean awful) crack!fic in which Chi Chi lamented about how selfish Goku was in getting himself killed all the time. The second was a Harry Potter fic with priggish prefect Percy pining hopelessly for Quidditch captain Oliver Wood.

I still read in DBZ - Gohan/Piccolo and [Mirai] Gohan/Mirai Trunks - and I write and read in Harry Potter. It's such an ubiquitous fandom that I usually end up writing a HP treat or two in multifandom exchanges. My favourite HP ships are Snape/Lupin, Snape/Regulus Black, Ron/Viktor Krum, and Percy Weasley/Marcus Flint.

12. Name your OTPs and what it is about them that you love to write.

I have so many! They usually follow a standard pattern though - Average Joe pines hopelessly over supposedly brilliant man, while supposedly brilliant man pines hopelessly over Average Joe seeing nothing but traits they value highly. There's a sliding scale of brilliance and averageness - and both sides might well be casting themselves in the same role - but that's kind of the central format I'm looking for.

E.g. Watson knows Holmes would never look in his direction, when really Holmes is pining away and silently waxing lyrical about Watson's sturdy Victorian sense of right and wrong and magnificent moustache. Or, Bertie being crushed that he can never hope to match up to Jeeves, when Jeeves thinks that his ability to see the best in people and put others first (and the class difference, I never pass up class angst) places Bertie up on a pedestal. Or, Hastings despairing of his sluggish little grey cells and gangly frame, while Poirot's completely enamoured of his charming simplicity and fair English complexion...

You get the drift.

Poirot and Hastings

13. What would you call your writing 'style'?

Simple. I was heavily influenced by Barrington Stoke's reluctant teen readers' series in my formative writing years, which is all about telling a story in as few and, often, as simple words as possible. (They're usually edited to a reading age of 8. Bali Rai's What's Your Problem? is my particular favourite. It really taught me that a story doesn't have to be heavy on the prose to pack a huge emotional punch.) So, yeah, I try to stick to the basics.

14. Do you read other people's fanfic? If so, what do you find yourself reading the most?

Yes! I read a lot of fic - I like the tropes, the genre norms, and in particular the never ending supply of mutual pining. I particularly like historical or 'retro' fandoms because I want as much angst with my romance as possible. Recently I've been reading a lot of vintage Starsky and Hutch fic because it scratches that 'I want you so much but I don't want to ruin your life' itch so well.

Starsky and Hutch

15. Name one thing you'd LOVE to write, but have been too afraid or shy to do so.

I've had an idea for a Superman fic set in the late 1940s / early 1950s for ages. There would be murder and intrigue and all that good stuff, but it would take so much research to do properly (i.e. I would be constantly falling down rabbit holes of interesting historical titbits nobody reading would actually care a damn about) that I've never actually made a start on it. One day though. One day...

16. Do you have trouble taking criticism? Or worse yet, do you have the dreaded bloated ego?

I don't like crit, I can't deny it. I should, probably, in the interests of growing as a writer and all that but, well, the truth is that this is a hobby and to have someone ripping into something I've written just makes me want to put that time and energy into one of the others.

17. When you write, is there anything that helps the process along? Music? Quiet room?

Listening to music, usually. It always helps to steer the tone of a fic. Sometimes I'll bounce ideas back and forth with my partner if I'm really struggling. (AKA an exchange deadline is looming.) He even wrote a treat for me to post this year - kudos to anyone who can guess which fic it was, I forgot to move it to anon before author reveals - but claims I edited it beyond recognition and tore its very soul out...

Most of the time I just write in the evenings with the TV on in the background, in between reading stuff for work, surfing the net, comping (entering competitions, my other free timesink hobby), etc, etc.

Spread the Love Playlist

18. What inspires you?

All kinds of things. Media, work, overheard conversations on the bus...

19. Lastly, how would you sum up your fanfiction experiences and yourself as a writer?

Fanfic changed my life, no word of a lie! It gave me a creative outlet, provided me with a beloved hobby that doesn't cost any money, introduced me to all sorts of wonderful people and new information (the random knowledge I've picked up through researching for fics is a thing of beauty in itself), and generally given me something positive to focus on even when times were dark and dismal.

It also quite literally changed my life because as a morose and nervous teenager I pulled out of the UCAS process and was at a complete loss as to what to do with myself. Then I was reading some Coronation Street fic about Todd Grimshaw taking the plunge and reapplying to Oxford. If Todd could do it, so could I! Anyway, I reapplied for the next academic year and went up to Cambridge that September to read History.

20. Tag some friends because they'll hate you for it!

As always, anyone who wants to do this is more than welcome.

For more like this, please click the image below:
Fandom - my life as a fan

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Pontnewydd Male Voice Choir

Pontnewydd Male Choir

This is one of the biggest and longest running choirs in the area. It was originally founded way back in 1904 which makes it the oldest surviving choir in South Wales.

The choir practices twice a week - Tuesday and Fridays, 7:30 - 9pm - at Fairhill Methodist Church Hall in Cwmbran.

If you're interested you can just pop along to a practice, or get in touch with the general secretary, Phil Pritchard, on 07879 860603 or on email at

Over the years the choir has performed all across the UK - and further afield - and still performs regularly, raising money for charity.

Pontnewydd Choir in 1912
Pontnewydd Male Choir in 1912 - via the PMC website.

For more information check out their Facebook page.

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Join a choir in Torfaen.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Merchant Navy Day

Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day

Merchant Navy Day is celebrated across the UK on September 3rd. It was introduced in 2000 in honour of those who helped keep us afloat in wartime and continue to supply us with some 95% of our imports. A growing number of councils show their support for the day by flying the Red Ensign, the official flag of the Merchant Navy.

TCBC are flying the flag, and Cwmbran Community Council held a full flag hoisting ceremony this morning at the Council House.

Merchant Navy Day

Out and About in Torfaen

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