Survival Korean

South Korean flag.

South Korean flag.

Our trip to Korea is getting closer.  We’ve got pretty good at reading individual characters in hangul, but it’s not doing us much good.  I can  see when it’s pointed out to me that 부산  is Busan, the city where Emily lives, but I can’t decode it all by myself.  Hey ho.

So now we’re busy learning Useful Phrases.  This is proving so hard that we’re keeping the list to the minimum.

Will these get us by, do you think?

Hello:  안녕하세요 – annyeonghaseyo.

Goodbye: 안녕히 가세요 – annyeonghi kaseyo

Yes:  네 -Ne (how confusing…..)

No: 아니오  – anio

Please: 그렇세요  – kureoseyo

Thank you: 감사합니다 – kamsahamnida.

Bon appetit! 잘 먹겠습니다 – jal meokkesseumnida

Thank you for the meal: 잘 먹었습니다  – jal meogeosseumnida

What have we left out?  This is the most basic list remember, just to try to remain polite.  We’ve abandoned all thoughts of real communication.  And even this little list is taxing our poor brains.  I’m sure we’ll be fine …….

Now.  Can you translate this please?

Now. Can you translate this please?

Testing, testing.

Here we go again. Apparently WordPress doesn’t support my sort of smartphone, so I have to post via email. This is my first attempt. Fingers crossed. I think I feel rather like these people battling along the river Ure this afternoon against the current. It’s all a bit of a struggle.

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We’re more than half way through August.  It ought to be high summer, but autumn’s on its way.  As we walked down the road yesterday, a few crisp brown leaves blew across our path.  Mornings start later, night comes sooner.  The combine harvesters trundling round the fields seem almost to have completed their work.  The shops are full of neat school uniforms and bright pencil cases ready for the new academic year.

Before it’s too late, here are some summer time views, from Moelfre in Anglesey.  And because it’s British Summer time, the sea isn’t always blue and nor is the sky. But that’s fine: we expect that here in the UK.

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Our road from Church Stretton to the start of our Shropshire walk.

Our road from Church Stretton to the start of our Shropshire walk.

Shropshire’s one of England’s forgotten counties, and full of secret landscapes for the lucky traveller to discover.  We found a few ourselves this week, when visiting ex-Riponian friends Hatti and Paul.

Here's our route, as shown on the OS map.

Here’s our route, as shown on the OS map.

They took us on a walk along one of those characteristic long, narrow scenic ridges which offer easy walking, and wonderful long distance views to east and to west.  So there we were, rambling from Wentnor to Bridges along the ridge for a rather good pub lunch, and then back to Wentnor along the valley floor.

To the right of us was the Long Mynd, a gently sloping plateau.  To the left, and higher above us were the more rugged Stiperstones.  Both hillsides were covered with an intensely purple carpet of flowering heather.

You’ll want to know how the ridge of Stiperstones came to be covered with an untidy tumbling of large and rugged boulders.

The Devil's Chair (Wikimedia Commons)

The Devil’s Chair (Wikimedia Commons)

It was the devil who dropped them there.  He’d once noticed an old crone carrying her eggs to market by holding them before her, nursing them in her apron.  That was the way to do it! That was how he carried a large bundle of rocks all the way from Ireland to Shropshire, where he planned to drop them in the valley called Hell’s Gutter.  It was heavy work, and he sat for a rest at the very top of Stiperstones on a rock known since that day as the Devil’s Chair.

As he stood up again, his apron strings snapped.  Out those rocks tumbled, all over the ridge.  He didn’t bother to pick them up.  They’re there to this day.

Look carefully, just follow what the sheep are gazing at.  There, on the skyline are the devil's carelessly-lost rocks.

Look carefully, there on the skyline are the devil’s carelessly-lost rocks.

Climatologists and geologists have a different explanation, more credible but less fun.  If you get the chance, go to Shropshire, savour its varied and delightful landscape, and decide for yourself.

Welsh as she is spoke

Wales is only along just to the left of England.  We don’t need a passport to get here.  And I’ve visited quite often.  But until this time, never been so aware of the Welsh language.  It’s not just that all signage comes first in Welsh, then English.  But people – ordinary, everyday sort of people speak it – all the time.  I hadn’t really realised that this is a living language, a day-to-day reality for many many people, and not one simply preserved by well-meaning traditionalists and academics, in the way that Occitan seems to be encouraged in parts of France and elsewhere. I wish I could understand more than ‘dim parcio’ (‘no parking’).

Hir fyw y gwahaniaeth. (‘Vive la difference!’ to you.  And you can’t say that in English, either)


Even Waitrose supermarket says it in Welsh before English.

Even Waitrose supermarket says it in Welsh before English.


Of course this isn’t written on my smartphone.  I tried.  I’m allowed to comment on other WP bloggers’ posts by being logged into my account, but if I try to post myself, it continues to say I can’t be verified.  Oh grrr.

Parys Mountain

Once, a century ago, Parys Mountain was alive with people: men, women and children hacking deep clefts and canyons into the earth, in search of copper-bearing rock.  Now the area is bleak, desolate, abandoned.  The poisoned sulphurous soil supports little but odd clumps of hardy heather.  Yet this large site, with just a single set of abandoned winding gear, a single ruined mill is strangely beautiful, and we fell under its atmospheric spell.


Alex inspects a man-made crater at Parys Mountain


PS.  This post was written on a borrowed laptop.  As far as my phone goes, I can access my WordPress site, write and illustrate a post, then it tells me I can’t publish, as  I don’t exist.

PPS.  To add insult to injury, the borrowed laptop automatically spellchecked ‘Parys’ to ‘Paris’.  Grrr

Life of Brian 2

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Ellie and Brian have joined us for two days only. Time for Brian to see the sea. He does like ‘to be beside the seaside, beside the  sea’.


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