Gerry’s Diary 175: Darts, apples and my local paper (23rd September, 2016)
Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Friday 23rd September 2016. So hello again from Wales. Summer is a time for visitors here. After the big family party in July, our daughter was with us again for a week with Lulu and her little brother PJ. Time to go to the beach again! And then two friends from Switzerland came last weekend. We had a great walk on the coast. And we saw a pair of very noisy seals  – those animals that live in the sea. (Their heads look a bit like Labrador dogs’.) There’s a photo on the website and on Instagram. At the moment the weather is still very warm here but the days are getting shorter, and the apples are nearly ready to pick . On today’s show I’m going to talk about the story of one of the apple trees in my garden. It comes from a famous place. And then I’m a bit famous in my village now. My picture was in the local newspaper. But before that, let’s go back to my pub quiz question from the last show.
Your last pub quiz question was a question about a sport or game. What game is this? It’s not an Olympic sport. You start with 501 points and the winner is the first person to go down to zero. You score points by throwing something. And on the final throw you have to make a “double” score. What’s this British game? Well, congratulations to Deborah, Brigitta, Ruth and Dani who all wrote to me with the answer. The game is called “darts” – and that’s with an “s”, not “dart” but “darts”. A dart is something with a sharp point that you throw or shoot. For example, when people shoot a big animal, like an elephant, with something to make it go to sleep so that they can give it medicine, it’s a dart, the thing that they shoot into the animal. Anyway in the game, each player has three darts. There’s a new photo of my dart board on the website and on Instagram. On this photo you can see a score of 120. From the top, you can see a double 20, then a 20 and then a triple twenty, so that’s 40 plus 20 plus 60. In the game the difficult thing is to finish because your last dart must be a “double” and you must finish exactly. So, for example, if you have 51 points at the end you could score an 11 and then a double 20. Or you could get a 1, then a 20 and then a double 15, etc. It’s very good for your mental arithmetic , but the mental arithmetic is usually easier than the throwing! It’s not an easy game. It’s that last dart – that’s the problem!
Another picture on the website and on Instagram shows some apples on one of my apple trees. It’s a good year for apples, and this tree is probably my favourite. The apples are very pretty. They’re quite small. They have a beautiful colour with a mixture of red, yellow and green. Inside they are very white. And they taste good. They’re not the greatest apple – these days we have so many great new varieties – but this apple has an interesting story. And I enjoy a good story. The apple is called the Bardsey apple. Bardsey Island is the English name for Ynys Enlli, and this is a very small island at the end of the Lleyn Peninsula – that’s the finger of land that sticks out  into the Irish Sea  from North Wales. In Wales small islands are often holy  places and Bardsey Island was a very sacred  place. In the Middle Ages, thousands of pilgrims  came to visit the church there, and it was a popular place to go and die. The Island is called the “Island of the 20,000 Saints”, because in the legend of Bardsey it is said that 20,000 saints are buried  on the island. Three pilgrimages  to Bardsey in the Middle Ages were worth  the same as one pilgrimage to Rome. Today, the visitors to Bardsey Island mainly go there to see the natural beauty – to see the birds and the seals. You can visit the island for the day by boat, if the weather is good, or you can stay there. There’s accommodation  in small cottages  for about 50 people on the island, and there’s one family who live there all year and look after the small farm.
So what’s the story of the Bardsey apple? Well, on the island there’s one very old apple tree. A visitor to the island saw the tree and the apples. He was interested in fruit trees, and he asked: What sort of apple tree is this? He took an apple to a specialist laboratory to get it tested. And he found out that it was unique. This one little old tree on Bardsey Island was the only apple tree of its kind in the world. This man then took some cuttings  from the tree and began to grow new Bardsey apple trees. You can now buy them, and that’s what I did. So I have an apple tree which is pretty, which has good fruit and which has a great story. And one day I want to go and stay on that special island.
Do you read a newspaper every day? More importantly perhaps, do you buy a newspaper every day? If you buy a newspaper every day, you’re probably an older person, because in countries like Britain and Switzerland, the newspaper industry is in trouble with younger people. Who needs a newspaper when you can get your news for free on the internet or on 24-hour television? These days there are also free newspapers but they need a lot of advertising, so they also need a lot of readers. 100 years ago in Wales there were Welsh-language newspapers but these days they have disappeared. In North Wales there’s a regional newspaper in English and one day a week it has about four pages of articles in Welsh, but that’s it . There’s no other commercial newspaper in Welsh. Instead, we now have very local community papers  in Welsh, and these newspapers are written and produced by volunteers . These are groups of people who produce a newspaper usually every month with local news. For every village there’s somebody who collects the news: news from the local school, news of local people (who’s got married? who’s died? who’s ill?) and local businesses.
I’m telling you this because this month in my local community paper there’s an interview with me! Why? Well, every month there’s a column called “Crossing the Bridge”. We live on an island, of course, and you have to cross the bridge to come onto our island, but there’s also the cultural bridge: the language. And this column is about people who are learning the Welsh language. Every learner has a story about how they came to our island and why they are learning Welsh. So a very nice lady from the local paper contacted me and asked me for an interview, and I had to try to tell my story to her in Welsh. Of course she was able to correct all my mistakes when she wrote it down. But now I’m famous! When I went to my choir rehearsal last week lots of the Welsh people in the choir came to tell me that they had read the interview! There are a couple of photos of the paper on the website and on Instagram. And in one photo you can see the Welsh name for Switzerland!
It’s nearly the end of the show. After I finish recording this, I’m going on holiday. I’ll be in Switzerland, and then in Germany. I hope to tell you all about my trip next time. Now, before I go here’s your pub quiz question for this show. When the Americans talk about the “battleground  states”, what do they mean? What are the “battleground states”? Send me your answers to the website www.podclub.ch, or you can use Twitter. My Twitter address is @gerrypod. You can also follow me and my PodClub colleagues on Instagram. Use the hashtags #podclubgerry or #gerrysdiary. In two weeks you can hear the latest stories from Owen in China, and then I’ll be back on October 21st. Thanks for listening and take care!
 seal: an animal that lives in the cold sea
 to pick: here: to take fruit, vegetables or flowers from a tree or plant
 mental arithmetic: calculations (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) that you do in your head
 to stick out: here: to extend, to continue
 The Irish Sea: the sea between Britain and Ireland
 holy: religious or important for religious people
 sacred: special or important for religious people (for example a place or a book)
 pilgrim: a person who goes on a special journey to visit a religious place like Compostela or Mecca
 to bury: to put something, for example a dead body, in the earth
 pilgrimage: a special journey to an important religious place
 to be worth (something): to have the value of (something)
 accommodation: somewhere to stay and sleep
 cottage: a small house (in the country)
 cutting: a small piece of a tree or plant that you can grow into a new tree or plant
 that’s it: that’s all, that’s the end (an informal phrase or expression)
 community paper: a paper for the people who live in the same place (area, region)
 volunteer: a person who does something for no pay because they like to do it
 battleground: a place where soldiers fight or fought in a war