Tag: Visit Wales

Just published: Roald Dahl 100 events in Wales this autumn

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Roald Dahl is everywhere these days.

From school set texts to West End theatres, his stories have been translated into 58 languages and he has sold more than 200m books worldwide.

Many of his creations have already been adapted for stage and screen, notably Willy Wonka and Matilda, while Steven Spielberg’s new film of The Big Friendly Giant (BFG), staring Wolf Hall’s Mark Rylance in the title role, premieres on July 22.

But most people don’t realise that Dahl was Welsh — born just outside Cardiff to a Norwegian family on September 13, 1916. The day is now commemorated globally as Roald Dahl Day and Wales celebrates Dahl’s literary legacy this year with a programme of cultural events to mark the 100th birthday of the world’s favourite children’s author.

“I read Dahl for the first time with my two young children and Danny Champion of the World had me in floods of tears,” says Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, one of the festival organisers.

“Dahl’s appeal for me is to draw on his own personal experience to convey a real sense of humanity.”

I’ve come to Cardiff to follow in the footsteps of the great storyteller, exploring the formative places that fired the literary imagination of the young Dahl.

CARDIFF

Dahl’s Oslo-born father, Harald, had come to the Welsh capital to seek his fortune in the late 19th-century iron-making and coal-mining boom. The latter established a successful ship broking business, Andresen and Dahl, from a rented office on Bute Street in modern-day Cardiff Bay [see map, above].

My first stop is the Norwegian Church, established by the Norwegian Seamen’s Missions, where young Roald was christened in 1916. Today the building is known as the Norwegian Church Arts Centre and plays home to concerts and exhibitions. Check out the upstairs Roald Dahl gallery for changing exhibitions.

Round the corner is Roald Dahl Place, home to the Wales Millennium Centre, a key venue for events this summer. It is close to here that, at the age of nine, Dahl set out for boarding school in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. He would travel to and from school in on an old steamer ship from Cardiff Docks and suffered from terrible homesickness for his family in Wales.

Writing in Boy: Tales of Childhood, he says:

“On a clear day you can stand on the esplanade at Weston and look across the fifteen or so miles of water and see the coast of Wales lying pale and milky on the horizon.”

LLANDAFF

Dahl was born and spent his early childhood in the Llandaff district, a leafy community a couple of miles outside of Cardiff. He attended Llandaff Cathedral School, situated in the shadow of the towering Gothic cathedral, from the autumn of 1923 onwards.

It was here, aged just seen years old, that he developed his particular sense of mischief while admiring the Sherbet Suckers and Tonsil Ticklers at the sweet shop on the High Street.

Dahl recounts the legendary story of the Great Mouse Plot, a scheme to leave a dead mouse in a jar of Gobstoppers to frighten the misery-guts female proprietor. He writes:

“Mrs. Pratchett was a small, skinny old hag with a moustache on her upper lip and a mouth as sour as a green gooseberry.”

Today Llandaff remains a leafy enclave on Cardiff’s doorstep. After a stroll around the genteel village green, I join Dahl fans to admire a blue plaque, commissioned by the Llandaff Society, to mark the site of the former High Street sweetshop.

Somewhat underwhelming, the erstwhile sweet shop is now a Chinese take-away.

TENBY

Dahl would often spend childhood holidays in the stately Pembroke shire resort of Tenby. The family stayed in the same property, The Cabin, every year.

The Grade II-listed property remains in the ownership of the Dahl family with inspiring harbour views and it is available to rent as a holiday home to this day through Coastal Cottages. The Blue Plaque outside now commemorates the Dahl connection.

Dahl also holidayed in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, and is known to have visited Dylan Thomas’s writing shed on the estuary.

The tiny shed may even have inspired him to build his own writing hut at his home in the Buckinghamshire village of Great Missenden, Bucks, where the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre today welcome visitors from across the would

More from roalddahl100.wales/whats-on.

  • Published in the Daily Express, July 2016.
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Copywriting: Your British Journey campaign for Marketing Manchester and Visit Wales

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Manchester and North Wales are two places where I always enjoy spending time.

So, when I was asked recently to do some copywriting work for a tourism project around the theme of ‘Two destinations. One British journey’ (catchy, if I do say so myself), then I was delighted to get involved.

This campaign was aimed at American visitors to the UK, so it was all ‘vacations’ not ‘holidays’.

The brief was to write copy to entice visitors this spring to explore both the essential and less-well-known sites, combining the two locations in a week-long itinerary.

The resulting microsite went live this week and you can read read my copy at Your British Journey. The work will also appear via American Airlines.

Emma Gordon, Marketing Manager at Marketing Manchester, who commissioned the work from me in collaboration with the Visit Wales office in New York, said of my contribution to the project:

“It was great to work with David. He listened to our needs, developed a perfect strapline and delivered inspiring copy for our marketing campaign.”

Do you have a copywriting project and need a professional writer with an eye for a story? Please get in touch. 

Dylan Thomas centenary for Visit Wales and Telegraph Travel

 

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This year marks the centenary of the birth of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas [pictured above as part of Sir Peter Blake’s Llareggub exhibition].

I’ve been busily picking up commissions on the theme.

One of these projects was a series of blog posts for a microsite sponsored by Visit Wales and positioned within the Telegraph Travel site.

Each one of the short pieces – 100 posts for 100 years – focused on a narrow theme relating to Thomas.

I covered a range from his voice through to his often-forgotten sister, based on desk research, previous visits to Wales and interviews, bashing out roughly one per day for three weeks.

Catch up with my full set of stories as follows:

Dylan Thomas the actor

Nancy: Dylan Thomas’s forgotten sister

The Ceredigion years: walks that inspired Dylan Thomas

The appeal of Dylan Thomas’s voice

The magic of A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Dylan Thomas at the BBC

A Great Welsh Literary Tradition

A Thriving Cultural Heartland

Read the whole series at Visit Wales: Dylan Thomas centenary

 

Wales Coast Path blog for Visit Wales

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Like most freelancers, I’ve been spreading my editorial wings as traditional commissions get scarcer.

Writing content for travel websites is one of my new directions and the following set of links to five blog posts I created for Visit Wales are a good example of where I’d like to go.

The work was rewarding, the discipline of working online stimulating and the good, old-fashioned principles of angles, accuracy and telling a personal story transferred well to the new medium.

The ideas was simple. To walk sections of the then-forthcoming Wales Coast Path (more about the opening), meet some local characters for human interest and include lots of local colour, combining elements of travel and nature writing.

The feedback I received from Visit Wales indicates that it was well received, generated lots of comments and social-media interaction and, generally, proved to be a good read.

Jane Harris, who works in Media Relations for Visit Wales, said:

“The blogs were produced were beautifully written, well researched and came together with associated Flicker images. I understand that no editing was required before uploading to WordPress. Work from David is always produced with said time frame.”

The five posts, written between February and May 2012, are as follows:

Are you looking for travel content for your website? How did you rate my work on this project?

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