Today the word that sums up the week that was is:
As someone who moved around a fair amount when I was growing up, my roots have always been important to me. I was born in Wales, and for the first eight years of my life lived an idyllic existence of hanging upside down from trees and running through actual cornfields. Then we moved to Birmingham. I’ve nothing against Birmingham – in fact eight years later when we were relocating again, this time to London, I was on the verge of moving out of home so I could stay. But it’s never held quite such an important place in my heart.
I’m very proud of my Welshness. Technically I’m half English – but having been born in Abergavenny the Welshness always wins. I’ve always felt a bit bad about not speaking any Welsh – I can just about manage the national anthem, but I definitely deserved the incredulity levelled at me by a group of Bangladeshi boys I once worked with as a teaching assistant when I had to admit that I didn’t speak the ‘language of my country’ as they put it.
Anyway. I digress. The real reason I’ve been thinking about my roots this week is because last weekend we went to Wales: to Cardiff – to catch up with family, and of course for that great bastion of Welshness, the rugby.
It was Arthur’s second rugby International at the Millennium Stadium, and his first Six Nations. I wasn’t sure at first about taking a baby to such a big and busy stadium, but with the trusty Connecta it was remarkably easy – and he loved it.
There were at least two other babywearing mums there this time too: one who even made it on to the big screen, and another who I chatted to as we walked down the stairs after what was a undoubtedly successful game for Wales. It always impresses me how civilised the city is on match days. The whole place closes down to traffic, and I’ve never seen any trouble amongst the swarms of pedestrians who take over.
Despite this we didn’t stay out on the town for long – I think that would have been pushing it with Arthur. We had a lovely evening with my Dad catching up with my Aunt and Uncle. I love that Arthur’s getting to spend time with his extended family – though to be honest he was most interested in the dog.
The next day we managed to catch up with my Great Aunt and my Grampa. I think it was the first time Arthur’s met his Great Great Aunty, but his Great Grampa has been there since day one: he was in the pub with the rest of my family when Arthur was born at home, and climbed the two flights of stairs to meet him when he was only three hours old.
It was pretty special taking Arthur to Grampa’s house. I have been going to that house since I was a baby, and it’s remained a reassuring constant with all the different family homes we’ve had over the years. Whilst he wasn’t too impressed with our conversation, Arthur was very taken by the drum that has stood on Grampa’s stairs for as long as I can remember. He and Granny brought it back from Africa having lived there for over twenty years, and I have fond memories of playing it with similar enthusiasm with my brothers and cousins.
I know that Wales will never hold the same significance for Arthur as it does for me: he is setting down his own roots in Brixham, and I’m happy that this will be his home town. But I’m glad I’m getting the opportunity to add a touch of Welshness to his early memories – between the rugby and his extended family he’ll never be able to escape it altogether.