Archive – 2018

Please find some of our older blog posts below, with hits in brackets.  This news archive from the official Pontypridd Town website only runs from 2014 when we moved the old html, css site over to WordPress.  Previous years work (1998-2014) has unfortunately been lost in the ether somewhere.


2018

Nasty Politics – 1 October 2018

Growing up in the 70s and 80s I saw prosperity and austerity in equal measure, although I’ve only ever experienced the latter.  I saw the unions grow powerful which helped give workers pay rises but that was short lived when Thatcher came to power and dismantled everything.

Love her or hate her (and I was definitely in the ‘hate camp’) she changed Britain forever.  She deregulated the banks and created yuppies, desimated our manufacturing industries, closed all the mines and threw millions on the scrap heap.  She supported despotic right wing regimes like Chile, sent assassination squads into Ireland and helped keep apartheid afloat in South Africa.

She encouraged poor people to buy shares when she sold off the family silver like BP, British Gas, British Steel, BT and Rolls-Royce.  She created social housing problems and slum landlords by getting rid of council houses.  She sacrificed hundreds of soldiers lives just to win an election by allowing Argentina to invade the Falklands.  She was certainly a bad egg in my book (or should that be basket?).

But for me her biggest legacy was how she changed the whole psyche of a nation.  She created an ‘I’m alright Jack’ culture where neighbours turned their backs on each other.  She made us all selfish.  Compared to some of the more specific examples (links above) this may seem like a trivial thing but unfortunately, in my opinion, it is this ‘culture’ of ‘self’ that has contributed to the deterioration in living conditions, the exploitation of the environment, a general lowering of standards and a lack of real community that we see in today’s Britain.  In other words ‘nobody cares anymore’.

Then in the 90s politics just carried on as normal of course.  Long years of Tory oppression were halted by a minor miracle, when the Labour Party finally won a general election.  We all had high hopes for the future… but it was a false dawn as Tony Blair just turned out to be the best Tory prime minister we’ve ever had!  He continued the ruination of our schools and hospitals by increasing bureaucracy rather than decreasing it as he’d promised, and worse of all social mobility actually decreased under Blair (and Brown).

Since then of course we’ve had Cameron and Osborne’s austerity followed by May’s austerity.  So, is this the worse time in modern British politics?  Yeh, probably.  But not because of what we’ve got but what the alternative is.  Surely we now have the worst choice we’ve ever had: on the one side we have ‘more of the same shit’; a right wing junta who continue to screw the poor (think how much worse this would be under Boris or Mogg!) and line their own pockets but on the other side we have a left wing, Jew-hater who supports Muslim terrorists and illegal immigration over the white, working class majority that are the only ones who can vote him in!  It’s almost as if he wants to lose the next election?

OK, in a previous column I highlighted the differences in the Labour and Tory party policies, which even for sceptical me was a no-brainer but ‘foot’ and ‘shoot’ seem to follow Mr Corbyn around like a fart in a phone box.  The left wing parties have great policies, like ‘Save the NHS’, free university education, nationalisation of once British, but now foreign owned, industries and so on… but it’s the other stuff that will lose them a shot at power – the political correctness (see Trevor Phillips), sexism against men, positive discrimination (e.g. banning whites from standing for election), banning free speech when it suits them and open borders; which leads to over-population, rising crime, more benefit claims and strain on public services as much as anything else.

And yes I blame the media.  I always blame them I know, especially the BBC.  Not for being right wing or left wing though, but for being so out of touch with the lives of ordinary people, too politically correct and downright lazy when it comes to truthful, investigative journalism, which we still pay for (via the licence fee) under threat of prosecution.

Many believe the biggest threat we face is Brexit, but surely this has to be a good thing seeing the mess in Europe that Merkel and Brussels have created recently.  In fact, unless the EU reforms big time it is probably finished anyway.  And true ‘lefties’ want out anyway so why the lack of reporting on this?  The UK is the fourth biggest contributor (just behind Italy) to the EU.  Think about that for a moment.  Now ask yourselves if you think the EU would survive without Germany and France (the top two payers)?  Not hard to see why anyone connected to the EU gravy train is so keen on making it incredibly difficult for the UK to leave.  We will probably be just the first when we do.  Greece won’t be long, Italy is also an outside bet, as are Hungary, Poland, Holland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden and even France!

But forget Brexit.  That will sort itself out in a few years.  For me there is a bigger problem here in the UK at the moment.  It is fear and hatred, and it is getting worse.  Not fear of Islam.  Not anger at the biased media.  Not head-in-the-hands disbelief for the distraction from corporate greed that is Trump, not even fear and hatred of the current Tory government (which might make sense) but the truly nasty vileness that the so-called ‘left’ portrays towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them!  I grew up a socialist, was proud to tell the world I was one, argued until I was blue (sorry red) in the face about why being altruistic was such a good thing for everyone… but now I’m all confused!  Aren’t we socialists supposed to be nice people?  Aren’t we supposed to care about others not just scream abuse at them?  Take a tour of Twitter if you don’t believe me.  Opinions are getting out of hand.

There is now a complete polarisation in British politics.  The middle ground has been lost.  Aren’t we allowed to have more than one view about things anymore?  Can’t we ban animal testing yet bring back the death penalty for paedophiles and terrorists?  Can’t we support the re-nationalisation of the railways and also deport Albanian people traffickers?  Can’t we tax the rich to pay for hospitals yet recognise that we need to increase the numbers of male schoolteachers?  Can’t we keep the ‘good’ EU laws, like environmental protection and workers rights but change the ‘bad’ ones like expensive, extra layers of bureaucracy, straight bananas, the Euro and over-population due to unrestricted migration?  Can’t we create decent jobs for white, working class men and get rid of PR firms, job agencies and Starbucks?  Can’t we have re-runs of Benny Hill, because he was funny, and still adopt the Thai prison model?  Can’t we give equality to heterosexuals and taxpayers while outlawing backward, political nonsense like Islam?  Can’t we abolish the BBC licence fee until such time as they pay their so-called ‘stars’ the minimum wage like the rest of us?

Do we have to subscribe to every tiny facet of an ideology that is being packaged and pedalled by a noisy, middle-class, London minority?  A nasty, office-based bunch of career politicians, PC-Guardian readers (but worse still believers) and useless hangers-on who’ve never worked a day in the real world, struggled to survive on low pay or benefits, or had Eritrean rapists move in next door.

And while this battle rages between the ‘rights’ and the ‘everyone elses’, who suffers?  Yep, the same poor bastards who switch off from politics in their droves because no-one speaks for them anymore.  The result is voter apathy and we end up stuck with the same landed gentry, class divisions and extremes of wealth and poverty.

I used to find myself blaming the privately-educated, people in power but the more I think about it the real villains are those who pretend to speak for us poor, oppressed masses while feathering their own nests.  Why are they so afraid to say what everyone is thinking?  Perhaps they really believe the bullshit double-standards they project?  Maybe they’re actually scared to get voted into power because then they’d have to do some actual work and carry out the people’s will!

Compare these two disgusting people – posh-git Boris Johnson and racist Diane Abbott – which one do you want running the country or with their hands on the reigns of power?  Answer?  Neither?  OK, try these two – Lord Snot, oops, sorry I meant Rees-Mogg or Shami Chakrabarti?  If these are our choices, isn’t this just a little bit scary?

So what can we do?  Easy.  Buy my ‘Happy‘ book and live by that code instead.  Oh yeh, and start being nice to people again.

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Ponty v RGC – 18 September 2018

As the BBC continues to charge us twice as much as Netflix while it keeps losing top class sport the bonus is that ‘Ponty RFC‘ are now back on the telly.

Catrin Heledd presents live coverage of the Principality Premiership clash between Pontypridd and Rygbi Gogledd Cymru. Studio guests include former Scarlets and Llanelli coach Phil Davies and former Wales and Pontypridd outside half Ceri Sweeney – click here.

So if you don’t fancy braving the weather this Friday night why not catch up to the telly to watch the boys take on the WRU-sponsored money men of the north.


Sports lost recently – Olympics, Six Nations (sharing with ITV), Golf, Cricket, Boxing…

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Welsh T-Shirts – 10 September 2018

The Welsh T-shirt shop has just had a makeover and we’ve added lots of new designs and Welsh-temed products for you to purchase. We hope to add many more in the future so please check back soon.

We also post / tweet voucher codes every month on the Ponty Forum and Twitter feed so you save even more money.

Just click here to check out our latest designs and please pass on our web address to anyone you think might be interested.

https://shop.spreadshirt.co.uk/wales/


Shopping on Amazon
Click here for Welsh-related products

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Pet Food – 29 August 2018

As a dog owner you know how expensive your favourite furry friend can be, especially when it comes to providing the best quality nutrition. So we thought we’d try and help all ‘Ponty pooches’ (and your wallets) by searching the Internet for the cheapest pet food.

Our own dog eats Royal Canin, as well as raw meat and various scraps from our plates so we compared various sites for the best deals. We looked at Amazon, Monster Pet Supplies and many others.


What we found was that prices do vary but the best overall price was zooplus.  To view their products and prices just click the banner above and save yourself some cash.

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Pontypridd music journalist launches memoir – 18 August 2018

Pontypridd journalist Steph McNicholas has published her first book – Town and Country Girl.

Steph has written for national and regional newspapers and magazines, including Record Mirror and the Western Mail. She started her career aged just 19 as a local correspondent on the Pontypridd Observer. Steph was also one of the team of journalists who created the Western Mail website icwales, which later became known as Wales Online.

Town and Country Girl recalls her time in London in the 1980s and ‘90s, when she freelanced for the national music press.

The book’s title comes from her involvement in the campaign to save her favourite venue, the Town and Country Club, from demolition. The venue survived and is now known as the London Forum.

Town and Country Girl includes over a dozen original reviews, including shows by Big Audio Dynamite, Madness and Ponty’s very own Tom Jones.

“An affectionate recollection of a brilliant time for Music – and a golden age for the Music Press.” – Steve Grant, Journalist

It is published as a paperback in August  2018 by Publish and Print.

Steph will be donating part of the proceeds from sales of the book to GTFM Community Radio and Pontypridd Food Bank.

To purchase your copy – click here.

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The Differences Between a Physical and a Digital Point of Sale System – 1 August 2018

Any point-of-sale system represents the backbone of the modern business. These frameworks are essential during the final checkout process and as a result, they could very well make or break a sale. Such systems are also useful when attaching discounts, “BOGO” (buy-on-get-one) specials and similar promotions. However, they have also evolved in order to accommodate the needs of the digital world. Let’s take a look at the primary differences between virtual point-of-sale applications and their traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Physical Point of Sale Systems

The basic point-of-sale concept has likely existed since ancient times. From a very broad per-spective, every framework was designed to confirm a transaction between two individuals or entities. They were also employed as a guarantor in the event that the client required a refund after purchasing a product or service. Anyone who has ever worked within the physical retail sector is already aware of some of the components of an average POS system. These will frequently include:

– A standard cash register.
– Other “impulse buy” products at or near the checkout counter.
– The production of a receipt after the sale has been completed.

Of course, the rise of the Internet dictated that this basic architecture would need to be dramati-cally modified in order to address the online community. Some of the first point-of-sale systems began to emerge during the 1990s and since this time, they have evolved to become amazingly advanced portals.

Digital Point-of-Sale Applications: Cutting Edge Architecture

One of the first issues which these newer platforms needed to address was the simple fact that the same levels of safety and security must be ensured. Private payment methods and the ability to work with a number of e-wallets are therefore both realities. Thanks to the inclusion of advanced firewalls such as SSL and TLS (Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security), all personal details will remain hidden from prying eyes. However, this is only the beginning. A handful of other features which serve to define the modern point-of-sale platform include:

– Performance and sales pipeline tracking.
– The ability to immediately access client details.
– Online promotions and discounts.
– An integration with social media platforms.
– Inventory management.

Shopify takes these concerns quite seriously and therefore, clients can expect to enjoy a stream-lined interface in order to expedite any online sale. Additional intuitive features such as email marketing, CMS solutions, support for QR codes and advanced data analytics will enable sales pro-fessionals to leverage their talents while enhancing the overall customer experience. When we consider that online competition is more prevalent than ever before, it only makes sense that such tools are provided.

It is not likely that the core principles behind the point of sale will change soon. However, the tools and applications provided to the end user have come a long way. This trend will only continue and by using the most advanced applications on the market, securing a solid sale is never a challenge.

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How to choose the best salon to go to? – 30 July 2018

Many of us (especially ladies) enjoy visiting the local salon or spa from time to time, in hopes of coming out looking and feeling great. However, with so many beauty businesses around, how do we decide on one that is best suited for our individual needs?

Before booking your next visit at any salon, follow these steps to ensure that you get the best experience possible!

Check their reviews

When looking for a new beauty business to visit, we often turn to friends for advice. They may recommend an exceptional salon, but this is based off of the experience of one one person. Instead of basing your decision off of one client’s opinion, find the beauty businesses online and do some research. Visit the salon’s social media page and read up on their reviews – your friend may have had a great experience at the business, but others may have not. When choosing which beauty business to visit, our decisions are often based on experiences others have had.

Peek at work portfolios

Checking a salons’ reviews page is oftentimes enough to help us decide on which one to visit, but most people forget to explore the work portfolio, which is just as important. A beauty business might have a 5-star rating, but it may be based on several factors. Many positive client reviews might be based solely on the price clients paid for a product or service and not necessarily the quality.

If you have a salon in mind that you would like to visit, look to see if it is on social media pages such as Instagram or Facebook, as these are popular mediums that beauty businesses rely on to share their work. You wouldn’t want to visit a salon, book a hair treatment and leave with a head of regular box colour, which begins to fade after a few washes. The service you paid for may not have been expensive, but the quality may have been below your expectations

Look for convenience

Although it’s 2018, many beauty businesses take bookings over the phone – it’s fast and fairly reliable, unless staff members are too busy to answer your calls, or you are trying to book after hours. Now that is not very convenient. Instead, look to see if the beauty business offers online booking, either on their website or social media pages.

A business with online booking prioritises client convenience, as this feature allows for 24/7 booking and may include automatic appointment reminders. Since we all have many daily tasks to accomplish, forgetting things like a beauty appointment are commonplace – which is why salons with this feature should be on your list.

Juliusz is a beauty business blogger at Versum salon and spa software.

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Popular online games on Android in 2018 – 25 July 2018

Android is the world’s most popular mobile platform, appearing on hundreds of millions of smartphones, tablets and connected devices.

With such a big audience, it has managed to attract a raft of developers, allowing the Google Play store to become packed with the top gaming experiences around.

Here are a few of the biggest movers and shakers in the world of online interactive entertainment that are having an impact on Android in 2018.


Image source: Pixabay

PUBG Mobile

While Fortnite may not yet be available on Android, its rival Battle Royale shoot-and-loot-em-up PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has made the leap to the platform.

Players can compete against up to 99 of their peers in vast arenas littered with weapon drops, gear and other items that make it easier to fight and survive.

The visuals work well on mobile thanks to the flexibility of the Unreal Engine 4, while the controls are intuitive enough to keep players engaged even if they are more familiar with a gamepad or mouse and keyboard combo.

Casumo

Up and coming online casino platform Casumo has made a splash in 2018, with its official Android app allowing users to play entertaining slots and impressive table games from their smartphone.

You can play for fun without putting any cash on the line, or dive right into the real money games, so it’s a good platform to let you test drive the casino experiences that are on offer in a risk-free way.

Regular promotions and sign up offers help to draw in new players and provide good value for money, while the fun and friendly design of the app itself makes it a pleasure to use.

Minecraft

It may have been on the market for years, but Minecraft still manages to sit pretty at the top of the best-sellers list today.

Part of the reason for its enduring success, aside from the raw creativity of the gameplay, is the regular updates that are rolled out by the team at Mojang.

Being able to discover new areas, build new structures with new materials and experience an unfolding landscape with your friends online, or as a solo player, is what sustains the global cult following that Minecraft has attained.

Hearthstone

This is another online-focused Android game that has been around the block but still keeps players coming back for more with its frequent, fresh content updates.

It’s technically free to play, but Hearthstone is a collectible card game that rewards those who are willing to part with a bit of real cash to get hold of the latest expansions as they are printed.

2018 is the Year of the Raven within the world of the game, with The Witchwood set arriving in April and The Boomsday Project set preparing to bring the mech tribe back to the forefront of competitive play in August.

Arena of Valor

A fairly recent addition to the burgeoning MOBA market, Arena of Valor is available as a five-versus-five experience on Android.

Take charge of your hero of choice, team up with four other people online and try to defeat your opponents as efficiently and strategically as possible.

New heroes are unleashed fairly frequently, and this is definitely a game that will appeal to those who love League of Legends and Dota 2 but want a more compact, quick experience for mobile play.

Asphalt 9: Legends

The latest entry in this long running series is touching down later in 2018 and promises to bring with it the most incredible mobile driving experience available to date.

As well as offering a single player career mode, it will of course come with a multiplayer mode that will let gamers compete against one another in races via the web.

The name is intended to highlight the game’s main aim, which is to celebrate the successes of the franchise so far and hark back to classic tracks that fans will know and love.

Such is the power of the Asphalt brand that this ninth main edition is offering people the chance to pre-register to get early access to all that it has to offer, rather than holding out until its wider release.

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Ponty Boy Wins The Voice Kids! – 9 July 2018

Daniel Davies, a Hawthorn High School pupil, who lives in Pontypridd has followed in the footsteps of Stuart Burrows, Geraint Evans and Tom Jones and many other great Ponty singers.

Dan has been chosen as the overall winner in this year’s final of “The Voice Kids UK”.

Having heard Daniel sing many times we can confirm that he is a brilliant, young singer, and after his winning performances for ‘Team Pixie’ he will surely go far!

Proud dad, Mark said, “It is fantastic to see a young man from this area having the opportunity to show how talented he is.  We’re sure he will be a credit to the town of Pontypridd.”

Dan wins £30,000 towards his musical education and a trip to Disneyland where he will no doubt teach Micky Mouse and friends how to sing!

To support Ponty’s latest star click the links below and hear for yourself just how good he is.

Daniel sings:

Any Time You Needs A Friend

This Is Me

Seasons of Love


Official website – click here.

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Judy Durrant Wins Welsh Poetry Competition! – 2 July 2018

The Welsh Poetry Competition 2018 organisers have announced the winners of the 12thinternational competition, judged by acclaimed writer Sally Spedding, and the overall winner was Judy Durrant for her poem Prayer To A Jacaranda.

The winners were as follows:

1stPrize          PRAYER TO A JACARANDA – Judy Durrant, Victoria, Australia

2ndPrize         HEFT – David J Costello, Wirral, Merseyside

3rdPrize          THE MOLE – Jean James, Mayals, Swansea

Sally also choose another seventeen poems for the ‘Highly commended’ section with another thirty-four poems also given a ‘special mention’, such was the quality of entries this year.  As always winners came from all over the world.  All winning poems and judges’ comments can be viewed on the competition web site – www.welshpoetry.co.uk

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Ponty Lido – Summer Opening – 15 June 2018

The National Lido of Wales, in Ponty Park is now open for the summer.

It’s now open every day until 3rd September 2018.

Timetable

Online booking available, 7 days in advance, please book early to avoid disappointment.

Weekends, school holidays, bank holidays

7:30am – 10:15pm
Lane swimming

10:30am – 6:00pm
Casual swimming / activities

6:15pm – 7:15pm
Casual swimmers


Term time (Mon-Fri)

7:30am – 9:00am
Lane swimming

9:00am – 7:15pm
Casual swimming


Please Note: Casual swim sessions also include lane swimming. The use of inflatables and activities will be subject to weather conditions.

Admission to the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, is FREE for children (under 16) and £2.00 per adult.

More info here – www.lidoponty.co.uk

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4 Ways to Look After Your Work Van – 5 June 2018

If your business requires you to drive from place to place in a van or commercial vehicle, you need to look after it so that it can look after you. Whether you’re delivering goods or delivering a service to people’s homes and businesses, your van is an essential tool for the continued success of your business.

With that in mind, let’s look at four tried-and-tested ways for business owners to look after their work van:

Get it Serviced Regularly

If your van is going to covering miles of ground delivering goods or driving you and your workmates back and forth to jobs, you need to make sure there are no surprises on the horizon, such as faulty equipment and breakdowns. These can’t be helpedin a number ofcases, but tokeep the chances of it happening to you to an absolute minimum, you should seek to have your vehicle serviced on a regular basis.

According to the RAC, this should be every six months, but the general rule of thumb is every 12,000 miles. The more modern your van is, the more likely it is that it will inform you of the need for a servicewith some form of light on your dashboard, but it’s worth adding a reminder in your diary for every six months to be on the safe side.

Keep Track on Its Usage

Another way to look after your van is to record the mileage for every job, particularly if you are using your van for deliveries. If you know how far your trips are going to be, you can fuel up beforehand, and keep track of the usage so that the van isn’t being used for unnecessary trips that will cause more wear and tear on the wheels and the engine, and speed up the need for repairs and servicing.

Update It with the Latest Technology

The majority of new vans will have GPS built in so that you can plan your journeys and navigate the risk of getting lost and causing delays to your journeys and extra wear and tear to your vehicle. If you have an older model, purchasing a GPS is a must-buy piece of kit.

When it comes to your van itself, there are a number ofgreat tools that can help you keep tabs on the general welfare of your vehicle. One of these is wheel nut indicators. You don’t want a blow-out or to lose a wheel when you’re out on the road. Therefore, you should look to get the safest wheel nut indicator in the world and be safe in the knowledge that any issues with your wheel nuts coming loose will be flagged to you, in the form of damage to the indicators. It can help you prevent wheel detachment, and stop you losing your wheels, which can be devastating and could potentially cause accidents if it were to happen on the open road.

Keep it Looking Good

It seems obvious, but so many vehicle owners simplydon’t look after their property, and it leads to more trouble than it’s worth, usually in the form of breakdown costs and paying out to have parts fixed andchanged. Keep your vehicle clean, inside, outside and underneath, as much as possible, and get into a routine and ensuring that your vehicle is in tip-top condition regardless of the weather. Treat your van to a professional valet once in a while, and if you have staff who will be using the van, make sure they appreciate the importance of cleanliness and taking care of the vehicleso that no issues should arise as a result of dirt and grime.

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New Poetry Collection – 4 June 2018

Pontypridd writer, Dave Lewis, has just released a new poetry collection – ‘Going Off Grid‘ – which is his seventeenth book and his seventh poetry collection.

This modern collection focuses on digital capitalism, the negative influence of big tech and our addiction to data. Lewis is deeply concerned with the negative direction mankind is taking and cares passionately about helping to steer us all back to a far simpler, happier place in the far more important offline world. Death and depression, as well as love and nature, are also ever-present themes and the whole package is tightly woven together with some subtle, yet haunting, photographs.

“An epic tour de force of modern poetry. The opening poem, (Diet), is reminiscent of T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ and this author’s ‘Roadkill’, but this time focuses on digital capitalism. Lewis is primarily concerned with the madness and addiction pervading our online worlds while we neglect the more important offline. The title is a hope rather than a statement.

“The book includes a handful of vignettes and reflections of the author’s immediate locale edited in the style of Julia Margaret Cameron that provide an added texture and insight to the text. Another piece of top drawer writing by one of Wales’s best poets.” – Andrew Davies

Published as a paperback and e-book in April 2018 by Publish & Print.

To read sample poems click here.

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Pop Up Art Exhibition – 12 May 2018

The ‘Pontypridd Pop Up Art Exhibition’ is once again open for business!

So why not ‘pop’ along and ‘pop’ in to see the great artwork on display by some of the town’s local artists. Photography, watercolours, ceramics, photo cards, wooden crafts and more. A friendly welcome awaits and don’t forget to take your wallet.

Taff St, Pontypridd

Open: Sat 12th May – Wed 28th June

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Ponty Family Cycle Ride – 10 May 2018

It was good to see so many local Ponty people had taken the time to dust off the ole Choppers, Chippers and Tomahawks, pump those tyres up and join the gang for a gentle summer ride from Trallwn to Ynysybwl.

Sunday 13th May

Start: 11:00am Taff Trail by Trallwn Workmans Club

Cycle to The Old Bwl Inn (4.5miles)
Pint of ale (cider, lager, wine…)
Cycle back to Llanover Arms… (4.5 miles)

The weather was great and the beer cold.

This monthly cycling event is organised by Welsh writer Dave Lewis and aims to help the local community get fitter and improve their mental health by engaging with each other and their immediate environment in a friendly, relaxed way.

Look out for the next adventure in about a month’s time…

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Amazon Frown – 27 April 2018

Amazon is inviting registered UK charities to join AmazonSmile, its affiliate marketing service that lets customers generate a donation for charity each time they shop on Amazon.

Each time customers shop at smile.amazon.co.uk Amazon will donate a percentage of the net purchase price for millions of eligible products. There is no additional cost or charge to customers or charities for this.

Customers who shop with AmazonSmile can choose a charity to support before they start shopping. They can change to another charity at any time, should they wish.

OK, sounds good I thought, so I signed up:

AmazonSmileclick here

Basically, if anyone buys any of my books using the link above, Amazon give 0.5% to Animal Free Research UK.

That should net them a few pence every year I thought. But then I did some maths and guess what, it’s probably worse than that!

Let’s begin with the numbers, starting with that 0.5% figure. If you spend £20 at Amazon, that’s 10p. Spend £2,000 and £10 goes to charity – provided, that is, that you remember to bookmark or navigate over to my link! The good news is that it’s not just my books but any product you buy after first clicking the link above but even so…

What, then, is AmazonSmile? It’s marketing, dressed up as altruism. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of charities put the AmazonSmile logo on their websites. They’re promoting Amazon.

Imagine that you spend £1,000 this year buying books from my AmazonSmile link. Amazon gets £995. My charity gets £5. Someone’s doing well, and it isn’t the charity.

No wonder Jeff Bezos is smiling.

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Gender Pay Gap – 15 April 2018

We hear a lot in the mainstream media about the ‘gender pay gap’. Well here are some facts that the female dominated media are less likely to share:

Paying men and women differently for doing the same, or equivalent, jobs is illegal. It has been since 1970. If you don’t believe me click here.  What the biased BBC and others have done is confuse equal pay for men and women doing the same job with what men and women earn for doing different jobs.

Different industries?

Most journalists are women. Most authors are women. Most teachers, lab technicians, therapists, editors, librarians, public relations officers, nurses and insurance underwriters are women.

Primary schools are almost exclusively female (88%), while in state nurseries it’s even worse (97%).

How about medicine? Well, the number of female doctors under the age of 30 is now 61%, a trend that is continuing. In nursing it’s 89% women compared to 11% men.

In fact, it is arguable that women now hold a greater proportion of Britain’s professional jobs than their representation in the workforce would lead one to expect.

But what about this pay gap we keep hearing about?  Well, take teaching, local government and the NHS as examples. There is a pay scale. All employees who move up the pay scale earn more. Employees doing the same job on the same point earn the same. Women do NOT earn less than men (as is the law).

However, some women choose to be in lower paid or part-time roles. Many women take time off to have children and so naturally (and quite rightly) rise slower up the pay scale than a man who doesn’t take a career break.

In Wales 67% of women aged 16-64 are in work compared to 72% of men.

And what of the future?

Men are less likely than women to go to British universities, those who do are more likely to drop out and those who complete their course are less likely to get a good degree. In 2015 there were 35% more women entering university than men.

From disadvantaged backgrounds, young women were 51% more likely to go into higher education than comparable young men. Disadvantaged white boys are the least likely of all groups to go to university, with just 8.9% continuing their studies.

But what about sexuality? Lesbian employees in the UK earn 8% more than straight women so should we now look to pay heterosexual women more as well?  (In the US lesbians earn 20% more!)

And women still live longer than men of course.

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Data Protection – 6 April 2018

Most people know that big companies collect our data but few of us realise the extent to which they use it, who sees it and what impact it has on our lives.

Well, here’s the thing. It’s important. If it wasn’t the world’s largest and richest companies wouldn’t want it.

Take Facebook as an example, seeing as they’ve been in the news recently.

Cambridge Analytica used a quiz app to scrape data such as users’ identities, their friend networks, and likes from millions of Facebook users. Users inadvertantly gave consent by agreeing to the user conditions in the app. The company later used that data to build targeted political ads for Donald Trump’s political campaign, the New York Times, which conducted the investigation along with The Observer, reports.

Scary enough you might think but Facebook’s terms of service allowed apps to access friends’ Facebook data as well as the user’s own!

How worried should you be?

Cambridge Analytica says they used this information to create profiling tools, which were then used to target political ads at users’ personality traits. In doing so, many news reports have suggested, the company helped put Donald Trump into office.

One thing is very clear. User data (that’s everything you and me look at online, every webpage you visit, every ad you click on, every video you watch, music you buy, books you read, which posts you like, share and email to your friends etc. etc.) is incredibly valuable to advertisers, who can exploit users’ information to target their marketing down to the individual level. Why? Easy – to get consumers to buy a product.

Governments are playing catch up

In May, the European Union (EU) will put new regulations into effect that will ensure users understand when their data is being collected. The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, requires that companies identify what data they are collecting and why it’s being collected, and allow consumers to access and control that data. The legislation applies to social media networks, which must comply.

The United States remains one of the few of the world’s leading countries that has no such legislation in place.

Of course, it’s not just Facebook you need to be worried about. Google, Apple and every Tom, Dick & Harry want your data.

So what can you do?

Well, there isn’t a lot you can do unless you pack up your bags and head for the woods and embrace the zombie apocalypse but a few little tweaks might slow down the march of the machines and big tech:

101 Data Protection Tips

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Lido Opening – Spring  – 23 March 2018

The National Lido of Wales will open for the 2018 season on the following dates:

Friday, March 30 – Sunday, April 15.

and then…

Saturday, April 21 and Sunday April 22

Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, 29

Saturday, May 5 to Monday, May 7 (May Bank Holiday)

Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13

Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20.

The outdoor swimming pool in Pontypridd, which replaced the free paddling pool, will still be FREE of charge for kids but for adults there will now be a £2 charge.

Website: click here

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International Welsh Poetry Competition – 2 February 2018

It’s that time of year again folks. Time to dust off those pencils and start scribbling. The biggest and best poetry contest in Wales (founded and based in Pontypridd) is now in its 12th year!

Well and truly international with entrants from as far a field as Abu Dhabi, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Corfu, Denmark, England, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Swaziland, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, USA and Vietnam as well as Wales of course, the Welsh Poetry Competition is a truly international competition, accessible to all (through the English language).

The 2018 judge is Sally Spedding.

1st prize – £500

2nd Prize – £250

3rd Prize – £100

plus 17 runners up specially commended

The first Welsh Poetry Competition was set up by poet & writer Dave Lewis in 2007. Officially launched on St David’s Day @ Clwb-Y-Bont, Pontypridd, 2007 the aim is to encourage and foster the wealth of creative writing talent that we know exists in Wales but currently languishes in the doldrums. We aim to inspire people to capture life in the present day and to give a voice to a new generation of poets and writers. We are not interested in purely academic types of literature but would much rather see pure raw passion burst onto the creative writing scene in Wales.

To find out more visit the website here.

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Happy Birthday – 25 January 2018

Well, I certainly never thought this day would come. It’s 20 years since I started the ‘Official Ponty Town website & message board’. I started it with two things in mind: one, to teach myself html and web design, and two, to try to highlight the problems with our town centre and encourage those in power to do something to improve things. Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

Over the last 20 years the site has had millions of hits and given the people a platform to speak out against incompetence, apathy and downright criminality within the borough. Personally, I’ve been bullied, harassed and threatened with legal action because myself and others dared to tell a few uncomfortable truths.

We produced a pub guide that had landlords tamping, exposed corruption within public office and hopefully gave you a few laughs along the way. The once infamous message board finally caved in to the pressure of social media and we’ve now moved to Facebook. A defeat for free speech and a victory for capitalism but at least you can still have a rant. And all this for free.

Will we still be here 20 years from now? Up to you – the people of Ponty. Use this website (read the stories, share them, click the Google Ads to help pay for the site, shop a little via our links), contribute to the Facebook group and we’ll probably carry on. If you don’t, we won’t.

Have we achieved anything? Some would say very little although others might argue differently. What I do know though is that having a voice can help people feel better and if all we’ve done is provide a place for locals to vent their anger, suggest improvements to our local environment, regain some much-needed community spirit and offer solutions to the many problems that a run-down, socially deprived area like ours has then it’s been worthwhile. It’s a start anyway.

So, once again, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday and over to you Ponty people…

P.S. The committee meets most Fridays in either the Llanover, CYB, Spoons or The Wonky if you want to say hello.

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Could Your Sports Knowledge Be Making You Money? – 18 January 2018

Most people think that players, managers and commentators are the only people who make money from sports, despite the undeniable wealth of the industry. However, thanks to the popularity of sports blogs and YouTube channels, online moneymaking opportunities for fans are on the rise.

So, whether you’re a die-hard fan of a particular team or an expert in the game you love, you don’t have to play the game to win, so to speak. If you want to turn your passion into profit, here are four ways you could be making money from your sports knowledge.

Sports Blogging

Like any other worthwhile venture, sports blogging won’t make you money right away. The potential for earning is almost limitless, however, so there’s never been a better time to start blogging. To begin, you will need to register with a content management platform like WordPress and buy a unique domain name and hosting. This will cost you pennies, and the credibility it will earn your site is worth the investment. Then, it’s up to you to pick a target audience, design your website and share regular sporting content with your readers.

Informed Sports Betting

Although gambling should never be considered a stable income source, putting on a few bets a month can be a fun way to earn some extra cash – particularly if you’re knowledgeable about a particular sport. If you think you could profit from your sports knowledge, it’s worth subscribing to the Unibet blog for sporting updates and informed betting tips and information.

Selling Sports Memorabilia

Finding valuable memorabilia is tricky, but it can certainly be done. Depending on how long you’ve been a sports fan, you probably have some memorabilia of your own that could be sold for a profit. However, this does mean parting with some of your most treasured possessions.

Alternatively, you can find memorabilia items for sale by scouring flea markets and car boot sales, going to charity shops and auctions and searching on eBay. Buying and selling memorabilia is one business venture where you will need to use your knowledge, as it’s important to determine which items are of value and be able to spot the difference between a genuine article and a fake.

Sports Photography

Sports photography is a lucrative business, but it’s also highly competitive. You will need to purchase a decent camera and attend regular games if you want to make money from your photos, and it’s also recommended that you take a photography course to brush up on some professional skills. A mid-range DSLR camera, a telephoto lens and a monopod for stability are all you need to get started, as well as a computer with photo editing software like Photoshop. Contact sports magazines and local publications to find out what kinds of photos they publish – then get snapping.

Whether your talent is writing, photography, bargain hunting or predicting game outcomes, there’s bound to be a skill that can complement your sporting knowledge. With enough commitment, dedication and media awareness, it’s entirely possible to turn your love of the game into a lucrative business opportunity.

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Pop Up Art Exhibition – 18 January 2018

The ‘Pontypridd Pop Up Art Exhibition’ is once again open for business!

So why not ‘pop’ along and ‘pop’ in to see the great artwork on display by some of the town’s local artists. Photography, watercolours, ceramics and more. A friendly welcome awaits and don’t forget to take your wallet.

Taff St, Pontypridd

Open: Mon 15th Jan – Fri 9th Feb

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Basic Photoshop – 3 January 2018

‘Basic Photoshop – An introduction to Adobe Photoshop’ is an easy-to-follow, set of short lessons on how to begin using this industry standard, image manipulation, software package. Also, knowing how confusing Photoshop can be I wanted to produce a straightforward guide to using the basics of the program. This e-book is for all digital photographers that are complete beginners with Photoshop.

The e-book covers cropping, levels, sharpening, brightness, contrast, curves, black & white, hue, saturation, colour balance, special effects, cloning and colour popping. There is also a brief reference section with links to famous photographers and other handy websites.

To download a copy – click here.

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