Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Friday, 21st May, 2010. Since I recorded my last podcast, the Swiss Ladies were here on their trip and of course they were here, by chance, for our big election. On today's show, I'm going to talk a little bit about my election day - about going to vote and then waiting for the results. Then I have a couple of stories about the Swiss Ladies and their week. They were quite lucky with the weather - except for the day when I met them. The weather is still very dry here and it was quite sunny, but also cold. It's the coldest month of May that people can remember. It was snowing yesterday at about 1000 metres. To finish with, I have some more news about Owen the Wandering Son and a story about the animals in our garden. We have lots of animals in our garden, but they're not ours. They're all visitors.
Before I start, we have a winner of our competition. My podcasting colleague, Alicia, has just told me that our winner is Ruth (or Ruth) from Winterthur. Congratulations! I'm waiting to hear which prize, Ruth would like.
The election was certainly very exciting this time, and the national result was not so clear. My wife and I went to vote at around lunchtime. In our village you go to vote in the primary school. The children and the teachers have a day's holiday, so that's nice for them. It was very quiet when we went. We had our voting cards that said who we were. A lady checked our names and with a pencil she crossed our names off the big list of all the voters in the village. Then we got the piece of paper with the names of all the local candidates. We had candidates for five parties and one independent. You put your cross next to the name of the candidate you want and then you put your paper in the box. That's it.
The voting stops at 10 o'clock at night and then they begin to count the votes. We have one member of parliament for our island, so all the votes from all the towns and villages on the island are taken to the central point and then teams of people start sorting the votes and counting them. We had the result for our island at about half-past twelve. That's early. Some towns and areas are quicker than others. I watched television until about four o'clock in the morning. By that time we had about half the results. It was clear that David Cameron and his Conservative party were going to be the biggest party, but it seemed that they were not going to get a majority of the seats, so it was going to be difficult to form a government.
In the end, as you probably know, we have a new coalition  government of two parties: the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The old Prime Minister, Mr Brown, had to wait until Mr Cameron was sure that he could form  a government. Then he had to drive to Buckingham Palace and tell the Queen that he wanted to resign . He also had to leave 10 Downing Street at that point. Then the Queen asked Mr Cameron to come to see her. She asked him to form her next government. Then he went straight to  his new office and home at 10 Downing Street to take over as Prime Minister. It's a strange system, but it's the British way. This is the first time, by the way, that we have had a coalition since the Second World War. If you like politics, it's an interesting time, but if you don't, don't worry. I'm now going to tell you about the Swiss Ladies and their visit to North Wales.
The Swiss Ladies arrived in Manchester very early on Monday morning and they flew home again early on Sunday morning. So they had six days to see a bit of North Wales. They visited four old towns with walls and castles, a famous garden, a museum about the slate industry, a holiday village and a country house. They went for a ride on a little, old steam railway and on a canal boat. They saw the sea, they saw the mountains. And they did lots of other things. It was a full programme.
I spent one day with them when we visited my island. I took them to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwryndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Sorry, I just wanted to tell you the name of the village again. (Look it up on YouTube and you can learn to say it!) Then I took them for a walk by the sea. I chose a beautiful piece of coast with high cliffs with lots of seabirds and beautiful views of the sea. The place is called South Stack if you want to look it up. The weather was a bit damp  at the beginning of the day but I thought it would get better. We got out of the coach and started our walk, and then the sea fog came in. We began to see less and less. In the end, I was at the front of the group leading the way, and I could no longer see the back of the group. So we concentrated on looking at all the wild flowers by the path, especially the gorse: that's a prickly bush  with yellow flowers that blooms and grows everywhere on the island at this time of year.
In the afternoon, we visited a little town near my village, Beaumaris, and then in the evening we had a little party in the town of Caernarfon. We went to the house of one of my friends from the Welsh class. She and her husband live in a very old house in the old part of town. She cooked a dinner for the group. But before dinner we had an aperitif in the Royal Welsh Yacht Club. That sounds very grand , doesn't it, but in fact, it's very small and not very smart, but the yacht club bar is in a room above one of the arches  in the old town walls and you can look out and see the sea and the sunset from there. The weather was, of course, much better after we finished our walk.
For the aperitif, I thought that we could have a glass of white wine and some music. The harp  is the national instrument of Wales and I found a fantastic young harpist to play for us. She's in her last year of school and next year she's going to study the harp in Paris. My idea was to put some wine on the tables, have some snacks and then listen to the music. But it didn't work out quite like that . Les, the old barman there, had different ideas, because the mayor arrived - the elected head of the town, the man who welcomed the Queen the week before. This time he was here to meet the Swiss Ladies and listen to the young harpist. I'm afraid I don't have enough time this week to tell you the end of the story, so you'll have to come back next time and I'll tell you about the rest of our evening in Caernarfon.
Somebody wrote a comment recently about my stories about Floosy, the cat we had in Switzerland. That was a very special cat, I have to say. Sadly, she died before we came back to Wales and since then we haven't had a pet. But we do have a lot of animals in our garden. The ducks, for example. And we still get daily visits from Bonnie and Clyde, the neighbour's chickens. We also have lots of cats that come in and out of the garden every day, and often there's a dog or two. All the neighbours have cats and dogs and they wander around. One day recently we arrived home and we found Rudy, the dog from one neighbour, standing in front of the garage. Then standing by the kitchen door, looking a bit worried, were Bonnie and Clyde, the chickens.
We have two doors to our house: the front door and the kitchen door. So I opened the front door and went through the house to open the kitchen door for my wife to bring in the shopping. When I came back to shut the front door, I found Bonnie and Clyde in the house. They like to come in if they can because they know there's food. But now they didn't want to go out again because Rudy was out there. So I shut the chickens in the toilet by the front door and then my wife had to get Rudy into the kitchen so I could push the chickens out of the front door. Rudy's a big dog and he was very interested to come into our house and he just pushed past my wife into the living room. So we now had two strange chickens in the toilet and a strange dog in the living room. And lots of shopping outside. In the end, we got the chickens out, then the dog out and the shopping in. But it was a bit like a French farce . We're thinking about getting a dog or a cat, but we have so many other animals to look after that I don't know if we need a new one!
More news from Owen the Wandering Son this week. He reports that he's arrived in the Philippines but most of the message was about more health problems. I think he sends these reports just to make sure that his mother is worrying about him. This time there were some rather horrible details about a problem that he has with a thumb nail . And he thinks he has problems with one of his teeth but fortunately he doesn't have any pain. He says that he'll go to see a dentist when he arrives in Bangkok, but he doesn't say when that will be.
So, my saying of the day? It's a phrase: to wind somebody up. When you wind up a traditional clock or watch, you make it go. People in Switzerland should know that! But we also use the phrase to mean "to provoke somebody". In this case, I think Owen is trying to wind us up with his stories about his health. He likes to get a reaction from his mother and his sister. And of course he does. You can always try to wind me up by writing comments on the website! But for now, thank you for listening. And "Take care!"
 coaltion: when two political parties join together for a limited period of time to form a government  form: make, build  resign: when you choose to give up a job or a position  went straight to: went immediately, directly to  damp: wet but not very wet (compare: humid = when the air is wet but also warm)  prickly bush: a plant that has lots of branches (smaller than a tree) with sharp leaves or pointed things on the branches that hurt your fingers when you touch them  grand: (big and) impressive or important  arch: here: an old door or gate in the wall with a rounded top  harp: a big musical instrument with lots of strings that you play with your fingers  It didn't work out quite like that: the final result was not exactly like that  a French farce: a type of comedy in the theatre (developed in France) usually with lots of doors and people coming in and out all the time  thumb nail: the smooth, hard part that grows at the end of the thumb (the small wide finger that grows on the side of your hand)