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Hosting friends from Wales

April 17, 2009
By Kerry Hoffman

If you thought residents of New Ulm were bad drivers, I hope you turned the other way when my moss-green Jeep was coming down Minnesota Street last week.

If you did notice it may have been Dafydd Evans and his girlfriend Alaw Jones. They have been staying with us for 10 days. Dafydd is the brother of one of the girl's that stayed with us during the summer of 2005.

What a time we had.

It's always nerve-wracking to have guests become a permanent resident in your home and be with you 24/7. Will they think my bathroom is clean enough? Will they think the food I make tastes absolutely delicious? What if I wake them up when I get ready for work? God forbid I should have to scold my kids in front of them. (I actually had to do this.)

Dafydd and Alaw arrived here last week Tuesday and left yesterday.

I feel kind of bad for Steve as he has been the one doing most of the entertaining. I was unable to take time off from work.

Steve has taken them to tour the University of Minnesota Research farm in Waseca. He has taken them to Schell's for a tour of the gardens, the AMPI butter plant, and a thousand other things. They've watched Russell play baseball and Joey swat a golf ball around the golf course.

Steve, Russell and I took both of them up to the Cities for an overnight. What is a trip to the United States without a visit to the Mall of America? I still stand on my word, "That place is just too darn big." I had big plans of coming home with a funky new outfit for a wedding tomorrow, but came home with only two shirts, two new books and a candle. In all that retail space, I just couldn't find an outfit that caught my eye.

We slept at the Radisson with the water park and had a blast. I will never again go down the tallest body slide. Can you say, "Extreme Wedgy?"

Anyway, before Dafydd and Alaw arrived we had e-mailed back and forth several times. I assured them they could borrow my Jeep any time they wanted to get away and run to town or look at the far reaches of Southern Minnesota.

So that's exactly what they did Monday afternoon.

From what it sounds like, it was quite an adventure.

Dafydd apparently isn't a big fan of using "indicators," or turn signals as we call them.

A few times, according to Alaw, he did forget that he was in America and proceeded to drive down the wrong side of the road. Alaw reminded him several times to move over.

Of course, they did manage to go the wrong way down Minnesota Street - must have thought they were in the St. Patrick's Day parade. Speaking of Ireland, they do live about 100 miles from the island country, but from what I understand, you would never admit you are Irish while walking the streets of Wales. The same types of jokes fly around about the Irish as we as ours concerning those people living in Iowa.

For instance: An American, an Irish lad and a Welshman were stranded in the desert, and nearly dying. They decided to head out, each on their own. They grabbed what they considered essential items for survival in the desert. The American, well, he grabbed the radiator off the car for water. The Welshman grabbed the gas tank to start a fire in case the weather dropped to unbearable. Well, the Irishman grabbed the car door.

"What in the heck are you doing?" they asked the Irishman.

"In case it gets bloody hot, I can open the window."

Well, I thought it was funny anyway.

The trip for our guests hasn't been all about fun. It's about learning as well. Alaw actually received her master's degree in dairy nutrition, and Dafydd dairy farms with his father. They wanted to learn as much as they could about dairy farming in Minnesota. They did tour Steve's brother's dairy farm. We took them to only John Deere dealerships, because Dafydd swears Massey is the way to go.

Alaw has actually studied how to make straw, which would be the yellow stuff, more digestible when fed to cattle. It was very interesting to listen to her explain her project. Not that I want to put it in this column. For me it was interesting, for many others it be considered boring.

The experience has been quite pleasurable. Not only have we renewed a dear friendship with Dafydd, who is 28, but we have also gained another new friend in Alaw, she's 24. I have once again been introduced to proper English. I have never used the words quite, lovely, lad, bit, charming, and several others so much in my life. It's amazing how language rubs off on a person.

Russell got a big kick out of counting in Welsh. To translate the number five, Dafydd said, "pimp." Russell bust a gut. He thought that was quite humorous.

I know our friendship is going to last a long time.

In fact, this June, Joey and I are making a return trip to England and Wales. I think I am looking forward to it. Joey turned 15 this past week. It's an awkward age for a kid and a miserable age for his parents as well.

We are missing them now that they are not here, but we can look forward to seeing them again in the future.

Who knows, maybe we'll have to take a try at driving in England and Wales.

For questions, or

comments, e-mail me at



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