About Me

I’m a linguist and keen amateur baker from Surrey, England, now living in Cardiff, Wales. I moved here in 2017 after marrying my lovely Welsh husband, Will. I work as an English as a Foreign Language tutor and provide 1-1 English conversation sessions online to adults. Languages have always been a passion of mine, and I find it really rewarding to meet people from all around the world and to help them with their English.

Qualifications

My language qualifications include:

  • Trinity College London TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate
  • MA Literary Translation
  • BA Italian and Spanish
  • A Level French
  • Foundation (Sylfaen) Welsh

Working Background

I have worked within several fields including tourism, technical translation and teaching English as a foreign language. As well as teaching English, I have mainly worked in sales and marketing positions, and if I had to single out one, I would say that the most interesting job I have ever had was working as an Assistant Shore Excursion Sales Manager on board the P&O cruise ship Oceana!

Before I moved to Wales, I worked for the top-ranking Wimbledon School of English in their IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam department. I also became a certified IELTS clerical marker responsible for marking IELTS Reading and Listening papers and worked as an IELTS exam supervisor and invigilator.

My Interests

In my spare time, I enjoy learning foreign languages (currently Welsh), baking, wine, cross-stitch, travelling, hiking, strength training and anything outdoorsy. I love boats and currently volunteer as an Event Fundraiser for the RNLI.

Welsh

I have just completed a Welsh Intermediate (Canolradd) level course, and I hope to start studying Welsh Advanced (Uwch) in September. Last year in August 2019, I achieved the highest mark in Wales for my Welsh Foundation (Sylfaen) language exam and was presented with the Basil Davies Memorial Trophy by the Archdruid of Wales, Myrddin ap Dafydd at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst, North Wales:

Helena Davies
Receiving the Basil Davies Memorial Trophy at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst, August 2019.

Baking

I really love to bake, to take photos of my bakes and to blog about the process. Whilst baking can be incredibly frustrating at times (when things go wrong, which is often), I also find it really satisfying. Baking allows me to be creative and to be precise, two things I really enjoy. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love attention to detail! Check out what I’ve been baking recently on my baking blog. Will is a chocolate fiend, so he was happy when I baked him chocolate brownies a few years ago:

Me baking brownies for my chocolate-loving husband!

Wine

My interest in wine developed after a tour of the Marlborough vineyards in New Zealand. In February of this year, I decided to sit the WSET Level 1 Award in Wines exam and passed with 100%! I particularly enjoyed learning about positive and negative food and wine interactions on this course. Prior to lockdown, I had started studying on the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines course, but unfortunately this was interruped mid-course due to the covid-19 outbreak. I am hoping to resume the course once lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Many people wouldn’t associate Wales with wine, but great vineyards are to be found here too! Here’s a picture of me visiting White Castle Vineyard earlier on this year – you can read all about my visit on my blog:

Visiting White Castle Vineyard, in Abergavenny, Wales

Cross-Stitch

When I get a bit of spare time sat in front of the TV, I like to work on my cross-stitch project. I have been working on a cross-stitch map of the world, and I very much underestimated how long it would take to complete it; I think I must have been working on it in fits and starts over the last 20 years! Happily, lockdown has really helped to accelerate my progress on it:

Cross-stitch map of the world project in progress

Travelling

I really love to travel, and I can’t wait until the world returns to normal and we can travel safely again. As part of my year abroad at university (many years ago in 2000!), I spent time in Padua, Italy and Tenerife, Spain, so naturally I am very fond of these places. A lot more recently, Will and I were lucky enough to honeymoon in New Zealand, and I have some incredible memories of our road trip which started in the North Island and ended in the South Island. Here’s a picture from when we went cycling around Lake Wanaka, South Island:

Cycling around Lake Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand

And here is a picture of Will and me on holiday in Croatia, 2018, when we visited the Blue Cave off the island of Vis:

Boat trip to visit the Blue Cave, Croatia

Hiking

Will and I love to hike in the Brecon Beacons and along the Welsh coastline. We are both really outdoorsy, so this was a big reason why we moved from London to Cardiff. It is amazing being so close to such spectacular beauty spots. Will is particularly fond of the mountains and there is nothing I enjoy more than a bracing walk by the sea. Here is a picture of us hiking the Glamorgan Heritage Coast:

Will and I hiking along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales

And here is a picture of us hiking the Dragon’s Back in the Brecon Beacons (it was very cold!):

Hiking the Dragon’s Back, Brecon Beacons, Wales

Strength Training

Keeping fit is really important to me, and over the last three years, Will and I have both developed a keen interest in strength training. Before the pandemic, we used to work out regularly at a gym so that we could make use of their squat racks etc. Now that we are working out at home, we seem to have developed a mini-gym, having acquired several pairs of dumbbells etc.! Here’s a picture of me strength training pre-covid:

Strength training – about to do the overhead press!

RNLI Volunteering

I am very keen on the sea and boating, and about a year ago I started volunteering for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution). Pre-covid, I used to regularly help out with fundraising efforts to help save lives at sea. Here’s a picture of me raising money outside the Principality Stadium, Cardiff:

Fundraising for the RNLI outside the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales

Picture Credit (Feature Image at Top): Lensmonkey