Talking traffic with the 'Totty from Splotty' Lynn Bowles still loves coming back to South Wales when she's not helping to keep the nation on the move with her travel advice on Radio 2. Lydia Whitfield caught up with the traffic guru.
There is nothing that aggravates BBC Radio 2's travel expert Lynn Bowles more than mispronunciation of Welsh place names. That and traffic jams, of course.
The travel news expert on Wake up to Wogan and Ken Bruce's show has been dubbed Taffy Traffic by Bruce, while Wogan affectionately nicknames her the Totty from Splotty.
Armed with maps and microphone, Lynn prides herself on keeping Britain on the move. "I can't tell you to what extent I hate traffic jams," she says. "I will drive anywhere very early or very late to avoid them. I'm terrible - I start shouting and spitting if I get caught in traffic.
"My favourite road used to be the one running from Hereford down to South Wales. But these days, there are so many nice roads like the A470 or even the M4, when you get to see Castell Coch. There are some beautiful vistas along the M4. I had never been to Gower until recently and it's the most outstanding place. I love coming back to God's own country."
Though she is now based in Wimbledon, Lynn, the youngest of three siblings, regularly comes home to South Wales. "I'm coming back to Cardiff more and more," she says. "I was back last weekend digging a ditch at my family home in Rudry. There's a lot of water in Wales and the existing ditch wasn't doing its job."
Lynn insists being Welsh not only helps with Welsh place name pronunciations, but with Scottish ones too. "I can get my tongue around the 'chs' in the lochs," she says. "I think English pronunciations are astonishing though. I have more trouble with them than Welsh or Scottish ones. In Welsh, we have rules, though there are obviously a few exceptions and differences between north and south pronunciations, but some English place names are bonkers. Cowbit in Lincolnshire is pronounced 'Cubbit'. I know that one now and people will ring in and congratulate me on saying it right.
"Growing up in Wales, I used to listen to BBC radio and there were terrible pronunciations - Llanelli was a particular problem.
"It's important we should get this stuff right. One colleague rings me every time she has to say Llandysul or Llanybydder, so I can go over it with her."
Lynn loves her work and liaising with listeners on the road, despite the early starts.
"My alarm goes off at 4.45am and I'm at my desk an hour later," says the bubbly travel girl.
"It's not a real hardship. When the alarm goes off I think, 'No, I can't do it.' But whatever hour people wake up, they always think that. The trick is not to argue with the alarm.
"I have the life of an eight-year-old child. I'm in bed by 9pm, tucked up reading Paddington Bear, but it's fine. I'm a clean living gal. Aren't all nice girls from Cardiff the same?" she jokes.
Lynn's early starts are eased by the pleasure of working with broadcasting legend Terry Wogan.
"The really disappointing thing about Wogan is he is actually as charming as everyone thinks and the banter you hear on air is actually what goes on between us," she says. "He's a very erudite, learned man. I don't think you fake such a great personality for so long - he's been in the business for years. You would go mad trying to fake that for so long."
When we catch up, Lynn has just finished the morning show and is on her way to record a voice-over for a training video 'for people who work with high voltage electricity cables'.
She laughs: "I have the right blend of calm authority for it, don't you think? Then by 2pm or 3pm I tend to start feeling a bit rubbish, but I think most people do during the day, though perhaps a bit later on. I'll spend my afternoons watching bad TV or old Hollywood movies."
Lynn fell into her career in traffic news rather than getting the job by any conventional route. Her Docks-born father Cliff was a marine engineer and a member of the well-known Cardiff-based Bowles sand dredging family. Her mum Josephine was born in Monmouth but moved to Rumney. When the family lived in Rudry, Lynn went to Llanishen High School.
She says: "Before Llanishen I was at boarding school in St Hilda's School in Somerset, which is why I sound so fantastically English.
"After university, in Coventry, I spent some time in New Orleans, working on a TV station there, where the way they taught was fast and furious. I came back to Britain in the early '90s and just couldn't get a job. There was a recession back then, which sounds familiar, doesn't it? So I was applying for all sorts.
"One advert asked, 'Do you know about geography, cars and like maps?' So I joined LBC where I was Richard Littlejohn's traffic bod. Then, at 5 Live, they needed someone who could talk to John Inverdale, who could just chat and I was there for eight years. From there, I decided to move to Radio 2."
Lynn has always had a love of fast cars and drives a Mazda MX-5. She says: "When I was a child, I thought one day I wouldhaveasports carandsoI savedand saved for it. Other than that, my childhoodwas so shockingly average. Living in the country, I thought Iwould do farming, but was pretty rubbish at it! I can drive a tractor or milk a cow, but I wanted to be inside and in thewarm. Nodoubt I will go back to my roots at some stage though." Wake Up To Wogan is on every weekday from 7.30am to 9.30am followed by Ken Bruce until noon.'I think English pronunciations are astonishing - I have more trouble with them than Welsh or Scottish'
Lynn Bowles, with Radio 2 colleague Terry Wogan, whom she says is just as charming off air as he sounds to his many listeners