The Land Of Dragons and Druids.
Many travellers to planning a trip to Britain focus on London, Edinburgh, maybe a trip to Stonehenge, a guided tour of Shakespeare's Stratford and perhaps a visit to the Roman cities of Eboracum (York) or Deva (Chester.) The true delights of Britain are well of the tourist trail though, we keep them for ourselves. The adventurous traveller should remember that Britain is made up of three countries each with its own history and distinct culture. The smallest of these nations is as rewarding to visit as either of the others and has more that is worth exploring crammed into its two thousand square miles than you might find in a million square miles of the central Asian steppes. One lifetime is just not enough to do justice to Wales.
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Westward from Criccieth lies the Lleyn peninsula. Many charming towns and villages line the coast but we are going east to see something really unusual. Few people would expect to find a village typical of southern Italy in North Wales but here we are. Porthmerion is the dream of architect, artist, writer and man of science Clough Ellis, a polymath, visionary and in many way a throwback to the renaissance when it was believed a broad education equipped a man to turn his hand to anything in later life. Situated on the sandy estuary of the River Dwyfor the village is spectacularly beautiful and a stroll around its streets and main Piazza an evocative experience.
Few people would expect to find a village typical of southern Italy in North Wales but here we are. Porthmerion is the dream of architect, artist, writer and man of science Clough Ellis, a polymath, visionary and in many way a throwback to the renaissance when it was believed a broad education equipped a man to turn his hand to anything in later life.
Situated on the sandy estuary of the River Dwyfor the village is spectacularly beautiful and a stroll around its streets and main Piazza an evocative experience.
Above left; looking up at the village from a riverside viewpoint. Left; One of the streets of the Piazza. The woman in the red jacket centreshot is Teri. David and Gabby were about 10 and 6 respectively.
Moving south is the forbidding bastion of Harlech Castle not as spectacular as some but well preserved and reached from Conwy by a wonderfully scenic drive around the estuary and through the Snowdonia national park.
Harlech is known of course for the patriotic song Men of Harlech, sung with great fervour by Welsh supporters at international sports fixtures of all kinds.
Close by Harlech we come to the village of Tal - y - Bont where visitors can look around a traditional craft centre which includes the fully restored water mill powered by the wheel pictured right.
The area inland from Tywyn is the place I had in mind when describing the scenery of Mogwydd's world. My father was a newspaper man and based in the border town of Shrewsbury covered all of this area. Each summer we would rent a house on this coast for the long vacation and he would cover the various events. I loved the villages, hills, waterfalls, beaches and other rural attractions and obviously they made a deep impression.
If the weather is bad when you are in Aberystwyth I can tell you of an extra entertainment that I played as a child and later took my children to experience. At high tide go to the southern end of the of the seafront, near the castle grounds. Here the waves will crash against the sea wall sending spray flying onto the promenade or broadwalk. Wait for the big waves coming in and then run, carefully timing your retreat to avoid getting sprayed (as if). It sounds idiotic but is great fun.
For lovers of books and poetry Cei Newydd is well worth the two or three mile drive along the headland on which it is situated. When the road reaches the top of the town it almost doubles back on itself to follow the coastline back towards the main Aberystwith - Cardigan route.
If you wish to see the village (and you do, trust me) we can take one of the two narrow streets that slope steeply down towards the harbour. While deciding which looks more attractive you notice a small chapel to your left, sitting on a wooded hillside. Maybe there was once a minister named Rev. Eli Jenkins who used to stand outside his Manse under a starry sky and declaim his poems to the heavens.
The things you have to remember in this game are that sand dries very quickly and also that dams made of sand do not last long. Our idea of a picnic was very casual, a sandwich or burger from the beach shop, ice cream, that was it. Some people take their picnics more seriously.
One day we had built a superb dam with interlinked channels, big stones to reinforce it and an overflow which shifted the natural stream a few yards further along.
A family of serious picknickers came along and decided a good place to spread their groundsheet, lay out the plastic plates and cutlery and distribute the tupperware containers of various salads, pies, cooked meat and bread was right where, but for our intervention, the stream normally flowed down the beach.
We would have warned them, honestly we would but everyone was preoccupied with an eel Gabrielle had caught in her little plastic bucket. Now as I said these people were serious picnickers, not the type of folk who were built for moving quickly. When the dam broke and water surged towards the elaborate spread the entire beach seemed to be transformed into a mass of enormous bottoms performing some kind of dervish dance as they leaped and ducked trying to salvage their precious food. "Do you know who did this," they demanded of us. Teri and I, lips clamped tight to suppress laughter shook our heads earnestly. The kids, far better actors of course, said without a flicker of guilt, "yes, it was some big kids. They've gone now." The last we saw of the picnickers was a fleet of bottoms marching away in battle formation, determined to claim any reliably waterless patch of sand they saw.
A recording of "Under Milk Wood" may still be available from the Polygram Spoken Word Catalogue. Alternatively search on the title or "Dylan Thomas" The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a good place to look too. Use the site's internal search engine to find details of BBC audio and video products.
The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a good place to look too. Use the site's internal search engine to find details of BBC audio and video products.
Alchemy For Beginners - Part 1: A Condensed history Of Alchemy
Religion and Science have in recent times not been comfortable bedfellows. Strange then that the earliest scientists were priests, people who chose todevote their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. One early science much derided by modern scientists was Alchemy, the quest to turn base metals like lead into Gold. But was the althemists idea reeally daft?
A Sense of Self - Are We Forgetting How To Be