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Monday, 11 October 2021

North Wales

Sorry for not responding or commenting last week. We were away in a cottage without internet at Llanbedr-y-Cennin above the Conwy valley. It is a bit off the beaten track. On the other hand, we had views down to the river and a J W Lees pub just across the road. You can’t have everything.

This green and ancient land is scattered with the remains of Iron Age hill forts, and was the location of the busy Roman township of Canovium, most of which has long disappeared.

Cross the Conwy river and you are in that part of Wales where Welsh is spoken, a language that seems to have too many Ls and Ds, and unusual combinations of letters. Words and place names echo round your head like catchy tunes as you try to make sense of them. Moel Siabod and Pentrefoelas are doing it right now. It is also not far from John Going Gently territory. Lovely. As is the countryside.


Llandudno

We have been many times. We came on honeymoon, then again with the kids, and now just two of us again. We have looked down from the Carneddau ridges into the cockpits of military jets flying fast along the Bethesda valley, so close we could see the pilots, and then marvelled as they lifted their jets on to their tails and blasted vertically into the stratosphere. We have looked up to the balconies of Llandudno hotels where guests, gin and tonics in hand, peruse the sweeping two-mile promenade. And we have looked along the precariously high and exposed walls of castles, afraid of losing our footing. Harlech is terrifying.

Yet we still found new things to do. We visited the enormous 80-acre Bodnant gardens for the first time. We circled on foot into the hills from the village of Abergwyngregy, past its 120 feet (37m) waterfall, returning with views across the Menai Straight to Anglesey. And we walked up from the village of Trefriw around the beautiful lakes of Llyn Crafnant and Llyn Geirionydd, one of the finest walks in Britain. 


Bodnant Gardens


Llyn Crafnant and the derelict Klondyke lead mill near Llyn Geirionydd

Almost all of our walks over the years have been from books bought thirty years ago for £1.80 and £1.99, which must be the best value walks books we ever bought. The pages note which we’ve done, with whom and when. Even after all this time, with common sense the directions still work for us.


Mrs D. is always very quick to remind me that North Wales is where I usually manage to injure myself. I have suffered twisted ankles and tripped over uneven steps on the Conwy bridge. More seriously, I slipped in sodden woodland and sat down heavily on a tree stump, damaging my coccyx. I had to carry a stiff board around at work for a month, unable sit on anything soft or curved. It was a kitchen chopping board with brightly coloured pictures of vegetables. And I fell in the bath, breaking a lower rib which clicked painfully in and out of position for a couple of weeks. It eventually set in a lob-sided lump. The doctor showed no sympathy whatsoever. “Your modelling days are over,” he told me.  

This year, it was Mrs D. who went down on a slippery stone near the derelict Klondyke mill, bruising her knee and hip, and limping. I’m not saying a word. Not one. 

34 comments:

  1. Aside from the injuries, north Wales has been kind to you. I've been to Wales a couple of times, and because of rain and fog had to take your word for it that there were mountains there! Never been wetter before or since.

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    1. I went up Snowdon on the train with my parents in weather like that. Now, I wouldn't go on any of these mountains in poor visibility and perhaps even not the low level routes. In 2007 the Snowdonia Mountains book was criticised as being impossible to follow when a poor chap fell and died trying to find his way off Tryfan in low cloud. I do wonder whether he should have been up there at all that day.

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  2. Glad Mrs D wasn't more seriously hurt! I cracked my coccyx two or three years ago. It is no fun while it is healing.

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    1. Only bruising. They are a lovely colour and quite impressive. With the coccyx I was OK while standing or lying down but sitting on anything soft was agony.

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  3. But you do sound a bit smug *but I am glad she wasn't too badly hurt).

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    1. If it had been me and the kids had found out I wouldn't have heard the end of it. Walking in damp woodland where there are slippery stones and tree roots needs a lot of care, especially when going downhill. It's probably safest to have a walking pole because legs are not as strong as they once were as we get older.

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  4. We were in Conwy two years ago. My memory is little hazy. It was a lovely sunny day, there was the castle of course, the smallest house in Britain and a very nice seafront, or was it an estuary. We had an ice cream sitting on a bench looking at waterfront activity and I had no idea we were so close to John's village.

    We managed to survive uninjured the very dangerous are of northern Wales.

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    1. It's a very pleasant place to sit and have an ice cream on a sunny day so long as there aren't too many wasps around. As is Llandudno with it's wider open spaces. I suppose Conwy is technically on an estuary but it is very close to the sea.

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  5. It sounds like you and Mrs. D had a wonderful holiday! I hope she is not too sore after her fall. I love the sound of visiting the remains of Iron Age forts and locations of Roman townships. Your beautiful country has so much ancient history to be seen. You have some wonderful photos from your trip too.

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    1. We did, thank you Bonnie. She's fine. She's going to use a walking pole in future. I suppose I should too.

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  6. You had sold it to us until you got to the catelogue of injuries. Now it sounds more like a type of Bermuda Triangle where unexplained forces are at work!

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    1. The mysteries of those displaced ancient people. They must think I'm a Roman.

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  7. Glorious Wales, lucky for both of you. Not falling down of course, that is scary and hopefully will get better. Wales is wild and must remain so forever more, be it raining or not.

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    1. You don't bounce up so easily as you get older. Paths I might once have zoomed down I now take very deliberately, watching every footing. It only takes a momentary lapse of concentration. But it's worth it, absolutely.

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  8. Sounds like a good holiday despite poor Mrs D's injury.
    We have only visited North Wales once, staying in a cottage beneath part of Offa's Dyke. Such a beautiful part of the country. I would like to go back and see more some day.

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    1. It's a lovely place provided the weather isn't awful. You could just about swim there from IoM - or go on a jet ski.

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  9. Love those trees in Bodnant Gardens. Like (my) arthritic fingers reaching up into the sky, but much better looking.

    Hope Mrs D is on the mend. Bruises do seem to last forever these days, but glad she wasn't more seriously injured. You, either, as clearly, from what you have said, your post-injury harassment would have been merciless.

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    1. It is a wonderful place to spend a day. There are wild gardens, formal gardens, forests, water, things at their best at every time of year, and as much or as little walking as you want. We certainly intend to go again, maybe in spring.

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  10. Not one word but maybe six: "Shall I rub it better dear?"

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  11. Yikes! Be careful out there!

    (I also fell and broke my coccyx many years ago, and it's not fun. I didn't resort to a veggie cutting board, though!)

    Looks like a good trip and I admire your continued use of those guidebooks.

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    1. I suffered quite a lot of teasing over the board, but it was the only way I could sit down. I've just found it again this afternoon in the shed and goodness me, it really is brightly coloured. It dates from about the same time as the guide books.

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  12. I started this the day you published it. Then went to my maps. This was the land of my Father and I spent my early holidays and far more time besides in North Wales. So I wandered around the maps reminiscing and bemoaning the fact that I haven't yet got around to digitising most of my childhood photos. (On my lockdown list still unticked). Are the peacocks still at Bodnant Gardens? I've no idea how many times we went there and despite that I recall little apart from the noisy peacocks which spent a lot of time displaying their tails. In more recent years I've spent relatively little time in Wales (It's a long way from Lewis) although an Uncle lived on Anglesea and I went to see him a lot until I brought him (at 92) up to live on Lewis.

    Thank you for the memory joggers.

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    1. Didn't see any peacocks there, but it's so big that doesn't mean there weren't any. We could so easily have missed them.
      I know what you mean about maps. When I lived in Scotland I sometimes spent an hour or so with maps of my part of Yorkshire and other places I'd lived, imagining the people I knew there still going about their daily lives. I suppose it was a kind of homesickness because it was a bit depressing. Although I liked it in Scotland, I did feel a long way from home, even though I realise it was nothing compared to being in the US or NZ.

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  13. Bodnant is lovely..a jewel in conwys crown

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    1. It is. We were there all day and enjoyed it so much we thought we might go back again later in the week, although in the end we found other things to do.

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  14. Who needs to say a word if one can write, Tasker??
    I am sorry to hear that Wales is such a dangerous place (men are often very handsome there).
    But all that must have been nothing to keep you away, and the landscape is really stunning!

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    1. Do you mean (i) men who live there are handsome, or (ii) men become handsome when they go there? If (ii) I'll have to go more often.

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    2. "The world is full of ambiguity" - isn't that what makes life so interesting?

      Friedhelm Gieske wrote: „So ist es oft im Leben: Es ist mehr ein Sowohl-Als-Auch als ein Entweder-Oder.“ - "So it is often in life: It is more an 'As Well As' than an "Either - Or".

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  15. We must take care lest we fall.
    It happens frequently to heavy drinkers, going to the lavatory in the middle of the night.
    Walking down stairs too fast is perilous, only children can do it.

    Crossing the Conwy River, and hearing the Welsh tongue, sounds like an adventure.
    It makes me think of the poetry of R.S. Thomas, who was twice as bitter as Larkin, yet went on writing bleak-bright poems to the end.

    R.L. Stevenson never fell in his precipitous city of Edinburgh, he had enough problems over his faltering lungs.
    Maurice Gee described fatal falls in Wellington, New Zealand, in his wonderful novel, Going West.
    Harlech Castle must be as dangerous as Wellington's steep streets, Castle Perilous indeed.
    Haggerty

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    1. We most certainly had not been drinking at that time of the day!
      The incident caused me to reflect upon the process of walking and how dangerous it is. It is really falling a controlled way. Think about it too much and you wouldn't do it, especially over difficult ground.
      A centipede was happy – quite!
      Until a toad in fun
      Said, "Pray, which leg moves after which?"
      This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
      She fell exhausted in the ditch
      Not knowing how to run.
      (Katherine Craster)

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    2. Katie Craster said it: Now imagine a drunken centipede !

      There was an American dancer badly injured in a road accident; and her struggle to regain her health had me sitting in cafes, watching people of all ages walking.

      Walking requires an extraordinary feat of evolution:
      this young dancer's book had me studying toddlers taking their first step, actors moving on stage, ballerinas moving on air.

      *Pas de Quatre (Dance of the Small Swans) rehearsal.*
      Pacific Northwest Ballet 2013. YouTube.
      Haggerty

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    3. *Swan Lake - Pas de Quatre (Dance of the Small Swans) rehearsal.*

      The dancer on far right is Leta Biasucci, all of five feet two.
      *Ballet by Leta Biasucci.* YouTube.
      Haggerty

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  16. Sounds like you've wounded yourself enough. Lord knows you don't need to say anything about Mrs. D. You might end up with another bruising.

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