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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Visit to North Wales

A few weeks ago Jayne and I enjoyed a short, end-of-summer break in North Wales. Before our visit becomes too distant a memory, I thought I'd tell you a bit about it and share a few photos.

As we've done several times before, we stayed at the Tremeifion Vegetarian Hotel in Talsarnau, which is between Maentwrog and Harlech. It's also directly opposite the Italianate village of Portmeirion, possibly most famous these days as the location where the cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner was made.

Since our last visit, Tremeifion had changed hands. John and Maureen (the previous owners) had - much to our regret - moved on. The new owners, Barbara and Kevin, soon made us feel at home, however; and though it seemed a little strange at first, we soon got used to their slightly different - but by no means inferior - way of doing things. It helped, too, that we had met some of the other guests before (Hi there, Angie and Barry!). It's only a small place, and you inevitably get talking to the other visitors.

Being late summer, and being North Wales, we had a mixture of weather. On our first day it was lovely, and we took a short drive across the estuary to visit Portmeirion. Here's a picture of the centre of the village from high up...

And here's a closer view of one of the houses, beautifully lit by the bright sunshine.

Jayne always enjoys visiting Portmeirion. In this picture she's standing just in front of the art gallery, which I think in The Prisoner was Number 2's house...

The next day was a total contrast. The rain set in early, so we decided to make the best of it and have a day out on the Ffestiniog Railway, which runs between Porthmadog (just up the road from Portmeirion) and Blaenau Ffestiniog. Here's a picture of Porthmadog station...

And here's our train waiting at the platform. You can see how dull the weather was...

It was raining all day, which limited the views from the train, although we did see some pretty spectacular waterfalls. We had a leisurely lunch at a pub in Blaenau, watching the rain driving past the windows in slow-moving, pale-grey bands like ghosts. Sorry, no pictures of that, but I don't think any still photo would have done justice to it really!

On our return we took a few more pictures at Porthmadog Station. Here's a locomotive 'steaming up'...

And here's a picture Jayne took of Porthmadog harbour. I begged her for a copy of this photo, as I love the contrast between the flowers in the foreground and the grey, washed-out waterfront behind.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this brief account of our Welsh mini-break. If you're looking for somewhere tranquil and beautiful, yet with lots to see and do, I highly recommend North Wales. And if you want somewhere quiet and friendly to stay, Tremeifion would definitely get my vote. Neither Jayne nor I am strictly vegetarian, but it's no hardship to go without fish or meat for a few days when the quality of the food and hospitality there is so good!

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