Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is. - Oscar Wilde
Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things
Today we didn’t range far from Morlyn House – only to our rocky beach and a bit beyond to a small inlet not far from St Tanwg’s.
It’s been quite blustery all day and it started out with some good heavy rains. As a Seattle native who doesn’t own an umbrella and considers most rain as ‘little sprinkles’ it means something when i say ‘heavy rain’. There were a few good squalls in the morning and in the afternoon when they’d passed we decided to take our wander to check out the boats in the inlet that we could see from our room’s deck.
Once we got past the old church we were on a path of hearty grass and shrub that, to us, is ubiquitous to about every shoreline we’ve walked. Once we got to the inlet, however, we found a distinctly different shoreline.
The area is known for it’s slate – there’s an old slate mine just across from us at the base of the Snowdonian hills, and where the grass meets the sand is littered with flat slate gravel. Around the area, the shoreline declines very gradually out to sea before dropping off so there’s not the large wave action as there is on the Washington state coast. That may be a contributor to the large layer of silt around the inlet.
A very fine, reddish-brown, water-infused layer over sanded slate made the footing rather squishy. We’ve walked enough beach to be in little danger of slipping, but the layer of silt did make the depth our shoes sank in to be quite unpredictable.
Did I mention that it rained? Yeah, well apparently the rains weren’t really done for the day and we got the full force of
the last a squall of the day. (never mind. as I write this Mrs Crow just pointed out that it is indeed raining again) Now, I remind you of my Seattle heritage only to mention that we have a quaint saying that goes “it’s starting to rain” which means just that. The rain often builds over the course of a few minutes, does it’s thing, then tapers off. This rain was just there, and in a matter of seconds we were soaked through. It was a bit of a surprise, but whatever. We’d been damp much of the day already and we are a pair of those odd folks that like rain, so we rather enjoyed it.
I’m afraid, dear reader, that the rest of our day has been quite boring for those of you who are looking for more thrilling tales of our day. We’ve spent the balance either watching various British tv shows (8 out of 10 cats has become a fave) or sitting on the deck watching the sheep move from one and of their field to another. A wonderfully relaxing day for us, a stone cold yawner for you lot.
I will take the opportunity, however, to sing a praise or two for Morlyn House. Lisa and Steve have been wonderful hosts and the meals have been superb. I’ve mentioned how utterly fantastic the view from our room has been. There is a bird feeder just below our deck that the local House Sparrows, a rather large flock of them, fight over. In addition we’ve watched Magpies, Eurasian Blackbirds, and Wood Pidgeons work the gardens and fields around us. We’ve also spied Ravens (of course), a few Red Kites, and even a pair of Common Buzzards! They are large hawks and not the circling carrion eaters you’re probably thinking of.
I think the topper, though, has been meeting and spending some time with Percy and Molly. Percy is a stocky black and white shorthair cat, and Molly is a quite elderly black labrador. Both loved our attention and we certainly loved giving it. We will miss them both, but it does remind us with a twinge of our own Miss Izzy (a ginger tabby) waiting for us at home. We’ll be home in a few days and that reunion is certainly one we’re looking forward to.
And thats just it – we’re leaving Llandanwg tomorrow to pass through Birmingham for one last night and hopefully dinner with Young Master Crow, and then down to a hotel near Heathrow in preparation for a flight out monday. It’s beeen quite a ride and over the next few days I expect I’ll post some final thoughts on hotels and places and things we’ve seen and thought on this journey.
Observations for day….yeah: If anyone tells you that Brits don’t wear shorts, your reply to them should be “Rubbish”.
Brits love trashy tv, and Frasier. More than once when mentioning we’re from Seattle we’ve heard “Oh! Where Frasier lives!”
That’s the name off the Welsh village where we’re staying. The closest I can get to a proper pronunciation is ‘Shlandanoog’ or ‘Thlandanug’. The leading double-L is a killer.
No matter, though, the folks we’re staying with at Morlyn House are wonderful and our room looks out across fields of sheep and onto the hills of Snowdonia. Behind us, only a couple hundred yards away is Bae Ceredigion which, if you follow it southwesterly by Ireland through St George’s Channel, leads to the Celtic sea.and eventually to the North Atlantic.
A short walk to the north on the way to Harlech is access to about a four mile stretch of sand that is said to be decent for swimming. Not for me of course, I keep to indoor pools if convinced to swim, and rarely expose myself to water other than a shower or my quite beloved rain. (Or as a main ingredient of coffee)
An even shorter walk south takes us to a nice rocky beach, much more like our own Washington coastal beaches. On the edge of the dune on the beach approach is St Tanwg’s Church that dates back to at least the mid-fifth century if not further back to the third century. It’s a tiny building that’s still used regularly.
Entering the grounds through a small portal gate drops you into one of those places of time and age that we’ve experienced a few times during our trip. The closeness between the walls and dunes surrounding the church, as well as the burial markers spanning back hundreds of years, almost push the time into your pores. With only the sussuration of the surf and the calls of the birds the spell of that spot in time and space is remarkable.
I’ll write more about the beaches tomorrow, but today we had nice enough weather to take the train up to Porthmadog to see if I couldn’t find some of the pull-overs I tend to favor. We are in the middle of wool country here so I had high hopes.
Porthmadog is a also a seaside village, but quite a bit larger and full of shops catering to tourists. Still, we were probably the only Americans in town. A good portion of the art and such are from Wales, and what isn’t is almost all from the UK. Certainly, like any tourist town there is a good smattering of less expensive eye-catching imports.
About wherever we’ve visited has had charity shops that sell second-hand items for one cause or another and Porthmadog was no different, however two of their shops were for animal rescue, one exclusively for cats. Needless to say we stopped in and left a donation with both. (we adopt all of our furry family members from shelters and support rescue shelters as we can)
Anyways, my search for woolies was quite successful expecially given that we went to an outlet for a nearby manufactory called The Edinburgh Woollen Mill. With that need sated we journeyed back south towards out B&B and stopped in Harlech on the way.
The sole purpose for the stop in Harlech was a large pile of rocks on a hill – namely Harlech Castle. The castle was built in the late 13th century by Edward I and was important in several conflicts up through the 17th century including the War of the Roses. There is even a song memorializing a siege called Men of Harlech. It’s really quite the striking edifice.
Back in it’s day the sea was quite a bit closer to the castle, but today you have to climb a very steep hill to get to the gate. Mrs Crow and I are not the spring corvids we once were, but we made a valiant effort at the 25% grade hill and after a rest or three we finally made the summit to be greeted by an incredible view of the surrounding valley and hills.
Continueing our adventurous saga we scaled the south west turret, the tallest remaining portion of the castle. The interior stairway is dark and narrow, so getting by folks going the opposite direction is somewhat a trick, but sturdy ropes rail both sides of the circular stairway so it can be done. At the top is a rather small platform that can only fit perhaps a half-dozen people comfortably. The wind is quite brisk as well.
There is a good lot of information on the history of the place both in the castle itself and at the gift shop and the place is well suited to families with kids and even had a young lady who gave a bit of instruction on sword and board play to a few youngsters while we were there.
Nearly rolling down the hill on our way back towards the train, we grabbed a toastie at a local cafe and hopped a train back to Llandanwg to nurse our aches on the wonderful little deck off our room.
Tomorrow is another full day in this beautiful village and we intend to spend it all here within walking distance. Much of it walking the beach and investigating a couple little trails we noticed by the church.
Observations from day…this one: The “feels like” temperature runs a few degrees warmer than the actual temperature here, unlike in Seattle where it tends to run cooler.
At petrol stations the diesel pump handles are black and the gas handles are green, the opposite of the US