It being a characteristically wet August bank holiday, we ventured forth to see Plas Cadnant, a house and more especially a garden, which has been beautifully and trimly done up in recent years by Anthony Tavernor, a Staffordshire dairy farmer turned horticulturalist. It has large herbaceous borders and champion vegetables, clipped trees and below a water garden in a steep dell full of ferns and gunnera. We wandered round in the rain, nearly the only visitors, admiring the immaculate lawns and planting and longing for the sun.
Dolgellau may be dour on a bleak winter’s day, but in the summer sun it was unexpectedly cheerful in spite of the heavy dark stone from which the town is built. It used to be jam full of through traffic, but this goes on the new road, leaving the centre as an unspoilt market town with butcher, baker, draper, cafés and wine merchant and no chains except for Spar in a nonconformist chapel. This is the butcher:
This is the draper:
This is Eldon Row, named in 1830 in honour of the Lord Chancellor:
These are other scenes from the town:
Last year I arrived at Machynlleth railway station after an eight-hour train journey from Bangor (we got stuck near Oswestry) and realised that I was sharing the carriage with a string quartet. They were en route for the Machynlleth music festival. So, this year, looking at the programme and seeing that Ian Bostridge was being accompanied by Julius Drake and Charles Owen was playing solo in the evening, we decided to make the long trek through the mountains of north Wales to hear them. I’ve always liked Machynlleth as a town in a nice, solid, mid-Welsh and now slightly hippy-ish way. The concert was in an old non-conformist tabernacle with near perfect acoustics. Ian Bostridge sang Mahler songs with magnificent cerebral intensity. Charles Owen played an unspeakably complicated work by Liszt, Années de Pèlerinage, for the first time, having admired a recording by Alfred Brendel in his youth and waited 25 years to learn it; and then one of Schubert’s late piano sonatas D.959 with its impassioned second movement.
We stayed up in the hills in a house with trees planted in the heyday of Victorian arboriculture, when Wales was regarded as Switzerland:
This was a view of the valley in the sunny morning:
For some reasom, my post on Rhosneigr is jinxed. I wrote and it disappeared. I rewrote it and it disappeared again. There is not a huge amount to say.
Rhosneigr is a nice, small, seaside town on the south-west coast, with shops selling surfboards and wetsuits and full of whitewashed 1950s bungalows and later, grander villas, with large cars and boats parked outside. Costa Brava on the Irish Sea.
This was where we had our takeaway picnic:
This was one of the nonconformist church halls:
This was the window of the house next door:
And this was another house that caught my eye:
I’m embarrassed to say that we normally avoid prehistoric monuments in Anglesey. This is because, from previous experience, they too often consist of a couple of stones in a barren field. But this year I was encouraged by an entry in Simon Jenkins’s book on what to visit in Wales to go to Din Llugwy, a Romano-British settlement set in a wood overlooking the sea in north-east Anglesey. It is everything Simon says and more: an extraordinarily evocative, dense set of stones, whose purpose is not altogether clear, set in remote woodland. It’s an early homestead, a Druidical villa, with two round huts of which the bases and door lintels survive. What’s more, not many people visit it, so that it feels like Avebury must have felt to those eighteenth-century archaeologists. No tickets, no tour guides, just fields and trees and stones.
This is the route across the fields next to Capel Llugwy, a roofless early medieval church:
These are the surrounding trees:
This is the remainder of a building in the north-east corner (Pevsner includes a numbered ground plan, but no key to the numbers):
This is one of the round huts, seen from above and its entrance doorway:
This is apparently the main building:
This is a view of another, maybe later, hut:
But photographs give no sense of the mystery of the place, the sense of a lost ancient settlement, of people in the trees.
We used never to go to the east of the island, regarding it as the land of the caravan. But, in recent years, we have taken to Moelfre, a small fishing port half way down the west coast with views across Red Wharf Bay towards Llandudno. It has the added advantage of Ann’s Pantry, a place to have lunch with lamb burgers and corn bread and Snowdonia ale from the Purple Moose brewery in Porthmadog.
This is a view of the harbour:
This is Ann’s Pantry:
These are scenes from a short walk along the coast:
And this is in the village: