The Rain

I thought the rain had stopped at 5 and that it would clear from the west, as it often does.   So, I set out for a walk.   There was a very beautiful rainbow over Caernarvon Castle:-

The other half was across the fields to the east:-

Then, as I reached the beach I saw the rain in the distance:-

I was soaked.

I walked back up the lane:-


Llanfairpwll (4)

Since the weather has now turned wet, I’m doing the last of my posts from Llanfairpwll (it was a very profitable trip to the launderette).

Down a turning off the road into Llanfairpwll, one goes down to the village church of St. Mary, a mid-Victorian building by Henry Kennedy which was locked.   But beyond it is the little path down to the Straits and Nelson, with a couple of good slate tombs and a view up across the fields to the monument to the first Marquess of Anglesey, which annoyingly is closed for the foreseeable future.   

The monument was designed by Thomas Harrison of Chester and erected in 1816, only a year after the Battle of Waterloo when the first Marquess, then Lord Uxbridge, commanded the cavalry under Wellington and lost his leg (hence his remark to Wellington ‘By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg’, to which Wellington is reputed to have replied, ‘By God, sir, so you have !’).   The statue is by Matthew Noble, who carved one of the figures on Burlington Gardens.   It was added in 1860:-


The author

I have been wondering what to do about the suggestion that there might be a picture of me in holiday mode, instead of the photographs of me looking uffish at the Royal Academy.   I remembered that a picture had been taken by Charlotte Verity of me lurking in the twilight:-

And, by chance, we had Verdi Yahooda staying as she is working with Romilly on their exhibition at Ruthin.   She had never used a camera phone, only analogue, and accidentally took 30 photographs instead of one:-


Britannia Bridge

Yesterday I was able to get a good view of Britannia Bridge from the Menai Straits below.   It’s a noble structure, which one can’t really appreciate driving across it.   It was designed by Robert Stephenson, who had been appointed engineer-in-chief to the Chester & Holyhead railway in June 1845.   The first stone was laid on 21 September 1846.   Stephenson laid the stone which completed the cornice on 22 June 1849 (I emphasise the speed of design and construction having just watched the Newsnight programme about the Garden Bridge).   It opened to trains running from London to Holyhead in 1850.   It’s impressively monumental, slightly Egyptian in the stonework piers, which may have been designed by Francis Thompson, the Company architect, contrasting with the vigorous horizontality of the tubework which was slotted through.   It looks very different now because in May 1970 two boys dropped a flare whilst looking for bats, causing a massive fire, and the bridge was reconstructed with more conventional steel arches and a road deck on top.

As it was, as photographed by Edward Piper for the Shell Guide (I can’t help also quoting Lionel Brett’s description in the Shell Guide how ‘Britannia conveys confidence, resolution and a seeming inevitable rightness of proportion exactly in tune with one’s interpretation of the best of the Victorian age’):-

As it is:-


Nelson in Anglesey

Years ago I was asked to give a talk in Monmouth about the commemoration of Nelson.   At the time, I didn’t know – or had managed to forget – that one of the maddest and most magnificent monuments to Nelson, apart from Trafalgar Square, is a big statue of him standing in the middle of the Menai Straits, visible, I presume, from Plas Newydd, but from nowhere else.   He stands stately and rather forlorn, with a big inscription ENGLAND EXPECTS THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY.   It was apparently erected by Admiral Lord Clarence Paget, a son of the first Marquess of Anglesey, to warn boats of the tidal rapids known as the Swellies:-


The Pirate’s Beach

We went down last night to what we have always known as the Pirate’s Beach, for no better reason, I think, than the fact that in the 1970s it still had the very visible remains of a shipwreck close to the sea shore.   I’ve now discovered that its real name is Penrhos Beach and that the ship was called Athena and sank in December 1852 on its way from Alexandria to Liverpool.   The crew were saved.   The beach stretches north from Llanddwyn Island up to the Malltreath Estuary and is overlooked by the Bodorgan estate.   There was a lone horseman:-


Llanfairpwll (3)

I had no idea that just behind the toll house in Llanfairpwll is a cast iron shed, which turns out to be the original home of the Women’s Institute.   An inscription on the side of the building describes its history:  founded first in Canada in 1897, efforts were made to establish branches in England in 1913;  the first branch in Britain was founded in this very building in September 1915:-


Llanfairpwll (2)

I have been meaning to take a photograph of the well-preserved, surviving, octagonal toll house on the long straight stretch of road to Holyhead.   The road was built as a result of pressure from Irish MPs to have a quick route from Dublin to London by way of Holyhead and the toll house was one of five on Anglesey designed by Thomas Telford in 1818.   It cost 1d. for a Horse, Mule or Ass, 4d. if it had a carriage attached, and continued to collect tolls till 1895:-



My other minor obsession this holiday, other than oysters, has been the range of different types of tomato available at the local vegetable stall, which is now advertised on the main road with the most discreet sign imaginable.   The fat ones are in a bag labelled Octavo and I now realise, on inspecting the label, are slightly cheaper, most like the standard tomatoes available in a supermarket, although even supermarkets now stock multiple different varieties:-

Then come Bloody Butchers.   The smaller (and tastier) ones are either Mosaico or Sweet Aperitif.   Then a new one appeared called Tastyno.   I began to wonder:  are these old varieties being resurrected or new ?  The answer seems to be the latter:  that, alongside the interest in so-called heritage tomatoes, old, fat tomatoes, much eaten in America (I have been reading a book on tomatoes called Edible Memory:  the lure of heirloom tomatoes and other forgotten foods), there has been a diversification of types of seed and tomato plant amongst tomato growers, with neologisms to describe them:-



I always like going to Ruthin – a small, medieval, hilltop town, with a perfectly formed set of relationships between the Castle, church and town square.

It has a grand Victorian town hall of 1863:-

A good monument in the church which looks Jacobean, but turns out to be early eighteenth century:-

Good Tudor detailing on a house alongside Trevor House in Castle Street:-

And good detailing on houses elsewhere:-