"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 26 June 2017

Urban Wild Flower Meadow

I haven't had chance to upload the photos for the final North Wales post - hopefully in a few days. But I just had to show you this beautiful urban wildflower meadow I visited today in North Solihull.

Isn't it beautiful? and well done to Solihull (and Birmingham) Council for planting wild flower meadows for pollinators on patches of spare ground and traffic roundabouts.

Friday, 23 June 2017

North Wales - Part 2: Portmeirion

After leaving Plas Brondanw we drove straight to Portmeirion to book into the hotel.

Reception even has a Prisoner chair!

We had booked to stay in a serviced suite in Upper Fountains about 25 yards from the hotel. It has a fascinating history as Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit in this very suite. In 1941 he had decided to write a comedy but he found the noise from the Blitz in London stopped him writing so he travelled by train to Portimeirion staying in Fountains and wrote the play in 5 days! The play opened soon after at The Piccadilly Theatre.

Fountains is to the right of the photo

Beautiful views of the estuary

How civilised is this - awaiting us in the suite :)

The suite consisted of a sitting area (with a mini kitchen), bedroom and en suite bathroom and had stunning views over the hotel lawn and pool towards the estuary.

Early evening and we went a walk round the village - very quiet and peaceful once the day visitors had departed just leaving hotel residents and people staying in the self catering cottages scattered around.

Portmeirion was built by Clough Williams-Ellis after he bought the estate in 1925 for around £5,000. He changed the name from Aber la (glacial estuary) to Portmeirion. His plan was to build a coastal village which enhanced rather than spoilt the landscape. It was built in stages between 1925 and 1939 and from 1954 to 1976. Today all buildings are registered as Grade 1 or Grade II historic buildings. It is surrounded by 70 acres of garden woodland which are well worth exploring because they are full of hidden surprises.

Portmeirion was used for the filming of the 1960's tv series "The Prisoner" which starred Patrick McGoohan.

The Town Hall (also called Hercules Hall) is an Arts and Craft style village hall. In "The Prisoner" it features in the episode "Free for All".

The statue of Hercules by William Brodie in the foreground with the Green Dome in the background.

The Dolphin Pool

The Bristol Colonnade - in the tv series it was associated with brass band concerts.

The Pantheon or Dome - an octagonal building with a dome and octagonal cupola. In "The Prisoner" it was the seat of power for the village's Number Two and just across the square from Number 6's residence.

The Gothic Arch - seen in the village during marching parades. No. 6 walked through its trifoliate archway in "Checkmate" where he sees the human chess match. There is now a permanent giant chessboard on display.

Piazza, Gloriette and Fountain - these were built on the site of an old tennis court. This is the centre of The Prisoner's village. The Fountain pool is signposted as "free sea" - it is from this pool that we first see Rover. Many parades in the series were filmed round this area. No. 6 made a speech from The Gloriette in "Free for All" when he was standing for the office of Number 2.

The Prisoner's House and Lady's Lodge

A wooden statue depicting "Charity" - late 17th or early 18th century.

This building (the Ship Shop) was used as The Labour Exchange in the tv series.

Later in the evening it was time to return to the hotel for our evening meal. The hotel dates back to 1850 and was extended in 1926 and 1930 and restored in 1988. It was the original manor at Aber la and opened as a hotel initially in 1926. It was the Old People's Home in the Prisoner and the lawn in front of the hotel was the helicopter landing pad.

The meal was superb - two starters, main course and dessert. The combination of flavours in all courses was out of this world. I didn't have the nerve to take the camera but got B to take a photo of the puddings with his phone.

Strawberry tonka bean mille feuille with liquorice ice cream and

the Hotel's version of Black Forest Gateau.

The service throughout the meal was excellent and the welcome and help by all staff in the hotel throughout the stay was brilliant. I could get used to stopping here!!

More of Portmeirion in the next post and a trip to see Ospreys (thanks again Rosie for the tip!).