Tag Archives: Wales


Saturday 6th January 2017, 12.40pm (day 2,326)

Llandudno, 6/1/18

After spending the last four days almost entirely at home, claustrophobia was definitively overcome by having a day out here. Looking rather different from its last appearance on the blog in August 2016, Llandudno was all built in the 1850s and 1860s as a massive piece of real estate speculation by landowner Lord Mostyn and architect Owen Williams. And I have to say, you can see their point.

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Joe in the Great Orme copper mine

Tuesday 9th August 2016, 10.40am (day 1,811)

Great Orme copper mine, 9/8/16

The Great Orme (or Y Gogarth in Welsh) is the limestone headland which rises to the north of Llandudno and was the destination of our visit today, our last day of this mini-break. There are a few candidate photos — the view of the mountains of Snowdonia from the summit was excellent — but while this chosen one isn’t so panoramic, this represents the most interesting element of the day, our visit to the prehistoric copper mines. These were only rediscovered in 1987, at which time it was believed that no metalworking had taken place in Britain until the arrival of the Romans. Archaeologists here proved that not only was copper being smelted at the Great Orme before then — 2,000 years before in fact (4,000 years before the present) — but that this may well have been the biggest industrial complex in the whole Bronze Age world. There are miles of tunnels; our ancestors weren’t sitting in caves eating weeds, these people were engineers, they learned how to do things…. Make metal from rock? Why not?

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Conwy Castle

Monday 8th August 2016, 10.55am (day 1,810)

Conwy Castle, 8/8/16

Conwy is a few miles from Llandudno. First-ever visit there today, and what a beautiful and interesting place — there were many potential candidates for today’s photo. But in the end, had to go with the castle. This is premium castle. Built, along with its accompanying town walls, in only four years, in the 13th century by Edward I. Public engineering projects in this epoch take longer (look at Manchester city centre for instance). Then again this was a fortress of occupation: no Welsh were allowed to live within the Conwy walls.

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Sunday at the seaside

Sunday 7th August 2016, 2.45pm (day 1,809)

Llandudno shelter, 7/8/16

Well, my summer holiday hasn’t finished yet, so there’s scope yet for more of this kind of thing. I could say this is a typical English seaside scene, but actually we’re in Wales — Llandudno in fact. First impressions: it’s like Aberystwyth, but bigger and with lots more Liverpudlians.

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Tea break

Tuesday 16th February 2016, 9.40am (day 1,636)

Llangollen cafe, 16/2/16

Broke the drive back from Aberystwyth at this cafe in Llangollen, north-east Wales. Clare and Joe ponder the meaning of the universe or possibly just a very good few days.

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The robot greenhouse

Monday 15th February 2016, 4.00pm (day 1,635)

Robot greenhouse, 15/2/16

The reason I am in Wales is to do a talk at the University of Aberystwyth, which I did tonight. Beforehand I had a tour of this facility. Aberystwyth is well out in the sticks — for its size (which is not large), the most isolated town in Britain — and thus has a focus on rural and agricultural research rather than, say, heavy engineering. But that doesn’t mean high technology is just something other people do. This is a near-fully automated robot greenhouse, full of computer imaging equipment and automated water dispensing pipes. And you thought growing your food was just a matter of getting the weather right…

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Devil’s Bridge

Sunday 14th February 2016, 3.30pm (day 1,634)

Devil's Bridge, 14/2/16

The weekend’s tour of noted tourist spots in West Wales continues. But sometimes one just has to admit one is a tourist. Devil’s Bridge was first named for the lowest of these three structures, built in the 11th century, and named for the Devil because people simply did not believe that the precipitous gorge that it spans could have been tamed by human hand alone. Anyway, just think what it must have meant for an 11th-century peasant to trust their lives to this new-fangled engineering stuff. The middle bridge was built in 1753, and the current, topmost one in 1901.

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Saturday 13th February 2016, 11.15am (day 1,633)

Portmeirion, 13/2/16

Portmeirion was built by Clough Williams-Ellis over a fifty-year period as a demonstration of his theories about landscape and architecture. It should be visited by anyone with an interest in the Italianate and the exquisite configuration of the….

Oh, sod that. We all know why Portmeirion is cool. It’s because it’s THE VILLAGE, from The Prisoner, the best TV series ever made. And because this is a hotel, private ground, it hasn’t since become defiled by McDonalds’ or Starbucks or just disappoint slightly because of the fact that this location you see carefully pieced together on screen isn’t like that in reality. But at Portmeirion, everything that brought Patrick McGoohan et al to the place, seeing it as the perfect setting for his vision, is still there. There’s number 6’s cottage in the background of this shot! There’s the bandstand where they play in the episode “Hammer into Anvil”! I am in geek heaven!!

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Golf course, December

Wednesday 9th December 2015, 2.00pm (day 1,567)

Golf course, 9/12/15

I would like to point out that except for — and perhaps because of — a brief flirtation between the ages of about 17 and 20, I have no interest in this game, pastime, sport, good walk spoiled, whatever. I just happened to pass this scene today. Although it’s quite a distinctive golf course — on these greens, the 2010 Ryder Cup was played out. There’s something kinda melancholy about it I think…. and I like the colours, the bright green contrasted against the grey of the woods, with the flag and magpie each being a part of the one in the other, like an (unequal) yin and yang. Which has nothing to do with golf, but hey.

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