Magical Portmeirion

It’s better to travel than arrive. This old maxim just doesn’t apply to the magical folly that is Portmeirion village. At least, it doesn’t for me. You see, there is an energy about this place that is positively alchemical, and being there feels like travelling and arriving all at the same time.

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And, simply on the rise of a spontaneous feeling, I had an urge to be there. So Fen and I journeyed along the coast and through the Welsh countryside on a balmy September day to find Portmeirion and its multitude of pleasures.

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The Italian-styled village, created by architect, Clough Williams-Ellis over a 50 year period between 1925 and 1975, sits snug on a private peninsula overseeing the Traeth Bach tidal estuary on the Snowdonia coast of North Wales. Its 70 acres of sub-tropical gardens, woodland, lakes, temples, colourful architecture, and gazebos are flanked by a rock-edged shoreline with ever-changing views across the water to the hills beyond.

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There is a beautiful hotel on the shore; colourful cottages with names such as Unicorn, Dolphin and Mermaid; a lightless lighthouse; a boat that never leaves the shore; a castle; statues of Hercules and Goddesses; a golden one-armed Buddha; and a shell grotto and hidden caves. These are just some of the wonderful finds, but it’s the landscape and nature’s presence that holds you enchanted here.

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You possibly know Portmeirion for the 1960s surreal spy TV series, The Prisoner, which was filmed there. That’s how I first came to hear of the place. However, as a writer, I was intrigued to discover that Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit there in just 6 days! And, that does not surprise me. There is a potent creative energy here, born on the breeze and carried in by the ever ebb and flow of tidal waters. This energy rises from the sands and bedrock and, higher still, through soil and dense foliage. There is something spirited about this wild place, which permeates everything, despite its touristy overtones.

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“An architect has strange pleasures,” Clough Williams-Ellis wrote in 1924. “He will lie awake listening to the storm in the night and think how the rain is beating on his roofs, he will see the sun return and will think that it was for just such sunshine that his shadow-throwing mouldings were made.”

Clough, who aspired to beauty- ‘that strange necessity’- built the tollgate, his last offering to the village of his dreams, in his 93rd year. His motto was “Cherish the Past, Adorn the Present, Construct for the Future.” Wise words from this wonderful wizard.

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I aim to return to Portmeirion to write, to further explore and research, and simply to enjoy the magic that flows through this timeless place. No doubt, the experience of being there is already working its way into my writing as boldly as it has woven into my imagination.

Have you visited Portmeirion? Leave a comment and share your memories…

Love & Bright Wishes,

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On Board the Mobile Library

On Monday 30th July 2012, I returned to Cumbria with my novel, Light Weaver, for an extra special book signing on board the mobile library. It was a wonderful experience for me to take the book back to where it all began some four years previous. It was also, perhaps, a novelty for the mobile library readers as the event was a first of its kind (as far as we know) in South Lakes.

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After a quick interview with the fabulous Ian Timms of BBC Radio Cumbria, I travelled north with that familiar feeling of going home. I journeyed under a dramatic sky, with ever changing light, rainbow flashes, and ominous cloud that has been typical of this strange summer.

Upon arrival, I met the lovely library staff. I was treated to a tour of Kendal’s stunning Carnegie library on Stricklandgate before setting off to the historic South Lakes villages of Burton and Holme to meet readers on board the mobile library.

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There were moments where I felt as if I’d stepped into scenes from Light Weaver. I was half expecting the singing psychic to make an appearance, dancing up and down the street as I signed copies of the book. And, perhaps he did!

Time passed quickly as it always does when you’re having fun, and I left the mobile library to continue its adventures into the heart of Light Weaver country.

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After a walk by the river and a delicious late veggie lunch at Kendal’s Waterside cafe, I made my way to Silverdale, where I often find Light Weaver’s Tom and Cali watching the tidal bore. Sometimes, I see the mobile library there, too, although I’m not sure whether it’s in this dimension or another.

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Thank you to Cumbria Library Services for making the event possible and to Dave and Sam (either of them could have been mistaken for Tom!) for looking after me on the mobile library. Also, thanks to the lovely Cumbrian folk who gave me such a warm welcome.

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