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A Potter's Moll: Wonderful Wales

...One place which I will always treasure the memory of, is Ty Mawr in the remote Wybrnant Valley above Betws y Coed. The setting is so quiet and beautiful that one can imagine life there when it was built 600 years ago with a brook running nearby and a drover’s road passing the door.

The house was the birthplace of Bishop William Morgan who translated the Bible into Welsh and presented it to Queen Elizabeth 1, who was his patron...

Liz Robison revists her beloved Wales and is again entranced by the magical beauty of a very special land.

To read more of Liz's ebullient words please click on A Potter's Moll in the menu on this page.

There have been several programmes or re-runs on TV to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. It reminded me that two of my children who were quite young when they watched the wedding of Charles and Diana on TV were very taken with the glitz of it all. My daughter thought that the diamonds in the tiara were electric lights because they were so sparkly, and my son asked: ‘Did Prince Charles win all those medals for swimming?'

I have spent a couple of weeks in Wales, part holiday, part titivating the student house we own there, ready for the new academic year. As I stood in a huge Tesco Extra looking in vain for furniture-restoring polish, a man next to me said: ‘They’ve got everything in here, except what you want!’

I revisited Penrhyn Castle at Bangor. built by Thomas Pennant, Lord Penrhyn, in the nineteenth century. It is a monument to nouveau-riche bad taste. Pennant owned vast areas of North Wales including most of the slate quarries, as well as sugar plantations in the Caribbean. The architect was given the brief of building an eleventh century Edward 1-style castle, and it is all done with the best materials and fine craftsmanship, yet it still contrives to be somewhat naff!

Nevertheless, the castle commands one of the finest views in Wales with Snowdonia on one side and the Menai Straits and Anglesey on the other.

We also revisited Plas Newydd on Anglesey. The dining room has a huge mural of an idealised harbour scene painted by Whistler. There are some wet footsteps on the quayside, which keep pointing towards you wherever you stand in the room. There was no sign of his mother.

There is a marvellous terraced garden overlooking the Straits with ‘hot beds’ on one side – dahlias, sunflowers, heleniums etc, and ‘cool’ beds on the other. These comprised yards of blue agapanthus in full bloom. Seen against the background of a blue sky and the water, it was magical.

Indeed, the sun shone for several days which makes everywhere look better, but Port Meirion village left me cold. Built on a beautiful estuary by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis, it was meant to show how architecture could enhance a beautiful place. But to me the Italianate buildings looked out of place and tacky. Every building has a commercial purpose: ice cream parlour, café, souvenir shop, pottery seconds shop or rented accommodation – the latter expensive if the Ferraris and Aston Martins parked outside were anything to go by. Still I can say I’ve ‘been’ there now.

One place which I will always treasure the memory of, is Ty Mawr in the remote Wybrnant Valley above Betws y Coed. The setting is so quiet and beautiful that one can imagine life there when it was built 600 years ago with a brook running nearby and a drover’s road passing the door.

The house was the birthplace of Bishop William Morgan who translated the Bible into Welsh and presented it to Queen Elizabeth 1, who was his patron.

Our human frailty is ever-present – a couple of hours later I took a tumble when I missed a curb and badly sprained three fingers, which looked like bruised sausages for days. Still, ‘could be worse’ as they say.

It’s back to Wales this weekend for the annual MG Owners’ club Snowdonia run – last year about 200 cars lined up on the Esplanade at Llandudno for the start. The routes are usually on B-roads with places of interest to stop at on the way. The cars finish lined up in a field at Betws y Coed, where the owners inspect each other’s valves while their passengers don’t!

Then it’s back to real life with another week’s course for seven students in Potter Jim’s studio with the Moll providing the catering. More from me in a fortnight.

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