Monday, September 20, 2021

I'm Not a Number!

I have been doing a lot of clock watching this week as we've been preparing for a show.  I started this blog late last week, with the intention of finishing it before the show, but failed, so I'm now typing this on a sunny Monday morning.  To give you a flavour of the last 7 days, we were screen printing t-shirts at 10 pm on Thursday.  

It's a miracle the prints turned out as well as they did when I had one eye on Help, the care home drama starring Jodie Comer as Sarah and Stephen Graham as Tony.  It's also highly likely that a few of the garments were softened by my tears when Tony told Sarah that he loved her (shortly after calling her a soft t**t).

So, as the week begins, I am now experiencing technical issues with our wireless adaptor, which is causing me grief when I try to upload images or use the internet.  It will be resolved, but for now, I shall keep this post short and sweet.

So, back through the mists of time we go to our recent sun drenched sojourn in Wales.  En route to Anglesey, we stopped off at Portmeirion, the location for the avant-garde social science fiction and at times utterly baffling 1960s TV series, The Prisoner.  

The star of the show, Patrick McGoohan, died in 2015 and a bust of the man himself has been erected close to the entrance, in his honour.

The Italianate village was the brainchild and creation of Welsh Architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.  Now a charitable trust, Clough designed and built the village between 1925 and 1975.  Clough was a tireless campaigner for the environment and a founding member of the Council for the Protection of Rural England and Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales.  He was also instrumental in the establishment of National Parks in England and Wales.   

Portmeirion, Clough's masterpiece, has inspired numerous architects, most notably Frank Lloyd Wright, who visited in 1956 during his only visit to his ancestral country.  

It's also the home of Portmeirion Pottery after Clough's designer daughter took over a Stoke on Trent pottery and named it after the village.  Sadly, we arrived too late in the day to have a nose around the shop, but spent a wonderful couple of hours exploring the quirky village and the surrounding grounds.  With the sun high in the sky and the temperature pushing 30, it was almost impossible to believe that we were actually in Wales and not the Italian Riviera or at the very least a 1950s Hollywood film set.  

Built on the sandy Dwyryd estuary in North Wales the village is a riot of colour; red, green, pink and ochre and, whilst it's referred to as "Italianate" there are actually other architectural influences at play, including Gothic, Jacobean and Norwegian.  

Here's the Gothic Pavilion for example, tucked away at the bottom of the cliff.

 If you've ever seen The Prisoner, you will certainly recognise the chess board.

The Central Plaza oozed glamour.  I quite expected to see Jean Harlow sipping a cocktail on one of the poolside chairs.... or Esther Williams swimming through flowers in the pool.

I confess I became a little obsessed with this area - in particular the reflections in the pool.  These photos have been flipped so that the buildings appear to be the right way up.  I think the Portmeirion looks even more beautiful mirrored in the water. 

After ice cream (mango sorbet in my case) we headed out of the village and down towards the beach, where the jet set lifestyle was much in evidence.  A wedding reception was in full swing at the hotel, which was out of bounds, but a little further along in the hotel grounds, guests were topping up their vitamin D levels.

Having successfully left the village, we felt a little deflated not to have been pursued by Rover! (One for Prisoner fans).  I wasn't the only photographer snapping everything in her path.  The interplay between the late summer sun, the contours of the landscape, the towers standing proudly above the wooded hillsides and the shadows cast by the enchanting follies was exquisite.

The woodland gardens were planted with towering Pines, Redwoods, Firs and countless other exotic species, all seemingly thriving on this part of the North Wales coast.  The steep winding paths offered multiple choices of direction with eccentricities at every turn from lighthouse folly and Edwardian garden to pet cemetery and ghost garden.  

We visited at the end of the day and pretty much had the place to ourselves, although we were somewhat envious of those staying the night.  What a place to unwind, G&T in hand.  Still, with the village's buildings now principally holiday lets and the incredible annual Festival No. 6, which I'm hoping will make a return at some point, we have at least two good reasons to visit again.

Be seeing you!



  1. Sadly, I never made it to Portmeirion yet, although it's been on my list of things to visit for years. How absolutely wonderful to have the place almost to yourself. It's clear that it's a photographer's delight, and I would have snapped away quite happily myself.
    Your photographs are stunning as ever, and how clever - and slightly surreal - are those flipped photos! xxx

    1. Thanks Ann. Oh I think you will love it when you do get to visit. If you can book in for lunch at the hotel too, even better - the view is fantastic (we dined there years ago). xxx

  2. What an incredible looking place Claire! At a glance I thought you were at the Italian Riviera. I am glad you mentioned the pottery, as I was racking my brain as to which context I had head 'Portmeirion' (my mam has found Portmeirion pottery in the past). The black and white photo of the shadows on the cobbles is stunning. I agree with Ann, the flipped pool shots are clever! Hope your show went well. Lulu xXx

    1. Hi Lulu, Thanks. It’s a very beautiful and surreal place offering a real sense of escape. The layout of the buildings, their towers, embellishments and narrow passageways made for some great shadows. It’s well worth a trip. xxx Claire

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