Communion Of Dreams


Three weeks in Wales, Part 10: Welsh Rover.

 

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9.

Took this the next morning at breakfast in the Black Lion pub, just had to share it:

While we’d had exceptionally nice weather through most of our trip, the next day we woke to more low-hanging clouds, light rain, and mist. In other words, characteristically Welsh weather.

We next had an Air B&B up outside of Caernarfon. Charming place. Lots of character. Bit too much for my tastes, actually. Would have been fine if I were a grad student again, but I’ve now come to like more luxury when on vacation. Like a bed which isn’t a foot off the floor. A bathroom which isn’t down the hall, up some stairs, then down another hall. And a door which *doesn’t* lock from outside the room.  It made me … uncomfortable. At least the host was pleasant, though in a way which a murder mystery writer might describe. Yes, I have an over-active imagination, but still. We stayed the one night, but high-tailed it to a conventional holiday hotel elsewhere in the area the next day.

But before we went there, we took a trip south to pay homage to Number 6. Yup, we went to Portmeirion:

Even The Village needs maintenance work now and again.

Rover! Here boy!”

 

OK, this is hard to make out. But there in the middle of the image is a modern security camera. Given how Portmeirion was used as the setting for The Prisoner, with it’s all-encompassing monitoring, I just thought it a bit ironic to actually see this.

 

After a nice afternoon in Portmeirion we went up to Caernarfon and strolled around a bit. I was surprised at just how much the city shuts down at the end of the business day — they really roll up the sidewalks.

But there was still one pub going strong, at least: The Anglesey Arms.

Where we saw this. I thought the paint job would appeal to a number of my friends.

The next morning we decided to go out onto the Llŷn Peninsula, first going to Criccieth Castle.   Here’s the description of Criccieth from St Cybi’s Well — see if you think it fits with the image from Castle Wales below.

Darnell went across to the exit into the castle grounds proper. The path turned left, then right into a copse of trees. When he emerged from these, the massive gatehouse seemed to loom directly overhead. The path cut up the hill at an angle on the north side, climbing steeply, then switched back before coming around to the front of the gatehouse. There was little doubt that when the castle was in operation, taking this path would mean that any attackers would be under constant fire from arrows, bolts, and heavy stones coming from the walls and the outer gatehouse. Trying to go straight up the hillside would have been even worse, because while it was a shorter path, it was much more precarious footing, and still under direct fire from the outer gatehouse tower and curtain wall.

And of course, if you made it past the outer gatehouse, then you had to contend with the huge inner gatehouse, a massive structure of twin D-shaped towers sporting a delightful array of arrow loops and murder holes.

Do go and check out the castle itself: it’s damned impressive, even in its ruined state. And the lump of hill it sits on is a stunning site, with fantastic views of the town and country around:

From Criccieth, we did some exploring on the peninsula, then thought to go find a small church we had heard about from friends years before. This is St Beuno’s at Pistyll, on the north shore, and its so small that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry:

St Beuno’s is a 12th century structure, though it has seen some updates and repairs over time. Still, it’s largely intact, and feels like it both inside and out:

Note the rushes on the floor.

 

If you look carefully, you can see the holes in the rafters for where thatch was held in place. The slate roof is only about 100 years old.

I love these two pans of moss & stone in the window ledges, an old tradition related to Easter:

Moss pan in the window, 12th century stone font for holy water in the foreground.

Outside:

The narrow window is called a “Leper’s squint”, where those who were not permitted inside the church could witness mass.

And around:

Lovely.

Jim Downey

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Not exactly ‘The Prisoner’, but …

A small excerpt from the current chapter I’m writing:

“Explain,” said Darnell.

“Simple: however hostile you are to the government, you still love your country and don’t want to see it harmed,” said Smith.

“We’re not asking you to do anything in support of the government,” added Jones. “However, if you hear of something which might be a threat to the people of America, please let us know.”

Darnell sipped his wine, looked out over the estuary below the terrace. The image of Patrick McGoohan racing across the sand flats, trying to get away, came to him. He looked up. “Hear something? Why should I hear something?”

Why yes, that scene is set in Portmeirion. 🙂

The writing continues to go well, though I occasionally have small crises of confidence, panic attacks over the thought that I have anything to say. Ah, well, it’s part of the process, and you just have to set those fears aside and get on with the story as best you can. I think that this is where my training and work as a book conservator comes in handy — I understand tackling jobs which at first seem to be too much, to be beyond my skill level. Because when you break them down into small steps, they’re manageable. I don’t have to write the whole novel; I just have to write the next scene.

 

Jim Downey

PS: Completely unrelated, but do yourself a favor — go read this, and watch the embedded video. Trust me.



I spy, with my little eye . . .

I’m beginning to think that Orwell was an optimist:

Oxford taxi conversations to be recorded, council rules

By April 2015 it will be mandatory for all of the city’s 600 plus cabs to have cameras fitted to record passengers.

The council said the cameras would run continuously, but only view footage relating to police matters would be reviewed.

Big Brother Watch said it was “a total disregard for civil liberties”.

When I first saw this on BoingBoing, I thought “oh, another DailyMail exaggeration piece, blowing something relatively innocuous all out of proportion.” Then I saw it was from the BBC. Reading the full article makes it quite clear that this is not exaggerated in the slightest.

>sigh<

How long before you think someplace in the US follows suit? I give it five years.

Jim Downey



Ah, damn.
January 15, 2009, 8:58 am
Filed under: Art, Gene Roddenberry, General Musings, movies, Science Fiction, Star Trek, The Prisoner

I caught the news last night, but somehow had managed to miss this comment to my post of a week ago – Patrick McGoohan has passed away.

Ah, damn.

And so has Ricardo Montalban.

Ah, damn.

We tend to think of actors as their most important (to us) roles.  People who won’t recognize the name of McGoohan probably know him as #6 from The Prisoner.  Likewise, Montalban is forever known better as Khan Noonien Singh to generations of SF fans.  And while this is unfair – both men were accomplished actors who played many roles, and who lived interesting lives – it is understandable, because they came into our lives for only a limited time and in this particular context.  And they live on in those characters in our minds.

So, yes, farewell to each.  But I will always cherish their memorable performances.

Jim Downey



Number Six.
January 8, 2009, 11:10 am
Filed under: MetaFilter, Science Fiction, The Prisoner

Ah, nice. Via MeFi, it seems that AMC now has all of The Prisoner episodes available online for free. Gonna have to bookmark that . . .

More later – trying to get a lot done today.

Jim Downey