Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Catalyst © Glyn Davies 2010
I'm still not sure why it happened, but after we arose on Sunday morning, ready to head for the hills to see some snow, the van decided to turn right after the Britannia Bridge and head for the Llŷn Peninsula instead ! Even as I drove the hills were pulling us one way and the sea was pulling us the other. As we trailed the useless endless procession of cars through Caernarfon and Bontnewydd, I realised we were in for a long day if the peninsula really was calling, but by Parc Glynllifon, the roads miraculously cleared, the sun belted down, the van was warm, the sea was calm and we were on the road to Aberdaron! The new bypass made quick work of the section from Llanwnda to Trefor but soon we were on the narrow, winding but very familiar road to Nant Gwrtheyrn. Bron y Ferch looked pert in the late morning sunshine and from Llithfaen, the view the hills stretching ahead of us, down to Ynys Enlli in a haze at the far tip, confirmed that the van had made the right choice !
We dropped down a steep road into Aberdaron, crossed a tiny humpback bridge over a sparking Afon Cyll-y-Felin, and parked immediately, next to a 13th Century kitchen (Y Gegin Fawr) now closed for winter ! A gang of mod-jacketed bikers and their assorted decorated mopeds are today's pilgrims. An amazingly beautiful Japanese woman posed on one of the bikes, incongruous in her strikingly smart jumper dress and high heeled black knee boots. Her partner took a few more snaps on his Canon compact and they jumped into a people carrier and drove off, their kids' faces peering out of the rear windows at the crew they'd just left. Flags of St David mounted on some vehicles fluttered in the Northerly wind, but a mixture of Welsh and English emanated from the excited but friendly looking throng. Keen smokers hung around the pub doorways of the two establishments open in this tiny hamlet, and having not been here for a few years, we chanced some lunch at the Ty Newydd Hotel, with its seaside balcony overlooking the sheltered sunlit bay. We pushed past the busy bar with it's live sport, wall mounted widescreen TV and cheering supporters, and emerged the other side of a narrow corridor into a large bright sunny room with huge sea facing windows. A sun-tanned and distinguished looking gentlemen on our left was busy carving up huge slices of a very tasty looking roast and large families were tucking into Sunday lunch. Tables were reserved throughout, but in my best Welsh, which isn't brilliant I can tell you, I managed to request a table from a beautiful and friendly barmaid who spoke softly and clearly, and never picked me up on any missed mutations!
After a tasty lunch, surrounded by slightly less tasty over-cooked photos, we headed off to the beach, a world apart from what we had just left, quiet, calm, cool, almost deserted and natural. Steep and heavily contorted sandy and sedimentary cliffs surrounded the bay, and at the far end, there gaped a large sea arch, and from it's slippery slopes, you could just make out the vast Southern hillside of Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island). Two un-missible small islands of Ynysoedd Gwylanod grabbed my attention, mimicking the smaller but smooth polished boulders nestling in the soft clean sand at the end of the beach.
Poetry in Motion © Glyn Davies 2010
I wandered at a slow pace along the water's edge, fascinated by the shifting arrangements of clouds, waves, wet sand and reflections. I loved the balancing act between wave forms, sand patterns and racing cumuli. Carol scoured the sandy cliff edge for driftwood and shells for her new teaching workshops for schoolchildren about her poetry book "Sea Things". A little lady in green wellies marched ahead of me for most of the walk, fortunately leaving only evaporating footprints in the saturated sand. By the time Carol and I had reached the arch and a small cove within a beach, the little lady had finished her stroll, turned on her heels and disappeared back in the direction of the sheltered village, leaving Carol and I alone to enjoy the unspoilt beach.
St Hywyn's Church, Aberdaron © Glyn Davies 2010
We walked back hand in hand, enjoying quiet company and found ourselves in the church! Whilst I am always fascinated and delighted by the quiet and simple serenity of old churches, especially this one overlooking the sweep of this beautiful bay, I was suddenly and strikingly moved by some of the poems adorning the display panels just inside. These poems were written by one time vicar of this church, now famous poet, R.S. Thomas. I had of course heard of him many times before but really couldn't say I knew anything about him or his work, but I was simply captivated by some of his poems, or rather his words and ideas, empathising closely with his conceptions about self, understanding, contemplation, and catalysts for spirituality which can be the sea, the sky or the land, and the vital and strong emotional connection many of us have for the natural world around us. There were one or two short poems I would love to have presented here, but without knowing the facts about reproducing literary works on a personal blog, I thought it best not at present, but will look to do so if possible in the near future.
The door clanged open and a cacophony of loud voices from just four visitors entered the church. The volume turned down a little but I was still dialling into their broadcast. My peaceful enjoyment shattered and my concentration impaired, I gave up my poetic meditation and went to sit outside in the sunshine to wait for Carol.
Tea with the Vicar , Aberdaron © Glyn Davies 2010
We returned to Ty Newydd just over the lane, for fresh coffee and a piping hot pot of tea, which again I asked for in Welsh. The beautiful barmaid started up a new conversation with me in Welsh (which I love and need), but as I sat with Carol at an outside balcony table, I realised I'd screwed up over my 'ar' and 'i' and was really upset with myself and embarrassed. I knew I should have answered "i'r ben y traeth", not "ar y pen y traeth" but took some solace in that at least I'd recognised my mistake for myself!
We left the friendly hotel and headed for the igneous rock outcrop at Y Rhiw for some late afternoon sunlight, and after parking the van in the widest part of a narrow road to avoid congestion, we located the footpath and headed for the crag and a hut circle. Sadly, neither the intense evening sunlight nor the hut circle made an appearance, but just the walk up through thick heather to the fantastic shaped rocks made the jaunt worthwhile anyway. On the far side of the crag the land plummets steeply down a soft grass and heather covered hillside to the rocks below. The full vista from Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth) to Trwyn Cilan opens up before you.
An Old Viewpoint © Glyn Davies 2010
It was a spectacular view with less than spectacular light so we made our way back to the van, accompanied by two very cute and friendly ponies, who revelled in our attention, nuzzled our hands and faces and looked genuinely disappointed as we finally shut the farm gate on them to reach the van. We followed some tiny lanes over Mynydd Rhiw and of course the sun intensified and sent glowing rays across a landscape of low stone walls, small fields and early spring growth. Starlings practised aerial manoeuvres, buzzards surveyed the scene from high telegraph poles and sheep lazily ambled about enjoying the warmth of the evening.
The Pony With the Pink Beard © Glyn Davies 2010
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