Category Archives: Places and people

Flight between capitals

The curving, erratic boundaries of English fields were laid down by centuries of strip-farming, irrigation or plague, Enclosure and the machine-demands of agri-business. Continue reading

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The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper

Machynlleth is home to the rather wonderful Museum of Modern Art (more a gallery really as you can buy the work) and their annual show took this quotation (from Eden Philpott) as its starting point. This very beautiful piece by … Continue reading

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Calanques, copper and stonechats

Amlwch on the north coast of Anglesey is now a small, depressed town with an obviously struggling economy. I talked to a young woman of 16 and her 12 year old brother, who were both itching to leave rather than … Continue reading

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An up-to-the-minute castle

When Edward I built Conwy he was into shock and awe. It was the mid 1280’s, he’d just won great battles and he was, by all he held dear, going to hold North Wales. In four years – four years! … Continue reading

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Sunshine, towers and Tudors in Plas Mawr

I was not suddenly transplanted to Cadiz, taking pictures of one of their torres, where they watched out for returning ships. This lookalike was built by Robert Wynne, who had travelled widely in the train of one of Henry VIII’s … Continue reading

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The Translators’ Cathedral

The little town of St Asaph, Llanelwy in Welsh, sits on the pilgrim trail from Holywell on the north east coast to Holyhead on Anglesey, the leaving point for the holy island of Bardsey. It was an useful stopping place … Continue reading

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Castle/home: Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn to George Herbert, the Princes of Powis

Powis castle sits proud on its hill, looking east to England, and in every other direction surveying Wales. Its red-brick, elegant fenestration and statued courtyards belie its early history as a defensive castle for the Welsh borders. The gatehouse is … Continue reading

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Dykes, broads and carrs: the meaning of English

Wake. Wash. Broad, carr and navigation. My personal, ambiguous favourite, dyke. Words with multiple meanings, complex etymology, a storied history. Such words are intimately associated with the intermingling of land and water, with places of┬áthe borderline, places where identity is … Continue reading

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Ghosts older than war: a walk in Norfolk woods

Any walk, well-taken, is full of hints and echoes, whispers if what was and what might be. The woods of Stow Bedon and Brecks of Thompson Common are hardly on the wild side, yet I walked for over two hours … Continue reading

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On the reopening of Penarth Pier

Piers are storied, blurred by association and half-remembered scraps of history, no two the same but all sharing essential qualities of function and form, water and linearity, functional structures with froth on top. Long jetties or working wharves for ferries … Continue reading

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