Archive for 2022

Castle of light

November 25, 2022 0 Comments
Castle of light

Barmouth and utopia make an unlikely combination.  But for a brief period the town, best known for its donkeys, candy-floss and Brummies, was the home of an idealistic social experiment, and an historic act of generosity. Fanny Talbot was born in Somerset in 1824, the youngest daughter of John and Mary Bowne.  Her father was […]

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Ar ddiymadferthwch

November 18, 2022 1 Comment
Ar ddiymadferthwch

Dros y misoedd diwethaf mae rhyw ofid amhendant wedi ymdreiddio i’m meddwl.  Nid gofid personol, ond rhywbeth mwy cyffredinol, fel rhyw niwl trwchus sy wedi setlo fel melltith ar y wlad a’r byd, ac sy’n peidio â chael ei symud gan y gwyntoedd di-baid.  Mater anodd oedd hoelio’r gofid hwn mewn geiriau – nes imi sylweddoli […]

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A playing card with feeling

November 11, 2022 2 Comments
A playing card with feeling

Last week the National Trust kindly asked me to give a talk based on the items in an exhibition in Newton House, Dinefwr, Unlocked: 125 objects from Dinefwr.  The choice of objects, most of them connected to Newton House and Dinefwr Park, was up to me.  I could hardly fail to include one commonplace but […]

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Battle of the buildings

November 4, 2022 0 Comments
Battle of the buildings

Felicia Hemans, the leading woman poet of the Romantic period in Britain, came to Wales in 1800 when she was seven years old.  (Felicia Browne was her original name: her father, George, owned a wine-importing business.)  Her first home was a cottage near Abergele, before the family moved in 1809 to St Asaph to live […]

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Jim Crace’s angels

October 28, 2022 0 Comments
Jim Crace’s angels

It might seem that everything that can be said about angels has already been said.  But Jim Crace, in his latest novel, eden, gives them a new look, and a new, sinister identity.  In his eden (not Eden, you’ll notice) Adam and Eve were expelled some time ago (‘what fools they were to sacrifice their […]

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Cynwrig’s stone foot

October 22, 2022 0 Comments
Cynwrig’s stone foot

This week I finally managed to get to St Illtud’s Church in Llanelltyd, near Dolgellau, and see for myself the stone, just over three feet tall and chained up like a dog, that sits on a low plinth at the west end of the nave.  In the dim light it’s very difficult to make out […]

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Watcyn Wyn a’r ‘Welsh Note’

October 14, 2022 0 Comments
Watcyn Wyn a’r ‘Welsh Note’

Pedair brawddeg sy gan Wicipedia i’w ddweud am Watkyn Hezekiah Williams.  Ond yn ei ddydd roedd ‘Watcyn Wyn’ yn adnabyddus iawn fel bardd, ac fel sefydlwr ysgol nodedig, Ysgol Gwynfryn, Rhydaman.   Dim ond arbenigwyr, siŵr o fod, sy’n darllen ei farddoniaeth, er bod o leiaf un o’i emynau, ‘Rwy’n gweld o bell y dydd yn […]

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Three Courtauld women

October 7, 2022 0 Comments
Three Courtauld women

When I used to travel to London regularly, the Courtauld Gallery was one of my favourite places to visit.  Last weekend I went back, for the first time since its extraordinarily expensive (£57m) makeover, which closed it for three years.  The building now looks elegant enough and there are many practical improvements.  But I can’t […]

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E.M. Forster invents the iPad

September 30, 2022 3 Comments
E.M. Forster invents the iPad

Years ago my friend C and I challenged each other to read, all the way through, a Classic Long Book.  My challenge was Moby-Dick, and his was Bleak House.  Whether C ever reached Melville’s majestic final line, ‘… and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago’, I […]

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A coast-to-coast walk

September 23, 2022 2 Comments
A coast-to-coast walk

I’m no Alfred Wainwright, and this is no marathon journey like the one he devised across northern England, but on 19 September I made up my own coast-to-coast walk. It’s worth sharing with you, since in its small way it’s a fine walk, and you won’t find it listed in guidebooks.  ‘Coast-to-coast’ is stretching the […]

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