hidden europe 8

A Welsh encounter

by Nicky Gardner


On the eightieth anniversary of the formal inauguration of Clough Williams-Ellis' impish architectural experiment at Portmeirion in Wales, we remember a chance encounter with the architect at his home at Plas Brondanw.

It must have been almost exactly thirty years ago that I first stumbled across Plas Brondanw. I had scrambled in the morning to the top of Cnicht, with its delicate rocky ridge and fine views over a Tremadog Bay that at low tide had been scoured of all its waters. Above,two red beaked choughs, and below all celandines, ochres and emeralds in the summer sunshine. Cnicht has a handsome little peak, especially when viewed from Tremadog Bay and the lovely little tidal inlet of Treath Bach. From this direction, Cnicht affects to look a little like the Matterhorn, a solid triangle of rock, in winter often draped in snow, that pushes up above an uncluttered horizon.

Those native to this corner of Wales well appreciate that such comparisons to the Swiss peak are an affront to Cnicht.

Related note

Lamb soup galore

Lamb soup is a staple in some parts of Europe, but utterly unknown elsewhere. In Iceland, lamb soup has the status of a national dish. That lamb soup was once judged to be the perfect remedy for dysentery was new to us.