‘Before I moved to Wales, I’d only read about Portmeirion in various articles that were always entitled ’10 Places That’ll Make You Choke On Your Coffee When You Find Out They’re In Wales’
or ‘The World’s Most Colourful Attractions You Won’t Believe Are Real, But Definitely Are’. You know, that kind of thing.
I’d also heard my Mum talking about an old TV show called ‘The Prisoner’. To me, at the age I was when she mentioned it, sounded immensely weird and like something I very much didn’t want to watch. Plus, it had a massive killer balloon thing rolling around in it. That would’ve have given me serious nightmares. Or, at very least, have made me think twice about going to any birthday parties for a while.
|Like Tobermory on speed…|
Fast forward a few years (ok, more than a *few*) and I suddenly realised that my new home town of Harlech was but a few short miles away from aforementioned colourful prison type place and I realised that this was somewhere I obviously had to check out for myself.
On a cold winter morning, LT and I drove to Portmeirion and arrived at a bright and cheerily painted ticket desk. We paid £20 for tickets and neither of had any real idea of what we’d find inside.
I admit to being a little disappointed. Not in the surroundings, but in the time of year we’d chosen to go. I imagine Portmeirion is best visited earlier in the year. You know, when the weather is warmer and the sun makes the colours really stand out. However, even with the dreary weather, it’s still very impressive.
So much more…
God, I sound like a moaning minnie, don’t I?? It’s not intentional, I just genuinely think that you’ll get far more value for your money in the summer months when you’re not impeded by the weather. Let’s face it, everything looks better when the sun shines, no? Exactly.
What I didn’t know at the time was that Portmeirion is far more than just a vividly painted village where men are cruelly incarcerated against their will.
Oh yes. It also has a hotel, self catering cottages, restaurant, spa and wedding venue, Cafe and ice cream parlour. I know this because I used to upend my plates whenever an owner left the breakfast room so that I could see where it was made.
|How sweet is this??|
Clough Williams Ellis
Portmeirion was designed by Sir Clough Williams Ellis over a period of 50 years in the mid 1900s and was built in the style of a Mediterranean village. The name roughly translates as ‘port’ – from the location of the village, and ‘Meirion’, which is the seat of the old county of Meirionydd (now Gwynedd local authority). PortGwyn doesn’t really have the same romantic ring to it, does it?
The village covers quite an expanse of space and has a wonderful central piazza, complete with Gothic pavilion, a statue of Friga, the Goddess of Friday (which, incidentally, is my weekend name), some Siamese twins AND the piece de resistance: a fabulous statue of Hercules, which was bought in Edinburgh and driven all the way back to North Wales.
You might think it’s not that far but, trust me, it’s the longest 6 hours of your life. And when I drive back from Scotland, I’m not driving along winding roads towing a trailer with a massive bloke on the back. Well, not all the time, anyway.
|You wouldn’t believe this was in Wales, would you?|
The hotel and self catering accommodation looks like it would make for a lovely, relaxing place to spend a few days. I could just imagine myself chilling out, drinking wine and staring out across the river.
However, since I was just there for the day, I wandered around, taking photos, drinking coffee and staring out across the estuary to see if I could spot my house on the other side. I couldn’t. No one can. This is mainly because it’s nowhere near. Anyway…
TV and Music Fame…
Many a celebrity face has been spotted at Portmeirion throughout its colourful history. As well as being famous for the being the set of The Prisoner, it also played a starring role in Cold Feet (God, I love that show), and Dr Who (God, I don’t love that show).
It’s also been used in music videos by Iron Maiden, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Supergrass. In other words: it’s amazing.
|Fountain of youth. Or water, at least.|
One of my friends used to work in the offices at Portmeirion. She fondly recounts a tale of taking a break from typing and casually looking out the window. There, in the middle of the village, was a man, spray-painted in silver, being chased down the road by a massive ball.
If that’s not the kind of place you want to visit then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
You can find out more about Portmeirion HERE.
Have you visited Portmeirion? More importantly: have you visited Portmeirion AND been chased by a big ball?? I must know.