Not Brockley Central: Portmeirion


We’ve been in Portmeirion in north Wales this weekend for a conference called Names Not Numbers – where we learned to love Gaby Darbyshire, Louise Casey, Beeban Kidron, and even Douglas Alexander. But most of all, we love Portmeirion itself.

Portmeirion is a cliff-side village created by Clough Wiliams Ellis to demonstrate that good design can be both commercially and culturally beneficial. As an argument it’s an irrefutable triumph, though whether it has done this as Ellis wanted, by displaying architectural good manners, is debatable. Sensitive design is usually supposed to blend apologetically in to the landscape – Portmeirion takes a glorious bit of the Welsh coast and attempts to outdo nature’s splendour.

Famous as the setting for the cult series The Prisoner, it’s as though it was custom-made for television. It’s a Disney version of a Mediterranean town, with a set-designer’s talent for tricks of the eye. Nothing is as it seems: boats moored by the seafront are actually disguised jetties, buildings no bigger than townhouses are made to look like Palladian mansions, windows are painted on and staircases wrap around themselves on their way to nowhere in particular.

There are hundreds of amazing views, beautifully manicured gardens and miles of soft sand at low tide. The route from Welshpool to Portmeirion is the most immaculately-kept part of Britain we’ve ever driven through. Barely a slate or dry stone was out of place and the coast line and mountains are pristine.

A couple more short videos here and here.

7 comments:

Tamsin said...

Lovely - lucky you. I've always wanted to have a good explore ever since I realised that "the Village" was for real and actually in the British Isles.

Anonymous said...

Bet you won't find people complaining about that different types of train they get up there

tyrwhitt ali said...

Oh Anon, they definitely complain about the trains.

I've been out that way quite a lot as my folks live near Welshpool and you are lucky to get a train every two hours, as they run on the same track going east and west. I also seem to remember that Portmeirion is a request stop train station. That's always a novel experience!

You're right though Nick, the scenery up there is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

While suffering a cold and listening to Radio 5 over night the presenter was moaning one of his regular guests was away in Portmeiron for the weekend.

Ed CPZ said...

A friend who showed me the whole run of The Prisoner was equally impressed when he visited...

James said...

Just one of the many wonders Wales has to offer

Anonymous said...

As an ex-brocker now living in North Wales, much as I appreciate the stunning scenery and lack of siren noise, I miss Cinnamon and Babur!

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