There are three things I know about Dolwyddelan. One – it’s one of the prettiest villages in Wales, set spectacularly at the end of the long hill that takes you up to the slate waste outskirts that fringe Blaenau Ffestiniog. Two – not only does it have one of Wales’ most impressive castles, it’s also one of the few Welsh-built castles left, and three – rather like phoning up for a pizza, you can get your entire house delivered to your door.
Well, sort of; I managed to combine one of the wettest days of the year for filming with one of the most spectacular sights a building site comes up with – a man on a crane slowly winching 12 tonnes worth of housing pod into place.
They call them the Ty Unnos houses – after the old legend which said that if you could whack up a house in less than 24 hours on common ground, the place is yours
I wouldn’t recommend trying that nowadays – there’s bound to be at least one park keeper wondering what you’re up to – but the next best thing is to get a house delivered on the back of a lorry, and all put into place in about five hours.
What was a muddy field in October will be a community by Christmas, a sort of instant neighbourhood – and they’re affordable homes, which as anyone who lives in rural Wales knows, are desperately sought after.
An unwanted anniversary
Well, unwanted if you’re one of the many people living around Bala who are still angered by the sad history of the Tryweryn Valley. It was 45 years ago last week that the Liverpool Corporation officially opened Llyn Celyn – the massive reservoir supplying Liverpool that had once been the community of Capel Celyn, flooded for ever.
Two things amazed me: one is the passion of people even now for what happened in the early 1960’s. The second – seeing the old TWW footage at the time – the crowds of protestors storming the police lines.
Whilst Americans were either protesting or going to Vietnam, Wales’ own protest – a battle for an identity – was going on here. I imagine things have changed now.
A level history taught me about the iron workers and the industrial revolution in Wales but I didn’t know a thing about what happened at Capel Celyn until a decade ago.
And somewhere to put the sheep
To the National Library on Wednesday to film their brilliant new exhibition Small World – on travel in Wales. There are lots of things that catch the eye – the old railway posters where no one ever gets rained on during their holiday, the tiny ships which Welsh sea captains somehow hauled across huge oceans, the story of Islwyn the Llanbedr traveller who went from rural North Wales around the world on virtually no money – hitchhiking to Canada, America, Patagonia – when travel was proper adventure rather than just booking online and turning up at an airport.
Two of his friends who knew him in his last days were there – I imagine there’s something in most of us that, when you find yourself far from home, wants to get on the next train and go a little further, not to go back to Monday mornings and reality. Islwyn managed to do that: and I wonder how many visitors are, like me, just a little bit envious and curious and to what would happen if you fell in love with wanderlust…