River Wissey Lovell Fuller

A Long Weekend in North Wales

November 2006

Graham provides another delightful sketch of a recent family visit and highly recommends it to anyone travelling to Welsh Wales.

With the long winter evenings upon us, I always like to look forward to next spring and getting away for a few days, especially where there are beautiful gardens to experience. If you feel the same, why not consider going to North Wales next May or early June, specifically to Bodnant Garden.

Bodnant is approximately four miles from Llandudno, just off the A470. It is world famous and noted for its botanical collections. It is situated above the River Conwy with stunning views over Snowdonia and features huge Italianate terraces and formal lawns on its upper level, with a wooded valley, stream and wild garden below. In early spring the collections of rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias are quite dramatic as is the spectacular 55 yard laburnum tunnel of golden blooms. If you cannot go in the spring, there are delightful herbaceous borders, roses, hydrangeas, water lilies, clematis, etc. to enjoy during the summer months.

The gardens are open every day from mid-March to early November and, being a national trust property, have an excellent cafe/restaurant.

Whilst on this week-end break, I would urge you to travel some twelve miles to the east to St, Asaph, just off the A55. This building is without doubt the smallest cathedral in the UK and is smaller than many parish churches, especially some of those grand ones we have here in Norfolk. Indeed its length is only 182 feet but its beauty is something to behold and as Doctor Johnson wrote - "It has something of dignity and grandeur about it."

St Asaph's cathedral was started as a monastic site in AD 560 by St. Kentigern. In AD 570, Asaph took over as Bishop and lent his name to the cathedral and tiny town. The original building was burned down in 1282 during Edward I Welsh campaign and was not re-built until 1320 -1320. Basically, this is the cathedral that we see today.

The interior of the building is striking in its unity and restraint. The lack of capitals to the columns of the nave immediately catches the eye, the mouldings sweeping round in one continuous curve. The effect combines a certain richness with beautiful simplicity. The nave is almost as broad as it is long, giving a noble and spacious effect. There are many stained glass windows of differing eras and the whole ambience is one of brightness and cleanness. We were fortunate to go on a day when the choir were involved in a charity all-day "Hymnathon" which also proved to us how good the acoustics are, not something that can be said about too many religious edifices.

I do hope that some of you will be able to visit St Asaph's cathedral - you will find it a wonderfully uplifting experience. Combine it with the Bodnant Garden and you will have a truly magical weekend.

Graham Forster

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