Archive for October 10th, 2009
UK weather fails to keep me as The Prisoner

Kept in a strange village and chased by a huge white clear bubble, sounds bizarre, but myself and many people in the 1960’s were glued to ITV series The Prisoner. As I am over in the UK for a few days it seemed a great idea to visit Portmeirion in North Wales, where the classic series was filmed. Even staying with the lovely Pam in Bolton, it’s a fair old drive so we took it gently, and as the sun was shining, that made things a lot easier.

Heading to Pwllheli for a couple of days, we stopped off at Llanrwist (above)  for a cuppa, a beautiful setting in the Snowdonia National Park, the trees were just putting on their autumn clothes of russets and golden browns and the old stone bridge gave great views of the cold river trickling underneath. Moving on to Betws Y Coed, we could see the little village was a busy crossing point for walkers, the weather was still crisp and sunny as we headed towards the train station. Now I’m not a train spotter, but I should imagine they really blow their whistles when they see the old train carriages in a siding, used as a buffet coach. There is also a small kiddies train on a single track , I was tempted but it was clearly not meant for heavy loads like me. The food was good on board, and we even sneaked a quick glance in the railway museum.

A few miles on and we found the main attraction, Portmeirion (below) , a real mixed bag of architectural styles built by Clough Williams Ellis, around an old run down hotel on the edge of he river estuary. For those not familiar with The Prisoner, there is a new working of the classic starting on ITV in November with a strong American flavour and filmed at a special village built in Africa.

For those who don’t know, The Prisoner was a former British agent who resigned and was then gassed, only to wake up in this strange village with no means of escape. Everyone was known by a number and the elusive big boss, Number One, stayed hidden in the background as Number 6 was probed to find out why he re-signed. Portmeiron is certainly strange, it started with just a few large scale set piece buildings and gardens, gradually more architectural oddities in various styles were added by donations, the finished product is pretty amazing.

Cardigan Bay forms a wonderful natural backdrop, and the hotel and series of small apartments and chalets are available for holiday rent, there was a big wedding going on during our visit. As the sun stared to sink low, a chill gripped the air, time to head off back to Pwllheli. It was a shame not to be chased by Rover, the white ball that acts as a guard dog, but I will look out for it in the new series – somehow I think it will be replaced by something more modern – that’s progress I suppose.