Saturday, February 18, 2012

Personal - this house 

I want to write something a little more personal about this house, which has been in the family since 1951. My grandmother grew up in this part of North Wales, which was and remains very Welsh-speaking. She walked the three miles into Caernarfon every day to go to school (in one of the medieval towers of the town walls). She left the area in about 1915 to get married to my grandfather, Thomas James, a West Walian whose own father was lost on the Welsh ghost ship Resolven. She spent her married life in Cardiff but never forgot her roots, and when she received a small inheritance, as a widow, she bought this cottage for £500 and her sons and daughter, my mum, used it as a holiday home. Generations of kids came up to stay with our family and roamed all over North Wales, to Llanddwyn Island, the magical valley of Cwm Pennant, up to Snowdon and the Eagle Tower in Caernarfon Castle. Later on my brother Toby, who died in 2010, lived in the house with some Oxford hippies, who soon went home, and some goats, who ended up in someone's freezer.  Among the visitors to this cottage have been writers like Peter Levi, the theatre director Peter Cheeseman, artists and musicians like Victor Neep and James Bridgen and more recently friend and photographer Chris Clunn and travel writer Jane Lovatt, and lots of locals and of course friends for the weekends. It's pretty basic, and a challenge in the winter, but this house has always been well-loved by almost everyone who's come through the door.

 I've already posted about the lack of much renovation on the place. So I'm upgrading, but keeping the 'features' (a private joke. Everything you don't like, or anything that sticks out a mile that you can't get rid of is 'A Feature' - comes from when I was renovating a much bigger house down the road in Maentwrog, Gwynedd. Mind you the 'features' in this cottage really are nice). I just like the idea of a place with slate fireplaces, wooden Victorian cupboards and sparrows nesting under the eaves ... and solar panels, green technology and wireless broadband, Snowdonia calling the world!

Forgot to mention the outside toilet  - it has the best view of any bog I know, but will post about it another time


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