Sunday, September 17, 2006



“This is just to say that I am not spending all my holiday in a coach.  Yesterday I climbed 3576 ‘ to the summit of Snowden where I bought this card.  I am coming back tomorrow and will phone about 9pm in the evening (Thursday).
All my love Andrew.”

Looking out photos of Wales I saw one of the mountain Snowden stuck in an old album.  After I unglued it I found it was a post-card from Andrew with the above message.  I must have received it just before leaving for the fatal holiday with Jamie.  It was quite a shock to see his hand-writing – so very different to Jamie’s.

When Kate first showed me a snap of Plas y Nant I knew it was going to be a special place.  Betws Garmon is five miles SE of Carnarvan – an area of mountains, llyns, (lakes) waterfalls and glens.  Plas itself was a rambling old building in grounds that begged to be explored and with a fantastic view of the Elephant and Llyn Quellyn.  In February the Elephant – you can guess its shape - was diamond encrusted as a result of all the minute slivers of ice scattered over it.

Because of the time of year Kate and I were the only guests, with an influx of walkers at the week-end.  This didn’t trouble us as we both needed respite and Lena, the manager made sure we got it.  It was a Christian Fellowship Home and Kate was a bit worried about my finger nails.  Off duty I wore Peggy Sage nail varnish and Kate thought Lena might be shocked.  However since my break up with Jamie a bit of steel had entered my soul and I no longer felt obliged to try desperately to please everybody.

Lena was a gentle looking lady –slight, with fuzzy hair and large owlish glasses.  She had complete control over all guests at all times, even the rowdy ones in the larger parties.  We were privileged to have her undivided attention and I certainly found peace and tranquillity.  One of the charming customs of the house – when it was occupied by men and women - was the evening ritual when the men would gather outside the conservatory and serenade the women with ‘Good Night Ladies.’  I can’t remember what we sang to them and neither can Kate.

Our memories are slightly conflicting because I believed we had wandered over the Pyg track – just the two of us – in fog, but Kate said we climbed Snowden in a party.  Maybe it was Crib Goch I remember.  We certainly climbed at least two mountains, read poetry and enjoyed Knickerbocker Glories in Carnarvan.  Lena said we ought to return in the summer when there would be team leaders and graded walks and climbs.  This was our final year of training, with more responsibility and lots of studying so we decided to repeat the experiment in the summer and booked then and there.

There were to be a lot of changes in the next few months – some I was aware of and some came as a surprise.  One thing was certain, the remaining members of our set would take their finals in October and then leave.  I would have to stick it out for another six months when I would be old enough to take State Finals.  And then what…?


Dr Maroon said...

The pictures of the cottage on Dartmoor look idyllic. The flagged floor and all the nooks, they don’t make em like that no more. I read a version of the Abelard story years ago and for some reason was deeply moved by it. I can’t remember the author, it might have been Graham Greene or Anthony Burgess or someone like that. At the time I thought 51 was ancient, today it doesn’t seem that old at all and 18 now seems like yesterday or 100 years ago. (I told you it had an effect on me).

I am most pleased you’re back in harness, but I don’t want to pressure you for your story. The pace is fine. If it ain’t broke…

It's funny you mention nail varnish in that way. It would seem odd maybe today when women wear great big plastic nails, but I remember just such a conversation between my mother and my older sister, about how the roof would cave in if she went out with nails painted like that. I think she was eighteen at the time and almost setting off to agricultural college.

Now there are small primary school kids with pierced ears and noses and mobile phones and all the rest. I'll shut up.

PI said...

Hi Doc: 51 was the age MTL was when we were reunited and I would call it prime time. They made a play out of Peter Abelard and Diana Rigg played Eloise - nude at one point (the lighting was very subdued!)
My nail varnish was a delicate pink. In modelling days I tried faux nails, eyelashes and even in a skinny period, bosoms with disastrous results so I stick to au naturelle.
I think Abelard's story would sadden anyone.

apprentice said...

I love the tweed knee breeches.
Everything was woollen then, how times have changed.

I like the serenading bit. How innocent it all seems now. Funny how memories of the same event differ.

PI said...

apprentice; and there was much less dry-cleaning and laundering. Fortunately natural fabrics get less smelly than man-made, but you did see a sort of sheen on serge suits after a while. Things have changed a lot I suppose. Sometimes I think I live in a cocoon with MTL although he doesn't serenade me every night.

R. Sherman said...

Good stuff as always. Trying to catch up on my reading during lunch.


PI said...

Randall: lovely to see you.

kenju said...

Pat, I can't believe how you can remember the details of things that happened so very long ago, but I am glad you do!

PI said...

Judy: memorabilia - photos- letters etc help, but sometimes - according to Kate's memory - I get it wrong.

Guyana-Gyal said...

"I no longer felt obliged to try desperately to please everybody."

Why we women try to please everyone I don't know, what I do know is that we end up feeling overwhelmed, it's just too much, isn't it?

PI said...

Hi GG: it's what I call the 'sweet little girl 'syndrome. One remembers the pleasure one felt at being described thus, in childhood. and one tries to replicate it in adulthood. I have to settle now for 'grumpy old cow!'

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Pat, you're one of the very last people I would describe as being a grumpy old cow. Look at that smile! If you are ever grumpy I'll bet it's not for long.

PI said...

Sam: I get really grumpy when I can't open jars.

ian.c.phillips said...

There are a lot more memories of Plas-y-Nant, Aunty Lena and that era under the "History" pages at The place is now run by Tony Phillips - son of Stan phillips who was one of the principal excusrion leaders in teh '50s and 60's

Ian Phillips (brother to Tony and webmaster for