Saturday, 5 May 2007

Visit to Bala


Yesterday I went to meet another Country Living blogger. You may remember her blogging as elspeth. She proudly informs me that she did seven blogs and they were sparky and witty and funny as she is.

It was a beautiful drive down along the edge of the Clwydian hills where we live towards Ruthin and then up from Ruthin to Bala, everywhere bursting with green and life. I was carefully following instructions and eventually without getting lost pulled up on a steep hill above Bala lake outside a stone built perhaps Edwardian house, square and strong and impressive.

Katrina was warm and friendly, tall and slim with auburn hair, a firm handshake and a direct gaze. We started talking and didn't stop until I left. Driving away afterwards I wondered at what I had told her: some stuff about the breakdown of my first marriage, some about my illness and recovery. Nothing madly intimate but much much more than I would normally say at first meeting. Someone once told me that I am very easy to get along with but take a long time to get to know and I felt as though we had short circuited about six months. Very strange.

The house is built with its back to the road, saving its gracious front to face out towards the lake. And what a house. Fabulous tiled floors, huge rooms with cornicing and enormous windows, a gentleman's house built to impress and everywhere that extraordinary view, the huge sweep of the lake vividly blue and the mountains rising up behind, piling up and away, misty in the sunlight. The bedrooms are just stunning. I love B and Bs, prefer them to hotels if they are really good, and we have been to all sorts, always using the Alastair Sawday books to find something beautiful and interesting but this was lovelier than any of the marvellous places we have stayed in. The beauty of the inside and the beauty of the outside just made me want to curl up in the window and look and look and never move again.

We had looked at the details for this house on the internet but dismissed Bala as being too far away and the house too big unless you did want to do Bed and Breakfast. That was strange too and the strangest thing of all was the strong sense of what a different answer this was to the question of "What shall we buy in Wales?" Our house is ancient, rural, a Welsh longhouse in origin with its huge slate slabs and oak beams, small, built as protection, tucked into the hillside to withstand the weather and, with its little cluster of barn and bakehouse, pigsties and kitchen garden, offering a little world of its own, self sufficiency when that was the only way to survive. Its view is of the valley it lives in, softer than Bala, again a little world of its own, high and hidden.

Katrina's house is another sort of beautiful altogether, a glorious statement of a house, throwing its arms out wide to its huge and fabulous view, confident and gracious, built with love and pride at a time when to be British was to have won first prize in the lottery of life. It is just stunning, like meeting a very beautiful woman, you just want to keep looking at it. Have a look at it at www.bryniau-golau.fsnet.co.uk but I'm not sure it does it justice. They are updating their website I think.

As I drove away my head was buzzing with connections and coincidences. Now sitting here by the window in the house which is my own answer to the question, looking out across my own valley, I am reassured by the sense that this is where I want to be. But what a fascinating place the world is, what interesting people it has in it and how many beautiful and different ways there are to live.

16 comments:

  1. Alastair Sawday books are greataren't they I drool over teh Spanish one ! Your friends hosue sounds a delight I can see it clearly! thank you Elizabeth!

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  2. Lake Bala is stunning. Elspeth's house sounds fantastic.Toady

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  3. You're so lucky to be living in such a gorgeous place.

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  4. What a stunning place ! Glad you had a lovely day and ebjoyed the company of Elspeth.
    Lovely photo of poppy, is that from your garden?

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  5. gosh I was there with you -lovely blog

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  6. Lovely blog and I'm now going to check out the website. I've got B&B's in tonight!

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  7. What a lovely blog and an absolutly stunning house,another welsh blogger meets up.....talking of meeting what you doin next friday ??

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  8. Just catching up, I haven't had time to read blogs over the past few days, so am 'indulging' ! We spent many weekends at Lake Bala, we used to camp and go sailing and windsurfing, your blog brought back happy memories.

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  9. What a lovely blog! There is a place called Bala where I come from (Cape Breton Island), and looking at the site of that house I understand why the early settlers named it. I've added the house to my 'favorites' list, as I'm compiling a list of places to stay and things to do for an eventual holiday to England.

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  10. We use Alastair Sawday too - am buying one for Father's Day for mum and dad to go to Suffolk/Norfolk, the inns and pubs one.

    I'd love to meet some of the bloggers, it's strange how you feel you have so much in common and 'know' them even though it's all words on a screen.

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  11. I remember Elspeth clearly-wonder where she had gone. I am about an hour from Bala. It is indeed wonderful part of the world.

    As always, you say things so well-I know exactly what you mean-so strange how some of us have connected as we have and somehow bypassed much of the 'getting to know' stage. (I always hate that stage anyway, which is why until I started blogging I only had a hand full of close friends)

    warmest wishesxx

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  12. Lovely to meet up with fellow bloggers. Lovely pic on your blog too!xx

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  13. Just catching up after two days without going near the computer - a very strange feeling! Bala looks amazing, what an imposing and gracious house. Think my own style is a bit more rough and ready, but how lovely to see the contrast! Glad you had a nice day, there are so many of you Welsh bloggers around!

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  14. Lovely blog and it so nice to spend time with friends in a beautiful place, its what living is really all about.
    Blossom

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  15. wow, what a beautiful place. Loved hearing about Katrina -- I remember liking her Elspeth blogs. Good to see your other blogs moved over -- however did you do that and the comments with them -- you clever girl.

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