It had been forty years since I last crossed the Menai Strait to the Isle of Anglesey and beyond, to the Holy Isle. I had fallen in love with the place back then and my memory has painted the island in the colours of summer, garlanded with wildflowers and encircled by a turquoise sea. But this time it is December… and memory always paints beauty in Technicolor. The mountains on the mainland are crowned with snow and recent temperatures have dropped to well below freezing. Probably not the best time of year to visit… or at least, not if I am to preserve that memory. The ‘new’ road crosses the island in a straight line, restricting the view. It is not until we leave it that I have my first real look at the place I remember with such fondness.
The island, beneath the pale winter sun, still wears the colours of summer. The day is mild, bathed in a light as warm as a spring morning. Wildflowers bloom in incredible profusion in every nook and cranny. Although the hedgerows now bear only berries and not the wreaths of honeysuckle that I remember, everything is vivid and green… except for the turquoise of the sea and the pale line of the snowy mountains that seemed to float above the mist across the water. It is incredible…and even more beautiful than memory.
Arriving early, we had time for a bit of a wander before meeting the others at the hotel. We drove out towards South Stack where we would be starting the day’s adventures next morning. We didn’t quite go all the way…just far enough to catch a glimpse of the lighthouse and take a walk along the cliffs. Somewhere there is a photograph of a very much younger me, walking that same path in what feels like another life. So much has happened since that first visit… I am not the person I once was and, although I no longer have her youth, she never had my joy.
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