“Wonderful!” said the voice on the phone. “I’ll be there in five minutes!”
We were standing, bag and baggage, outside the gracious old Town Hall in Llandudno, one of the oldest buildings in the town… and we were planning on spending the night there…if we could. It is not so odd as it sounds, these days, it is known as The Capri, a superb guesthouse where we had stayed on our outbound journey.
In fact, Lee, the proprietor, was there in two minutes. Beaming, he seemed genuinely pleased that we had returned so soon. I imagine that many people will promise to come back, but may leave it a year or two between visits. We’d been away two nights and the Capri was our first choice for our last night away…and he cannot have been more pleased than we were, finding he had room for us.
He is a lovely chap, welcoming and friendly and, oddly enough, with family in Monyash, one of ‘our’ villages in Derbyshire. Recently returned from several years in Australia, he had bought the Capri and his passion for the new venture is obvious, in everything from his enthusiasm to the minute detail with which he looks after his guests. I loved the fact that every room was decorated in a different style… none of your factory hotels, this, but a place of genuine comfort. Instead of wheezing my way to the cosy and traditional room on the top floor, this time I was ushered into a very modern one, all leather and crystal and with a bathtub to die for. Tiny things like corkscrews and hot chocolate in the bedrooms, as well as fridges and little extras in the bathroom make such a difference to comfort. I don’t often go overboard about accommodation, as all we really need is the basics and a good breakfast… which was perfect here, especially after the ‘not included’ debacle at the other place… but we will be going back to the Capri. I highly recommend it… and no, Lee isn’t paying me 🙂 Excellence just deserves to be noticed.
After settling in, we took Lee’s advice and wandered down to the Queen Vic for dinner. It had, after all, been a long and fruitful day and by this time we were ravenous. Then, well and truly fed, we felt the need to wander. Well, let’s be fair… I did and my companion generously agreed. The joys of the seaside hold few mysteries for him, as he was raised in one of the north’s iconic seaside towns. For me, though, the sea, sand, pier and all those sounds and smells… they bring back childhood memories.
Not just memories either, they bring back the feeling, that excited anticipation that is the magic of childhood. We always lived far enough from the coast that a trip to the seaside was both a treat and an adventure. It was mostly day trips, though sometimes we camped or stayed in caravans…and I always looked at the tall guesthouses with a certain degree of envy, promising myself a ‘some day…’. So you can imagine, I was in seventh heaven. Silently resisting the urge to indulge in candyfloss or the freshly fried doughnuts that would delight my childish soul but give my adult body heartburn and way too many calories, we wandered sedately along the pier.
We could not help noticing how dragonlike the profile of Great Orme looks in the dusk… a vast wyrm looking out over the sea. The pier was almost deserted except for a few evening strollers and the inevitable seagulls. One youngster, probably hopeful of being fed, took a great interest in us and we were obliged to stop for a while and converse with him. He didn’t seem to see anything odd in this at all… quite unlike a number of people who raised eyebrows and smiled at the lunatics as they passed.
Let’s be honest here, who else would be able to communicate so much about air and sea? He followed us for a while, evidently believing we could not resist his blandishments. He was right too…had we had anything to feed him, we could not have done so.
We watched pale jellyfish in the waters of the bay. I had been stung by a jellyfish in my teens, bathing off the coast of Margate. For once, the sea had been warmer than the swimming pool where we were staying. That jellyfish was nowhere near this big, though… these were huge. Prehistoric in form and origin, rather like the town. Unlike the jellyfish, though, the town has changed much over the centuries and now bears the unmistakable stamp of Victorian vision. Although traces of human habitation mark the area, dating right back to the Stone Age, most of Llandudno as we now see it was built in the nineteenth century, created from the marshlands of Llandudno Bay by architect Owen Williams under the eye of Lord Mostyn. Neither Jellyfish not the quintessential British seaside town have needed to change much at heart… they both serve the purpose of their design admirably.
Much as the seaside landscape delights the child in me, it is still the underlying landscape of air, sea and stone that captures my imagination. As the sun began to sink, Little Orme on the far side of the back remained clearly lit while Great Orme dimmed to a dark silhouette. Yet the form was attended by a pale ghost as the clouds created a white dragon to watch over our last night in Wales. It promised further adventures… and it was right. We still had a long way to go before the weekend was truly over and we had no idea what wonderful things might still lie in wait for us…