We said goodbye to Charlie, the kitty we pet sat in Pembrokeshire, Wales. He didn’t give a crap. Actually, he was a very cool old boy and we still miss him quite a bit. Onward. Our next semi-random destination was Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia, Wales. No, of course, I have no idea how to pronounce it. I really think they reach into a bag of Scrabble tiles to name some of these places. At least this one scored some vowels.
A couple of months ago when I first mentioned to my brother that we were heading to Wales, he sent us an interesting article/video on a live tree sculpture in Wales. The location of the sculpture is a closely guarded secret, but even so, he told us to go find it. Wales is almost the size of New Jersey. Ok, we knew it was in Snowdonia, so we only had the size of Lake Ontario to scour to find it. We filed it under the “cool but unachievable” category.
Hatching a Plan
We had a nice first evening and restful sleep at the Bryn Ellyd ECO B&B Guesthouse (y’s only count as vowels sometimes you know). Corners on meals and entertainment had to be cut as the accommodation was over our budget. The included breakfast was wonderful, hearty, homemade, and locally-sourced. It was quite an improvement over our broke-backpacker-just-add-hot-water dinner.
John, the owner, told us all about the Eco-principals used in the house and auxiliary buildings. Being the geeks we are, we found it very interesting.
The excellent breakfast must have kick-started my brain because it was just then it occurred to me that we were in Snowdonia where the Ash Dome secretly existed. Snowdonia is huge, but I asked Celia, also an owner of the B&B, if she knew of David Nash, the artist. She did. Cool! I asked if she knew where the Ash Dome was. “No,” she said, “but David’s home is in town.”
Seriously?! That’s when we hatched the plan to track down the artist and beg for a glimpse of the Ash Dome. Why the heck not?
Stalking is budget-friendly entertainment.
Let the Stalk Begin
We located David’s house and rang the bell, but no one answered. A neighbor came out of the house next door and we asked if he knew if David was in town. “He’s around. Probably at his shed,” he said. Then he gave us directions. That was easy.
We followed the directions and found the shed. There was a car out front, the gate was open and we saw someone in the yard. Could this be David Nash? No. It was Joe.
But, Joe was David’s right-hand man, very friendly, and a lichenologist to boot.
He invited us to take a look around at the works in progress. Ok, we invited ourselves, but he was very kind and happy to show us around. We asked if he had been to the Ash Dome. “Oh, yes. Many times,” he said. In our cutest American accents, we casually asked “Sooooo… where is it?” No dice. Bribes and physical threats didn’t work either. I saw Pat eyeing the chainsaw and shot him that “No…not yet” look. Joe said David might be back at any time and only he could show us the location. I think he saw Pat eyeing the chainsaw and made that bit up.
We walked around and took photographs… twice. David never showed up and Pat seemingly forgot about the chainsaw so we let Joe be and went back to the guesthouse for our hiking gear.
Plan B: Head for the Hills
“You have the wine?” asked Pat. “Just because I can’t track down a sculpture doesn’t make me a rookie!” I snapped. We were a bit on edge after our disappointment.
There is nothing like a good hike on a warm, sunny day into a naturally astonishing location to take one’s mind off of a failed stalking. We climbed and climbed, past waterfalls, wildflowers, slate walls, ruins, and sheep. It was good to get the heart rate up and break a sweat.
As we sat high above the valley enjoying snacks and requisite wine, we couldn’t help but think about the Ash Dome. A source in town told us that we were within 6mi of it, but he clammed up when we asked specifics and there were witnesses about. Oh well, so close yet so far away.
Hike Drink Live Laugh
One thought on “Snowdonia, Wales: Ashes to Ashes”
Never heard of Nash until reading your blog then found an interesting interview done with him at http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag01/dec01/nash/nash.shtml