Thursday’s Special ~ Being Serially Arrested In Wales

This week Paula’s Pick A Word  challenge is giving me the chance to post more views from our March trip to the Conwy Valley in North Wales. Projecting, arresting, pastoral, convex and communal are the prompts, and this distant shot of snow-dusted mountains pretty much covers the first three. However, I won’t let that stop me.

Arresting is my word of choice for all the following images; Wales was at  its magical, magnificent best – from the glittering waters of the River Conwy to the surreal towers and ramparts of Conwy Castle. It made you want to burst into song. Cue: Land of My Fathers, the Welsh National Anthem, which you can join in with at the end, and so definitely cover the communal. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak Welsh; humming will do. Besides, there is nothing quite like the quality of Welsh singing voices.

Also look out for Thomas Telford’s amazing suspension bridge in the next shot of Conwy Castle. It was built between 1824-26 to improve access between Holyhead on Anglesey and Chester, and was also part of Telford’s larger road and bridge improvement scheme to enable swift and safer travel to London for Irish Members of Parliament. A triumph, then, in both function and form.

The castle was built between 1283 and 1289, and is another of Edward I’s overbearing edifices to oppress the Welsh. Not only did he invade, he also cleared out the monks who occupied the site and set about building both a fortress and a model town below it, the latter confined by massive defences. Today, these walls still surround the town, and you can walk around them, though I should issue a warning: the wall-top walk is not for the faint-hearted or those prone to vertigo. But if you don’t mind heights, they provide striking views in every quarter.




A few miles upstream from Conwy is the market town of Llanrwst. It is claimed that in 1947 its town council made an unsuccessful attempt to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council as an independent Welsh state. One has to admire this piece of Celtic chutzpah. I’m sorry they did not succeed. P1070238

Anyway, one of the present day arresting features of Llanrwst is this bridge, the Pont Fawr or Great Bridge. It was built in 1638 and still cars drive over it. There are other names too – the Shaking Bridge – because if you tap the central parapet the whole structure vibrates, and also Pont y Rhegi – bridge of swearing, explained by the fact that the carriageway is too narrow for vehicles to pass, and the height of the central arch too steep for forward visibility,meaning that everyone meets in the middle and this happens…!&?#!

The view through the central arch shows the ground on which the National Eisteddfod was held in 1989. The town is currently campaigning for a return of this annual extravaganza of Welsh culture in 2019. Which is a good point to bring on the choir. Croeso – welcome!

34 thoughts on “Thursday’s Special ~ Being Serially Arrested In Wales

  1. Quite beautiful Memsahib. Mzuri sana. 🙂 The Welsh are cousins of ours (Bretons). I once knew a Welshman, my fencing instructor in Kenya. He told me that the Welsh fishermen when meeting with Breton colleagues managed to understand each other. Some words are different: avel mor in Breton means the wind of the sea. But while Môr means the same in Welsh, avel means apple! 😉

    1. Room for a bit of confusion amid the bonhomie then. When I was once in Brittany I remember being impressed on how many people seemed to have the Thomas surname. Am fascinated too, Brian, that you had a Welsh fencing instructor in Kenya.

      1. Thomas? Strange indeed. The Welshman was an expat and a fencer. Since he was quite senior (maybe 40?) 😉 and a good fencer he’d give classes to us kids. A good man whose name I just forgot… But I will remember, I will… (Fencing was great, I loved it. Did you ever come near that sport?)

      2. No fencing at the Priory Girls Grammar. It’s a pity. I think it would have been very good for us. – poise, focus and nifty footwork.

      3. Poise indeed. And the so peculiar footwork. I haven’t “fought” in a great while but I loved it. Foil being the weapon of choice. 🙂 Have a nice week-end Tish. Kwaheri sassa

  2. I played the video twice, once to accompany me while reading the article and later on to see the translated lyrics. Do you speak Welsh, Tish? I will visit Wales some day though I am not sure I’ll be able to do the top walk, but I will most certainly step on that shaking bridge no matter the cost, swearing and all. Your posts humble me – you always find a way to make the most perfect interpretation. Thank you, Tish for doing me this honour.

    1. I know I’ve said this before, but you are such a gracious and appreciative host, Paula, so it’s a great pleasure to rise to your challenges. And you always offer us such promising prompts, and inspiring images. And no, I don’t speak Welsh, though I’m getting an itch to do so. I have a language CD which I’ve been meaning to get to grips with. It is a fabulous language, and in every sense, but the pronunciation is difficult for us clumsy English to get our tongues around. The Welsh poet, Gillian Clarke, says many of these sounds are the sound of the sea against the rocky coast especially the ‘ll’ which is roughly captured as ‘thclhu’.

  3. Splendid representations Tish, I particularly like the Swearing Bridge 😀
    Sounds like they need traffic lights at either side, but that wouldn’t be so exciting.

    1. They do have a weight restriction, but we witnessed a bit of argy bargy during our brief walk along the river. It’s quite exciting for pedestrians too. There are only the 2 refuges each side, and no pavement.

      1. Ha, that’s like crossing Ludford bridge. You have to dive into the refuges if you don’t keep an eye on the lights changing!

  4. Superb! ,
    However, being a very Welsh post, I thought for a moment or two we were bound to get a photo of Max Boyce’s knee caps!
    An arresting sight ….. or a sight to be arrested for.

    1. Spent much time there myself when I was so high. My grandmother lived in Prestatyn, and we used to often go there by train – from Crewe. Steam trains too! Woo-hoo.

  5. Now you’ve given me another destination. Wales has always been a blank spot in my conception of the world. No more. Four very different images. The Castle obliges so beautifully to allow you to capture it whole.

  6. Love you title, Tish. I suspected it might be something like this after my initial shock. Our younger daughter and I spend a few days in Wales some years ago and visited Conwy Castle. What an incredible place! I would have liked to have spent more time in Wales, but was grateful for the beauty we saw.


  7. A colorful exploration of a slice of Wales. I didn’t see where you managed to fit the word “convex” into your story–though I did see your use of chutzpah! Nicely done!

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