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architecture buildings colours garden buildings gardens gardens open to the public Italian style gardens Wales woodland woodlands

Portmeiron – the work of an eccentric.

We always enjoy spending the day at this crazy, quirky and totally exuberant “garden” on the Welsh coast near Portmadoc. Portmeiron is a village and gardens created by the eccentric Clough William-Ellis who bought the site in 1925 and then spent the following 50 years developing it into what we can visit and enjoy today.

The village is a collection of buildings  reminiscent of an Italianate style. Every wall is brightly painted in an array of extravagant colours. Some are hotels or holiday cottages, others restaurants and cafes while others are shops and galleries. It is a busy little place sitting on a strip of land below the Lleyn Penninsula and it fits snuggly between the beach and a wooded slope.

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In between the collection of crazy buildings a team  of gardeners work hard to maintain patches of colourful gardens. The soil is both shallow and full of stones and the land is on a steep slope so gardening here is a tough challenge. So come through the towering gateway and wander around with us.

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Although the Italianate style of the buildings that fascinates at first glance after a while the interesting juxtaposition of colours begins to catch the eye. Colours that you would not think of putting together when choosing paint for your home actually work beautifully.

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Although the bright colours dominate every scene once your eyes and mind adjust to them interesting details come to the fore, such as these bright blue ironwork, a relief sculpture alongside a ring, classical figures, the beauty of this stone archway and the vintage petrol pump.

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We took a break from the colourful conglomeration of buildings and ambled along through the wooded slopes above the village itself. Here we discovered ancient trees native and cultivated and an atmosphere of peace, with restful greens and relative silence, broken only by the calls and song of birds.

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We followed the woodland path until we found ourselves close to the cliff tops and followed it down towards the shore, where the buildings began again. This time they had a maritime twist to their architecture with white and blue colours dominating.

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As the road way climbed upwards we returned to the brightly coloured buildings of the village.

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We were fascinated by the interest of some visitors in particular buildings which it appears were featured in a TV series from the 1960’s, The Prisoner, which still has a strong cult following. It adds yet another layer of interest to this utterly fascinating “one-off” place.

Categories
community gardening garden design garden photography gardening outdoor sculpture photography the sea the seaside the South town gardens

Bexhill-on-Sea – a cold walk by the sea. Go South 2.

After not visiting the seaside all year we have now done so twice in a week. A few days ago we went up to the north Wales coast and enjoyed a walk along the sea front on a bright warm day. Then we visited the south coast of England and walked along the front at Bexhill-on-Sea. It was cold with icy winds and periodic bouts of heavy rain. How can our weather be so different just days apart? It is a good job we like variety where our weather is concerned and it is a good reason to live in the UK.

Bexhill looked good even under grey clouds and viewed through downpours. There was such an obvious sense of pride about the place. The seafront has obviously had a facelift recently so it now boasts interesting garden designs where even the seating is interesting. I would imagine a garden designer was involved, resulting in interesting materials being used. Even the “Healthy Heart” fitness trail featured exercise equipment that had almost sculptural qualities and actually enhanced the overall look of the walk along the sea front.

It was good to see new architecture sitting alongside the old, mirroring it or picking up on some of its detailing. There must be strict planning controls here but not so strict that they squash innovative new architecture. The only strange decision of the planners seems to be making sure that all the beach huts, traditionally a medium for lavish colour schemes, are painted white. Strange and somehow disappointing to see them lined up in a row all looking the same.

Bexhill is a town reflecting so many periods and styles of “seaside” architecture. There are fascinating features to be found on buildings all along the front.

As we had approached Bexhill I suddenly remembered that the little town had a place in motor racing history and after racking my brains and wearing out a few cogs and cells in the process, I came up with the thought that the first motor race had taken place here on the sands. Later I was informed by Son-in-Law, Rob that it was the first in Britain and not a world’s first. This old postcard illustrates one of the early race meetings.

It is often the little details that appeal to me when taking photos at the seaside, details of texture, pattern and shape.

Oh no! I nearly finished a seaside post without a picture of boats! So here it is.