Saturday, 29 March 2008

Saints and Dragons

We're back!! It has been such a wonderful holiday, and I wish I had lots of pictures to show you of it. Alas - our camera is rather poorly and didn't travel well at all, so I'm going to have to pinch other people's photos to show you some of the exciting things we have done.

The 'cottage' turned out to be an ancient farmhouse at the end of a very remote Welsh valley. Slate floor in the kitchen, stone walls at least three feet thick, and internal walls and floors of oak. Even the toilets had oak cisterns!! My absolute dream home and location. Our house was at the very end (head) of the valley, not far from the waterfall you can just see in this picture:

It being Wales there were pictures of dragons everywhere we went, and we managed to find some live ones at King Arthur's Labyrinth. Welsh muggles depict red dragons in all their patriotic bits and pieces, a red dragon being the national symbol that appears on the Welsh flag:

Of course, this is rather amusing to magical folk as we all know that the main breed of dragon in Wales is actually green. A rather artistic wizard has set up shop in one of the valleys near the Tanat valley (where we were staying) making and selling ornamental dragons which he sculpts from glass. At his studio I found a beautiful representation of a Welsh Green. Sadly we did not spot any live ones (Welsh Greens that is) during our stay. Perhaps we will see some next time we visit when I hope we will get up to some of the lesser known mountain tops which are their natural habitat (we couldn't this week as our youngest little wizard isn't yet up to such high-level flying).

The boys especially loved our trip on the Bala Lake Railway - a company that takes tourists up and down the Bala lakeside in little steam trains:

Mr. Wigworthy most loved our visit to something called the 'Centre for Alternative Technology' which shows lots of ways muggles can make and use electricity in a manner that will be less harmful to our dear planet. This is of special interest to Mr. Wigworthy due to its relationship to his engineering specialism (vortex management). I didn't realise how much of a problem rubbish is to muggles - they have to do something called 'recycling' to try and reduce it. I think this has something to do with 'saving energy' too - I didn't really understand it properly, and luckily of course I didn't have to because we just disappear ours, or transfigure it into something we want (like soil for Mr. Wigworthy's vegetables).

Oh dear - I nearly didn't tell you about the saint! In the lounge of our farmhouse there was a big metal plaque behind the stove with a hare, some oak leaves, and the name 'Melangell' cast into it. We found out when we visited the little church in the valley that Melangell was a 7th century saint in the valley who saved a hare from being killed by the local prince's hounds (it hid under her robes while she was praying). The prince was so impressed by her holiness that he gave her the valley for her own and she founded a religious community there (now gone, all but the church which still has an ancient Romanesque shrine to her - the only remaining Romanesque Christian shrine in the UK apparently). This story particularly interested me as my patronus is a hare!! I've found a picture of the shrine and an icon of Saint Melangell for you:


Olive Bladvak said...

Looks like a really lovely trip! I spent my Saturday with dragons, too!

Elanor Cadogan said...

what a nice trip you and your family had.

such vivid green!!!

ps did one or two of those sheep come home with you???

Emma Wigworthy said...

Sadly none came home with us on this trip. We do hope to own a few one day though, and the odd angora goat here and there too to feed my spinning habit ;)