Sitting on the top of a cliff as we are (or, in the modern ungrammatical parlance, SAT on the top of a cliff as we are) and with a 210° exposure, we enjoy more than our fair share of weather. Wind and rain leaving Ireland have no place to stop until they hit Murmur-y-Don. And hit it they do. Not many people come here in the winter; those who do tend to remember it for the rest of their lives. 120mph gales are not uncommon.

This, together with the blistering, relentless sunshine we have endured for the past week all takes its toll. Nothing more so than on our poor wooden windows. When the house was built in 1907 they used wood which had matured, dried and seasoned naturally over years. We don’t know how to wait any more, so we kiln-dry our timber, which shortens its useful life by about 70 years.

We finally had the 1907 windows replaced in 1995. And now, having been unable to open any of the upstairs windows for the past couple of years, it was time to replace them, after just 20 years.

There’s a simple solution, of course: plastic windows. Unfortunately I hate and abhor plastic windows. They are dreadful, hideous, obtrusive, out of scale, ignorant of the beauty of fenestration, and they are of course indestructible. Long after their ticky-tacky houses have collapsed, those white staring uPVC windows will linger blindly on. They cannot die. They never rot. They can’t be disposed of. They’re made of a non-renewable resource — oil. Plenty of reasons to dislike them.

So we opted for timber windows again. And, I’m afraid to say, we went to the UK’s largest supplier of uPVC windows to have them made. The salesman looked as if all his Christmasses had come that afternoon. “You do realise these will cost TWICE as much as if you’d had them in plastic?” We gulped, and bravely said “Yes.”

Murmur-y-Don windows

New windows for Murmur-y-Don

I have to say they have done a great job. We now have opening, draught-free wooden double glazed windows. After much initial reluctance, they agreed to paint the casements in the Harlech house colour, Dulux Lizard, and they look hell’s smart. It was a deal breaker. Dulux Lizard or we don’t buy the windows. (I know our friends would have expected us to use Little Green, or Farrow & Ball at the very least, but I’m very happy with Lizard).

We have committed ourselves to a lifetime of repainting and maintenance. It’s probably not worth it.

But it brings peace of mind.

Bye Bye Pylons

You look at them and you always wonder “Who decided they wanted these hideous pylons marching over the hillsides? And who allowed them to do it?”

We never find out. We just have to live with the visual blight. For decades the Maentwrog, Llandecwyn and Penrhyndeudraeth area has been dominated by an intrusive array of pylons carrying, I assume, power from the now defunct Trawsfynydd nuclear power station to the surrounding towns and villages.

Today we learn that the pylons are coming down, and the cables will be buried underground. The National Grid has set aside £500m for the project, and other pylons will be removed in the New Forest, the Peak District, and Dorset. The funding has been made available by energy regulator Ofgem.

These four schemes have been prioritised out of 12 sections of electricity lines in eight national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) across England and Wales which were considered to have the most significant impact on beauty spots.

The four stretches of lines are in:

  • Snowdonia National Park, near Porthmadog
  • Dorset AONB, near Winterbourne Abbas
  • New Forest National Park, near Hale
  • Peak District National Park, near Dunford Bridge

Well, whoever decided they were to come down, I’m grateful. This probably gives Gwynedd Council the opportunity to shut Pont Briwet, a couple of months after it opened, while the work is carried out. I hope Hochthief isn’t contracted to do the work.

Hey — here’s a suggestion — why don’t they shut the bridge AND the road to Maentwrog while they carry out a study on what should be done and how long it might take? This would give us the opportunity to get to Penrhyndeudraeth by way of Barmouth, Llanelltyd and Trawsfynydd; a mere 39 miles and 1 hour 5 minutes instead of the current 6 miles and 14 minutes.

Planned Route — Harlech to Penrhyndeudraeth

Planned Route — Harlech to Penrhyndeudraeth