Penmaen Pool

To celebrate National Poetry Day


Who long for rest, who look for pleasure

Away from counter, court, or school

O where live well your lease of leisure

But here at, here at Penmaen Pool?


You’ll dare the Alp? You’ll dart the skiff?

Each sport has here its tackle and tool:

Come, plant the staff by Cadair cliff;

Come; swing the sculls on Penmaen Pool.


What’s yonder? Grizzled Dyphwys dim:

The triple-hummocked Giant’s stool,

Hoar messmate, hobs and nobs with him

To halve the bowl of Penmaen Pool.


And all the landscape under survey,

At tranquil turns, by nature’s rule,

Rides repeated topsy-turvy

In frank, in fairy Penmaen Pool.


And Charles’s Wain, the wondrous seven,

And sheep-flock clouds like worlds of wool.

For all they shine so, high in heaven,

Shew brighter shaken in Penmaen Pool.


The Mawddach, how she trips! Though throttled

If floodtide teeming thrills her full,

And mazy sands all water-wattled

Waylay her at ebb, past Penmaen Pool.


But what ‘s to see in stormy weather,

When grey showers gather and gusts are cool?

Why, raindrop-roundels looped together

That lace the face of Penmaen Pool.


Then even in weariest wintry hour

Of New Year’s month or surly Yule

Furred snows, charged tuft above tuft, tower

From darksome darksome Penmaen Pool.


And ever, if bound here hardest home,

You’ve parlour-pastime left and (who’ll

Not honour it?) ale like goldy foam

That frocks an oar in Penmaen Pool.


Then come who pine for peace or pleasure

Away from counter, court, or school,

Spend here your measure of time and treasure

And taste the treats of Penmaen Pool.


Gerard Manley-Hopkins

From the Visitors’ Book at the Inn

Marians and Van der Graaf Generator Reunited

This picture dates from 2005 and features Babs and I and three great Marian friends: Rog, Malc and Dunc, of whom at least two joined me on trips to Farchynys.

The Mawddach bonding must have been powerful because 40 years after we made the trip, I was  able to persuade them to join me at the Royal Festival Hall for the reunion concert of Van der Graaf Generator, a band which  was the Marmite of British 70s rock and not particularly famous for moments of easy musical mindfulness. We had a great night.

And today in 2017, it was wonderful to see the banter and the warmth as strong as ever amongst us.



Walsall Market, 1971

Just a  hundred miles from the Mawddach estuary, you will find a very different landscape: the sooty, gritty borough of Walsall, where Queen Mary’s school was first established on Church Hill, overlooking the ancient town market. In the early 1970s, I became very familiar with this hill, escorting the fair Babs to Bluecoat School.