Tag Archives: Wales

Seventy-One Days Away, But Now We’re Back


Our latest jaunt began April 27 with a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and it ended 71 days later with a flight from Los Angeles, California to El Paso, Texas. Along the way we took a transatlantic cruise to Spain, a back-to-back follow-on cruise in the Mediterranean to destinations in both France and Spain, a four-night stay in Germany, two nights in the Netherlands, and then three 12-night back-to-back cruises before flying back for a night in Los Angeles.

The Transatlantic adventure aboard Royal Caribbean’s smallish (78,491 gross tonnage/2,050 double-occupancy passenger capacity) Vision of the Seas allowed me to play a lot of bridge as we had seven days at sea before reaching the Canary Islands, and an additional two sea days before making port in Barcelona. The eight-day Vision follow-on took us to seldom visited ports of call such as Carcassonne (Sete), Toulon, and Corsica in France; followed by the Spanish ports of Ibiza, Cartagena, and Valencia.

Our three Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas (slightly larger at 90,090 GT/2,191 double-occupancy) back-to-backs included Iceland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland; followed by destinations in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales; and finishing off with six ports in Norway. That last voyage took us well north of the Arctic Circle where, during our time there, the sun never set. The farthest north we ventured was 71º 10′ 21″ North latitude, the northernmost point of the continent of Europe and a mere 144 miles/232 kilometers from the closest point to the resurgent Evil Empire that does not deserve mention. You may recall that back in March I pulled all articles on destinations to that deplorable nation.

All in all, not a bad trip save for one completely disappointing city, which I described to you in this recent well-deserved rant: Trashy Amsterdam and the Hellhole of Schipol. You just know the wheels went completely off the rails when I take time away during travels to produce an unscheduled PSA.

At any rate, I’ll be presenting this series shortly after the conclusion of my series on cruising the Southern Caribbean. I’ve not decided yet, but I may run a week of firearms articles between the two series. If I do, that series of three articles will feature a bevy of fun little Berettas — a 21A Bobcat in .22 LR made in 1986, a nifty .25 ACP/6.35mm 950 BS Jetfire manufactured sometime between 1978 and 1986 (I haven’t been able to narrow it down beyond that; hopefully a more knowledgeable reader can solve the mystery for me), and a .380 ACP/9mm kurz 84B Cheetah in remarkable condition dating back to 1982. The 950 should be a particularly fun article, as it is one of two candidates for the unspecified “very flat .25 Beretta automatic with a skeleton grip” Ian Fleming’s fictional spy James Bond used in the first five novels — Casino Royale; Live and Let Die; Moonraker; Diamonds Are Forever; and From Russia, with Love. Of course, we all know what replaced that diminutive “lady’s gun” Beretta, now don’t we.

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Filed under R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation

Portmeirion—Part 1


So, this week we take a mysterious and magical tour of Portmeirion, Wales.

Portmeirion, as you’ll recall from last Friday’s blog on The Prisoner, was the setting for The Village—an apparently idyllic community that harbors a dark side, a side dedicated to separating from people the secrets they acquired from their previous government employers.  Those who cough up their secrets live out their lives in peaceful bliss.  Those who do not . . . well, The Village has a very impressive graveyard, and a deadly sentry that makes escape impossible.

It was in the mid to late 1990s, on a trip to visit our eldest daughter at her Air Force duty station somewhere in England.  Knowing of my admiration for The Prisoner, Ursula had set up a surprise for me—two nights stay in one of the Portmeirion Cottages.  It was quite an experience, as we were only a few short steps away from the residence of Number Six (Patrick McGoohan)—the protagonist of The Prisioner.  Alas, Number Six’s residence is not one of the available cottages.  Instead, the “Round House” is home to The Prisoner Shop, and you get only one guess as to the theme of the merchandise sold there.

The man behind this Italianate village was architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.  He devised every aspect of the village, and supervised its construction over a fifty-year period that started in 1925 and finished just three years before his death in 1978 at the age of 94.  Some aspects of his grand vision were not completed until well after his death—the Pantheon (a.k.a., “The Green Dome,” Number Two’s residence in the television series) for instance.  Initially, the dome was green—a wooden structure painted that color.  But in the early 1990s that dome was replaced with copper which, in several more years, may actually become green yet once again.

More on Portmeirion (including their world-famous pottery and China) on Wednesday.  Until then, enjoy the show below.  But bear in mind that these photographs were taken the old fashion way—35mm color negative film converted to color prints.  These original prints were scanned a couple of days ago, and then corrected with a little computer post-processing.  So, what I’m really trying to say is, don’t expect the usual quality you’ve come to expect of my photographs.

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Filed under Photography, travel