Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wonderful Wales

Snowdonia was in the news last week. Wrong reasons. I was there today, presenting Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales Awards to Caban Cyf and Gwynedd Council for the classy transformation of an old Edwardian school at Brynrefail, near Llanberis into a restaurant, business premises and gardens. The project is a great example of a local authority working with the private/voluntary sector to create employment. Good for perception of CPRW as well. The Award recognised importance of the built environment in Wales most stunning landscape, and the recognition that economic and social development have to be accommodated.

The summit of Snowdon can be seen from Caban. I decided to stop at the Cafe located at the highest point on the Llanberis Pass for a coffee on the way home. Its in the shadow of Snowdon and is where most walkers start there trek to the summit. It was a 'high cloud' sky this afternoon, and her profile was sharp and innocent. Mt Snowdon is not innocent. She is fearsome and demands respect, and last week claimed the life of a senior policeman. We don't know what role the mountain played in this tragedy, but it adds to her unyielding reputation. I think she looks best in some low cloud (not enough to hide her face completely) and light rain - when her dangerous, threatening Kyffin-esque blackness dominates all who look at her. Hard to believe that I've never walked to the summit.

Everyone else waiting to buy coffee was wearing climbing gear. I was wearing my suit and tie. Thought I looked quite smart until the young girl taking my order asked me if I was a driver. I know that I have a tendency to scruffiness, but I do try if I'm 'on duty' as I was today - but to accuse me, in my best suit, of looking like a bus driver hurt. I suppose if I'd said "Yes", I'd have qualified for a free cup. But a man had got his pride. So I paid up.

I'm in Llanrwst on the 18th April and I'm going to climb the great mountain after my meeting. I'm told its better to start at the Beddgelert side rather than the Llanberis Pass side. If I can find a companion, and arrange our transport, perhaps I'll go up one side and down the other.


Idris Evans said...

Oscar lives close by, so I am told.
You 2 could make it up over a coffee!

Glyn Davies said...

I knew it was a dangerous place. I'll be well armed on the 18th April.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

This talk of being well armed got me thinking of my time at Glasgow University in Scotland that the last legal sword duel in Scotland was between two students of the university – I don’t know if this was just a rumor/rumour. I remember reading writings by a previous head of Glasgow University (Hunterian Museum) asking students not to take daggers and swords into classes.

But then again there was another epistle warning students of the new fangled game/fad that risked corrupting the students, the game turned out to be tennis. Glasgow University is a very old university, I really miss the place, would have loved to stay there.

My American wife (now ex-wife) told me she had a distant relative who once played for Glasgow – which I took to me Glasgow Rangers or Glasgow Celtic. I told her my great (might be great great) grandfather was, so I’ve been told, from Edinburgh – I was told that he moved to Wales from Scotland to help build bridges to carry “coal trucks”, which I took to mean trains carrying coal from the South Wales coalfield to the docks along the coastline, like Cardiff Docks.

I suppose, in his way, he helped make a lot of money for the Marquis of Bute who I was told owned a good chunk of the South Wales coal industry. While at Glasgow University I found out that the Marquis of Bute (who has parts of Cardiff named after him) donated money to help build Bute Hall located above the gorgeous cloisters between the “Quads” of the Scott/Main Building.

A great (might be great great) Welsh uncle was, so I'm told, took after "his father", which I took to mean the great or great great grandfather bridge builder from Edinburgh. Anyway, this Welsh uncle was supposed to be good with machines and I believe that is the relative who, I was told, was a winder at Bedwas pit. It would be nice to know if I take after the winder or his father, the bridge engineer.

I always wondered if I missed my calling at university, mechanical engineering. I have now written drafted several patent applications that speak to, inter alia, "mining" of oil and coal gas. One has just been allowed by the USPTO (US patent and trademark office), involved hardware and machine control software for use in the coal bed methane industry, an industry that is, so I read a month or so back, gaining interest in Wales with its multitude of coal seams (coal bed methane can be extracted from coal seams, preferably within a certain depth range).

I am writing another chemical engineering patent application - another hardware and software combination, different apparatus and methodology but in the hydrocarbon processing field. If the inventor gets a notice of allowance, it could be worth a LOT of money to him. I hope so, he is trying so hard to keep body and soul together - and feels his responsibility to his family during these difficult economic times.

I really should write up the family history before all the ones with such knowledge are all dead.

Dr. Christopher Wood, PhD, JD