Thursday, 31 May 2012

A bit of Italy in Wales...

...and can we still say, "I'm a name not a number"?

I've been to Wales many times but this week was the first time I ever visited the village of Portmeirion. It's an Italian village nestling in a Welsh cliffside. It was created by Clough Williams-Ellis, who called it his 'tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean'.

It's the most unusual place I have ever been to. Each turn of a corner produces yet another unexpected piece of architecture, like this strange statue suspended over our heads:

And this tiny archway overlooking the estuary:

And as for these two suspicious looking characters... well, the least said...!

And before you ask, no we didn't see any large balls floating onto the beach and yes I am a name not a number... although I must say that our lives are dominated by numbers far more now than they ever were when The Prisoner was filmed on location in Portmeirion in the 1960s. The tax people have long known us by our National Insurance number and these days most people have lots of password numbers and bank card pin numbers, then there's our driving licence number and our passport number, our mobile phone number... Hmmm... The Prisoner might not have been all that far out after all. 

Do you ever feel as if today's 'technological powers that be' treat us like numbers rather than names?

[Apologies to any young visitors who don't remember The Prisoner. You can see what I'm talking about on the Portmeirion website here.]


  1. I love Portmeirion - it's wonderfully incongruous.

    And am I a number - I wouldn't if it meant it made everything more efficient. Instead it means we spend hours on phones listening to Vivaldi and then have to talk to computers ... sorry, will creep away and rant quietly.

  2. I remember the Prisoner - candy-striped blazers, golf buggies and a giant ball that bounced about with an ominous tune before it suffocated someone. Shame it never came back on telly. Do you know, I've never been to Wales (Shame on Me!)

  3. "I am not a number. I'm a free man."

    (Must be at least two weeks since I watched an episode.)

    I love Portmerion AND The Prisoner.

  4. I must have missed The Prisoner somehow - giant bouncing balls don't ring a bell! But Portmieron - I shall have to see if I can get to Wales on one of my UK trips - it looks fascinating.

  5. Doesn't ring a bell with me either and I'm no spring chicken.

  6. Loved The Prisoner and Dangerman before it. Not, of course, that the two were connected.

    I always go on the premise that unless it's in your head, it's not a secret and one day that might not be safe.

    Best thing is to shrug and get on with your life. Otherwise you'll never shake off the stress.

  7. How well I remember the prisoner.
    This was very awesome Rosalind.
    Loved the pictures.


  8. Hi Ros .. I love the thought of visiting Portmeirion - one day I shall get there .. I can visit Borth at the same time.

    I always watched The Prisoner and the scenery and setting was just wonderful ..

    What a lovely visit you had .. cheers Hilary

  9. I've always wanted to visit but haven't got around to it. Looks amazing and slightly weird!

    I love the Prisoner more now than when it was first on (probably because I was too young to understand it)

  10. I wonder if The Prisoner was British and that's why it doesn't jog my memory ... or my memory stink (which is much more likely...) :)

    I love when you get those pops of unusual and unique! So cool :)

  11. Lovely photos. i don;t remember the Prisoner but I grew up in Canada (good excuse?). I definitely feel more and more like a number...particularly an age number but I'm trying not to think too hard about that...

  12. I love the photographs, especially the arch overlooking the sea. It looks like you had a lovely day.

  13. what a neat little side trip. I'm ready to roam around Wales. As for being a number - yes, too often we are in a mass, but then there's a small bit of humanity thrown in to keep us sane and grounded.

  14. Hi Jo, I hate those Vivaldi phone calls. We should start a campaign to ban them!

    Hi Susan, The Prisoner was scary in a candy-striped weird kind of way, wasn't it.

    Hi Anne, thank you for putting me right on the quote. Didn't realise I was in the company of such a Prisoner expert!

    Hi Lizy, Delores and Jemi, I suspect from your comments that The Prisoner was exclusively British. It certainly was an eccentric prog.

    Hi Alison, I shall try and introduce that mantra into my daily thoughts - 'shrug and get on with your life'. When you think about it we have no other choice!

    Hi Yvonne, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Hi Hilary, I would recommend Portmeirion as a place you should visit even if it's just the once for the experience.

    Hi Jo, it is slightly weird and I never understood The Prisoner either.

    Hi D.J., let's not think about the age number thing, shall we!

    Hi Rebecca, it was a good visit.

    Hi Joanne, if you're about to roam round Wales don't forget to take your raincoat with!

  15. I have never been to Wales.I know it's awful to say that,but it looks lovely, maybe one day. I remember the Prisoner although I don't think I ever understood it,that big ball chasing him.I can't remember how it ended ,was it all a dream or real?

  16. Every tie anyone on TV says "what do you want?" we start the whole Prisoner introduction "Information" "You're not going to get it" etc... We can't help ourselves.

    In answer to your question on my blog. I live in North Leicestershire, near the airport.


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