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Plaque to the Summer of 2013

Llechan -las -copyA plaque in honour of the fine summer of 2013 will be unveiled at Portmeirion by The Rt Hon. the Lord Wigley at 12.00 noon on Saturday 7th December 2013. 

The text of the plaque reads "Er clod i haf hir felyn tesog 2013"*. This is a reference to the famous opening sentence of Ellis Wynne's 'Gweledigaethau'r Bardd Cwsg':

*"In honour of the fine warm mellow summer of 2013"

"AR ryw brydnhawngwaith têg o hâ hir felyn tesog, cymmerais hynt i ben un o Fynyddoedd Cymru, a chyda mi Spienddrych i helpu 'ngolwg egwan, i weled pell yn agos, a phetheu bychain yn fawr..."

It is 310 years since Ellis Wynne, the Sleeping Bard, published this classic of Welsh literature and given that he lived opposite Portmeirion at y Las Ynys near Talsarnau it is fitting that this local literary figure should also be remembered in this way.

Bon -cerflun -ercwlff -hercules 007Clough would consult each autumn with his friend the sculptor Jonah Jones to decide whether the summer just gone qualified for an accolade. The slate or stone plaques, carved by Jonah, would be placed on a pedestal under the statue of Hercules in the village centre. This heroic kneeling bronze, supporting the globe of the firmament and mounted on a tall pedestal at the head of the long flight of steps down to the harbour was made by William Brodie of Edinburgh, cast about 1863. Located by Clough in Aberdeen from a picture in Country Life the bronze figure was transported to Wales in a pickup truck in 1958. Clough felt that so conspicuous a monument should have something to commemorate and so he attached to its base an inscribed plaque bearing the legend, 'To the Summer of 1959, in honour of its splendour.' He hoped that such applause might possibly encourage an encore, which eventually it did, in 1971 ("Highly commended"), 1973 ("Nonsuch") and 1976 ("Excelled even 1959"). It may be that the summer of 2013 was not the finest summer of them all however coming as it did after two wet summers it was a welcome relief and we hope the current accolade will encourage an even finer summer in 2014.

Dafydd Wigley wrote about the Portmeirion tradition of dedicating plaques to certain fine summers in the Daily Post on 14th November as follows:

Let's commemorate  a  year that got its seasons right!

Dafydd Wigley.

Bon -cerflun -ercwlff -hercules 008Portmeirion, that remarkable Italianate village on the Meirionnydd coast, which every tourist coming to Wales should surely visit, has many unusual features. One which appeals particularly to me,  is the tradition of placing  little plaques to remember fine summers!

As if passing judgement on vintage wines, such tributes include "To the Summer of 1959 in honour of its splendour" and "1971 highly commended".  It is a lovely, imaginative way, to recall bygone summers of our childhood, which were a delight to everyone - except, I suppose, umbrella salesmen.

I hope that Robin Llywelyn, grandson of Portmeirion's founder, Clough Williams Ellis, and its current Managing Director, will keep alive this unique tradition.  Robin - a chaired National Eisteddfod poet and author, might just as easily write an ode to the summer of 2013. This year deserves such an accolade.

We are all too ready to curse the weather,  too easily finding some fault: too wet, too cold, too windy, too hot. People in Wales - and much of Britain - will more probably greet a passing acquaintance with a  cheery "Bore braf/Fine morning" - or morose "Mae'n oer/It's cold"  rather than  "How are you?" or that pervasive Australianism "Have a good day!"

This year we can have no grounds for complaint. Last winter was seasonally cold; the spring had just about enough rain to get things growing; the extended sunny summer was superb. Garden crops were plentiful; sparrows - showing no evidence of being an endangered species - had a second, if not a third,  brood of chicks.

 We have - until this week - enjoyed a mellow autumn which has shortened the winter. It departs with the largest crop of "conkers" for many years; and a most glorious panorama of yellow, brown and auburn leaves splendidly changing their hue.

The autumn has been so mild that even last week, in November, I was able to pick raspberries from our garden and quite edible blackberries from the fields.  I collected  ripe tomatoes outdoors - along with courgettes, broad beans and the last  runner beans. Wasps last Friday were still buzzing in and out of their underground bunkers; though their number decreased by Sunday after a touch of frost...

So Robin, let's get another  plaque unveiled in the splendour of Portmeirion, as a well-earned  tribute to the summer of 2013: a longed-for return to childhood seasonality. And even if  we do get the predicted cold winter, let's not moan about our weather in Wales. 

Gweledigaeth -cwrs -y -bydOpening paragraph of Gweledigaethau'r Bardd Cwsg:

"AR ryw brydnhawngwaith têg o hâ hir felyn tesog, cymmerais hynt i ben un o Fynyddoedd Cymru, a chyda mi Spienddrych i helpu 'ngolwg egwan, i weled pell yn agos, a phetheu bychain yn fawr; trwy 'r  awyr deneu eglur a 'r tês ysplenydd tawel canfyddwn ymhell bell tros Fôr y Werddon, lawer golygiad hyfryd. O 'r diwedd wedi porthi fy Llygaid ar bôb rhyw hyfrydwch o'm hamgylch, onid oedd yr Haul ar gyrraedd ei gaereu 'n y Gorllewin; gorweddais ar y gwelltglas, tan syn-fyfyrio decced a hawddgared (wrth fy ngwlâd fy hun) oedd y Gwledydd pell y gwelswn gip o olwg ar eu gwastadedd tirion; a gwyched oedd gael arnynt lawn olwg, a dedwydded y rhai a welseint gwrs y byd wrthifi a 'm bâth: Felly o hir drafaelio â 'm Llygad, ac wedi â 'm Meddwl daeth blinder, ac ynghyscod Blinder daeth fy Meistr Cwsc yn lledradaidd i 'm rhwymo; ac â 'i goriadeu plwm fe gloes ffenestri fy Llygaid a 'm holl Synhwyreu eraill yn dynn ddiogel."

On {1a} the fine evening of a warm and mellow summer I betook me up one
of the mountains of Wales, {1b} spy-glass in hand, to enable my feeble
sight to see the distant near, and to make the little to loom large.
Through the clear, tenuous air and the calm, shimmering heat, I beheld
far, far away over the Irish Sea many a fair scene.  At last, when mine
eyes had taken their fill of all the beauty around me, and the sun well
nigh had reached his western ramparts, I lay down on the sward, musing
how fair and lovely compared with mine own land were the distant lands of
whose delightful plains I had just obtained a glimpse; how fine it would
be to have full view thereof, and how happy withal are they, besides me
and my sort, who have seen the world's course.  So, from the long
journeying of mine eye, and afterwards of my mind, came weariness, and
beneath the cloak of weariness came my good Master Sleep {1c} stealthily
to bind me, and with his leaden keys safe and sound he locked the windows
of mine eyes and all mine other senses.

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