Search This Blog

Monday 23 April 2012

The Therapy Zone

Portmeirion - The Italiante Village

    My first stay at Portmeirion as a guest, well my first visit to Portmeirion full stop was in September 1988, and no I did not go about the village dressed as No.6, well not 1988 I didn’t, but every year since I have! Why did I wait so long to visit the village after being a fan of the Prisoner for so many years, sorry I cannot answer that one. But when I did I was amazed by how small of Portmeirion was, after watching the Prisoner I had imagined the village to be larger somehow, but Portmeirion is tiny, in fact some of the arch ways are only just of a size one can only just pass through. And there is so much to take in, I made the mistake of trying to see everything at once, that was a mistake as then you miss so much of the small detail such as a bust of Shakespeare leaning over the balustrade {balcony} of the Dolphin cottage.      Portmeirion is described as being Italianate, but is a mixture of architecture, colourful and enjoying a sub-tropical climate brought about by the Gulf Stream, one could be anywhere in the world but North Wales. The owners of Portmeirion have made improvements to the village. Each winter a building is demolished and rebuilt to exact as it was before. Well take the dome of the green dome, which is now brown! Originally the dome was constructed from three quarter inch plywood and simply painted. When the dome began to leak even worse than it had the decision was taken to replace the dome with copper. But the dome was then covered in lacquer which is the reason for the new dome has not oxidized, that green colour which copper takes on when open to the elements! But apart from the now "brown dome," Portmeirion is today, still as much as it was in the Prisoner.

    So if Portmeirion is basically a tiny village, why does the village in the Prisoner appear to have more substance? Well, and I don't want to spoil it for you fans out there, but scenes used in the episodes The General, Hammer into Anvil and Its Your Funeral the second cafe for example used in those episodes is a set built at Elstree Studios at Borehamwood England, for those who do not know. And for back scenery of the village, huge painted back-drops were done also at Elstree Studios, thus giving the appearance of more to Portmeirion than there actually is.
    But nothing is taken away from Portmeirion itself, a beautiful, peaceful and picturesque place to go and completely get away from the world. Indeed during my first stay in Portmeirion I could not enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the village enough, and when I had to go out shopping in the outside world, the nearby town of Portmadog seem a noisy place, and I could not get back to the village quick enough!              
    There are a number of shops in Portmeirion, The Dragon Book Shop, Pot Jam, The Ship Shop, Portmeirions gift shop and Papur & Phensil {now a coffee shop} and not forgetting the Prisoner shop, selling Prisoner related merchandise, a shop in which I have spent hundred of £'s. Once independently run since the early 1980's, the Prisoner shop, or "Round House" as it is known was completely refurbished and now is run by the owners of Portmeirion themselves.
    There is a special atmosphere about Portmeirion, an almost magical atmosphere which Portmeirion takes on during the early evening and night time. It is not easy to explain, one has to experience Portmeirion for yourself, and will want to return there again and again, and perhaps not wanting to leave. Portmeirion itself, can in its own way, make prisoners of us all, just as the Prisoner itself does!
   I have not returned to Portmeirion since 2003, I have not felt either the need or desire to do so.

Be seeing you

1 comment:

  1. I first arrived in Portmeirion in pitch darkness on the Friday evening of the 1987 Convention. I travelled up on impulse and hadn't even booked a room! Fortunately I met up with a 'contact' in the Hercule's Hall Bar who was staying in the Village and he allowed me to sleep in his arm chair. Due to unhappy circumstances, I left early on the Sunday, but I attended every convention for the next few years, as well as visiting Portmeirion in between with my Father and meeting up with Prisoner Shop Owner - Max Hora in the evenings in the Hercules Hall Bar.

    I haven't been back since 1992...