Recently I’ve been reminding myself that this Monkey Map project is about fun. Yup, innocent good-hearted fun. Spotting monkey puzzle trees. I’ve also been delighting in the arrival of spring, the snowdrops especially. And now I have a day off, and decide to give myself that much-loved treat, of a day out somewhere new, exploring places where buses are infrequent and so a car day out feels luxurious. This is now possible as I am driving again after several months gap in car ownership and driving due to a serious car accident last summer (which was not my fault). But as humans do, we recover, pick ourselves up and thanks to a great psychologist I am now a car owner and driving very naturally again. (Many thanks to Dr Mike Scott for that).
So here we are on a beautiful spring day and I arrive at Hafodonus.
So why am I here? Well…. because, from an article I was sent about a year ago I have read that:
At Hafodunos, Conwy, there are two notable avenues of Monkey-puzzles.
And the article also has this very enticing photograph.
So I am here to look for these avenues of monkey puzzle trees. Not least because I am now behind on my own blog, as in I haven’t spotted the most monkey puzzle trees. As reported in my last post Agent John in Fife is racing ahead in the numbers – not that this is, as you know, a competition. But, I had planned that I would, one day, visit Hafodunos. And today I have. Having first driven up to Hafodunos, I then park back in the village of Llangernyw.
I am a few hours away from Liverpool, the city I live in and love, and yet I am completely alone here, and there is no mobile signal, and I am very grateful for this little bit of ‘rural’ life today.
At this point I’m a bit disheartened, in the way that adventures are. I can’t see any evidence of one monkey puzzle tree avenue, let alone two. In fact I can’t get anywhere near the hall…. but after my soup and home-made tiffin, I feel better, and put my lippie on and remind myself that I am having fun. I am!
And so I leave Hafodunos. Am I disappointed? Well, sort of, but this was a magical experience. And there was a timeless quality to being here.
When I get home I do some research. And from this website find out that:
Hafodunos was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott (designer of St Pancras Station) between 1861 and 1866 for Henry Robertson Sandbach, and is Scott’s only executed domestic building in Wales. Built of brick, the house utilised Victorian technology, such as central heating and fresh running water. The interior of the house had no paintwork, the woodwork and the furniture being of pitch-pine, red cedar, or dark bullace from Demerara, whilst the capitals of the columns leading to and on the grand staircase featured roses, lilies, snowdrops, and other British flowers. The gardens were planted and landscaped by Henry, developing the designs set out by his wife Margaret after her death. They had collected tulip-trees, great magnolias, hemlocks, and other pines from America mixed with native oaks and beeches. A fernery with examples from all over Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, and New Zealand grew with hardy plants from the Continent. J.D. Hooker,director of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Kew, is believed to have advised on the plant collection.
Margaret was the granddaughter of William Roscoe. She was a poet, and died aged 40 of breast cancer having undergone a mastectomy, in an age before anaesthetic. I am touched by this, as the day I visit Hafodunos it is the day after I have observed the ninth anniversary of my own diagnosis with breast cancer. And now the snowdrops and the arrival of spring, although they are welcome, are always touched with the memories of my own diagnosis and treatment. And of course, pure joy that I am here to see them.
So what next for Hafodunos – well all I can find is that Dr. Richard Wood purchased the mansion and garden in 2010, and has begun a restoration project to return Hafodunos to its former glory. I hope that happens.
But now it’s time to return to Liverpool. And I choose to take the longer route home, the A458. Through Rhyll and Presthaven. I now know why we needed the A55. But I stop briefly to look at Flint Castle, and answer the question we often ask when we walk over on the Wirral’s shining shore – ‘What’s over there?’
And as I arrive back at the tunnel, a huge full moon has risen, the Snow Moon, and I am glad that this day has been such a good day.
And then I am home and happy to have had this lovely day.