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Phil Thornton Thornton; OPINION.

O paraphrase Dr Johnson, 'A man who is tired of Llangollen is tired of life'.

TDuring the 90s my sister had a caravan in the Tanat Valley and we'd regularly travel to Llangollen for days out.

Until then, however, the town was a mystery to me and the Horseshoe Pass was as remote and obscure as the Khyber Pass.

My knowledge of Wales further south than Wrexham was sketchy to say the least and then we discovered the joys of places like Pistyll Rhaeadr, Lake Vyrnwy and the stunning pass along the B4391 from Pentybontfawr down to Bala.

Yet Llangollen was perhaps the place we visited most, as do many thousands of people each year.

What's not to like about Llangollen? The pubs and hotels, the steam railway and the canal, the architecture and the history, the fast flowing River Dee and the dramatic scenery.

One year we took the kids on the Santa Special steam railway ride that I remember not for the freezing cabins and a rather unconvincing Saint Nick handing us two bob mince pies but for the second hand records I bought at Carrog station.

As something of a part time DJ and record collector, rather than the usual array of Nana Mouskouri, Pat Boone and Throbbing Gristle records that tend to be crated up in such places, I came across arcane jazz funk LPs by the likes of Billy Cobham and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

A few years later, about 10 of us sallied forth for a stay over to celebrate a mate's birthday and ended up performing my first karaoke at The Wynnstay Arms.

It was a version of Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing sang in a Wigan accent, that confused most of the locals: "Oooooh ah'm 'ot just lark an oven."

It was funny at the time! Llangollen has that kind of effect on me, making me less cynical, less bitter, less angry at a world that fails to meet my Utopian expectations.

There again, Wales makes me feel this way too.

Perhaps it's the calming effect of the hills and the sheep and the unhurried acceptance of our own insignificance in such a landscape.

Or maybe it's just the ale.

There's a Greek word called Ataraxia which roughly translates a sense of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety.

That's how I feel when I'm in Llangollen and I'm rarely tired of life there.

'' '' What's not to like about Llangollen?

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 16, 2015
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