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Milford Report 2004

Milford 2004

Left to right: Paul Laville, Liz Williams, Ian Creasey, Sue Thomason, David Redd,
Jaine Fenn
,
Stuart Falconer, Chris Butler, Vaughan Stanger

The Milford reports are traditionally written by a first-time attendee, but we don't always manage to get a report from a novice. This year's account is from Milford's hard-working secretary Liz Williams.

2004 Report by Liz Williams

It took about 4 hours to get up to Snowdonia from Pembrokeshire, where I've been staying with my family, on the main north-south road, which follows the coast. That this is sometimes not wide enough for 2 cars at the same time should give you some idea. I stopped off in Machynlleth and stocked up on drink, since the new Milford centre has no bar, and reached Trigonos through roaring wild weather at around 3. And thus Milford began.

I won't give a blow-by-blow account of the workshop, except to say that it went very well, everyone loves the new venue and wants to come back, the material for critiquing was very good and we drank a lot, since everyone had panicked on the 'no bar' announcement and overstocked. The food was excellent, thanks to the chef — who gave me a narrow look and said, "Yeah, I remember you." Hardly surprising, since when I was last there with the Druids, we persuaded him to jump in the lake. In February. In the snow. Naked.

So, in the morning we read, or walked. In the afternoon, we critted, and in the evening we ate a lot and then retired to the library and the log fire and the booze. The weather was extremely wild — a knock-on from Ivan, I suppose. We finished the critting on Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, half the team went for a walk up to Tal-y-Sarn (known universally as 'the creepy place') — this is at the back of Nantlle village and is a wasted landscape of deserted slate mines and ruined cottages, around a great sheer pit of green water. There are plaques in memory of people who died there — the dates were too recent for mining disasters, so we are presuming either suicides or diving accidents. And we had to be careful where we trod, partly because of the sharp slates, and partly because of discarded syringes. This is the dark side to the lovely mountains and castles and tea shops — economic depression and rising, prohibitive property prices.

We found the ruins of Tal-y-Sarn hall, half buried in the woods, and now marked with crimson hand prints and graffiti in Welsh which translated as 'SONS OF FIRE'. Milford's collective hair stood on end at this point, especially as there was a sinister mutter from above and a pair of ravens appeared, circling us in the manner of vultures.

We hastily reviewed our command of the Welsh language in case the Sons of Fire appeared, and decided that "Thanks," "Merry Christmas," and "Cheers" wasn't going to cut much ice with crazed nationalists. Milford thus beat a tactical retreat, but the only Welsh-speaking person we encountered on the way back was a small girl in charge of a kitten in a pink diamante collar. OK, so we're easily scared. Your point?

On Thursday, we gadded about — went up to Blaenau Ffestiniog on a steam train, which was entertaining and extremely pretty. BF itself, however, is enclosed in the Snowdonia National Park, rather like Berlin in East Germany, but it's still a bit of a disaster area — huge piles of slate, again, but graffiti in English, this time. Admittedly, it read ENGLISH OUT, but at least we could understand it.

Then we had lunch at Porthmadoc railway station, braved the Welsh-speaking post office (charming, helpful, no sign of the Sons of Fire, whew) and went to Portmeirion for the afternoon. This is where they filmed THE PRISONER — but no one got chased by any huge balloons, and everyone found their way out again. This is the first time I've been to Portmeirion and it is enchanting — strange Italianate buildings along a stunning estuary.

Returned to find we had run out of firewood — Jaine consulted the chef, who told her where more was to be found but then gave her another narrow look and said, "Don't burn anything you shouldn't." Clearly, the Trigonos staff have got our measure.

And that was it for another year.

Quotes from 2004 collated by Liz Williams

Someday, they'll be on a T-shirt. We only started doing this because Clarion does it, and we got jealous.

"The parsnip is the carrot's evil twin." (Ian Creasey)

"You can't just make shit up!" (Liz W, ever the hypocrite)

"I want to see the naked nuns." (Paul Laville)

"I want two children before I get small feet." (Sue Thomason)

"All this just goes to show what a crappy god Odin is." (Ian Creasey, living dangerously)

"Let's all get tanked, look at the stars and fall in the lake." (Jaine Fenn)

"I'd be worried if my girlfriend started barking like a fox." (Jaine)

"When she went for his knob I thought, Blimey, that's a bit sudden." (Paul L)

"There's not much wrong with cannibalism, child-murder and shit-eating." (Vaughan Stanger, displaying an admirably liberal approach to other cultural norms)

"Day Four. Unable to find mouth." (Jaine, pretty much summing up Milford).

"Action heroes do not wear nightdresses." (Jaine)

"Quasi sentient death bicycle" (an organic combination of people)

"It's like having a bucket of weirdness thrown over you." (Liz)

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