Bron Celyn: 07 May 1974 The lounge was on the lower left and dining room on the lower right; my room was the central window above the door.
On returning to Llanrwst in early 1974, research regarding accommodation led me to Betws police station. One of their officers had recently stayed at "Bron Celyn", a bed and breakfast on the east side of the Conwy valley, just above the A470 road to Llanrwst. Although it did bed and breakfast (usually too expensive for anything but short term stays) they had a small room for longer term lodgers. It turned out that the room was free and I did not hesitate and moved in.
Kate & Ellis Holland
The bed and breakfast was run by Kate and Ellis Holland. They had been hill farmers at Ysbty Ifan higher up the Conwy river and had now semi retired. They were one of the most amazing couples I have ever met. They were regulars at one of the chapels in Betws and Kate had a sister who lived on the A5 looking out along the Lledr valley. She occasionally dressed in Welsh costume for visitors in Betws - something I think Ellis found amusing.
They had no material interests at all and seemed to benefit from that in a way I don;t think we can comprehend today:
- Despite being regular chapel attendees, Ellis once came back from the retail supermarket at Llandudno Junction with a two pint polythene container of sherry - which he said was for "medicinal purposes" .. but Kate was far fromconvinced.
- I once gave him a lift up the valley in my car and said he couldn't have a radio in his car as he'd "be too taken by the music to concentrate on his driving".
- He was also in trouble again one evening after spending all afternoon erecting tall beanpoles in the back garden - only for Kate to advise him that she had planted dwarf runner beans
This was a time when inflation was growing fast but I had to suggest to them that I should pay more money for my stay.
This is the view [of Betws] from my room at the front and looking west up the Llugwy valley - I still miss it.
Although there was a dining room for guests I took all my meals in the back kitchen with them. They spoke Welsh normally but it was always English when I was with them. Kate's cooking was superb - as a vegetarian for the past 17 years I could still be tempted by her cooked breakfasts.
Working in the mountains farmers may occasionally be suspicious of "officials" even though you made the "effort" to dress as one of them - but I soon found a way to win them over. I met one farmer at the end of the track to his farm it may have been Tal y Braich on the A5 near Ogwen coming up from Capel Curig. I could see he was wary about what I was doing so I turned the conversation round to where I was staying. Once I had mentioned Ellis Holland - he was on board. The sheep farmers were a strong community even though geographically they may live several valleys apart.
They later fully retired to Maes Tawel in Llanrwst and we visited them, with our children in 1985. They were just the same beautiful people..
Kate died in 1995 aged 90 and Ellis in 1999 aged 93. They had no children of their own.
For me it was a privilege to have known them and I learnt much from them.
Thank you Kate & Ellis
Bron Celyn, Betws y Coed, Gwynedd, LL24 OHD
Start: 04 February 1974
End: 26 March 1975
Betws y Coed: Wikipedia page
KJM 20 Aug 2017