Archive for December 2016

by Morgen Jahnke

World-famous architects like Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Rem Koolhaas often make headlines for their daring and creative buildings, but the vast majority of architects spend their time on more down-to-earth projects, like schools and fire houses. Their work is dictated by the needs of their clients, and their creativity is in service to solving any problems these needs might entail. But what happens when architects are given free rein? What do architects do for fun?

It is easy to imagine that Julia Morgan, the architect who designed William Randolph Hearst’s estate at San Simeon, enjoyed creating that fantastical world to Hearst’s specifications, or that Eduard Riedel, the architect of King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle, found some pleasure in recreating a medieval castle in the 19th century. But these architects were still limited by the wishes and whims of their employers, unable to express themselves fully.

In comparison, the English-born Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (1883–1978) found a way to realize his dearest architectural dreams on his own terms. After purchasing a particularly beautiful piece of property on the northern Welsh coast from his uncle in 1925, Clough set out to create a wonderland of architectural whimsy that he called Portmeirion (after the coastal setting and the Welsh name of the local county, Merioneth). The result of Clough’s work is a colorful Italianate village of cottages, towers, fountains, and cobbled streets that has drawn comparisons to Clough’s twin inspirations: the medieval hill towns of Tuscany and the world-renowned Italian coastal town of Portofino.

It Takes a Village
When Clough bought the Portmeirion site in 1925, his vision was not to simply construct individual buildings, but to create an entire town. As The Architects Journal noted of the project in 1926, the “results of his [Clough’s] scheme will be significant and should do much to shake the current notion that although houses must be designed with due care, towns may grow up by chance.” Over the next fifty years, this vision of Portmeirion began to take shape under Clough’s leadership, with construction occurring in two phases: from 1925 to 1939, and from 1954 to 1976.

Another part of Clough’s vision for Portmeirion was that it help to prove that beautiful natural spaces could be developed for commercial use without ruining their beauty, what he called “that strange necessity.” His choice of this particular site, a peninsula in the Snowdonia region of Wales, was no accident. He wanted to draw visitors to the area, and the balmy microclimate and coastal views of Portmeirion proved attractive even when the town had not been fully developed. In fact, early on Clough raised money for the construction costs by operating a hotel out of an existing building.

In this respect, it could be argued that Clough was a forerunner to the modern pursuit of sustainable development, the attempt to provide economic benefit while preserving natural resources. Clough cared deeply about environmental protection; he not only served on various councils related to this goal, but was a strong advocate for the creation of national parks in England and Wales, most especially for Snowdonia National Park in Wales.

Clough’s architectural credo, “Cherish the Past, Adorn the Present, Construct for the Future,” is in keeping with his passion for sustainability. At Portmeirion, Clough honored the past by salvaging old structures from demolition sites, relocating and renovating them to become part of what he called his “home for fallen buildings.” The vivid colors and enchanting streets of the town show Clough’s obvious love for “adorning the present,” while his larger vision of preserving the environment by pursuing limited economic development gives meaning to “constructing for the future.”

Escape to Portmeirion
Portmeirion has become a prime tourist destination for visitors to North Wales; visitors can see the town during the day, or may opt to stay the night in the main hotel, individual cottages, or at the newly renovated Castell Deudraeth, a Victorian castellated mansion on the estate. Tourists are drawn by the town’s legendary beauty, but it does have another claim to fame.

In 1966, Portmeirion was the setting for the filming of the British TV show The Prisoner, starring the popular stage and screen actor Patrick McGoohan. Although the show only ran for 17 episodes in 1967 and 1968, it became an enormous hit, and fans continue to be interested in every aspect of its production, including where it was filmed. As part of this interest, the official fan club of The Prisoner, Six of One, holds a convention in Portmeirion every year.

In these and other ways, the popularity of the town Sir Clough Williams-Ellis built lives on, nearly thirty years after his death. Although he may have created Portmeirion to satisfy his own architectural visions, he succeeded in bringing these dreams to life for the benefit of countless others. —Morgen Jahnke

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More Information about Portmeirion…

The official Portmeirion Web site is a good place to visit for news, visitor information, and history of the town.

Virtual Portmeirion, The Folly Pages, and the Wikipedia provide useful background information on Portmeirion.

Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’s daughter, Susan Williams-Ellis, founded Portmeirion Pottery in 1960, which has become well-known for its beautiful products.

cover art

One of my favorite travel writers, Jan Morris, has recently published a book about Portmeirion in honor of its 80th Anniversary: Portmeirion.

cover art

The complete series of The Prisoner is now available on DVD from Amazon.

Related Articles from Interesting Thing of the Day

Source: Interesting Thing of the Day

Part 3 A journeys end ….

This is a continuation from Part 1 & Part 2 of my journal / journey through the IVF process & the thoughts that go with it.

So, as we come to the end of the journey and the more astute of you will have noticed the title doesn’t say failed in it anymore! After 105 Injections (Another 198 to go still), 749 Tablets, 20+ Appointments, 10 Months & 3 rounds of IVF we did it!

It is very early days but the other half is carrying a couple (yes you read that right!) of new additions to the household.

As journeys go this has been an arduous one for us both, personally it has pushed me close to breaking point emotionally, mentally & financially and is something I hope none of my friends ever has to go through themselves. Without the support of 2 strong families around us I don’t know how we would have made it through these multiple rounds of IVF each one harder than the last.

I seriously don’t know how I would have coped with another failure, I had nothing left to give and was truly drained of all 3.

We did find solace & comfort in the online Facebook IVF groups, but even at times that was hard as more and more people posted their successes as we found only failure.

Even though we only started IVF earlier this year (approximately 10 months ago) it feels like years have passed, with our lives, careers, holidays all on hold. In fact we’ve been together 8 years this year and we’ve only ever been on 2 holidays and one of them was the year after we met & the other was the honeymoon 5 years ago.

Now our IVF journey ends and we begin a new one as a family of 5, now comes the search for bigger cars, house extensions, double buggies, twice as many nappies etc.

The other upside of twins will hopefully be less arguing when picking names & God parents as there is twice as many spaces to fill this time, although the name suggestions Mrs S keeps coming out with I’m sure she’s a closet hippy! She didn’t like the lets name one each suggestion though, mainly because she knows I would pick Thor Oakenshield or Loki Morningstar.

As these kids have already cost us the same as a mid-size family saloon I’m also very tempted to name one Ford & the other Mondeo, but I don’t think she’ll will let me do that either.

I’m very glad this journey has come to an end successfully and we can move on with the rest of our lives. If you have gone through this already I’m sure you can understand what we went through. If you are going through it, I feel for you and I’m here if you need to talk about it. If you’re not, thank whoever you believe in that you’re not.

If you’ve been with me all the way I hope you enjoyed reading the journey, it’s been a useful cathartic output for me and I enjoyed it even if you didn’t. 🙂

If this was your 1st one please go back and read the 1st 2 parts as well (Part 1 & Part 2) and I hope you find them enlightening and slightly humorous in parts.

Thanks to everyone who read / commented / supported us along the way, it’s surprising how much a how you doing text or thinking of you both message on Facebook goes.

Most people don’t know what to say and just avoid you altogether, but it’s the closest friends that know it’s just any distraction and the odd how you holding up mate that reminds you that there is people outside the IVF bubble you’re in and that they are concerned but sometimes just scared to ask in case its bad news. The recent scope advert for disability actually had some parallels. (Apart from the introduce yourself bit)

Hopefully other friends who’ve been getting a bit tetchy with me will now understand why I’ve be preoccupied / unavailable for lads nights out this past 12 months, at the end of the day getting Mrs S through this IVF have been priority 1 and any slight hiccup with it, it’s been my job to fix / smooth over / reassure that everything is going to be OK while under the surface panicking like hell myself & trying not to show it.

Right I’m off to stockpile on pallets of nappies & wipes and as I’ve twice as many to buy this time make sure you go out and buy a copy of my new book 50 Shades of Blonde! – 50 Shades of Blonde Book

As I said this is the end of our IVF journey but the beginning of a twin pregnancy, so I may well keep posting updates if anyone’s interested.


(Father of 1 & Expectant Father of another 2 with very little hair / sanity left)

A company that truly embraces innovation as a path to company / product improvement should also adopt the Fail Often / Fail Quickly methodology, this can be a real head spin for entrenched companies as why would you reward failure?

The Fail Often / Fail Quickly methodology comes from the pretty much universal constant that your 1st idea isn’t your best one, it might be the seed that starts but it definitely won’t be the finished product. A famous example of this is WD-40, you may not know this was the chemist Norm Larsen’s 40th attempt to create a chemical that would prevent rust by displacing water. That’s 40 attempts, not many bosses would let you fail 39 times on a project without asking serious questions!

But look at it another way as long as you are learning something from each “trial” (Let’s stop calling them failures) you are fine tuning the end product, and as long as you are getting through these iterations quickly and not wasting large amounts of time down rabbit holes it will ultimately get you to the Million Dollar product much faster.

The image below surmises what people see of a successful product and the reality of the cycle behind the scenes.

Don’t ever get disheartened by failure in anything in your career or life, pick yourself up, take stock, learn what went wrong that time and why. Then make the next attempt better each time.

Week 9 and a call to arms (literally)

Blood / Platelet Donation,

Let me start this by telling you what made me start donating.

On August the 11th 1999 during the solar eclipse my Grandma died, she had been battling various forms of cancer for the previous few years, during this time she needed a lot of blood & chemo and as she was the same blood type as me something clicked in my head and said I should be donating my blood to replace what she had needed.

Now my father had been a long time blood donor & latterly a Platelet donor, but my fear of needles had held me off following in his footsteps doing this.

This major event in my life made me power through and man up and for the next 15 years (with a couple of gaps for getting tattoos) I donated blood every 3-4 months, then in 2014 I made the change to platelet donation, this gave me the opportunity to donate almost every month as the red blood cells are returned into my body.

Platelet donation is used slightly differently to Whole Blood donation and is used mainly in the following ways;

  • Treatment for Chemotherapy
  • Organ / Bone Marrow Transplant
  • Life threatening bleeding
  • To treat severe blood disorders

Just 1 platelet donation can help 3 adults or 12 children!!

The only lifestyle change I had to make for platelet donation is to cut back on fatty foods & cheese around the donation date as it clouds the sample and they can’t tell if it’s good or not, which isn’t a bad change to my diet really.

It takes a little longer than normal donation (about 1-1½ hours) but there are great nurses on hand with Tea / Biscuits / Sandwiches and a chat if you want any of them.

If you’re not on the organ donation for whatever reason, then maybe think about either blood or platelet donation, just an hour out of your life every month or 30 minutes every 3 months and you can help lots of people.

They have even started to send you a text telling you what hospital your donation has been issued to which is a nice little touch.

They need blood & platelet donations 365 days a year and especially around Christmas so if you’re thinking about it now is a great time.

Find out more below & the location of your nearest donation session;


Have a good weekend, see you all next week!!


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Week 8 and a small challenge / bit of fun for you.

Similar one to a couple of weeks ago Download the excel file and fill in the Artist & Song from the lyrics, the person with the most / 1st person to get all of them right and send it back to me will get a kindle copy of 50 Shades of Blonde on its release.



Have a good weekend, good luck & see you all next week!!


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