Postcard from the past: Watendlath

4/4/89. Crossed this bridge on our walk yesterday. It wasn’t quite as snowy, but nearly. You can get coffee in the farmhouse. Have now moved on to a small guesthouse in Corris (mid-Wales) before going on to Robert’s for the weekend. See you soon. Love, Anabel & John.

It wasn’t just vintage postcards in Mum’s collection – some of them I recognised as being from us, such as the one above showing Watendlath Farm in the Lake District, and these have given me some wonderful trips down Memory Lane. Most of our print photographs are in boxes in the loft, but the album covering this holiday was in a cupboard in the study because I’d retrieved it a few years ago to write about the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988. The fact that 1988 and 1989 are both in the same album shows how few photos we took, and many were of a quality that would have been instantly deleted on a digital camera.

John in Borrowdale

This album also allows me to identify the point at which John got rid of his beard – in summer 1988 it was there, but by April 1989 it had gone, never to return. He had been threatening for a while to shave it off, but I was worried – I had never seen him without it. What if I didn’t like his face underneath? In the end he did it without telling me, and when I first saw him I fell about laughing which was probably not the effect he had hoped for. However for the next few days, until I got used to it, I was absolutely fascinated and couldn’t stop looking at him, which I’m sure he liked much better.

But I digress – back to Watendlath. We stayed three nights in a cottage in Stonethwaite in Borrowdale. The first day was bad weather but it didn’t prevent us from climbing Red Pike, although I don’t look very happy about it.

On the second day, we did the walk referred to on the postcard, a circular one which my diary notes as Stonethwaite / Rosthwaite / Watendlath (coffee at farm) / Thirlmere / Greenup Edge / Stonethwaite: I feel exhausted just reading about that now. Here are some of the more acceptable photographs, including a couple looking down on the farm in the postcard.

We spent the next three nights in a guesthouse in Corris in mid-Wales, again with very little photographic evidence, and even less that is worth using. Here’s John on the Precipice Walk at Dolgellau and at Harlech Castle.

On the Friday, we moved on to spend the weekend with Robert, a school friend of John’s who was then a junior doctor in Bangor in North Wales. The weather seems to have perked up here, and our shots of Snowdonia are much better. We also had a trip to Beaumaris Castle on Anglesey.

Finally, my trip down Memory Lane has shown me that my memory can be faulty. This was our second visit to Wales together, but I had conflated it in my mind with an earlier holiday in 1984. I was convinced we had spent a week in Wales, bookended by visits to two of John’s friends from school – Robert in North Wales and Ted in Cardiff in South Wales, but the latter visit was on the earlier trip. Any photographs from 1984 will definitely be in the loft, and probably on slides, but Ted recently sent us the picture below which I think is the Ystradfellte Four Waterfalls Trail in the Brecon Becons. Note John’s full beard! And for the avoidance of all doubt – I was joking when I said I might not have liked his face without it …

Anabel, John and Ted

65 Comments »

  1. What a lovely trip down Memory Lane! Some gorgeous photos and stunning scenery. I’m so glad I have always taken a lot of photos as am sure I’d never remember half the places we’ve visited or things we’ve done otherwise. I love looking through old photos – they capture moments in time 🙂

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  2. As a regular on-off beard wearer I know the dilemma John went through in removing it. For as long as I could grow one I had at least a moustache, shaving it off for the first time in 1998. When I appeared without it, not having prepared anyone, like you Linda laughed but our daughter, aged 5 burst into tears and ran to the bath room looking for the hairs to stick back on. Not what I expected…

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  3. It’s so much fun to go down memory lane and relive your old holidays. Also to tell stories about beards and shaven faces! It’s funny, I have never been attracted to anyone with a beard, or any facial hair at all. My daughter, on the other hand, loves the big husky bearded types. To each their own. For me, I don’t like the scratchiness of getting up close.

    Your old photos have come out well here in digital form. How did you convert them? Scan or something else? By the way, I used to have dark hair too, and I miss mine mightily. But I started turning white in my late 30s-early 40s, so had to dye it to keep it dark. Finally, I gave up when every three weeks, I’d have that blasted white stripe in my part. Had to finally let it go. You look lovely in your dark hair and John looks rugged in his beard!

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    • Thanks – it is fun to look back at old memories! The photos are scanned and look good until you enlarge them too much. I agree about the scratchiness of beards – not good for the chin. I went grey quite early too and dyed for a bit, then got fed up with it as you did. Now I like it the way it is.

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