Some nine years ago, two friends and I stayed for a night in Beddgelert, in the shadow of mount Snowdon. Nineteenth century legend has it that the village is named for Gelert, Prince Llywelyn the Great's ill-fated hunting hound, possibly the most famous animal ever to have been punished for someone (or something) else’s crime. We were there to climb the mountain, and decided we should go to the pub the night of our arrival, in case we didn’t make it the next day. Anyway, after unpacking at our bed and breakfast, we set out on foot in search of liquid refreshment.
What sticks in my mind, even now, was the feeling of homecoming, of familiarity, that had struck me as we wound through the valleys. The smell of the air, the spectacular greens, browns and greys, they didn't so much enter my mind as fight their way free, like suppressed memories buried too long. Walking through the village, I again felt a kind of contentment, a feeling of belonging that I could neither explain nor deny. The pub we chose was old, towards the centre of the village. I can’t remember much of the exterior, and perhaps it’s unimportant. I must, however, have looked at the pub sign, because the name of the establishment sent my thoughts in a specific direction; The Prince Llywelyn.
My friends and I bustled inside in the half light of the evening. There was some early trade already warming the bar, so, ale secured from the wild-bearded landlord, we decamped to a corner table and people-watched for a while. Again, the details are hazy, but I recall the interior of the pub as a place out of time, the light from the fire playing on the light, waxed wood. It seemed to glow golden. After the comedic potential of the evening’s punters faded somewhat, the conversation turned from general gossip about people we knew, to stories, and then, because I’m half welsh, and perhaps given a nudge by fate and the presence of a large and friendly Irish Wolfhound in the bar, I regaled my two companions with the story of Gelert himself, how…
Prince Llywelyn had gone hunting without his faithful, favourite hound, and how the sun hadn’t seemed to shine half as bright, and how the quarry had not run as spectacularly as it did when the great beast was there.