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grand hotel

grand hotel

Two firsts for the Lost Promenade today. First time in Wales and first time in an Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop. To which town do we owe this honour? Llandudno.

Exited as we are, we still manage to miss our train connection from Chester, as we’re not paying attention in the waiting room. Nhung has fallen in love with a photograph of a husky in the newspaper. The view out of the train window as we near our destination is caravanland, but it’s a beautiful day and there’s a holiday feel.

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Llandudno is nothing like our last destination, Morecambe. We were expecting it to be even more run-down than the English seaside towns, but in fact Llandudno is bustling and prosperous-looking, like a plump, elderly chow snuffling at lamp-posts. Despite the beauty of the Great Orme – the jagged limestone headland that overlooks the town, Llandudno itself is twee and domesticated. It is lovely, but holds none of the pleading romance of a town like Margate or Morecambe. Too pleased with itself, too nice. However, the Orme’s rocky serpentine frown looming overhead provides a hint of something more untamed.

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Like the similarly charming and well-off Southport, Llandudno abounds with twirly iron arcades and colonnades. There are many old-fashioned independent shops; gentlemen’s outfitters, tearooms and a lingerie shop called ‘Smalls’ that sells thermal underwear and French maid’s outfits. It’s a mark of how well-to-do the town is that the charity shop fare is more Per Una than Primark. And of course, it boasts an Edinburgh Woollen Mill – the standard high-street favourite of ‘heritage towns’ like this one. Friend of the Lost Prom, Melita, who is accompanying us, buys two black polo necks exactly the same as the 10 others she already owns. She also finds a black tuxedo jacket in a charity shop – exactly the same as 10 others she already owns.

a lost promenade

a lost promenade

We walk along the jetty and see the only bit of decay in the whole town; a set of rusty struts and some steps leading to nowhere. ‘Runaway’ by Del Shannon is playing, followed by the Beatles – ‘Don’t Ever Change’. And it feels as though nothing in Llandudno has changed since the Beatles performed here in the 60s. There is a feeling of timelessness, of trapped-in-a-snowdome nostalgia and cosiness.

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We’re still feeling affection for Llandudno, despite it’s lack of photogenic decay, however that starts to fade when we realise that EVERYTHING, absolutely everything that we might want to do here, is shut out-of-season. The pier? Denied. The cable car up the side of the Orme? Denied. The camera obscura? Denied. The tramway to the Orme? Denied. A tour of the mines? Denied. Our first choice of café? Denied (too full this time, not closed). However, curiously, all the B&Bs have signs saying ‘No Vacancies’.

no vacancies

no vacancies

We end up in the Take-a-Break café, attracted by its art deco style font. Like many of the caffs in towns like this (also see Seaford), there are pictures of Laurel & Hardy on the wall. The toilets are entertaining though. On the door there’s an extensive list of all the things you mustn’t flush down them: ‘sanitary towels, tampons, nappies, support tights, wet wipes, incontinent (sic) pads’. Throwing our support tights down the toilet? Denied! More entertainment is also provided by an old man singing along to ‘Karma Chameleon’ on the radio in a growly voice. We join in and get told off by the staff for encouraging him (but we can see them giggling in the kitchen doorway.)

another fine mess

another fine mess

As there isn’t actually anything much to do in Llandudno out-of-season, we have a whirl around the Oriel Mostyn Gallery (unexpectedly a contemporary art gallery) and jump back onto the train so we can have a quick nose at Colwyn Bay before the light fails. And Colwyn Bay is much more like what we’re used to. A derelict pier crumbling into the sea, whirled around by dramatic murmurations of starlings. For Brightonians, it’s almost a home-from-home. In the short time we spend here we also spot more interesting people than in Llandudno; a girl in rollers holding a helium balloon, a woman with pink frosted lipstick you can see your face in, and the Amber Coffee House (near a men’s clothes shop called Manland), where we go for tea and cake is run by friendly cage-fighting brothers. Our waiter has clicky shoes that make him sound like a tap dancer, but are in fact specially made for his osteoarthritis. He shows us his tattoo. It reads, ‘We can do this until we tap out’. Colwyn Bay 1 – Llandudno 0.

closed

closed

Lost

Pier

Cable car & tramway

Camera obscura

Tour of the mines

The Great Orme and the Kashmir goats that graze on it

Tarot card reading (can’t remember now why this was denied, but denied it was)

Our first choice of cafe

Patience with Llandudno generally

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Found

Green tweed skirt suit with 3 old-money 10ps in the pocket

Pink knitted pig-shaped toilet roll holder

Toilet roll (free with pig)

Magenta & green fluffy cardigan with silver buttons

Brown & orange floral 1970s chopping board

Black tuxedo jacket

2 black polo neck jumpers

Seaside prosperity

Another ruined pier

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