Tucked away in a private peninsula on the North Wales coast. Portmeirion. as you might expect. is not the easiest place to get to. Travelling by car takes up to SlX hours. Trains take nine hours from either Glasgow or Edinburgh. ending up at Porthmadog. From there. you can either take a taxi or. if you feel particularly Prisoner-like, walk the remaining three miles to the village and hotel. If you are only viSiting the village rather than staying there. admission costs £4 (83.30/23 concsl No pets allowed. The full address is Hotel Portmeirion. Gwynnedd. LL48 6ET. Wales (tel: 01766 770000). For rail info. tel 0345 484950 or visit www.thetrainlinecom.


The Welsh Tourist Board (01766 512981) and Hotel Portmeirion (01766 770000) both provide voluminous information and advice. The Welsh Tourist Board's website. wwwvis- itwalescom. offers a good leaping-off mm for other sites covering attractions. activities. history and events. around Portmeirion and throughout Wales. For more information ab0ut Ponmeirion itself. try wwwvirtualpon- meirioncom. a lovingly put-together site by aficionados of the village. complete with vir- tual tours. histOry. maps and a guide to the locations used for The Prisoner.


Portmeirion is ideally placed for enjoying the splendour of Snowdonia National Park and the fantasy-like Norman fonress castles of North Wales. and provides a cosy base for

he strange reality behind a cult TV series. Words: Katrina Dixon

exploring the cities of Bangor and Caernarfon to the north or the idyllic coves and bays of the coastline. Unfortunately. due to the cur- rent foot-and-mouth crisis. wandering the hills and paths is strictly no—go. but the attractions within and surrounding are still open. subject to verification (phone for details before setting out). From Porthmadog. you can take the renowned Welsh Highland Railway (wwwwhrcouk). open 13 Apr—28 Oct 2001. travelling along fourteen miles of mountainous routes to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Tours of Sygun Copper Mine (01766 510101) lets you rise through tunnels and chambers with jaw-dropping stalactite and stalagmite formations. emerging 1401t up for stunning views over Snowdonia Mountain Range. It being king or queen of the castle is more your thing then there are chunks of 13th cen- tury rock all over the place: Penrhyn Castle at Bangor (01248 353084) is about 45 minutes by car or taxi from Portmeirion: there's the 13th century Harlech Castle (01766 780 552); and the most famous of the lot at Caeriarfon (01286 677 617).


Up until 1998. Portmeirion hosted Portmemcon, its annual Prisoner convention in August. This year it returned in March for a weekend of in-depth plot analyses. quizzes. fancy dress and reruns of favourite bizarre Prisoner pursuits such as the life-Size chess game. Visit wmvponmeiriconcom for details and for more information about Six of One. the offi- cial fanclub for devotees of 608 television senes.


ROUGH GUIDES HAS laur1Ched a new title. a mini guide to Copenhagen that helps you find the best Danish pastries and suggests

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news, Time Out has new editions of its London, New York, Paris and Barcelona guides out on Thursday 5 April (Penguin £10.99/£11.99). As well as the usual factual information, the guides have special features, such as author showcases for Paris and London which reveal the haunts of Zola, Balzac, Martin Amis

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The Outcasts Of The Islands (Harper Collins £17.99) O... This wandering heart of a book is subtitled ‘The Sea Gypsies Of South East Asia’; maritime nomads who move between various islands according to the changing currents, seasons and fishing opportunities. Their boats are their homes and they exploit the coral reefs by practising the fundamentally dodgy practice of dynamite fishing.

Sebastian Hope is clearly in love with the characters he comes across in his attempt to document this disappearing race. Panglima Surani, the chief of the Bajau Laut tribal group, in particular moves Hope so much on his first visit to the Malay islands, that he spends much of his return visit three years later trying to track him down. Hope is a lively warm writer who nicely balances ecological concerns with a humanitarian sense of history and animism. A book that chronicles a world so far removed from this multimedia congested age it is like a blast of sea air. (Paul Dale)

15-29 Mar 2001 THE LIST 1 15