Bench 4: Aber Adda

Yeah. This is what it’s all about. This is what you pay your money for, and this is what I’m all about. Bench 4. Look at it. Just look. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Bench 4. Location:

Bench 4 is about a five minute walk away from Bench 3, and pretty much as obscure a spot as you might ever wish to find. It’s not the kind of sit-down spot that you’d happen across if you were in town on touristy or even on dog-walking business. Heck, I’d wager that there’s plenty of people who live on Aber Adda that don’t know that it’s there.

From Bench 3, you head up Hill Street – often referred to hereabouts as Grapes Hill because of the former pub that sits at the base of the rise – and you take the first left. The turning’s just around the corner from a dog-turn to the right, between a handsome trio of whitewashed three-storey cottages. The hill’s quite a rise; you might find yourself glad of a breather before you get to your destination. Hill Street is narrow; cars usually take it in single file, so there’s a fair amount of that polite no-you-go-first flashing and waving going on between motorists. Often as not the foot traffic is a blend of locals about their chores and visitors clutching maps working out for themselves if this is the way to the museum and gardens at Plas Newydd or not. Clue: it is. And we’ll get there in good-enough time too, so we’ll save those particular joys for later

Aber Adda is residential. A run of good-looking Victorian terraced houses of decent sizes. The bulk of the homes are on the right hand side of the street as you face down it, meaning that you get a fine view of the town and of the valley; on the other side of the Dee you’ve a direct line of sight to Dinas Bran. It’s not everyone who’s got a ruined castle on the top of the hill opposite. These folk have. Envy them.

Bench 4 in context.

You can envy them, but you might not get parked. Road space is at a premium here, and cars tend to be mounted on kerbs. It seems to be a constant irritation to householders. I’ve been accosted more than once by a resident who’d assumed that I’d illicitly parked in front of their house. There was a story about needing 24 hour ambulance access, and about the B&B up the hill and the chaos that causes, and those new people three doors down. Fuckers, the lot of them, paramedics aside, I was assured.

The bench is at the far end of things. After a couple of dozen or so (I haven’t counted) houses, Aber Adda changes. There’s a development of about twenty social housing flats. Single-storey dwellings with flat roofing. A run of them are up a level, having garages below. There’s ten garages. Less than one each. There’s a bit of hard standing too; additional parking for those living in the flats. The flats have been here long enough for them not to look an imposition. There’s a vaguely sheltered housing vibe; many of the residents are elderly, or otherwise in need of a home without stairs. Maybe they shouldn’t have put the homes up a hill; seems kinda disenfranchising.

Still. The parking area’s usually pretty cluttered with vehicles, often as not a couple of works vans in with the mix. There’s three council-emptied skips also; two for landfill, one for recycling. A nice little amenity for those living here.

And there’s a bench.

The hard standing has a low border around it. A bit of tubular metalwork high enough to make it a trip hazard. On the down-slope side, a steep drop down to the buildings of the main road below. The bench itself is in front of a couple of the flats, looking straight back down Aber Adda. Not that you’d see much because the view’s usually pretty cluttered with parked cars. You might wonder what they were thinking of.

The bench is a council job. It could do with a splash of paint. The asphalt underneath runs away, so the bench is at an awkward angle. But you get a great view back down the valley. It’s better in the winter in fairness, when there’s less leaf-clutter getting in the way, but even so. You can see what they were thinking.

View from Bench 4.

It’s a decent bit of utility. A gesture of thoughtfulness towards those living here. Often as not, public seating is in useful places, or in stopping-off points that were handy back in the days when folk walked everywhere and might appreciate a five minute sit down when lugging their shopping homewards. Here, it’s for those living here. An acknowledgement of the place and of the view. I really like it.

View from Bench 4: detail (that’s the pavilion where they have the International Eisteddfod).

A shame that in the intervening decades the parking’s taken over somewhat. The bench tends to be boxed in with vehicles, making it hard to see, let alone reach or to sit on. I don’t think anyone uses it much anymore. That’s a real shame.

Oh, I looked up Aber Adda. Tried to work out what the name means. Aber is estuary; I suppose there’s a link to the valley, and to the Dee below. Adda is a Welsh version of Adam. Maybe there was an orchard here once.

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