Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

October 14th 2009

New in the shop...

They are seen here with General Manager Paul Lewin at Dinas Station on the Welsh Highland Railway.

Huw brought along a ‘Car Gwyllt’ - an amazing contraption, consisting of a seat on wheels, used by quarrymen to descend the steep inclines at the end of the working day. It made a good talking point and also features in his fascinating collection of stories and anecdotes in his book “Not Just a Pretty Place” - based on the local history and wildlife of Snowdonia.

Barbara's book, “Itching to Climb”, with a foreword by Sir Chris Bonington, is an interesting read for those who walk in hills, but have not completed Grade VI Dolomite rock climbs; have travelled in a plane but not, aged fifty, gained a Private Pilot's Licence or trained Infantry Junior Leaders; and for all who enjoy islands as different as St Kilda, the Falklands and Tenerife - where Canarians in Adeje invited her to join their village activities. Living with severe eczema and many allergies is tough, but it has not stopped her activities. Her book is dedicated to the National Eczema Society.

Both books are for sale on our web-shop - www.festshop.co.uk - and at under £10 they would make a great holiday read or Christmas stocking filler.

Recent reviews include:

Not Just a Pretty Place

'If you're feeling pessimistic about the state of the natural world in Britain, this is the very book to cheer you up. Huw Jenkins details so many positive projects happening in Snowdonia that you feel inspired to start something in your area to conserve what we have, and to know your patch in as great a detail as he does. He's not Pollyanna-ish about conservation and acknowledges the rate at which we are losing species, but does so with a light touch which removes any preachiness which can often be the downfall of books on beautiful areas. A cheerful, amusing, amazingly informative book about a stunning part of the world. A perfect present for anyone who enjoys visiting Snowdonia.'
Lucy Freeman

'Huw’s new book, “Not Just a Pretty Place”, is an anthology of 32 short stories, each written by himself, which reflect both life’s perilous grasp and its tenacious durability in this most wondrous of landscapes.  From the fragility of the national park’s alpine plants, now threatened by climate change, to the adaptive spirit of its communities, the 120 page book is a personal journey through a region which offered Huw his own salvation from a 25-year career in the IT industry.'

Andrew Forgrave (Rural Affairs Editor, The Daily Post - 2nd July 2009)

Itching to Climb

‘As with many North Wales based climbers of my generation I grew up with Ron James’ “Rock Climbing in Wales” as my ‘tick list’ of routes and my own rather battered copy – bought in 1973 - still rests on my bookshelf alongside more modern tomes. From those early experiences grew a desire to work in the relatively new world of outdoor education. Barbara James was responsible for giving me my first break teaching young soldiers to rock climb. I’m proud to have known her for over 30 years and I was itching to read this book.

“Itching to Climb” makes light of Barbara’s difficulties overcoming severe eczema to become one of the UK's first female full time professional instructors. Reading about the genesis of climbing instruction in North Wales would make anyone involved in today’s risk managed world intensely jealous of those early experiences and I wish there had been more in the book about her early climbing and adventures as I am sure there are many tales to tell. The snippets that are there only whet the appetite and Barbara’s style of writing would lend itself to expanding on these days.

Learning to fly must have been a thrilling experience and I know how much she enjoyed this. She was responsible for taking my own children on their first light aircraft flight on a rather gusty day and they still talk about it with delight 20 years later. And I find myself wondering if Barbara ever did find all the spilled ‘Smarties’ …

Barbara’s quiet confidence has undoubtedly been a major factor in her ability to relate to people in a variety of environments and this stands out in the chapters about her life on Tenerife. There is an almost allegorical quality to this latter section. Tenerife sounds very similar to North Wales in the 60s and 70s when the incomers - mainly climbers - and the locals warily got to know one another and found that, when they did, it was often to their mutual benefit.

The candid photos enhance the text and the mix of inset black and whites and the section of colour pictures works well.

I enjoyed this book, not least because I know the author, and would recommend it particularly to two very different groups of people - those with an interest in how our instructing world has developed and changed and those seeking inspiration to help to overcome severe disadvantages and learn how to turn them to their advantage. For me, reading it was like sitting down with an old friend and I know other readers may well finish it feeling like they have just acquired a new one.’
Reviewed by: Doug Jones

There are many good reads in the shop, and not all with a railway title. For instance, also featured in the local authors section are “Anglesey and Gwynedd, The War Years 1939 – 45” (£19.99) and “Dinorwic, The Llanberis Slate Quarry, 1780 - 1969” (£18.99) by local historian Reg Chamber Jones.

The shop is open most days until Christmas with a range of books and DVDs, gifts and souvenirs to suit all tastes.  If you would like a list of books available, please phone the shop on 01766 516034 or visit the web-shop - www.festshop.co.uk

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