Friday, 28 November 2008

A Brief Guide to Machynlleth

It's just after midday and I'm sitting in a wholefood cafe in the small town of Machynlleth, in west Wales (pronounced 'Mack-un-leth' by everyone so far except the guy who made the announcements on the train here, who added a 't' after the 'n' either by mistake or as a sneaky attempt at profanity.)

The office have paid the fare for me to come out here to collect a van which turned out not to be roadworthy. Customer services could not be easily convinced of this and the confusion prevailed just long enough for me to miss the next train back, meaning that I now have two hours to spend here on this cold afternoon.

Machynlleth town centre probably covers less than half a square mile but boasts an impressive clock tower (see unimpressive photo) and a remarkable absence of chain stores. There are also no less than two independent bookshops, although in the interests of balance I should point out that there was nobody in either of them.

Signs on the windows of the wholefood cafe announce it to be linked to the Centre For Alternative Technology in some way. The majority of the customers inside are women with middle class English accents, although there are one or two of the indigenous population here as well.

It is an exquisitely cosy place, with wooden furniture, dim lighting and an indefinable aroma that I have not smelt since I worked in a vegetarian cafe over ten years ago - a mix of spices, cooking vegetables, fresh baking, the absence of deep fat frying and general warm healthiness.

Here in this out of the way place it is possible to believe that it is possible to believe in something other than capitalism without seeming to be naive or the product of a damaged upbringing.

Making a difference to your own small corner of the world seems more meaningful when the rest of it is so far away.

1 comment :

  1. Interesting to read your thoughts of Machynlleth. I have been living here for a while. Yes, it is great there are no chain shops. Wholefoods is the best cafe in town! The Spectrum gallery has unusual things (paintings & jewellery).