A Warm Welcome To "Vicar of Dibley-Land"
Our cottage sits overlooking the picturesque village of Llanarmon Yn Ial. It’s a small, rural community with approximately 400 residents surrounded by farmland and nestled within the Clwydian Range which is an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) mid-way between Ruthin and Mold in Denbighshire, Wales.
Llanarmon Yn Ial is surrounded by farmland and plenty of sheep!
In the 19th century mining played a big part in the local economy and during my walks with Sausage and Rolo I’ve stumbled upon the remnants of mining activity all over the nearby hills including; an Engine House, old Chimney and abandoned Miner’s Cottages.
Photo by W. Radley: Abandoned Cottage on the hill. December 2019
Well-worn bridle paths and footpaths wind around the gaping mouth of an old limestone quarry which ceased operating decades ago.
Photo by W. Radley: a Re-Wilded Old Limestone Quarry on the nearby hills. November 2019
This is magical place to live in many ways; for the spectacular views, its natural landscape of rolling hills and lush green fields dotted with sheep and cattle through which the River Alyn flows and ancient woodlands of Ash and Oak trees, wild flowers and hedgerows offering shelter to the local wildlife.
TOP TIP: Before moving to the country, ideally before you even start searching for a property find out as much as you can about locations, narrowing it down by focusing on your search criteria. Visit the area(s) you’re interested in, maybe go several times to experience what it’s like on different days of the week and different times of the day even at different times of the year if you’re planning far ahead. This can give you a good insight into many different factors including traffic and how this might affect travel times. It’ll also give you chance to see if it’s a noisy and bustling or a quiet and peaceful setting. Take note too of opening hours of local places like petrol stations, convenience stores, chemists, pubs and restaurants as these facilities often close earlier in rural settings compared to in towns. You might like to chat to local shopkeepers, pub / restaurant staff, coffee baristas and farm shop staff to get a good feel for the place too.
Photo by W. Radley: Old footbridge across the River Alyn, Llanarmon Yn Ial. January 2020
In the few months we’ve lived here we’ve been thrilled by the variety of regular feathered visitors to the garden including Woodpeckers, Buzzards and Pheasants and many an evening I’ve heard Owls hooting from the tree tops outside. The lawn is dotted with Mole Hills and the entrances to a maze of Rabbit Warrens which I appreciate might really bug many a keen gardener whereas I’m of the opinion that the local wildlife was here before us and it‘s us who are invading their natural habitat and therefor I find it an endearing feature of our garden. There’s also a Badger Set just outside the Stables (which will soon become my new Flower Studio from where I will work on client’s orders to be shipped out from a local post office to all over the U.K. and beyond). During the Summer months a local farmer brings his beautiful show cows to pasture on the land behind our cottage, we were fortunate enough to see them during several visits here last Summer. A five bar gate leads directly from the garden onto surrounding farmland and this is where I often walk our pooches along tracks originally trod by local miners and now well-worn by walkers and cattle alike.
Photo by W. Radley: ‘Ermentrude’ and ’Buttercup’ in the cow pasture. August 2019
Since we moved here in October the small cattle herd has been moved to lower pastures where it’s more sheltered for them during the Winter months but I’m looking forward to their return in the Spring. Sausage and Rolo will soon have to learn to share ‘their field’ with Daisy, Ermentrude and Buttercup! Judging by the number of dried cow pats where the pasture meets my parents’ annex I suspect they’ll be getting very well acquainted with these lovely brown cattle too!
I’ve ‘christened’ all our feathered, furry and woolly friends here; I know each one by sight and I like to name them all as they feel very much part of the family. It has become quite natural and the norm for the Hubster and I to break into a conversation about Thumper (rabbit), Phillip (Pheasant), Shaun (Sheep), Freddie (Fox), Woody (Woodpecker) etc forgetting how odd this might sound when we are in company! Recently I was discussing “poor Phillip who still hasn’t got a girlfriend and is getting fat” with the Hubster when our son Oliver piped up “Who’s this Philip and why’s he not on Tinder?!” You should have seen the look he gave us when I said we were discussing Phillip Pheasant!
Filmed by W. Radley: Phillip Pheasant at our bird feeding station. February 2020
You can find picturesque views and enchanting wildlife in many locations however over the last few months the Hubster and I have come to realise just how special this little village we now call home is: what makes it so special are the (human) inhabitants; the villagers of Llanarmon Yn Ial (and neighbouring village Eryrys) who really couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming to us. I’m delighted to say that the skeptics, critics and neigh-sayers who said we should think twice about moving to this beautiful country needn't have worried about us at all! I can only go off our own experiences of course but everywhere we’ve visited in Wales to date whether town or village the local people have been nothing but kind, warm and friendly. TOP TIP: By all means listen to the concerns of family and friends when you announce plans to relocate however do your own research too, actually visit the area and chat to the locals and form your own opinions. Do not be put off following your dreams by others before you e even began. And remember often you get back what you put in: if you wish to be part of a village community then you have to be prepared to join in events and activities, get to know people and give something back. If you can spare a little time maybe find out if you can do some volunteer work for a local charity or community venture, it will show the local residents that you value their community and want to contribute. It’s also a great way to get to know people too. I am now volunteering in the community-ran village shop and the Hubster has joined the Maintenance Comitee for the community ran village pub, I’ll share more on this in a later post.
Photo by W. Radley: Sausage and Rolo grazing on rabbit poo! And beautiful views from the garden. January 2020
Andy and I thought things couldn’t possibly get any better when we moved into our new home; we fall in love with the place a little bit more every day, especially each morning as we open our bedroom curtains to breath-taking views of the countryside. However within a few short days of arriving we discovered we had won the jackpot with the village community we now belong to!
Filmed by W. Radley; Every year following a beautiful performance by the Village Choir in the Church Christmas Carol Service everybody piles over the road to the pub for the 'After Party'! December 2019
Our village is small and quaint with just 400 residents so everybody knows everybody here. Driving over an old pack-horse bridge, a winding lane brings you out onto a traditional village square where you find the cornerstones of the place: a beautiful old church, the Old School Rooms (now used as a venue for community events), The Raven Country Pub & Guest-rooms and a traditional Village Shop.
The Community-Ran Village Shop
The Community-Ran Village Pub - The Raven
Both pub and shop are community-ran by local volunteers for the benefit of the whole village and surrounding area.
Beautiful St Garmon’s Church
The quaint Old School Rooms are now used for community events
I feel privileged to belong to such a vibrant rural community, one where the residents create varied opportunities to socialise and contribute to village life. Our neighbours are dotted around the hills and have been overwhelmingly kind and welcoming; we all look out for each other particularly as the Winter weather up here can be a bit of a challenge at times. The Hubster and I quickly realised we are also blessed with the support of a very friendly bunch villagers who collectively offered us a warm welcome and were immediately happy to share the lovely village of Llanarmon Yn Ial with us.
I guess some people dream of metropolis-living; of New York skyscrapers or the gold-paved streets of London. Others are lured to an L.A style life of sunshine and surfing. But for us, we’ll happily choose living here...a place we affectionately refer to as ‘Vicar Of Dibley-Land’ over La La Land every day of the week!
*** NEW POST COMING SOON: “There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather - Just The Wrong clothing“