October 18-22, 2005
On arrival into London, I took the tube and
made my way to the train station to catch the train heading to Cardiff. What
a quick and easy trip that was. London is very user friendly and getting
anywhere is just so easy with rail. On the train I had time to relax and
enjoy the scenery in the quietness of first class service. I arrived into
Cardiff, a modern city of 300,000, celebrating 100 years as a city and 50
years as the capital in 2005, and after a quick cab ride I was at the Hilton
Hotel. Opening the curtains I discovered my room overlooked Cardiff Castle,
built in the 12th Century with a beautiful garden behind it called Bute
The morning of the 18th, we were meeting Paul Harris who runs See Wales,
sightseeing tours www.seewales.com for
a day of visiting sights around Cardiff. With Welsh music playing softly in
the background, we started off the day with a visit to the Museum of Welsh
Life St. Fagans www.nmgw.ac.uk It was
kind of a misty, cool day and for me it gave a real sense of what life was
like going back as far as 500 years. This is a beautiful open air museum
with plenty of buildings to look through, people like the blacksmith working
and explaining the different tools used and products made, visit homes and
see their gardens...a wonderful way to get the feeling of Welsh life as it
was. The beautiful colour on the outside of the walls of this home was
traditional and it was also the first time I had seen the inside of a
thatched roof. The round building was for the pigs. Then there is a
fireplace in a home that was used for heat as cooking and the washing press
that must have been a real help instead of squeezing water out of the
clothes. Free admission to all museums.
Our next visit was to a mine where we had the opportunity to 'go down' for a
tour. We had a wonderful guide who explained all sorts of things for us,
including the canary in the box. I was always under the impression that
these poor birds died if there was a gas leak, but he told us most of them
were quickly revived and how important they were as a safe guard for the
workers. The other picture shows some of the equipment they used. This is
one job that I just could not see me doing and I have from this experience
learned to appreciate these workers and see how much they loved what they
did for the most part. They say it is in your blood and the workers in the
mines in Wales will say the same....
Our next stop was to Caerphilly and the castle there.
http://www.castlewales.com/caerphil.html This is Wales largest moated
medieval castle and it sure was impressive...what it must have been like to
live there. Built in the late 13th century it is a prime example of
concentric walls within walls system of defense. Just look at how thick
those walls were! With four gatehouses, and lakes and three artificial
islands, Caerphilly was almost impregnable. It has a very good display of
siege machinery there as well.
Our next stop was to the enchanting fairytale castle - Castell Coch.
http://www.castlewales.com/coch.html It's the castle with the red
balcony. 'Coch' means red. The walls had the most incredible botanical
paintings in gold, all hand painted. The ceiling had birds painted...it was
a magical castle.