Castles and Mountains of Pastoral Wales!!!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Castle Coche
The Easter Weekend saw us in Wales---a beautiful place to be in!!!The Coach took us past the pastoral beauty of the rolling Hills,Dales,Fields and Meadows of the English/Welsh Countryside as it bore us towards Cardiff in South wales--also a capital City of this tiny Country!!It was the typical English countryside that I'd been longing to see---something that connected me instantly with my childhood Books---Black Beauty,The Famous Five and many more---mostly by Enid Blyton---books I still read today in my approaching second childhood!!!The beautiful and idyllic countryside was exactly as I had pictured it in my mind---the Hedgerows bordering the Road lined with deep Ditches in some places---spilling over with sprays of sweet scented tiny White Flowers of the Hawthorn Trees and Bramble Bushes in full bloom---patches of Daffodills dancing in the Breeze-----and tiny Snowdrops peeping through shyly in the Undergrowth-----the Hawthorn and Bramble Bushes interspersed with Silver Birch,Beech and an occasional Willow Tree besides the usual Ash and Rowan Trees interspersed with Pines,Firs and Scots Pines.While I gazed through the window fascinated by all this lush green Countryside---Sayali dozed beside me--completely oblivious of all this beauty passing by!!!!
As we passed Stud Farms,Riding Stables,lush Meadows dotted with Sheep and beautiful Jersey Cows-----as well as the fertile Fields I just drank in the sights with thirsty eyes---this was what my father had described to me----and what I'd read about--this was the English Countryside I'd wanted to see!!!This was a more gentle and manicured Beauty compared to the Wild and desolate Beauty of the Scots Countryside--but extremely appealing all the same!!!As we drove into Cardiff we passed beside the ancient Cardiff Castle---parts of it built 2000 years ago by the Romans!!!Reaching the Marriott in the City Centre we refreshed ourselves before venturing on to the paved City Centre----all well laid out in an area where vehicular Traffic was completely restricted to facilitate walking in comfort.The narrow cobbled Streets brought home the advantages of our modern paving blocks--these are darned uncomfortable to walk on!!!
The next day we did the Castles---Coche Castle--built by the Marquis of Bute in the mid 1800s as a Weekend and Holiday Retreat.This looks like the original Fairy Tale Medieval Castle as it rises up from it's surrounding Forest---reminding one of the Castle where Sleeping Beauty lay waiting for her Prince!!!The next was Caerphilly Castle--then Cyfartha Castle--and after that the only Welsh Whisky Distillery at Pendaryn and finally the Pen y Fan Mountain---it's top and slopes still holding the vestiges of Winter Snow.For me the main thing was the Caerphilly Castle----with a beautiful leaning Tower and it's still existing Moat---filled with Birds and Water----the huge Halls and winding,narrow spiral Staircases----- leading to breathtaking views of the Countryside below!!!Cyfartha Castle was interesting for the Musuem there gave an insight into the brief rise of the Welsh during the Industrial Age--thanks to mining of Iron Ore,Coal and Welsh Gold---but the decline too was equally swift---due to the exhausting of all the natural resources!!!The most interesting surprisingly was actually the visit to the Pendarryn Distillery-----since Whisky is something that doesn't really interest me.Maybe because Sudhir was a teetotaller and though my father enjoyed his I never really paid much attention to what Liquor he drank during the 17 years before my marriage!!!Needless to say I was tempted enough to buy a bottle as a Gift for Suresh--Sudhir's Brother-in-Law who recently celebrated his 75th. Birthday----and a bottle of Welsh Cream for Pushpa and Ritu who both enjoy Bailey's Irish Cream--though this one is made not with Whisky but with a mixture of the pure distilled Spirit and Welsh cream!!!The day ended with a drive through misty Valleys into the thickly wooded Brecon Beacons National Park at the foot of the Pen Y Fan--the highest mountain in Wales
The next morning we took a Train to Chepstow--to see the Castle----and what a Castle it was!!!Populated by people dressed in ancient Welsh Costumes of the Norman period of 1066--1180 A.D. we were shown how the Food was cooked,the Smithy,the Carpentary and also Archery of the period before being given a guided tour of the reconstructed Earl's Chamber--complete with the Furnishings,Drapery and Costumes of the period!!!That done we wandered off further into the Castle--with even me climbing up to the Battlements----and at one point feeling completely helpless about climbing down the narrow spiral Staircase to the Terra Firma below---because it was almost vertically steep!!!In retrospect---because all's well that ends well---it was extremely foolhardy of me to even climb up at all!!!The View however was definitely worth the discomfort-----and the later Panic attack!!!
The Cardiff Castle was definitely a wonderful Sight--specially the narrow round Keep---originally built by the Romans and fortified by the Normans to keep the Celtic Tribes out!!!Here too I climbed up despite Sayali's vociferous remonstrances---and was so pleased with myself that she took a picture of me smiling at her triumphant and flushed with pleasure after the Climb!!!The guided Tour of the Apartments occupied by the Marquis of Bute and Family--the last owners of both this Cardiff Castle and Castle Coch----was very fascinating and enlightening too.Both Castles were gifted to the people of Wales in the 1960s and have since then become fabulous Tourist Sites to see!!!