Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Caerphilly Castle, Wales

Wales is said to have more castles per square mile than any other nation on Earth. I will be visiting many of them in the next few months, and will be taking pictures and sharing them on this blog as I go along.


Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales,
and the second largest in Britain (Windsor is bigger).

If you want to know more about the history of Caerphilly Castle,
please check Wikipedia out:

Here are some of the photos I took during my visit.

Caerphilly Castle from the grounds.

The grounds are beautiful, and used by lots of local people
as an amenity area and for eating lunch in
(the castle is right in the centre of the town),
but sadly everybody seems to leave their litter behind,
which spoils things....

Perhaps some of the people of Caerphilly don't realise
what a marvellous historic site they have in the middle of their town,
or what a poor impression the litter left everywhere gives
to the visitors who come from all over the world...

The castle covers several acres,
and is built on islands surrounded by moats and lakes.
This makes it extremely easy to defend and very difficult to attack.
The lakes are currently used by lots of local fishermen.

The main entrance, over a bridge over part of the lake - and
if you look carefully you can see the visitor centre through
the archway - it is very modern,
but built using traditional materials and glass,
and sits well in the castle.

The 'front' of the castle close up.
It really is gigantic.
You can see the 'leaning tower' to the left of the picture.
If you look at the top of the picture you can see a full size flag flying.
I took some of the pictures in this post from up there...

The view from the outer gate to the inner gate.
This bridge spans a moat.

The famous leaning tower - which is
probably leaning due to subsidence,
rather than as a result of battle damage

There is a new (9 years old) visitor centre/shop
inside the castle walls - made of glass and oak beams
and slate and steel - it is very modern and I think it
looks beautiful in the castle - this is a view of the roof
from deeper in the castle - you can see through the glass walls
and also see how it snuggles into place!

One tower and part of a 'hourd' which is the name for the
wooden structure overhanging the castle wall.
There are holes in the floor of the hourd, and these would have been used by defenders to drop things (boiling oil? flaming rags?) onto any attackers below.
There are also small arrow slots in the sides for archers to fire through.
This tower wasn't leaning - but I obviously was when I took the picture!

Below - Inside wall where the hourd is attached
View of part of the castle from a tower,
it is hard to see just how big this castle is!

One end of the Great Hall.
The people in costume have been undertaking art activities
with children as part of the castle's half term
events programme - they have made salt pots out of clay,
and pictures using glue sticks, paper and herbs.

I couldn't get a photo which went from wall to wall
and floor to ceiling - the hall is too big.
It is possible to hire this room to get married in - current fee is £1350.

A television series called 'Young Dracula' is filmed here, by the BBC.
They use part of the castle which is not open to the public,
but which may be opened to the public in future,
as it has recently been restored.

The other end of the Great Hall.
The panelling is 9-10 feet high, so you can see the scale of the room...

Caerphilly Castle at dusk

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Raglan Castle, Wales

Wales is said to have more castles per square mile
than any nation on Earth.

Here are some pictures of the newest castle in Wales -
Raglan Castle, built in the 15th century.

If you want to know more about Raglan Castle,
there are plenty of websites, here is one:

The pictures on this blog are my personal view of Raglan,
and you will soon realise that I like windows!!!!

The castle from afar

You can see the French influence on the
stonework at the top of the tower -
Welsh castles aren't generally that fancy!

The main gateway

Castles were for living in, as well as for defending.
This was once a very grand window,
looking out over the courtyard.

A view of the bridge over the moat,
joining the Great Tower and the Fountain Court

A small window, easy to look out of but difficult
for attackers to get a good shot at you.
A similar window is shown below

The toilet - complete with original stone seat.
It is known as a garderobe, the picture below
shows the doorway - presumably there was a door there once!

An interior view from the Fountain Court

Looking out through a window

A doorway, up some stairs, through another doorway, to....

What remains of the carving on a fireplace on an upper floor.
The floor has gone, and so have the walls above the fireplace

Another window, another view

More beautiful Welsh countryside through another window

Looking down inside the Great Tower

View from the Great Tower, looking to the west

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Lapham Peak State Park, Wisconsin, USA

Lapham Peak State Park, Wisconsin,
is a beautiful place to take a walk in the woods

The ice age trail runs through the park

Wonderful moss -nature is recycling

A view into the tree canopy

The tower at Lapham Peak

A picturesque collection of seeds in between the rocks

An unusually shaped tree stump

A wonderful branch fragment with fungi

The first tree to change colour.
The autumn colour seems to be a little late this year.

Old World Wisconsin

I recently visited Old World Wisconsin, which is a fabulous 'living museum' . Many buildings have been moved from various parts of Wisconsin and rebuilt in the museum's extensive grounds. Many of the buildings have 'guides' dressed in period costume, explaining to visitors how the building came to be built and who lived in it, and how. The guides are all volunteers, and they do a fantastic job!

The entrance building, from the car park.

Signposts to the various areas - mostly Scandanavian & Mid/Eastern European settlers came to live in Wisconsin - and they would have felt right at home, as the countryside & climate are very similar to the countries they left behind.

Preserving eggs...

The cobbler's - and Mr Goodyear obviously made rubber boots before he branched out into tyres!

The cobbler's bed

A fantastic range/stove

Some really interesting seed pods - we don't have these in the UK and I'd be interested to know what they are.

Neat scarecrow!

Decorative arts in the Victorian drawing room...

Egyptian keyhole door architrave design

A corn (maize) store, roof overhangs so that when it rains the corn doesn't get wet.

An old threshing machine being demonstrated.

Wild turkeys!!!

Chipmunk scavenging the extra chicken food

One of the old homes - Norwegian, I think

Interior objects

A headless chicken! And you thought they were objects of myth & legend???

Cotswold sheep - a very rare breed in the US, slightly less rare in the UK

Old farm tool being demonstrated by volunteer

The barn, where there is a restaurant on the lower level, serving good food at reasonable prices