Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Carreg Cennen

Carreg Cennen castle, near Llandeilo.
The castle is built on a huge rock, and there is a sheer drop on the other side...
It was a wild, wet & windy day, and I didn't take too many photographs.
If you want to know more, check this site out:

The walls are pretty dilapidated - the 'doorway' near the person is actually the exit shute from the garderobe (toilet) in the apartments high above...

A good example of an arrow slit, also showing how thick the walls are.

A close up of some of the stonework (apologies for raindrops on lens!).

A musket hole - unlike the arrow slit you don't seem
to be able to see who/what you are firing at...

The walkway down to the cave.... which was steep, dark, and spooky!

The cave entrance, we didn't venture in too far,
as our torch batteries were running low.

Deeper and deeper - next time I visit,
I will take a wind-up torch, and go deeper into the cave....

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Cricieth Castle

The castle from afar - don't forget you can click on photos to enlarge them and have a closer look! Once upon a time, this castle would have been rendered with lime mortar and limewashed white, so it would have been a visible from a long way away. This castle was built in 1230, and was obviously difficult for enemies to approach without being seen.

The view of the front entrance to the castle, from the outside.

The view of the front entrance to the castle, from the inside. Much of this castle is ruined.

You can see the holes in the wall where the ends of huge wooden beams
once were, supporting a floor.

Wonder where the stairway originally went?

Looking from the castle at Cricieth town - notice the differences between the roofs - the original roofs are in local slate, the refurbished darker ones are not. Sad that it is cheaper and easier to import slate form China and other far away places than to bring it 20 miles from the local slate mines.

The view of Snowdonia from the castle

Trip to north Wales

Travelling north from Brecon, after 50 miles or so I reach Llanidloes, and find this old market hall right in the middle of town. It's amazing it has survived so well when you see how much traffic travels around it each day.

Leaving Llanidloes on a small mountain road, this is the view of the Dylife valley.
Photographs somehow don't capture how breathtaking it looks when you are there!

A view of the upland area between Llanidloes & Machynlleth

Llyn Clweddog, which has a scenic drive around it, and is also used for yachting

Beautiful, isn't it?

A viewpoint along the way - on really clear days you can further,
and can also see Snowdon - but too hazy for that today!

Another photo taken from almost the same spot

This is the building in Machynlleth where Owain Glyndwr
held the first all-Wales parliament. Built in the late 1400s.

The road between Machynlleth & Corris. We're in Snowdonia now. Splendid view?

An old tin building in Blaenau Ffestiniog. They don't make them like this any more!
This town developed around slate mines, which used to be very labour intensive. Slate mining isn't what it used to be, and there is also much more mechanisation, so this town has plenty of unemployed and is quite deprived these days.

Looking north from Blaenau Ffestiniog - the mountains of Snowdonia are getting closer

Looking south from Anglesey to Snowdonia near the end of the day. This journey has been about 120 miles, and took 3 and a half hours. Most Welsh roads are more for enjoying the view than for getting anywhere fast!

A Snowdonia sunrise....

Saturday, 15 December 2007

A local journey

I had to travel about 25 miles east of Brecon for a meeting, and as it was a beautiful day, I thought I would stop the car and take a photo every 5 miles. The countryside in this area of Wales is not as dramatic as that of north Wales, but is beautiful in its own way.

This photo, 5 miles into the journey, was taken at the gates
of Peterstone Court (beautiful hotel with great restaurant!),
and shows the Brecon Beacons in the background.

A view of Bwlch, a small village between Brecon & Crickhowell.
All Welsh place names tell you something about their
location - 'bwlch' means 'gap' or 'pass'
nd the location of this village is in a pass between two valleys.

15 miles from home. A dead tree with a charm all of its own...

A second shot from the 15 mile point - the roadside trees and hedges prevented me from getting a good short of the surrounding countryside, so I looked up... and found a rookery.

20 miles from home. This is a view from the road leading up the hill from Abergavenny to Blaenavon - looking back at where I had travelled from - the mountain on the right is known as the 'Sugarloaf'.

At the top of the hill - Wales's own version of Ayers Rock!!!!
Actually a mountain of coal dust and spoil form a disused mine.
The wind and rain have carved it over the years.

I cheated - these last 2 shots were not 5 miles further along. They were taken at the same spot that the coal spoil heap was, I turned around and thought the views were too good not to show.

I often think about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful country.
I hope you enjoyed sharing a small corner of it.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Castell Coch, near Cardiff, Wales

This is one of my favourite places on the planet. It is a magical fairy castle, built in the late 1800s on top of, and using the foundations of, earlier castles on the site. William Burgess took the original floor plans of earlier buildings and constructed this magnificent edifice on top. He researched medieval castles and built his own version, but with fantastically decorated interiors. Even visiting on a bleak, very rainy day with gale force winds battering em didn't diminish my enthusiasm! The castle sits in woodland on a hillside overlooking Cardiff, and can be seen from the nearby motorway, looking ethereally beautiful.

A closer view of the two towers.

The front of the castle - can you imagine trying to get into this place uninvited? The ramp up to the castle is part ramp, but the top part is a drawbridge. There is no moat, but there is a big ditch!

The red wooden structure high above the door is called a hourd - it is a place where people defending the castle could drop/throw heavy objects, boiling oil, flaiming arrows etc onto unwary attackers.

The doorbell!!!!

An arrow slit on the upper floor - these long thin slits allowed archers to fire arrows at attackers whilst keeping themselves relatively safe.

The portcullis, hanging above the doorway. If castles were attacked, they dropped the portcullis so the attackers couldn't get to the main doors with axes or fire.

In the ceiling, either side of the portcullis, are 'murder holes'. These are holes from which the castle defenders can drop nasty things - boiling oil, burning rags, big stones - onto their attackers, while the attackers are trying to get past the portcullis.

The winch for winding the portcullis up and down.

The chains holding the portcullis up.
This castle has absolutely marvellous interiors, as shown in the next few photographs.

The drawing room ceiling. I could lie on the floor of this room and spend hours gazing at the beautifully painted birds & butterflies, and then just move my eyes down a degree or two to admire the fresco between the ceiling and picture rail. This room is absolutely overwhelming. I think you would have to spend days in it to see everything, but maybe that would be too much for the senses!

Details of the zodiac tiles within the fireplace. This room is so over the top and full of decorative detail!

Above the panelling, there is a mural which depicts Aesop's Fables. The custodians tell me they have identified 12 separate fables, although the guidebook only mentions 3. The artwork is fabulous.

The panelling in the drawing room is luxurious and elegant. Each set of 3 panels depicts a plant from the roots up to the top. Each set is different, and they are all hand painted.

The banqueting hall is superbly decorated, and has a splendid fireplace featuring St Lucius. There are murals of saints & martyrs at each end of the room, and a wonderful painted vaulted wooden ceiling. This photo gives an idea of the painted walls, and some of the stained glass.

The traditional Welsh Dresser, where the crockery was stored, and you can see the serving hatches to the left, these lead directly into the passage between the kitchen and the banqueting hall.

The kitchen table and cooking range.
Even the cupboards have been designed to look medieval.

Lady Bute's bedroom, showing some of the furniture. The ceiling of this room is a huge dome, with plenty of gold leafed woodwork, surrounding a huge pomegranate tree full of monkeys!

I could lie on the bed and stare at the ceiling for weeks on end... the artwork is just fantastic!

Lady Bute's dressing/washing table.

A close up of the bowl set into the dresser.

What a bed! Love the crystal balls on each post...

Lady Margaret's bedroom.

Lady Margaret's bath & dresser with jug & bowl.

Lord Bute's bedroom wall decorations.

Lord Bute's toilet - pre flushing, had to be emptied regularly.

The dungeon - who knows whether it was ever used?

Above is the model showing the back of the castle.

Below is the model showing the front of the castle.

Anyway, having had a taste of what this special castle is like, take the 360 degree tour - just don't make yourself travel sick by moving your cursor too quickly!!! And don't forget to look at the ceilings - they are spectacular!!!