Thursday, 28 February 2013

Symonds Yat Rock & Last Day..

This was our lovely view from the cabin, I'm going to be really sad to leave here, its been so peaceful here and relaxing and just exactly what we all needed. Going to miss my afternoon tea sat on the sofa looking out into the forest :-(

But as it was our last full day and it turned out to be much milder and brighter than the previous few days we headed out of the cabin and walked down to the River Wye-so peaceful and pretty. I love walking near the water. The children were happy and relaxed too, chatting about Pokemon with each other and finding sticks and spotting little caves, chatting about Lord of the Rings and Toilken. These are the things I appreciate about having older children, I'm much more relaxed and not having to have a constant eye on them and they are such good walkers. They love being in the fresh air and looking for things.

We got to this point and it was lovely, we were about 1 and 1/2 miles into our walk and it had all been downhill or flat. Then we saw the sign for Syman's Yat Rock , it was only 1/2 a mile but ALL uphill.

Bailey and Ruben powered up ahead-they love being first! The views were incredibly beautiful despite the toughness of the climb! Think we are slightly out of practice at hill walking, its been a long while since we did the Kinder Scout 8 mile walk!

Syman's Yat Rock has been a popular viewpoint for years and the Victorians used to enjoy boat rides on the River Wye before climbing up to the rock. The views are epic and its one of only a few spots where you can see a pair Peregrine Falcons nesting-unfortunately we didn't catch sight of any but there were quite a few people with very large telescopic cameras waiting for a good shot.

It was a very flat 2 miles back to the cabin but lovely to have been able to do such a beautiful walk and go back to the cabin without having to take the car out at all. I think Tallulah may miss this place more than us, its a dogs dream to be walked so much on a daily basis and come home to underfloor heating. I think she will be dreaming of this place for weeks! Am sad to go home tomorrow but have had such a lovely week and am so excited for the rest of what 2013 has in store for us and our four pesky hobbits...

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Brecon, Merthyr Tydfil & Cyfarthfa Castle

We picked what was possibly one of the worst days of our week to drive through the beautiful Brecon Beacons, there was a terrible fog and it was pretty impossible to see anything at all much. After 10 years of being the sole driver for us its very bizarre being the passenger in our car. Hubby has been driving now for nearly 6 months and thanks to his job has already clocked up an impressive 11,000 miles but I'm finding it very difficult being a passenger and admit to be a total pain in the arse. I know I'd want to kick me out of the car with all my commentary and constant foot pressing to the floor-It took me a while to realise I was even doing that-oops! Anywho...

Brecon-was a very beautiful town and I can only imagine how hugely popular it must be during the warmer, summer months. The museum and art gallery was in a beautiful building but sadly was shut for restoration and may not open until 2015! Would have been nice to have a warm up inside but never mind.

The church in Brecon

After a small walk round and buying a welsh memento for our home we headed back to the car for lunch and to warm up!

Then hubby drove us to Merthyr Tydfil. It was once the Iron Capital of the world but unfortunately it was short lived wealth for the inhabitants of Merthyr Tydfil. We had a walk around the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum gardens with Tallulah before putting her in the car for a nap whilst we headed inside.

It was a really lovely building and the staff were really friendly and helpful too-no questions of "No school today?" which is always a MASSIVE bonus. Inside the museum we first we went down into the basement which was pretty damp and cold but full of lots of Merthyr's history including the iron boom.

Cordelia tries out a jail cell.....

I loved this room-it was blue, full of china and circular-what's not to love? Cordelia loved it for an entirely different reason, however, can you spot the large rocking horse at the back?? Had to physically remove her from it!

Round Room

They have a huge collection of artefacts including the first steam whistle, dresses by Laura Ashley and Julien MacDonald (who were both born in Wales) and the first voting ballot box. 
The castle was originally built in 1824 and owned by William Crawshay or "The Ironmaster" as he was known, it originally overlooked the ironworks and has been described as "the most impressive monument of the industrial iron age in South Wales". It was also used as a school before becoming a museum. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Forest of Dean & The Hunt for Wild Boar

Despite us being here several days we'd still not had chance to have a walk in the Forest of Dean, it was SO cold and we kept hoping it would get a little warmer...But hey ho its February-what can you do? So we wrapped up warm and headed out. Plus point of the weather and obviously with it being term-time is that is was very quiet, so quiet in fact that whilst walking we didn't pass another soul. I like that.

The part of the forest we began walking was a sculpture park but apart from this huge chair we didn't actually see any of the other sculptures and I was a little disappointed perhaps because our Sculpture Park is so good at home?!

The girls were very happy to find this lovely swing

And a secret hideout

And some very fresh wild boar prints in the mud. Unfortunately, this was a close as we got to spotting any real wild boar but to be honest I was a little relieved as they can be quite big!

A quick play in the deserted playground and a cup of hot tea for me and then it was time to get back in the car. Too cold for long walks but I'm so looking forwards to some good walks later in the year!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Gloucester Cathedral & Harry Potter Film Location

Again I've never been to Gloucester either so was very happy to have a trip here, I love visiting new places! The first place we headed for was the Cathedral, it was a very impressive building. It has been a place of Christian worship for over 1300 years. I should add that I'm not religious but I do love religious buildings and I'm pretty open-minded towards religion, I find churches very peaceful places.

The altar and beautiful stained glass windows.

We were very fortunate as we entered the church that one of the volunteers offered to show us where scenes of the Harry Potter films were shot! We had no idea that the cathedral had been used in the films and needless to say this perked up the children, who to be honest, were a little bored, not sharing hubby and I's passion for architecture :-(

As the lady was a huge fan of Harry Potter too she was really enthusiastic as she explained how they managed to make parts of the cathedral look like Hogwart's. There was quite a lot of work involved as they had to cover up the stained glass windows and gravestones on the floors. In one part of the cathedral they had to flood the floor for a scene in the film "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets". She also said the local school children were used as part of Hogwart's-which must have been very exciting!

Above. Harry and Ron hid behind these arches whilst overhearing a conversation between Malfoy and Snape.

The centre of the cathedral, a really peaceful spot

Piper standing in the doorway where the Fat Lady's painting was, which was the door to the Griffindor Common Room

Piper walking down the corridor used for Hogwart's

Piper was really excited!

Would highly recommend a visit for Potter fans :)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Cardiff Bay

After we had walked around Cardiff we jumped back in the car for a warm up and decided to follow the brown tourism signs to Cardiff Bay. There were lots of very cool and impressive buildings here and it was great admiring all the different architecture.

We spotted the Dr Who experience but as it was already late in the day and we had Tallulah with us we had to put it on our list for next time. Its a shame as all of the children really love Dr Who and if you ask them what they will be doing Easter Sunday their answer would be "Egg hunt and then watching the new Dr Who episode with chocolate"...

Love the red brick on this building

Before I saw this sculpture I had no idea Ivor Novello (or David Ivor Davies-his real name) was born here. He was a famous Welsh composer, singer and actor, one of his best known songs "Keep the Home Fires Burning" was popular during World War One. This sculpture was unveiled in 2009 outside Wales Millennium Centre.

The Ivor Novello awards are for celebrating British song writing and composing and have been going for over 50 years. The plinth has names of the musicals he wrote:

I have always wanted to see this building and it wasn't disappointing in real life-it's huge! I loved how different coloured slate has been used at the side (you can't see it in this picture though). I love the colour scales of slate.

You can see the reflection of the slate in this photo though, along with Ruben and his friend Piplup.

Whilst looking out over the bay we saw two cormorants.

And this very beautiful Norwegian Church! It was built in 1868 for the thousands of Norwegian sailors employed in the Norwegian merchant fleet. It was the oldest surviving church in Britain to be founded by the Norwegian Seaman's Mission and was the centre of Scandinavian religion, culture and tradition. The bell tower (at the other side and not really visible from this photo) was added in 1885.

That pretty much summed up our trip to Cardiff Bay as it was very, very cold and so we didn't stay too long before heading back to the car.


This completes our capital cities of mainland UK, this year we have visited London and in 2009 we visited Edinburgh-we really need to visit again soon though be great if it was this year at some point.

Anyway back to Cardiff. It was nice and quiet as it was Sunday and so we had a walk around the town centre, most of the shops were shut which seemed strange for a capital city but some of the architecture was really stunning. Including the National Museum of Wales.

I spy a dragon!
Oh and another one!
Not sure what tree this sculpture is holding but we thought it was cool
Cardiff Castle
A very beautiful church in the town centre, not sure what year it was built but it looked incredibly old.
Inside the museum, there were dinosaurs!

Woolly mammoths

Basking shark

Having a sisterly moment

Ruben checks out the oldest rock in the world

We had a walk through the impressive art collection where we saw paintings by Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, John Piper. The art collection was donated to the museum by the Davies sisters-Gwendoline & Margaret Davies. Wonder if the girls will amount such a collection between them??

My favourite was this painting :
La Pariseinne by Renoir
The Parisian Girl