A great day to be in Wales

Have we mentioned the Rugby World Cup? Well spirits were definitely high here in Cardiff after Saturday’s upset victory over England, with glorious weather proving that the gods are definitely smiling on Wales this week.

We arrived this morning from Bath, and immediately set out to learn more about the Welsh, old and new. Our adventure began at the St. Fagan’s National History Museum, one of those open air folk museums where representative historic building are collected and displayed. Slate, wool, and coal made this area, and we saw many buildings featuring slate in ways that would cost a fortune in other parts of the world. Imagine a slate picket fence. Lovely cottages, stonework and furnishings. Can I please have a Welsh dresser?

How fascinating to learn that cockfighting was a standard form of entertainment, and that there was a standard building for the venue.

Our favorites were the old shops and the old tea room where we lunched (welsh rarebit, of course). The centerpiece of the park is St. Fagan’s Castle, considered one of the finest Elizabethan manor houses in Wales, with lovely grounds.

The most charming building we explored was the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, built near Caerphilly in 1917 and serving as the social and cultural focus of that mining community. One can just imagine the impassioned committee meetings taking place in this men-only bastion of self-management and self-improvement.

You can only do so much in one day, so in the remainder of our time, we took a look at the outside of Cardiff Castle and walked through the city. The original castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort, and was possibly commissioned by William the Conqueror, forming the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff. Lots of changes since then, but it’s still impressive, even with a rugby ball bursting through its walls.

Cardiff, you’ve been a great introduction to Wales!


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