Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wales - 11/12 March 2006

National Botanic Gardens of WalesOur weekend trips away have begun now that winter has been declared ‘officially finished’. So, we set off to visit the National Botanical Gardens of Wales, naturally, this entailed a trip to Wales. The gardens were only opened in 2000 and so still need some time to develop and mature but nevertheless were worth the visit and will merit a return visit in the summer when more plants are at their best. Great glasshouse

Barnadesia caryophyllaThe glasshouse (biggest single span glasshouse in the world) is visually stunning both inside and out.

Paxton's TowerThe gardens are on the site of a ‘great house’ (burnt down in 1931) owned in 1700’s by William Paxton, who also built a tower overlooking the area so it was the tower we visited next. Talley Abbey

After checking in to our accommodation we cast about on the map and saw an Abbey not far away so set out to visit Talley Abbey, passing through an attractive town, Llandeilo.

Church at Caerwent
Roadside vistaThe weather forecast indicated that there would be overnight snow in the area of Wales that we would be journeying through to return to London. As we neared Cardiff it was indeed an attractive vista along the motorway sides. Having visited Castell Coch previously we suspected that is would look good with a dusting of snow so detoured off the motorway to check it out. Castell Coch

The next detour off our homeward route was to Caerwent, an ancient Roman town where the remains of the Roman walls still encircle most of the village, in places up to 5m high. Caerwent wallsWe walked around the walls and then visited the church porch where, in a example of modern ecumenicalism, there is displayed a Roman altar to the god Mars Ocelus originally erected by one Aelius Augustinus who ‘willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.’ Mars Ocelus altar

By the time we reached the Severn River there was no evidence of a snow to be seen. However, the snow we did enjoy was the tail-end of a storm which caused havoc in Scotland and the north of England so perhaps our official declaration of winter’s end was a little premature.

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