I guess I have 2 homes – my current Aussie home and my Welsh home where I grew up. Being 4 years since my last visit, a trip to my home in South Wales was well over due, so I decided to brave the British Winter and go home for Christmas. I invited Ian to come with me, so he could experience a “real” Christmas. Being hot in Sydney, this time of year, is just wrong!!! And, for a change, Ian would be the one talking funny, not me!!!!
In between the festive celebrations we did a bit of sight-seeing. It is strange being a tourist in your own country and also interesting seeing it through a non-local eyes. Even though Australia has one of the oldest cultures, there is not much history. Ian therefore was keen to see some castles.
Here are the castles we visited in South Wales (plus a ringer), but there are many, many more, if only we had had more time.
I know it has been awhile since I last visited my motherland, but I just need to clarify that I haven’t got senile and forgotten my British geography. Oxford is not in Wales, but I just had to include its castle in this blog.
I decided to stop at Oxford on route to Wales as Ian loves old buildings and I thought he would just love exploring the university. However, after looking at the tourist information map, I discover tucked away on the outskirts of the main shopping centre was a castle. I have been to Oxford many times, but amazingly I never knew it had a castle.
Not much of the castle remains today as it was destroyed in the English Civil War, but in the 18th century the standing buildings were converted into a prison. To learn more we decided to do the Oxford Unlocked Tour, which is led by a costumed character of ye olde times. It was a fascinating tour covering mainly St Georges Tower and the history of the old prison.
I originally lived on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, which is a stunning national park. Unfortunately, the day I took Ian there, the weather was typically Welsh (wet and grey), so he couldn’t really appreciate its beauty. However, we did manage to spot two castles – and again I never knew they were there.
Tretower Castle was closed for visitors, so we could only appreciate it from afar and take some piccies.
I could not let Ian visit Wales and not take him to Cardiff, the capital. Surprise, surprise, the day was spent at Cardiff Castle.
We did a tour of the castle lodging, which was fully refurbished in the late 19th century. The owner William Bute certainly had a very interesting taste in decor. It was way too gaudy for my taste, I certainly won’t be decorating my flat in that style any time soon.
I loved the castle walls and was amazed to discover that they were actually used as air-raid shelters in World War II. You can walk through the walls, where inside the World War II conditions have reproduced. I personally found it very interesting.
On climbing Cardiff castle’s keep, my favourite castle as a child could be seen in a far, far away land. This was the Fairy Castle, or more officially known as Castle Coch, but disappointingly there are no fairies.
The last castle of our trip in Wales was Raglan and coincidentally one of the last medieval ones built in Wales. Much to Ian’s dismay, it was only a quick stop on route to St Albans where we were spending New Year.
Out of all the castles we visited Raglan Castle was my favourite. Even though it was deliberately damaged after the English civil war, it is still in a pretty good nick and you can imagine how grand this castle once was.
It is amazing when I lived in the UK I didn’t really pay much attention to the castles, but there seems to be one round every corner. It was fun and interesting being a tourist in Wales.
Have you ever been a tourist in your home town?