Last weekend my friend put out a probe on facebook to see if anyone wanted to go to Cardiff. I jumped on the chance to get out of London and add another country and another town or two to my list.
We left early Friday afternoon, getting into Cardiff just after noon. The weekend was grey, a bit damp and foggy, though the sun did peak out from behind a could to say hi while we ate lunch in Caerphilly. London is vibrant and busy, quick paced and a bit dirty. Cardiff, while having the advantage of being on the seaside, was clean smelling and a bit more calm. Some of that might be due to the nightly rain we were getting. We didn’t let the damp stop us though. In less than 3 days we saw 4 castles – okay, 3 castles and a manor house where a castle used to be.
Our first castle was on Saturday morning, we jumped on a local bus and jumped off again when we found ourselves in Caerphilly. That morning on the castle grounds re-enactors were having a tournament. After wandering through and climbing over (in my case) the ruins, we found ourselves crossing a draw bridge to a field filled with people dressed in garments ranging from Viking to renaissance. Halfway across the bridge my friend and I ran into another group just out to see the castle.
Little Girl: Why aren’t they dressed?
Mother: Because, uh, they’re normal people sweetheart.
I didn’t have the heart to tell the mother that I’d have dressed up if given the chance, I also had to hide a snort of laughter as to not make the little girl think her question had been ridiculous… because really I was laughing at the mother’s response. Once on the field one of the “knights” came up to me and jokingly asked if I’d like to participate. Before I continue, I’d just like to point out that I’m revealing my geeky underbelly to you all here by saying this. I’m fairly certain he wasn’t expecting an enthusiastic yes. Nor was he expecting me to say I’d taken broad sword lessons, or that I’d done full contact swordplay with fake weaponry. It’s just not something you expect from a 5 foot nothing girl. He did invite me to duel after the tournament, but I couldn’t convince my friend to stay.
After Caerphilly we went to Castell Coch. It was pretty, but most definitely not in ruins. It doesn’t surprise me, but out of all the castles I’ve seen, the ones in ruins have been my favourite. Sunday we found ourselves at Castell Caerdydd (Cardiff Castle), which is a strange mix of ruins on top of ruins, and some not very ruin like bits. Our last stop before heading back to London was Saint Fagans – A Museum of Welsh Life. It’s what you call a living museum. An old plot of land, that used to have a castle (a manor house stands on the ruins) and a small village have been kept up and rebuilt. People work their re-enacting life as it would have been hundreds of years ago in Wales.