BeenThere-DoneThat Blog

A blog about life and travel in Great Britain

Carnival Capers

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The last Saturday in August every year sees the Knighton Carnival. I realise that you will all be disappointed not to have been able to attend so we were there for you.

The various groups and floats assemble in or near the old Market Place so we went there first.

There were many colourful groups together with a lot of people milling about including the rather suspicious characters below.

This is Derek Price the official Knighton Town Crier, resplendant in all his finery, who also happens to be a neighbour of ours. Oyez, Oyez.

We then went down to the clocktower to wait for the procession. Whist we were waitng a mounted policeman appeared; something we've not seen in Knighton before. Probably there to keep the local troublemakers (Me and Amanda) in order.

Finally the procession appeared with a great variety of groups representing many different themes such as the Trojan Horse below and that's a pretty good cardboard horse. I think that most of them are self-explanatory.

The last thing in the procession was a vintage coach.

There were, as you can probaby see, a goodly number of people lining the main street and a few other places as well. Even the weather behaved itself.

See you next year then.

Moor and More

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August has been a dismal month. Cloudy and cool a lot of the time and you would never have guessed that it was supposed to be summer so on the very few occasions when the sun did appear we jumped at the chance to go out somewhere.

About 16 years ago around the time that this web site was started we 'discovered' Carding Mill Valley in the Long Mynd near Church Stretton and, having looked on the map, it was evident that there was a walking route shapped like a 'Y' where one could start at the bottom of the Y, walk up taking the left fork, where it divided, then walk across to the other arm of the 'Y' and walk back down to where one had started.

I've always wanted to do that walk but have never managed it until today. The weather forecast was clear skies for most, if not all, of the day. They were lying as usual. Although we had a very good amount of sun the sky was anything but cloudless. We set off for Church Stretton and were planning to come down into Church Stretton via the Burway. This is a very minor road which goes over the Long Mynd.

The picture below was taken on the way up and you may notice that on the right-hand side of the road the ground drops away suddenly. On the way up that drop is on our left and, although not vertical, the drop is very steep and you really wouldn't want to drive off the edge. The road is only one car wide so if another car comes from the opposite direction one must find a passing place and, for us being on the left, we have to take great care squeezing past so as not to go off the edge.

We did meet a car coming the other way and we survived.

We eventually arrived at the top to be greeted by a large expanse of moor with heather scattered here and there not to mention the amazing view.

I stopped to take this next picture because somewhere down in the dip is Church Stretton and the heather looked wonderful.

As we progressed downward we could see the hills around Church Stretton and there was still plenty of heather in view.

As we descended we gradually lost the heather but the hills still looked pretty impressive. In the picture below the buildings in the trees at the end of that ridge is Church Stretton and, if you remember, we are planning to walk back up here not to mention down again.

We finally made it to Church Streeton and drove into the National Trust car park in Carding Mill Valley and went into their restaurant for lunch. We both had some Pea and Mint Soup, with bread, which was very tasty and very welcome. Afterwards I had some Bread Pudding and Amanda had a Chocolate Brownie which was followed by tea for her and coffe for me.

Now we walk! surprise

The picture below shows the start of the path, near the car park, up the valley.

In the picture below we have reached the banch in the 'Y' and are going left behind that tree and, we hope, we will be coming back down the path on the right.

When we got to that junction we stopped and looked back at the view in the picture below then headed further up the valley with its interlocking spurs (Geography) in the picture after that.

We finally arrived at the little waterfall. Here we go off to the right up a near vertical climb. It is rockywhich makes it very easy because it's like going up stone steps. We managed that without incident and continued along the valley until we reached the high moorland once again although not in a car this time..

We found a pond up here and Amanda apparently found something interesting to look at. Probably she was bending down for a rest but didn't want to admit it.

We walked along the high ground until we found the start of the path down and you can see that we weren't the only walkers about. You may be able to see Church Stretton in the distance.

As we get lower there is less heather around.

More interlocking spurs in the picture below and although we are losing the heather it is still in evidence.

Finally we arrive back at the junction of the two arms of the 'Y'. Remember that little tree by the path at the bottom there?

You will have guessed that we made it back to the car otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. August is not a good time to come to a place like this as the lower parts are very popular and the children are on holiday so everyone and his dog are there but we wanted to see the heather and, guess what, heather blooms in August.

Well it took me just 16 years to achieve my ambition but I finally made it. laughyes

Nature’s Kaleidoscope

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If you don't like gardens, flowers or bright colours look away now!

This is Hergest Croft Gardens in Kington, Herefordshire. These are mostly Rhododendrons and Azaleas so you'd have to go at the right time of year to see these in blossom but wouldn't it be worth it? It certainly was to us.

There are many other plants, including rare trees, in this garden of over 70 acres and not only that but there are numerous lovely views.

This garden is only a short drive from us and we enjoyed our visit very much. So much so that Amanda decided to buy an annual ticket so that she can go again whenever she likes.

P.S. I have a confession to make. We did this trip about two months ago and I created this post soon after that but then forgot to upload it – Oops! I have now corrected that error. Sorry it's so late. blush

We drove the 2.5 miles from Pembridge to Eardisland and, as in Pembridge, we crossed the River Arrow again although, this time, it was on the far side of the village for us. The bridge dates from around 1800.

Once again there is a free visitors car park on the main road through the village almost opposite the Dovecote and there were plenty of spaces but, unlike Pembridge, no public toilets. The Dovecote, dating from the late 17th/early 18th century is shown below and is open to the public. It functions as an information and exhibition centre for the village offering interesting historical displays and information on the area alongside a shop selling local produce. There is no entry charge.

Moving to the right of the Dovecote we can see the side of the Manor House with a front view below.

The Manor House dates from the 17th century with what appears to a a geogian extension added to the front. Turning to our left, away from the side view of the Manor House, we look back past the Dovecote towards another road bridge.

If we go into the Dovecote we see at the back of the interior a small staircase and going to the bottom of the stairs and looking up will show a small part of what we could see if we went upstairs.

Arriving upstairs we can see the whole point of the place; a huge number of nesting places for the doves and I understand that they numbered well over 600 although there are no doves there now.

Amanda is trying to asses, from the depth of water, what would happen if she fell in. In the background is the 17th century Millstream Cottage and the water is, naturally enough, the mill stream.

Dating from the early 13th century is the Church of St Mary the Virgin. Some parts such as the Chancel and South Porch were built in the 14th century. The original Tower, of probable 15th Century origin, collapsed in 1728 and was replaced by the present one in 1760. The whole church was restored in 1864.

Eardisland turned out to be very pretty little village and well worth a visit. Unlike the church we haven't been restored so we will now have to return home for a rest.

 

There is an area in Herefordshire known as the Black and White Villages and there is also a Black and White Villages Trail which is meant for motoring not walking. We last visited about 12 years ago on a day trip from Ludlow and the results from that are already on the web site. That previous visit was before the blog was started so there is no blog entry for it. This time it was a 30 minute drive from home so we were able to have a much more leisurely look round especially as we were re-visiting only two of the villages.

Both villages, Pembridge and Eardisland, are situated on the River Arrow.

Part 1.

We started in Pembridge and we had to cross the River Arrow to get into the village and this is the bridge we used. It is not very old having been built in the 19th century but is attractive nevertheless.

There is a small, free, car park with access down the roadway next to the King's House in East Street and there was plenty of room. There is a small sign, easily missed, pointing to it from the main road and there are also public toilets in the car park which had disabled facilities and were nice and clean.

The entrance to the public car park can be seen on the right. The King's House is a restaurant, not open on a Monday when we were there of course, and dates from the 15th century. This building is a sign of things to come. This next picture is in East Street looking towards West Street and showing the front corner of the King's House on the right. You should be able to see a number of black & white timber-framed buildings.

I think we'll need to do a bit of exploring don't you?

How's that for a start? The building on the right is the New Inn so called because it was new when it was built in the 17th century. Can you think of a better reason?

A market charter was granted to Pembridge in 1239 and just behind the New Inn is the early 16th century Market Hall.

Standing in the Market Square it doesn't look like a hall as it isn't enclosed but that's because the upper storey was removed at an unknown date. Pity really as it would have looked pretty impressive with an upper storey.

Although these villages are known as the black and white villages, with good reason, not all of the buildings are black and white. This next picture shows a row of black and white buildings broken by one cream washed, jettied building.

The picture above shows a timber-framed building with red brick infill and the one to its right, an early 15th century hall house known as West End Farm, has a pinkish cream wash on the walls. This was one of the earliest domestic buildings in Pembridge. The multitude of other timber-framed buildings in Pembridge date to the 15th century.

The church here is also unusual in that it has a separate bell tower which dates from the 13th century. The current church dates from the 13th century with alterations in the 14th century century.

The bell tower has to be seen to be believed. The main timbers are enormous and from the look of them they are whole trees squared off.

The church also has some very interesting interior features. There are mason's marks in the picture below – can you spot them?

There are also some medievel wall paintings. One on the wall behind the organ and one on the wall of the nave. Not in the best of condition but they are visible in spite of being around 600 years old.

Just outside the church door is a delightful view across the churchyard to the village and the hills beyond.

That is the end of part one covering Pembridge. Part two will be Eardisland.

 

Tipula maxima

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No, I'm not being obscene.

We had two of these in the house/conservatory today.

It is a rather large Crane Fly. Crane Flies normally have clear, rather boring, wings; but not this one. We think that this particular species, Tipula maxima, is rather attractive. I can imaginge that many people would think that they might sting or bite but, no, they are completely inoffensive. We put them back outside.

Amanda took the photograph.

March through the Arch

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This is the arch that we are about to march through.

It was a lovely day and this is only a 40 minute drive from home so, having parked the car, here we are. We march through the arch and after a short while we turn and look back at the arch from the inside.

There's a nice flower border alongside the path and we can see that the arch is nothing more than a gateway in a wall between two towers. Admittedly the wall and towers have battlements; so is it a castle? Well, yes and no.

A little further along the path and we stop to admire this Laburnham tree and we notice some buildings ahead.

A little further along the path we round a bend and here we are.

This is Croft Castle near the village of Yarpole in Herefordshire. It may have 'castle' in its name but it's no longer a castle but a country mansion in the style of a castle. A castle was built on this site by the Croft family in the 11th centuiry but it has been considerably altered since. The outside walls date from the 15th century and there are four round towers at each corner which, although castle-like, are too slender to act as defensive structures. It is now owned by the National Trust.

There are 1500 acres of parkland. That is quite a lot of land and we didn't have time to explore it but we can always go back.

Next to the house is the Chapel of St. Michael, dating from the 13th century, which contains the tomb of Richard Croft[6] and his wife Eleanor .

We wandered round the outside until we were almost back where we started and then discovered the walled garden. It's not really that obvious and it would be a great loss to have missed it. For a walled garden it is huge. We can't remember the exact size but it must be around four acres. How something that size can feel tucked away I don't know; but it does.

There is topiary.

There is also a very large greenhouse.

And not content with those features there is a small vineyard.

An astonishing walled garden but now it's time to have a look inside methinks.

These are three of the main rooms.

I particularly liked this table where the top is comprised of pebbles sliced through and polished. Very geological and very attractive. I want one.

We really enjoyed that trip and will probably go again.

The Other End – Day 4

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Today is our last day in Swansea and we wake this morning with wall to wall cloud.. Are they trying to tell us something? The cloud wasn't a surprise as it was foretold in the weather forecast and we always belive those don't we? We planned for this so it was going to be museum day. We packed our things after breakfast, paid the bill and left our one case with reception until we were ready to leave Swansea.

Each day we had come out of the hotel and turned left to start our adventures so we turned right instead. We could see on the map that in this direction the road went down to the river so we went to explore. We found a nicely designed footbridge and something we didn't expect. Whenever we were in the Marina area we often saw the pointed top of something white poking up above the buildings in the distance and now we know what it was.

We didn't stay here for long because we had plenty to do so we moved off towards the Swansea Museum; our next stop. You might notice that I didn't take this next photgraph today. Because of its situation the front of the museum faces almost north and the only time the front is in sunlight is around 7:00 AM so I was up early yesterday to get this photograph. This is the oldest museum in Wales and the building was built for the Royal Institution of South Wales in 1841 in the neo-classical style. Entrance is free.

This horizontal duplex steam engine from a lead rolling mill in the Lower Swansea Valley, built 1901, was outside in the grounds.

Back inside one of the galleries was dedicated to the first world war. It had this simulation of a trench together with many other related exhibits.

Another gallery was dedicated to pottery from South Wales. The display cases run along each side of the gallery and across the end showcasing many varied exhibts.

There was a small room on the first floor containing this mummy plus related items. This is Hor who was a clothier priest and scribe of the God Atum.  In the daily ritual of the temple it was his duty to change the clothing on the holy statue of the God.  He lived in Akhmim in Upper Egypt between 250-200 B.C. during the Ptolemaic Dynasty and was named after the God Horus. The mummy was gifted to Swansea Museum in 1888 by Field-Marshal Lord Francis Grenfell who was born in the St. Thomas area of Swansea in 1841.

This typical Victorian display must contain a great number of invertebrates, most of which appear to be butterflies, with an obvious large spider in the centre.

We moved on a short distance to the National Waterfront Museum. This is a large modern building on the edge of the Marina next to the Tram Shed. This is part of the National Museum Wales whereas the previous museum and the Tram Shed are part of the Swansea Museum as are the two old vessels floating in the Marina outside the Waterfront Museum.

You wouldn't get me up in this thing. It reminds me of a flying bycycle.

Built in Maindy, Cardiff, between 1907 and 1909, Charles Horace Watkins claimed to have flown the Robin Goch on several occasions during 1910, but sadly no official record of the flights exist. What is irrefutable is that the Robin Goch was the first wholly Welsh-built aeroplane, and probably the earliest working monoplane in Britain.

Watkins himself designed the 40 HP motor, and it was forged from bits of steam engine, in the Great Western works in Roath, Cardiff.
The fuselage is hard wood, the wings are canvas and piano wire, and inside the cockpit there is a dining chair to sit on, a spirit level to check you're straight, a ball in a tube to make sure you're the right way up. Pretty primitive stuff.

This is a Benz 'Duc' Motor Car. This particular model was first registered in Monmouthshire in 1904.

This is a replica of Trevithick's Penydarren tramway locomotive. The original was built in 1803-1804 and on the 21st February 1804 it made its first 9 mile journey hauling a load of ten tons of iron together with around 70 people who hitched an unofficial ride. This was the first journey made by a steam locomitive on rails and started a world-wide revolution in railway transport.

Apparently this replica is fully working and is steamed up once a year. Typically this year it was the Saturday just before we arrived. I would certainly liked to have seen that. We did watch a video but it's not quite the same as the real thing. Next visit maybe.

Well that was the end of our visit to Swansea. We went back to our hotel to collect our case and trundled it up to the station to catch a train at about 2:30 PM. We arrive home just over 3 hours later.

SUMMARY:

I have to be honest here and say that in the past I wouldn't have given Swansea a second thought with regard to a tourist destination and it was only because our railway line ended up there that we did too. The fact that the line did go to Swansea encouraged me to do a little research on the place and I began to realise that if offered the visitor quite a lot of options. Many other potential visitors probably take my initial view and don't even consider it which is their considerable loss.

We had a lovely time and really liked the place. We would recommend it without hesitation and do intend, sometime, to go back because there is still plenty of interest that we didn't have time to see. There is a good bus service around the city and its environs so one doesn't really need a car (We didn't bring one).

There are a number of well known tourist destinations that don't have as much to offer as Swansea does and visitors flock to those but not to Swansea. I'm baffled.

I hope that there will be people out there who read this report and realise what they're missing. Swansea deserves better recognition.

The Other End – Day 3

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Wake up. Draw curtains. Wall to wall sunshine again. Whoopee. Another nice, relaxed breakfast.

Today we are going back to the bus station and catching the same bus again but we are going a little farther this time; a 20 minute journey. We alight at the first bus stop after the bus turns away from the coast road in Oystermouth which is part of Mumbles. Both names are said to be corruptions of welsh names. We walk, for just a few minutes, back to the coast. Looking straight across Swansea Bay we can see Swansea on the other side.

Looking to our left we can see buildings in Oystermouth. That rather prominent stone building on the hill is Oystermouth Castle.

Looking to our right we can see Mumbles Pier which is where we're headed. Mumbles seems to be quite a busy little place with plenty of shops and cafes and we have a slow, pleasant walk along the pedestrian/cycle path which follows the shoreline. It isn't very long before we arrive at Mumbles Pier.

Mumbles Pier is Victorian, as most piers are in this country, and is apparently privately owned. Access is free and we walked out to the decking at the outward end. That part of the pier between the shore and this deck at the outward end is in a bit of a state but it is apparently being renovated as this outer part shows.

The pier buildings on the shore are also Victorian and the left-hand end is a cafe where we had our morning coffee. It is a nice little cafe which also serves food but we didn't try that. The cafe seems to have preserved many of the original Victorian features including the chandeliers and fans.

After our brief rest we climbed the obvious steps to the top of the cliff and walked south-west past Middle Head and Mumbles Head and then looked back to this view. Mumbles Head is the one with the lighthouse on it and Middle Head is the one behind it.The lighthouse was completed in 1794 and initially two open coal fire lights were displayed which were difficult to maintain and were soon replaced by a single oil-powered light within a cast-iron lantern. The lighthouse is now unmaned.

We walked as far as Limeslade Bay and went down onto the beach where we rumaged around looking at the rocks. The rocks on the Mumbles promontory are steeply inclined and from the Carboniferous period being limestone at the seaward end and coal measures at the landward end. We found this among some of the bedrock and I don't profess to know what process would have caused it but it is very striking.

It was at this point that we made another mistake. Looking at the map it was obvious that if we went back the way that we came we would be travelling in a semi-circle whereas cutting through the side streets would be a straight line. Well it would have been if the ground had been flat so we ended up travelling in a semi-circle, but vertically, as we went up and over the hill. I should have looked more closely at the contours shouldn't I? The road down turned out to be interesting as it was obviously an old road, very narrow in places and winding all over the place.

We got there in the end and ended up at Oystermouth Castle. The castle is Norman, probably built around 1220, and is the responsibility of the local authority but is run by a volunteer group called 'The Friends of Oystermouth Castle'. The entry charge is £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for us oldies. I have to say it is certainly worth it.

One of the unusual features is a glass bridge about 30 feet up and, yes, we did walk over it and back again. The fun part is going up and down the spiral stairway and there are a number of those in this castle.

There are lots of features in this castle including wall walks, intricate passages running hither and thither and various halls and rooms. One could become quite disorientated with little effort but that's part of what makes it interesting.

There are also good views from the upper parts.

We left the castle early afternoon to get the bus back to Swansea as we wanted to visit the Tram Museum by the Marina. This museum is open only on Wednesday and Saturday and as today was Wednesday now was our chance. I suggested to Amanda that we go back to the bus stop then start to research bus times in case one comes along. When we got to the road a bus came along with 'Swansea City Centre' on its indicator board so we had to run for it. The doors shut just as we got there but the driver did notice us and re-opened the doors. Nice chap.

But, there had to be a but didn't there, this turned out to be one of those buses which diverts from the short route to make a circuit of the suburbs. Luckily it wasn't as long as happened yesterday but I did say then that we learn from our mistakes; we obviously don't. We may have been more fortunate if we had missed that particular bus. We still got back in time for the Tram Museum except for one minor point; it wasn't open. I enquired in the Swansea Museum nearby to be told that only one of the two required volunteers had turned up that morning so they weren't allowedto open it. Bother!

A quick change of plan saw us heading back north in the direction of the railway station to a shopping centre called 'Parc Tawe Shopping Centre' just north-east of Castle Square. No, we weren't going shopping but we were planning to visit 'Plantasia'. The local council describe it thus:

'We decided to create a Rainforest in the middle of the City to highlight the need and importance of looking after and protecting the World we live in. So come in and walk around our Tropical Paradise, take time to learn about the plants and animals which call the beautiful Rainforests their home.'

The entry charge is £3.95 for adults and £2.95 for us oldies. Not a lot.

Lots of interesting plants and there is a large pond with a waterfall together with a lot of large fish. When we leaned over the rail to get a better look the fish came rushing over to have a look at us. We saw a notice later which mention packs of fish food to buy so I think that they must be used to visitors giving them food. They were out of luck this time.

They also had two Cotton Top Tamarin monkeys which are among the most endangered primates in the world with a population of somewhere around 2500 individuals and which were apparently rescued from a zoo that was closing down. So they now have a home here in a wired off enclosure that appears to be the full hieight of the building.

They normally hide in the densest undergrowth which is what they were doing when we arrived but a bit of patience paid off when they eventually appeared. They are about the size of a domestic cat and rather cute with it.

There is also a separate section where some tropical birds can fly freely although not this particular one. It does know a few words but wasn't at all communicative when we were there. I seem to have that effect on people.

These Lorikeets were able to fly around and at one point I felt the draught as they flew close over my head. Cheeky little blighters. They are capable of talking and are also good whistlers. We didn't hear any of them say anything but their whistles were piercing.

The end of another perfect day so back to the hotel for a meal and, hopefully, a good nights sleep. So I'll wish you all a good knight and, luckily, we have one to spare courtesy of Oystermouth Castle.

Sorry but I couldn't resist.

More sightseeing tomorrow – our last day.

The Other End – Day 2

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We wake up early on the first morning in our hotel. A bit too early as it turns out. It is 5:00 AM and we have been woken by the extractor in our bathroom starting up very noisily. It seems to have a mind of its own as there doesn't seem to be any logic to its operation. I later mentioned it to reception who later told us that it had been checked and there was a fault so they've temporarily disconnected it. We went back to sleep and eventually woke again at 7:00 AM.

Drawing the curtains tells me we have wall to wall sunshine. Super! We have a pleasant relaxed breakfast. Very friendly and cheerful staff and lovely food. Can't complain at all.

After breakfast we set off for the bus station which is a 10-15 minute walk away and we catch a bus towards Mumbles. We aren't going as far as Mumbles and we alight after about 12 minutes at Black Pill near the Woodman pub. Anyone that knows this area will realise where we're going but before we got there we sidestepped onto the shoreline for a quick photograph of Swansea across the bay.

You should be able to see a tower on the right of the picture. That is near the Marina where I previously photographed this same beach. Quite a beach!

We went back across the Oystermouth Road and down the lane beside the Woodman pub and we arrive here:

Clyne Gardens are known for their Rhododendrons and Azaleas and I make no apologies for the number of 'flowery' pictures. Consider yourselves lucky that I haven't included all the phogographs I took. This is one of those places where one wants to take another photograph after every step. We planned to make this trip at this time (8th-11th May) because of the Rhododendrons and Azaleas displays. The intensity and variety of colour is astonishing and more so when you consider that entry is FREE. You cannot get better value for money.

I have reproduced a plan of the gardens below which is a photograph of the board displayed at every entrance and you can just read the text in the larger version. You should notice that the gardens are roughly divided into two; the lower part with all the paths that seem to wind all over the place along the route of a small stream, giving a sense of seclusion, and the upper part which is on higher ground and is more open. Both areas are utterly delightful.

We entered the gardens at the extreme right. We made a mental note that just inside the gate there is a refreshment tent and just a short distance on are toilets. A good combination for us oldies.

We were then faced with this view. Doesn't that path seem inviting? Don't you feel that you want to see what treasures it holds? We had decided to follow the little stream to the large pond at the end then come back along the path which borders the stream valley so we took the first left. We were immediately assailed with bright colours at every turn.

It's alright for some of us who have time to sit and admire the view but someone has to take the photographs. Click, click, click. It is rather like being inside a kaleidoscope.

It took us quite a while to cover any distance as there is so much to look at but we did, eventually, arrive at the Japanese Bridge. The little waterfall feeds the stream running through the gardens.

This is the pond at the end of the garden that feeds the waterfall above.

This garden does have many plants that are not especially colourful but which, nenertheless, are interesting.

We made our way back toward the entrance although we weren't ready to leave, toilets don't ya know., then went back along the path which follows the top edge of the gardens. There were, of course, yet more colourful displays and some very impressive specimen trees. This garden has something for everyone. No, it has everything for everyone. This next picture is from the top part of the garden and you can see that it is higher than the secluded parts with a view across Swansea Bay and showing Swansea on the left.

We went back towards the entrance and had some hot drinks, some items left over from yesterday's lunch together with some purchased cake as a light lunch whilst sitting outside in the sun. When we were finished we strolled off towards the bus stop where we hoped to catch a bus for a short ride back towards Swansea to Singleton Park. I had an application on my smartphone which gives details of bus routes, bus stops and times which we found to be very handy and this gave us a bus at around 2:30 PM. We had a choice of getting off at one of two places. The first involved a walk which I estimate would have taken us 10-15 minutes and the second would drop us off at a stop which was significantly nearer. We chose the second. Big mistake! What I hadn't realised is that the bus goes all round the streets in the suburbs and turns a 10 minute ride into 40 minutes. Oh well, one learns by one's mistakes but we got there in the end.

This time we were visiting Singleton Park although not all of it but just the Singleton Botanic Gardens. We walked through a small part of the park to get to the botanical gardens and saw this stone circle on the way. This is not a genuine stone circle but one that was built in 1925. Known as the Gorsedd Stone Circle it was erected for the National Eisteddfod of Wales' Proclamation Ceremony.

The botanical gardens are described by the local authority as 'one of Wales' premier plant collections, with spectacular herbaceous borders and large glasshouses' and we wouldn't argue with that. Once again entry was FREE. I do like Swansea.

The greenhouses are large enough to have pathways and they didn't seem overly hot.

There was an arid greenhouse which featured numerous cacti, succulents and the like.

The local authority also says 'Although the gardens are at their most stunning during August, when a full programme of events and tours are staged, there is something to see throughout the year. The herbaceous borders are a fantastic sight from late March until mid October'.

They can say that again!

We wandered out of the Botanical Gardens into the surrounding Singleton Park which was originally part of a large family estate. We saw this Swiss style chalet built in 1826 as part of that estate and was designed and built locally. There are plans to use it as a cafe although there were no signs of life when we were there. It is, apparently, a listed building and Swansea Council is now working on the legal details of a plan to lease the Alpine-style building to Swansea University.

As well as refurbishing the inside of the cottage to provide a tea room and a café, the university is also looking into the possible introduction of a visitor centre and cycle hire facilities there in future. Watch this space.

Whilst in the main park we saw something unusual. The next photograph won't win any awards but it is the only time I have managed to photograph a Kingfisher. There is no mistaking that brilliant blue and we saw it fly a number of times. They aren't rare but they are very shy and you will be very lucky to see one. We were on the other side of the lake and I was using maximum telephoto. Must be a good omen.

We finally had had our fill of plants and flowers for today so wandered back to the bus stop. This time the bus didn't go all round the houses but went straight back to the bus station from whence we went back to the hotel.

If you are a keen walker you could walk along the sea front from near the Marina to Clyne Gardens, a distance of about 3 miles, and then walk from Clyne Gardens to Singleton Gardens which is probably no more than a mile.

We are looking forward to tomorrow.