I have been super busy and haven’t posted (LSE is just as much work at Davidson, if not more) since I have been playing catch-up after I spent the weekend in Wales (aka my fatherland!) and recovering from a rather long cold. So, in order to procrastinate, I will finally write about my amazing weekend in Wales!
The first person in my family was Welsh, Sir David Mathew. He saved the life of King Edward IV at the Battle of Towton in 1461 during the War of the Roses and was then appointed Grand Standard Bearer of England. From then on, the ‘Mathews’ name stuck and here I am today! While I did not get a chance to visit Llandaff Cathedral where he is buried, I felt an immense sense of almost ‘coming home’, seeing the land my ancestors lived on (and the land they once owned-St. Fagans).
We went on a whirlwind trip through southern Wales, all arranged by Proscenium Tours, a group that LSE uses to facilitate subsidized student travel throughout the UK and Europe. Our route is pictured below and I’ll be sure to detail what a magical experience each stop was!
Our first stop after we entered Wales was the Roman Amphitheatre in Caerleon. This wasn’t what I was expecting when heading to Wales (my expectations were mainly sheep and castles) but it was cool to see that the Roman Empire affected Wales as well. At this stop, we also go to see the ruins of the Roman soldiers’ barracks as well as a history museum detailing the influence that the Romans had in this town. I’ve always loved Roman history (#latinnerdprobs) and it is great seeing it in other places since I haven’t yet been to Rome!
We then headed to Caerphilly Castle, one of my favourite parts of the trip. This castle was amazing and it was great how much of it we were able to explore. So many winding staircases with tiny steps and stunning views of the surrounding area. What I would give to live in a castle one day…
The castle was built in the 13th century and is the second largest castle in Britain (Windsor Castle is the first). Gilbert the Red built it as an attempt to conquer Glamorgan. It is surrounded by artificial lakes for defence, considered to be the greatest water defences in Britain. It also introduced concentric circle castle defences to its gatehouses and to Britain.
After lunch and the exploration of the castle, we drove a little while to St. Fagans Museum of Welsh Life (the Mathews clan owned some of this land at one point!). It had houses set up in traditional Welsh style, different stores, and examples of Welsh life. Also, Sheep!!! We ambled along the pathways, peeking into the houses and workshops. There was also a row of traditional Welsh shops, where I bought some Bara Brith (a traditional Welsh cake with spices and raisins in it). We then got some ice cream and went to the gift shop for our post cards and after that, we headed over to the grounds of the manor house/castle. While I didn’t actually get to go in (we had limited time), I had a very good time walking around and enjoying the autumnal scenery.
We then headed to Swansea, where we would be staying for the night. Exhausted and becoming much sicker very quickly, my roommate and I opted for a quick dinner in town at Nando’s with some friends and then an early bedtime. It was much needed because our second day was just as much of an adventure as the first!