For any of you that read our previous travel blog, Diane’s Suitcase, here’s the rest of the story!
For many years being a single Mom with a young son at home, I rarely took holidays. These last few years I’ve been blessed with supportive staff and the ability to take off; this time for three whole blissful weeks of travel to the UK. What a treat it was to travel to Wales for a week and then Ireland for two weeks!
First stop on the journey was a resort town in Wales, built during Victorian times, called Llandudno. It’s a small, charming town with lots of natural beauty, pretty buildings and a quaint, British town atmosphere.
Nearby Llandudno is another small town called Conwy, where I fell in love with their namesake “fairy tale” Castle. Built from 1283 to 1289 by King Edward I, it still stands complete and intact today. Unesco considers Conwy to be one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe” and it is classed as a World Heritage site.
If you’re brave enough to climb the round turrets using the tiny steep stairways, you can get to the second floor which rewards you with a great impression of the inner workings of the building, as well as a lovely view of the harbour and surrounding countryside. This was a favourite spot, for sure.
Short distances from our home base in Llandudno were several other castles and manor homes. Beaumaris Castle (complete with original moat) and Plas Newydd, another beautiful location, but the day was very rainy so there are no pictures to share. But well worth the visit just same.
The weather improved and so we enjoyed the grounds of Penryhn Castle which is actually a manor not a castle at all. It’s one of the most admired of the numerous mock castles built in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. The grounds and view, a railway museum (full size and miniature) and stunning architecture throughout….too many photos to share.
Certainly one of the most outstanding features was the beautiful Italian plasterwork throughout the inner hallways and staircases.
But of all these beautiful sights, quite possibly, my favourite place of all was Bodnant Gardens.
I knew it was a famous garden but had no idea how magnificent it would be. Lucky for us, many areas were in full bloom in the middle of September. This was a massive property, much of which we never got to see. Upon entering the garden, you first come across a long “hot” perennial border; planted with yellow, orange and red flowers, hence the term, “hot”!
Beyond this fabulous entrance way, which was actually much longer than any of these photos can show, you can see the manor house which has its own, enormous main lawn and surrounding flower borders. Continuing on takes you past The Bath, a deep pool surrounded by a stunning, tiered garden planted entirely with tender perennials and spectacular annuals like the huge Ricinus (Castor bean) or Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet).
Peppered along with special varieties of Dahlias, Salvia and Fuchsia, to name only a scant few. This area was choc a block full of incredibly amazing plants in every colour of the rainbow.
Past The Bath, you will travel along a stream, by a waterfall and through a charming woodland garden that leads you around to the side of a house framed by pastel borders and a huge rectangular reflecting pool full of waterlilies
Further on was a rose garden gorgeously in full bloom; every shade of pink, cream and yellow that you can imagine! So many beautiful structures, trellises, benches and fountains all surrounded by beautiful old stone walls.
We walked for over an hour through more natural woods, past an old mill, over bridges and up more woodland walks, with the brilliant blue September Gentians flowing on either side of the path
The last view I’ll share with you of this beautiful garden is another image of The Bath, this one from the top of the main lawn looking down.
This truly is a glorious garden and a must see if you ever travel to this part of the world.
Check back soon for part 2 of my travels…next to Galway, Ireland…