Never Ending Wander Lust

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Caitlin Sanders

Fish, Chips, Castles, and Magic In Carmarthen

After only a week in the United Kingdom, Ed and I knew we needed to go for a traditionally ‘British’ meal. Our workaway hosts recommended a place in Carmarthen, where they were bringing us the following day. Our hosts were spectacular at bringing us to various cities around the area, which we were quite grateful about!

Once we got to Carmarthen, we headed to the recommended place, Morgan’s Chippy.  On arrival, we were not disappointed! We got the most British combo on the menu – fish, chips, mushy peas, bread and butter, and tea. The chips (fries) were absolutely stellar, and the fish was even better. We loved it, and it gets a thumbs up on our part!

After eating to our hearts’ content, we headed uphill to the castle ruins of Carmarthen. Our hosts informed us it was quite a boring castle, but coming from a country with a grand total of zero real castles (Casa Loma does not count), we thought that the partial ruins of Carmarthen Castle were amazing.

Carmarthen Castle has been standing since at least 1094, and went through an incredible number of transitions since then, mostly to make it bigger, stronger, and make more living quarters. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was used as a prison until it eventually became a tourist destination. It is free to enter and walk around, and there is a small tourist centre in the middle of the castle where you can see the old prison cells and watch a video about the history of the castle.

Carmarthen, although small, also has a very magical connection. The legendary wizard Merlin was said to have lived just outside of the city in the cave, and there are signs of Merlin everywhere in the town. A pedestrian shopping district is named “Merlin’s Walk”. Merlin’s Oak once stood in town, with the prophecy that once it fell, so too should Carmarthen – but when it died and was taken down bit by bit, luckily, nothing bad happened to the city!

We loved Carmarthen – it was quite small, but as the main city in the area, and the oldest surviving town in Wales, it is certainly interesting. We were told by our hosts that Carmarthen was once voted the third most boring city in Britain, but we didn’t find that at all!




Brecon Becons

A week into our time in Wales, we got the opportunity to spend a day in Brecon. Brecon is a small village of under 8000 people located in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons. Although small, we found there was a lot to see (I’m starting to notice a pattern – there is a correlation between the age of a town and how interesting it is).

Regimental Museum

Our first stop was the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh. This museum covers the history of 320 years of military service of the local Welshmen, with a large focus on the first and second world wars, as well as the Zulu Wars (which we were completely unaware of prior to visiting the museum!). Although it was not a big museum, it was interesting! We particularly enjoyed dressing up and pretending to be soldiers, because we seem to forever be children at heart…

The Brecon Canal

After visiting the museum, we wandered down to the picturesque canal. This canal was beautiful and we particularly enjoyed wandering our way down the promenade and seeing barges along the way. One of the barges we saw was a spectacular Beatles-themed barge… and in my opinion you can’t get any better than Beatles-themed anything! The canal is undoubtedly one of the prettiest parts of Brecon.

Brecon Cathedral

Our favourite part of Brecon was definitely the Cathedral. Our first stop was the Pilgrim’s Tea room where we ate lunch, because a visit to a museum and a canal can be really tiring (for us…). For a small tea room, it has some marvelous food, including our orders of a chicken risotto and Cajun chicken wrap. Afterwords, we felt energetic enough to visit the actual Cathedral, which although beautiful, was just a typical Cathedral. However, its size seems extraordinary for such a small town. The Cathedral is also surrounded by a beautiful property, which we enjoyed touring around and relaxing in.

Brecon may be small, but it has a lot of appeal to those looking for a relaxing day in a cute village!



Wandering Norwich

I’ve been a little quiet lately, but that’s because Ed and I have been having such a relaxing time it has been hard to find the motivation to write! We’ve been staying and working at a B&B just outside of Norwich, England and it has been absolutely lovely. The weather has been much better than expected (I may not have had to pack quite so many pieces of waterproof clothing), and we enjoy our work which is mostly just gardening and doing bits of housework, so it is nothing too difficult!

We’ve managed to take a few trips into Norwich by this point and it has quickly become high on my list of my favourite cities in the UK! Here are some of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing in Norwich:

Of course, castles are always top of my list of things to do in a European city, but this one was a little different. Far from being restored to its 11th-century glory, it has actually been transformed into a museum commemorating the history of the Norfolk region. When you enter the castle, you emerge into a small rotunda surrounded by various exhibits.

We went first into the natural history exhibit, and wandered through interesting exhibits on  fashion, teapots, and an art gallery, followed by a history of the Romans, the vikings, and the early Anglo-saxons, before we eventually found ourselves in the castle keep, where we learned about the history of the castle itself. After that we made our way down to the dungeons, where we learned about the time when the castle was a prison. We loved the variety of the things we learned about at the Norwich Castle Museum.

The Norwich Cathedral was quite a large cathedral, and certainly one of the most interesting we’ve seen yet. Although it was interesting inside the cathedral, we liked it even better once we left it – because we exited into beautiful cloisters. Ed loved the labyrinth located in the center of the cloisters, though we both pronounced it as being far too easy! 

Afterwards, we wandered for a while in the cathedral close, which contains many businesses and private residences, and is by far the largest cathedral close I’ve ever seen! I believe that it is the largest in England, and it certainly seems so.

Wandering

Beyond the two main destinations of the cathedral and the castle, we spent much of the rest of our time in Norwich simply wandering. It is by wandering that we discovered some of the prettiest sites in the city – Pulls Ferry, Elm Hill, the daily covered market – it all has its own appeal!

Norwich quickly became my favourite city that we’ve visited so far. While not a typical tourist destination in England, I think it is one of the nicer cities we’ve been to so far, and definitely worth a visit for those who get the opportunity.




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