That unexpected discovery!
Don’t you just love it when you discover something good unexpectedly? When deciding where to meet my best friend for lunch a few weeks ago, to be honest Llandrindod Wells didn’t seem a very inspiring choice on what would no doubt be a typically chilly late autumn day but as it was the most practical option for both of us the date was set. In the end however we found ourselves having a lovely afternoon and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the town, even if just for a spot of lunch and a wander around the parks.
The town really came into its own when the Victorian penchant for restorative spa spring waters drew many visitors to the area. The 12 acre Rock Park developed around the spring waters and the pump rooms are still standing. Recently artists were commissioned to create sculptural pieces that are dotted throughout the park. When the town’s popularity started to wane the construction of the Heart of Wales railway line made Llandrindod far more accessible to the masses and the slight decline was reversed. Common land was enclosed and a large lake, green and golf course were created along with expanding the commercial centre and creating more housing. There is plenty of stunning Victorian and Edwardian architecture throughout the town to appreciate and some stylish art deco buildings as well.
The Victorian Heyday is celebrated when the town goes all out for their Victorian Festival, centred around Temple Gardens in the heart of Llandrindod (18 to 24 August in 2015). The festival has grown over the last 30 years and by all accounts you can really feel as if you are stepping back in time to the 1800’s. To learn about the history of the town and the surrounding area all year round, visit the Radnorshire museum. This traditional museum is home to a number of collections from mid-Ordovician fossils to Neolithic artefacts through to Victorian & Edwardian costume. And if cycling is your thing a comprehensive look at the history of the bicycle can be found at the National Cycle Museum – check online for winter opening days and hours.
There are many lovely pictures of Llandrindod Wells scattered about the internet. The water fountain emerging from the lake on the edge of town is particularly eye-catching. Unfortunately my photography talents are not up to much and these are just a couple of pictures taken in Rock Park. Doesn’t do justice at all to the park so you will just have to go and see for yourself!
Being in the heart of Mid Wales, Llandrindod Wells provides a great base for a holiday exploring the county of Powys and we have some great cottages nearby to choose from. I myself have driven through Llandrindod Wells many times on my way to and from South Wales but next time I will make sure I give myself time to stop and enjoy this charming town!
Christmas Shopping in Wales
Every year I decide that this will be the year I finally get properly organised with my Christmas shopping. Unfortunately, so far, that has never really happened and I really need to get a wriggle on if all my family are going to have something to unwrap on the big day. Inspiration for me is often the problem and when it is difficult to find the time to have a wander round the shops to see what is out there. This is why I love a good Christmas market. What better place for picking up interesting and unusual gifts for your loved ones.
Get into the Christmas spirit at the Broneirion Winter Wonderland on the evening of 5 December. At this classic Victorian house in Llandinam, Mid Wales, you can peruse the Victorian style Christmas market, visit Santa and Mother Claus, take part in Christmas crafts and join in with the choir as they sing carols around the 140ft Christmas tree!
For a unique gift for someone special visit The Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy North Wales, where a special exhibition of affordable art, ceramics and craftwork by academy members is on at the moment and where nearly everything is for sale. For more artwork, gifts and local produce why not take the opportunity of Thursday late-night shopping on 4, 11 & 18 December at Erddig, a very fine National Trust historic house on the outskirts of Wrexham. After your shop you can even treat yourself to a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings in the restaurant situated in the old hay loft.
The Caerphilly Christmas Markets is one of the biggest our country has to offer and this year will be held on the 13 & 14 December. I was lucky enough to go a few years ago and the range of crafts and foods on offer, along with the entertainment and workshops offered, was astonishing. The stalls stretched from the castle into the town square and I happily spent a whole afternoon browsing, sampling and purchasing. The local cheese makers stall got quite a few visits! If you have already finished your shopping but still want an excuse to visit this historic South Wales town why not come and experience the River of Light Parade on the 18 December. Enjoy the lantern parade through the streets and make your way to the magnificent castle for the grand finale of a fireworks display
If city shopping is more your thing then make your way to Swansea. With a fantastic range of high street names, independent shops and a Christmas street market, which runs from the 28 November to 21 December, there is plenty of choice. For the kids, both big and small, there is the Swansea Winter Wonderland. Book some time on one of the two ice rinks, visit Santa in his grotto and make the most of the festive funfair.
Is there anywhere special that you return to when you are looking for an important gift or when you just can’t think what to get that one person who has everything? I can’t wait to hear from you as I need some ideas!