As we enter the last few days of the year of 2018, I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling reflective. In that spirit, I thought it would be great to honour some of this years best memories with their own posts – and here, dear readers, I bring you my series of “Best of 2018” posts.
One of the greatest things about 2018 was the amazing summer we had. I could not have appreciated the heatwave that most of Britain and Europe saw this year. Of course, there were days when it became so hot that you were sweating just walking for two minutes to the end of your own driveway but I’d take that consequence for some sunshine and clear skies any day.
One of my favourite memories of how we spent the heatwave was a weekend in Wales. Wales is a very special place to us as it’s where Joe and I first met and because Joe’s parents live there, we’re lucky enough to be able to visit regularly.
On this particular trip, we decided to make the most of the sunshine by spending a day at Dyffryn Gardens. These Edwardian gardens are based just on the outskirts of Cardiff and stretch to 55 acres of year-round beauty. Situated within the gardens is a grand Victorian mansion. Both the mansion and the gardens are being restored to their former beauty by the National Trust and although the restoration work is ongoing, there’s still so much of the stunning landscape to appreciate.
The gardens are varied, with there being a Pompeiian garden, a Mediterranean garden, a Reflecting Pool and a Paved Court. There’s also a large glasshouse and arboretum featuring trees from all over the world and an immaculately kept croquet lawn.
As usual, I spent a lot of time amongst the flowers…!
Joe and his dad found one of the oldest trees we’d ever come across…
Just look at these branches…!
We could easily have walked around for hours as there was so much to take in from the many varieties of plants and flowers to the simple fact that there were so many sections to explore…
We also took a peek inside the Victorian home sitting at the epicentre of the estate. As stated, the house is undergoing restoration at the moment but there were significant portions of it that we could walk through. Upon entering, we’d walked straight into the grand lobby and also into a lovely art exhibition.
The house was built in the 1890s and belonged to a wealthy Welsh family known as the Cory’s. They principaly made their money through coal (no surprises there!) The Trust acquired the house in 2013 after it had been left empty for quite some time. There were no original artworks, furniture or belongings left in the house at all meaning the Trust have inherited a bit of a blank slate here.
The bits of the house that we did get to nose around in were styled in a very traditional-yet-minimalist style.
There were window seats and floor-to-ceiling windows everywhere, filling all the rooms with light and colour. This house felt very warm and modern – which isn’t always the impression you get when you visit an old manor home from the Victorian era. The views through the windows were just gorgeous too.
We definitely plan to revisit Dyffryn because we didn’t get to explore everything. Even when we have explored everything, we’ll still go back. The gardens are described as a “peaceful oasis” and our meandering walks through the grounds definitely gave us a taste of that.
That same weekend in Wales, we also visited the Clydach Gorge. The Gorge is a steep-sided valley through which the River Clydach flows to join the River Usk. It’s also a site of immense importance as it was a transport corridor for the South Wales Coalfield. You don’t ever have to wander too far in Wales before you come across something that hearkens back to Wale’s history with coal mining. These days, there’s a very popular footpath and cycle route running alongside the gorge that those seeking fitness and nature walks can enjoy – and that’s exactly what we did.
We also explored the woodland around the gorge too, where we came across waterfalls…
…as well as some pretty steep climbing! Joe’s dad braved the steepest route down whereas we took the stairs.
There’s so much natural beauty in Wales and we’re always so excited to explore more. Usually, exploring consists of Joe taking me to his favourite haunts but on this beautiful weekend, we visited two places that were unfamiliar to both of us: the gardens and the gorge. This was definitely one for the memory book!