Two CADW sites to visit near Chepstow

After fifty years tolls have been removed from the Severn bridges which link England and Wales. As we can cross the river Severn for free we decided  to revisit a couple of our favourite places in Monmouth, Tintern Abbey and Caerleon Roman camp this Easter.  Both  are managed by CADW, the organisation which looks after historical sites in Wales. If you enjoy visiting historical sites it is a good idea to take out an annual membership which allows free entry to all the CADW sites.  For senior citizens like us it is £28.50 a year. Once in Wales both sites can be accessed easily from the M4 and are well signposted.

Carleon Roman Fort

Our first outing was to Caerleon.

A plan of the carleon barracks
Part of the remains of the barracks

Carleon which is just outside Newport was known as Isca by the Romans and is on the banks of the river Usk. Founded in A.D.  75 as the headquarters of the second Augustan legion. it was one of only three permanent legionary sites in Britain and unlike the other two in Chester and York it has not been built on. This means that archaeologists including  the BBC time team have been able to make significant finds.

At one time almost 5,000 Roman soldiers were quartered here. The Roman museum is shut for repairs until the Autumn but Caerleon is still worth visiting. As well as the most complete remains of barracks any where in Europe  we were able to see the amphitheatre where soldiers would have trained and gladiators fought. This is the best preserved Amphitheatre in Britain.

The Amphitheatre at Carleon
Part of the amphitheatre at Caerleon

For me the most impressive part of the site are the Roman baths. They were more like a modern sports centre with an indoor exercise hall and even changing rooms with underfloor heating. They also had hot and cold swimming pools. The remains are covered and have been enhanced with digital technology and impressive lighting.  Children can take part in interactive quizzes.

A holograph of a swimmer in the baths
Digital technology is used to give the impression of a swimmer in the Baths.

To find out more click here Cadw Carleon Roman Remains

The amphitheatre and barracks are free to visit but there is a small charge for the Baths. CADW put on special events throughout the year when we visited staff were blowing up duck balloons for an Easter hook a duck game in the Baths.

The Wye

The river flowing through woodland
The river Wye. England is on the left and Wales on the right.

Our second outing was a trip up the Wye valley to Tintern. The Wye river marks the border between Monmouth and Gloucestershire or to put it another way between England and Wales. The deep wooded valley is a favourite destination for tourists and the river itself is popular for canoes and Kayaks. There is also a long distance footpath for walkers.

The footpath through the woods
Part of the long distance footpath along the Wye.

TIntern Abbey

Our destination was Tintern: the site of a ruined Cistercian abbey. The Cistercians were a monastic order from France. The monks combined prayer with labour on the fields  and the order became very rich thanks to the wool trade. The abbey was built in the gothic style between 1361 and 1550. Like many monasteries in Britain it was dissolved by Henry VIIII  but the fact that so much of the stonework survives is a tribute to the skill of those early builders.

Stone columns inside Tintern Abbey
The interior of the abbey. The figures give some idea of the scale of the building.

The site is now cared for by CADW who organise a programme of activities. When we visited a handler was giving a falconry display.

A falconer with a long white beard holding a kestrel.
A falconer with a kestrel.

Tintern itself is a small village with several gift shops and restaurants.

To find out more. click here Tintern Abbey

There is a small charge for entry. We parked at the nearby Anchor inn and were able to claim the cost of parking against the cost of an ice cream.

Cardiff Review of the RHS flower show

Crowds queuing to enter the show ~RHS cardiff


A visit to the RHS flower show in Cardiff.

This weekend we visited Cardiff, the capital of Wales. It is a short hop across the Severn bridge from Bristol and we were able to catch a bus from Bristol to Newport and change for Cardiff.

We wanted to go to the RHS flower show which is held annually in Bute Park next to Cardiff Castle. The Royal Horticultural Society is a charity  which was set up to encourage an interest in gardening.  Cardiff flower show is the first show of the season and is held in April  This means that you have a chance to buy plants in time for the summer. It is smaller and less crowded than the more famous shows like Chelsea.

Cardiff 2019

I was disappointed that there was only room for a couple of show gardens. There were lots of trade stands and a wide variety of stalls selling different types of food. As there was not enough seating  we bought fish and chips and had a picnic on the grass. Luckily the weather was warm and sunny.

Children’s competition

A happy gardener with a collection of plants.
My favourite. The gardener looks so happy.


The children have built a boat inside the wheel barrow.
Another of the school entries


Each year the RHS holds a competition to encourage  the next generation of gardeners. Local schools have the chance to design a garden in a wheelbarrow and we were able to vote for our favourites.   This year the theme was discovery.  There  was also a children’s trail based on the book “the very hungry caterpillar” by Eric Carle.

We spent a long time in the flower marquees enjoying the scents and vibrant colours of the displays.  Keen gardeners could ask RHS experts questions as well as listen to talks by experts.

A display of succulents
The winning entry in the floral marquee

I especially liked the winning displays, The overall winner was a beautifully arranged display of succulents and the winning nursery displayed a  vast collection  of different types of daffodils.  The daffodil being the national flower of Wales. I resisted buying any thing but many people had very full shopping carts.  At the end of the show on Sunday growers sell plants more cheaply.

A dragon in the middle of a rockery
As we are in Wales you must expect a dragon or two

Cardiff for tourists

Cardiff  attracts a lot of tourists.   Bute park, where the show is held is right in the centre. From there you can catch the ferry  along the river Taff to Cardiff bay and see the Doctor Who exhibition or catch the red hop on hop off tourist bus and see sights like the Welsh assembly or the millennium stadium home to Cardiff city football club.

Visitors walking around the grounds of Cardiff castle
The Norman keep at Cardiff castle complete with dragon.

The enormous Cardiff castle is by the side of the park. It is well worth a visit but we did not have time on Saturday. Entry to the souvenir shop is free so I was able to take a quick picture of the keep. If you want to find out more click here Cardiff castle

The Museum

After admiring the displays in the flower show we went for coffee and a chance to sit down in the nearby Cardiff Museum and art gallery. Until the 6th of May they have a collection of Leonardo Da Vinci  Drawings owned by the Queen and loaned from her own collection. 144 drawings are on display at twelve venues round the country including Bristol museum. However as my husband had already seen them we opted to look at their collection of French impressionist paintings including this impressive Renoir. Entry to the museum is free but they encourage donations and there is a small charge for special exhibitions like the Leonardo drawings.

A smart Parisien lady wearing a blue gown
Lady in Blue by Renoir

If you liked this, you might enjoy another Welsh post Visiting the Royal Mint at Llantrisant

This post will be added to link parties for blogging grandparents. As always if you have any tips for visitors to Cardiff or questions please add them in the comments below.



An Easter link Party


Happy Easter

I belong to a couple of granny blogging groups and I have been invited to party with them by adding links to my posts. I thought I would try to repay the favour by hosting my own party.

You are all invited. You don’t have to be a grandparent to add a link but the content should be family friendly. If you add a link it would be kind to talk to some of the other guests by visiting their links and commentating. To add a link copy the direct URL of the specific post you want to share, new or old, not the link to the blog or website. If this is your first Linkz party you will need to sign up to the site using your face book profile or E mail.

I will try to share any links on social media.

This is the first time I have tried to host a party so I don’t want to be left to eat all the hot cross buns myself. Please let me know if you have any problems adding links in the comments below.

Easter Parade link party

two rabbits with an easter egg.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

An Octopus pendant from House of Silver

silver octopus pendant
For the marine biologist in your life

It is difficult to predict fashion trends but I think that classic silver jewellery will always be in fashion.

Silver jewellery always looks elegant, classy and understated. Whether it is a charm bracelet, a ring or a pendant so when I was given the chance to review an item of jewellery by House of Silver I was delighted.  I let my daughter pick her favourite and she opted for this quirky octopus pendant.

We both loved the skilled workmanship and innovative design. My daughter’s review.

“An attractive and easy to wear silver pendant with a modern octopus design. This piece is an eye catching light silver colour with a delicate skilfully crafted chain. The pendant itself is simple yet quirky and will bring a fun touch to an outfit.”

She reported that she wore it to a friend’s party and it was much admired.   Another of our favourite pieces was an ammonite pendant inspired by a trip to Lyme Regis.

I would have opted for a more traditional design such as the tree of life pendant.   House of Silver who are an online family based jewellery retailer based in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter obviously cater for all ages. If you want to see the full range click here  They have a huge range of beautifully designed and crafted inexpensive silver items and I would be interested to know which is your favourite. Some of the items such as their earrings and bracelets incorporate coloured gemstones. They also sell items for men such as cufflinks and tie pins.

Puzzled with Autism

House of Silver have recently produced a range of jewellery for the puzzled with autism campaign. This is a cause close to my heart since my eldest son was diagnosed with autism as a child.  Click here to learn more about the campaign

Jewellery in this range include a pin badge incorporating the puzzled by autism symbol, a silver ribbon and an infinity ring to emphasise the lifelong nature of the condition. As well as raising funds for the National Autistic society they hope to raise awareness of the condition.

A silver box on snow
Silver always makes a good gift for any occasion.


I was given the chance to choose a piece of jewellery by House of Silver in exchange for an honest review

If you are a blogger who wants to work with House of silver click here for more details.

Visiting Slimbridge Wetland centre

Nothing suggests spring to me  more than seeing downy ducklings on a lake and one of our favourite places to go at this time of year is slimbridge Wetland centre near Gloucester.   Click here to find out more I love to wander along the well made trails or try to spot new arrivals from one of the hides.

Sir Peter Scott

Sir Peter Scott who established the Slimbridge Wetland centre was the son of the Antarctic explorer Robert Scott who lost his life while trying to be the first man to reach the south pole. Like many men of his generation and class Peter was  keen on shooting game in his youth. However after fighting in the second world war he had seen enough bloodshed and decided instead to conserve wildlife. In 1946 he bought a large estate on the banks of the  Severn estuary  in the village of Slimbridge and set aside the marshy land as a sanctuary for water birds.

A few random facts. Peter Scott was named after Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie was one of his godfathers). He won an Olympic medal for sailing and he designed the panda logo for the WWF.

He also became a keen and talented painter of wildlife and built himself a house overlooking a lake with a large picture window where he could watch ducks and geese on the lake.

Visiting Slimbridge wetland centre

Swans on the lake by the main building
Swans in front of the main building. This is the view from the restaurant.

The wetland centre at Slimbridge is now open to the public . The charity has pulled off the difficult trick of being able to carry out internationally recognised scientific and conservation work while still providing fun activities for children. There are over 100 acres of streams, ponds and lakes to explore and  photograph. Some birds like the colonies of flamingos are permanent residents others are winter or summer migrants.

For adults there are hides where you can undertake serious birdwatching and an art gallery where you can see a collection of wildlife paintings including some by Sir Peter Scott himself.  Local artists also often exhibit their work. Volunteer guides lead tours round the site and there are posters and information boards to help with bird identification.

The website always gives advice about which feathered visitors to look out for and what talks and activities are planned.

Swan lake

Children’s activities.

Slimbridge is also a wonderful place to take your children or grandchildren.

A firm favourite  is welly boot land where young children can put on their wellington boots and paddle   in small streams and puddles and pretend to be ducks. For older children there are canoe safaris and places to go pond dipping . There is also an adventure playground with  a nearby coffee shop.  The staff encourage visitors to buy bags of duck food to feed the birds.  Be sure to check to see the times for activities such as otter feeding or duckery talks. If it is wet there is an indoor soft play area and art and craft activities.

As well as birds Slimbridge wetland centre is home to a family of otters and also a small collection of amphibians and reptiles.

The  practicalities

The website has details of admission prices. Tickets are discounted if bought online and admission is free for WWT members.  There is ample free parking but Slimbridge has no bus or rail service. It is well signposted from junction 13 or 14 of the M5.

Slimbridge has a very good restaurant with huge picture windows overlooking a lake where you can watch the birds as you eat and a large souvenir shop. They are also happy for you to bring a picnic.  You should allow four or five hours for a visit.

The future

Slimbridge  Wetland Trust received  a £4,000,000 grant from the national lottery and they are planning to open several exciting new attractions. The newest is a replica of the Arctic hut used by Sir Peter Scott to study geese in the tundra.

Have you been to Slimbridge? Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments. I would love to hear what you think.

This post will be added to link parties for blogging grandparents.

blogging grandmothers link party 36  If you are a grandmother who blogs please join us.

Canada goose and goslings