Saturday, 5 January 2008

St Fagan's

Have to be careful what to say for the first part of today as I don't want to give away any secrets... Visited a neighbour of Anne & Pat's today who is a brilliant painter. They have one of his paintings, of a colliery, on their wall. Jack paints mainly from old photographs, and does it brilliantly. His other favourite is flowers, and again, his work is awesome to look at.

After visiting Jack, Anne took me to St Fagan's where the "Museum of Welsh Life" is. For the Kiwi readers, think Ferrymead on a grand scale. They have transported buildings from different eras around Wales and rebuilt them on the site. Unfortunately, it rained heavily during our visit limiting our movement, so we didn't get to see everything I would have liked, and didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked at the ones we did visit. Additionally, some exhibits were closed (holiday time) such as the bakery and shops. It has therefore been put on the list of 'must do' items when Elsa and I return next year!

However, many of the buildings were manned and you can discuss the history of the particular building with the guides.

We visited old farmhouses (1700s) for both the richer farmers and poorer workers, looking at their living conditions, then a blacksmith, corn miller, an old schoolhouse, an early chapel (in which families had pews which they cared for themselves) and a set of terraced houses showing how they were lived in, in the early 1800s, late 1800s, 1920, 1940 and 1980. Very interesting comparisons to be made! At the right time of the year you can see the trades in action, not just look at the buildings.

My favourite was known as a 'long house' where the living space was shared with animals in a barn structure at one end of the house, and the family lived at the other. Because of the barn size of the building, there was also space upstairs for bedrooms. The workers in all these cases, of course, relied on daylight, rising with the sun and going to bed with the sun. It was simply dark at other times!

A visit to the gift / souvenir shop produced a little booklet of traditional Welsh recipes - something to try on visitors who are brave enough to face my 400+ photos (at this stage, but with 3 weeks still remaining! They aren't all great photos, of course, but are building into a wonderful record of the trip. Thank goodness for digital photogtraphy!)

A quiet day to finish my vist to the Rhondda tomorrow, a chance to upload my photos to CD, and then start packing up my gear for my trip to West Wales on Monday.

I will add to the blog tomorrow night, but I still have no idea how I will be able to update during the period to the 17th (10 days). Obviously I will do my best, but email contact will probably be out also, and I will be relying on texting unless I can access an internet cafe somewhere...

Take care all!

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