Today we’re off to Beaumaris to see the castle and the town. Edward I built his infamous ring of castles around Wales, and the castle here is the last one he built. It’s not very imposing because it’s not very big, but if you walk all around it, you realize its defensive strength. First is the moat, and back in the old days you could sail your ship right up to the castle gates to offload your supplies or your soldiers. Next comes a thick wall with arrow slits that allow you to aim and fire but are small enough that the enemy can’t fire back. Finally comes the castle itself, with 16′ walls complete with more arrow slits and towers from which you could cover the archers’ fire. The concentric design is simple but effective.
The best part of this fairly mild visit was watching two fathers and a group of children touring the grounds. In England, not only do children fight with play swords and shields, but they do it on the grounds of an actual 13th century castle!
We walked along Castle Street to see what we could see and ended up at a nice waterside restaurant for a steak and ale pie and a bottle of local beer. We scoped out the two butchers and decided to come back later for MEAT.
Off now to Penmon Priory, a few miles up the coast. This is said to have been founded in 547 AD, destroyed by the Vikings (of course) and rebuilt in the twelfth century. What’s there now is a church and remains of the priory where the monks (Augustinians, eventually) slept and ate. The church is dim and medieval, not very big, and interesting for its ancient artifacts, two thousand year old stone crosses and a fertility figure of a woman with spread legs, hanging on the wall. Almost as good was an array of various jars containing the vicar’s chutney, which he was selling in return for a donation to the church fund. (We had some last night with our lamb steaks and it was delicious!).
The graveyard consisted of contemporary slate tombstones and an older section that was romantically neglected. There was also an old stone dovecote that once supported a thousand doves, raised for food.
From here we walked about a mile down the lane towards Trwyn Du lighthouse and Puffin Island, where there were a scattering of people on the stony beach, plus a few scuba divers setting out. We stoped for tea in the cafe – scones with cream and jam – and sat outside next to a table full of Weasleys, I swear. Very pleasant.
We went back into Beaumaris to pick up some dinner, and Alison came out of the butcher shop with local beef and lamb steaks. Yum! By now it was late afternoon, so we headed home for a leisurely steak dinner at the cottage. Very nice to cook something simple for ourselves at our own schedule – although we do have to do the dishes…
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