The Welsh seaside - New Quay

New Quay boatLooking out my window at the grey sky it's hard to believe that until a couple of weeks ago we were basking in the midst of an elusive 'Great British Summer'. Since I first arrived here from sunny New Zealand, I thought a this thing was just a myth or a strap-line that some advertising clever clogs had made up in the 50s to lure tourists to the grey island called Britain. Now I get it, it's actually a thing! I wanted to share some photos of sunny New Quay in Wales from a trip back in the very beginning of summer, when everyone thought it was still going to rain for months. No, I'm not confused. This is New Quay in Wales, not Newquay in Cornwall. Different places. We even saw dolphins (dolphins! who knew!) playing in the sea.

New Quay - Wales

New Quay - Wales

The fishing town on Cardigan Bay, West Wales, is filled with picturesque cottages, many a fish'n'chip joints and ice-cream counters. The town is believed to be the 'cliff-perched town at the far end of Wales' as immortalised by Dylan Thomas in 'Under Milk Wood'.

Buckets, spades - Wales

New Quay WalesCome back summer. I'm not ready for endless grey days just yet. See that blue sky? NO FILTER!

Deep in the bluebell wood

Bluebells, you take my breath away with your spectacular spring show. A scene like this is the stuff of fairy tales. Did you know you can find your nearest bluebell walk online? We're off to Wales this Bank Holiday weekend to visit the other half's family and I'm hoping they can be persuaded to go bluebell hunting with me. It's coming towards the end of bluebell season but I've heard they're late this year so fingers crossed we'll find some.

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These photos were taken in 2011 by Luke in the woods at Aberglasney. It's truly quite spectacular and well worth a visit.

Candy coloured houses

Candy coloured cottages At Easter I was rummaging around in my photo files when I came across these lovely candy coloured cottages in Tenby. We visited the lovely Welsh seaside town with the other half's family in Easter last year and I'd never gotten around to posting any photos (despite the best intentions). The pastel shades make me want to paint my nails the colour of candy floss. I also now want to live in a pale pink cottage.

Tenby scooter

candy cottages tenby

Tenby stairs

Boat House Tenby

An island perfect for smugglers and the Famous Five.

The sea at Tenby

The Spinning Wheel.

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Where is my Lemon Sorbet nail polish?

A fairytale castle, a bluebell wood and a lovely rug

Maybe it's because I grew up surrounded by strong women with Welsh names*, or maybe it's because Wales is the home to dragons and fairies. But the idea of spending the day roaming a Welsh castle, an historic home and fairytale woodland is right up my street. Newton House

With Mr Ukulele's parents playing tour guides, we visited Dinefwr Park and Castle in Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, on our Easter trip to Wales.  Located just a mile from Llandeilo town this National Trust property has a 12th-century castle, a historic house and an 18th-century landscape park. All of it's set in a medieval deer park (we didn't spy any deer on our visit).

Above is the French style Newton House where, unlike some other similar properties,  you can touch and photograph everything inside. Apparently this is because only the paintings are original to the house and everything else was brought in by the trust after they had acquired the property.

The contents of the house are no less impressive for it though. Just look at that collection of trunks and hat boxes.  And as for this rug, I can only dream...

beautiful rug

Grand piano

Manicured garden

After exploring the house the Mr and I, having left the others eating cake in the tea-rooms, trekked through the grounds and up a winding woodland path to the castle.

Bluebell woods

bivouac

This stick hut reminded a bit of Game of Thrones for some reason. There were no white walkers in sight, thankfully.

Old oaks

primroses and violets

A resting spot

The castle itself is like a giant adventure playground for children. Dozens of kids clambered all over it, unafraid of tumbling down.  But the view from the top is spectacular.

castle wall

Dinefwr Castle

Strolling down

Then it was home for lemon meringue pie and coffee.

I could go on about Dinefwr Park and Castle all day but I won't. You can find out more about it here on the National Trust's website.

* My mum is Browen and my grandma was Blodwen. And yes, with 'e' not 'y'.

Antique hunting in Wales

For me Easter always used to be about how much chocolate I could cram into my mouth, a trip to the beach (it's still nice in NZ generally) and, later on, how much extra partying I squeeze into a four-day weekend. These days I only feel the need to consume a small amount of chocolate and as for the partying, well I can take or leave it. I must be getting old. Let's just not mention the beach again. This Easter I spent in Wales for the second year in row, staying with Mr Ukulele's family. They live just outside of Swansea in some village I can't pronounce. (No matter how hard I try I don't think I'll ever get it right.) And again like last year, they were only too happy to take us off on some day trips exploring gorgeous south and west Wales. First stop was two antiques shops in Llandeilo, a town in Carmarthenshire. I would've liked to walk away with half the stuff there. A massive range of old china, pictures, furniture and just about every old thing I could ever desire all. Unfortunately, there was just no way I would've been able bring it back with me on the train to London.

I'm still on the hunt for a perfect traditional blue platter. Unfortunately these were more antique shop prices than junk shop prices.

There was a grand selection of traditional Welsh blankets for sale. I'm still regretting not buying one as they were more reasonably priced than any you see in London.

Immediately next door to the antique shops (actually they are more like antique warehouses than shops) is the sweetest little garden centre. Again, I was tempted but sadly I couldn't see it being easy to drag plants back on the train.

All the spring flowers were putting on their best show. The tulips.

The grape hyacinths.

And especially the fritillaria. I've been besotted with this bulb ever since I saw photos of its little purple checked flowers in a book when I was just a wee girl. They don't grow in the Southern Hemisphere so I'm still quite fascinated by them. How are they checked? Just how? I did plant some bulbs last Autumn but sadly they don't seem to have come up unlike the rest of my Spring flowers.

I left the buying up to Mr Ukulele's mum, who came away with plants and a very sweet pressed glass cake stand.

I really wished we'd driven to Wales so I could have packed up a car with loads of plants and treasures from the antique stores. Maybe next Easter...