We stopped for one night in Cardiff on the way to the south coast of Wales and I must admit, it isn’t a city I would recommend visiting. Maybe we simply went to the wrong places; Cardiff felt like nothing more than a large town, let alone a capital city. For a couple of nights away shopping and eating out, the city centre is ideal, but with no motive to shop, we were pretty stuck on how to kill time.
Cardiff castle, built in the late 11th century, stood proud but was surrounded by nothing more than sad looking gift shops, Greggs and Starbucks. Along the River Taf I expected coffee shops and bars, but those were hidden in the back streets and the area around the river was pretty empty.
We drove to Cardiff Bay the next morning which had a lovely array of sea front restaurants. They were empty as you’d expect on a Monday morning. The October sun was surprisingly warm and looked beautiful shimmering on the waters surface. I imagine this would be a lovely place for lunch in the peak of summer.
the view from the tenth floor, Premier Inn
We then drove to the south coast of Wales to a small town called Laugharne. It’s a remote area with no phone service, instead is surrounded by nature and the aroma of farms. We stayed for three nights with no plans and no time schedule that we would be dedicated to. Instead, we were here for a break – to get away from school work and to clear my head; to escape from reality for a bit and enjoy some time to myself and with family.
The lodge we stayed in had a pristine grey and white colour scheme with quirky vintage lights and decor. Cozy and spacious, with views overlooking the glass-like river and miles of hills, it was lush.
Laugharne is where poet and writer Dylan Thomas lived with his family. The water front pathway, Dylan’s birthday walk, led us right up to his writing shed which was left an organised chaos inside. Beside the water also lie a beautiful, historical ruin, an old castle looking out at the river estuary. We also found the boat house, an old miniature home where Dylan Thomas once lived, turned cafe which served traditional welsh cakes and snacks.
Inside Dylan Thomas’ writing shed
At the lodge during the late afternoon, I went in the hot tub outside. Slipping into the warmth and falling away from the chill on my skin, I loosened the tension in my shoulders and admired the view down below. The sun continued to bounce off of the water where the river came face to face with the sea.
Thirty minutes away from Laugharne, a harbour town called Tenby possessed narrow, cobble roads of bookstores, sweetshops and antique treasures. We climbed a hill (the path hidden by autumn leaves) beside the ruins of Tenby castle and overlooked the shoreline: Castle beach on the right. The bright sun continued its battle with the cool sea breeze. At the top of the hill was also a museum and art gallery, much more to see and do than in Laugharne.
The selection of accents and large amount of people taking photographs suggested Tenby was a popular location for tourists and locals. We got some fudge which felt like silk on the tongue, then we sauntered back through the pastel coloured buildings before hopping in the car and heading back to the lodge.
Back at the lodge, I continued reading, entirely gripped on the story. As evening rose, the same painted view that we witnessed last night lay behind the window. Washes of pink and orange smudged across the sky; a shade of blue that you would expect to appear too blue if it was a piece of art in a gallery. Walking up to the window and watching the sky bounce off of the water’s reflection, I had an instant urge to go outside and brave the cold to absorb the scene. I ignored my phone on my bed and ran outside, throwing on a hoodie. I didn’t want to take photos, just appreciate what I could see.
As I got outside, the cool October breeze grazed across my cheeks. I could feel the sharpness becoming a pale splash of red upon my face. I thought about the significance of the past few days and drowned in satisfaction. The aim was to relax and spend time on myself, and I’ve done just that. I’ve read and I’ve tried to get back into playing guitar, past times I have admittedly missed. I haven’t done any school work, unusual for me, or revised for my theory driving exam despite planning to. I’ve done what I wanted to do instead of what I felt that I should do to pass my time, an impossible mission for me prior to this trip.
I feel like I’ve developed an unexplainable strength and power which may be as a result of my satisfaction. Regardless, I can’t resist smiling at the timeless qualities before me. The bubbles giggling in the hot tub challenge the surrounding peace and the spontaneous rumble in my stomach reminds me that mum is cooking a hearty roast dinner inside. Suddenly the cold feels even sharper than before and I shiver, running back to the warmth and coziness of our lodge.