Saturday, 23 September 2017

Star Holiday:: Days Seven & Eight

Friday (Day Seven)::
It had been raining hard during the night- my bedroom was right up in the roof so you could hear the raindrops combining to a roar- which resulted in a rather exciting flash flood outside the house! The waters didn't rise up enough to get into the houses from what we could see, although some were close shaves, but the pretty stream running alongside us turned into a raging torrent of churned brown water. The most incredible part was the amount of water on the roads! The little village we were in, Star, is at the bottom of a valley surrounded by fields, so all of the water was pouring out from the highest points and flowing freely down the roads, meeting and swirling around at the crossroads below which was then being channeled into the rising waters of the stream.
We stayed inside to watch the proceedings, having a late cooked breakfast of eggs and bacon, drinking coffee and chatting to the housekeeper who turned up to check on the various holiday homes in the village. Apparently it was the worst weather she had seen for ten years-- lucky us!

At lunch time the waters had gone down sufficiently for us to drive the car through and we made our way to a nearby pub for some comfort food. The pub, The Nags Head, had been recommended to us by previous visitors, and I have to tell you that if you are ever in the area, definitely visit for a meal! The food was utterly delicious!! I had sausage and mash which sounds pretty inconspicuous, but the sausages were enormous and tasted divine, and I could have eaten a bowlful of the mashed potato on its own. Pudding was chocolate mousse with hot blackcurrant compote and homemade chocolate ice makes me hungry just to think about it!
As we were out on the road, after our meal we carried on out towards Aberporth which has a little sandy beach to walk along. This was much better in terms of beach treasure and I found lots of lovely shells and sea glass- hurrah!

I hope the above lady doesn't mind my putting her photo on my blog but I couldn't help taking a photograph of her as she walked her dogs along the waters edge- she looked like a model out of an Autumn edition country life magazine! The little white dog never came off of the lead (obviously a terror on the beach!) but the little brown dog was hilarious, leaping enthusiastically into the water after a branch and then hurtling out again in horror as a huge wave crashed in. Branches were flung and shaken and bitten and stamped on, it was so funny watching him play.
This was our last full day in our lovely Star Mill, so we mooched slowly back to begin packing and have a leisurely 'at home' evening, especially as it had begun to rain again!

Saturday (Day Eight)::
It started with the traditional last frantic run round of the house; checking that all cupboards and drawers were empty, all phone chargers had been unplugged and thrust into bags, all of the food was removed from the fridge and no toothpaste had been left in the bathrooms. The car was packed and laden with shells, Welsh cakes, gifts of honey and chutneys, as well as all of the usual holiday gubbins, and we waved goodbye to the house and set off to the National Showcaves Centre for Wales.

It's an interesting place with an eclectic mixture of attractions ranging from dinosaurs, shire horses, caves, gold panning and an Iron Age village. The dinosaurs stand out first as they glare out from behind trees and shrubs.There are apparently over two hundred dinosaurs in the park and they are all life size so some are very big indeed (and have very large teeth!)! Some looked more lifelike than others, and a couple even moved!

The caves were more interesting and there are three to visit. The first set of caves is Dan-yr-Ogof, a range of caves originally discovered by the Morgan Brothers (Tommy and Jeff) in 1912 via an initial cave where the river Llynfell emerges from the mountainside. Nowadays there is a clear pathway to follow which has been flattened and discreetly lit, but when they first found the caves the brothers would have used candles, a coracle (traditional style of boat) and ropes to explore with.
Some of the different formations have been named, such as the 'Alabaster Pillar' (above montage, bottom right), the 'Angel' (beneath montage, second row down, left hand photo) and the 'Rasher of Bacon' which I don't have any photos of as it was behind plastic.

Back outside and you are directed on a one way system around the park, which ensures that you don't miss anything, and to get to the second cave you have to walk past the Iron Age Village which is perched on a hilly field.
At the entrance to the Cathedral Cave is a Neolithic tribe of cave painters adding their bit of history to the cave entrance. Again this cave has been made as an easy access cave, but the most amazing thing as you walk through is the straw stalactites clinging on for dear life to the ceiling. There are hundreds of them! The main feature of this cave though is when you turn a corner and the ceiling opens up into a vast underground cavern. You can actually get married in here, and although throughout most of the year there are fantastic waterfalls leaping from the top of the cave and splashing down over the walkway, apparently these aren't completely natural and get turned off during ceremonies so that the bride can get to the makeshift cave alter without getting her dress wet. Would you want to get married in a cave?

The third cave is known as the Bone Cave as hundreds of different bones have been found here. The remains of bears, saber tooth cats, hyenas, great deer and wolves have been found here along with 42 human skeletons dating back to the Bronze Age. There is also evidence of Roman activity as pottery, coins, metal objects and jewelry have been discovered alongside some of the skeletons.

The Bone Cave is set up quite high on the mountain and you have to wear a hard hat for the climb up due to the low roofed walkway. It's a bit of a climb but does offer fabulous views over the valley below, which is steeped in history as represented inside the cave. I wonder what it would have looked like in the Bronze Age?
So, after having our fill of dinosaurs and various bits of potted history, we piled once more into the car and made the journey back home to Sussex where the cat was waiting, not quite patiently, for his tea. Straight back to normality! It was a lovely holiday, despite the weather, and there was so much inspiration to be had for my stitchscapes that I'm imagining lots of Welsh themed 'scapes will start appearing in the hoops soon!

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