Six on Saturday – Turn Right

Everything has conspired against me in my Six on Saturday mission this week. I have had computer tantrums, a bread knife related finger injury and a dodgy camera. Did I let that stop me? Did I, hell as like! Captain Prop didn’t get to where he is today by letting an insignificant thing like a poorly pinkie stop him getting where he is today. Nor did he succeed by adhering to the rules, which is to my advantage because I haven’t either. My six are all about a day trip. Read on McReaders……..

I’ve been to the open air St Fagan’s National Museum of History many times. Scattered across wooded acres are reconstructions of Welsh buildings, rescued from the four corners of the country and rebuilt, brick by brick. There are iron age roundhouses and a 1948 prefab, a grand medieval court house and a beehive-shaped stone pig sty. There is a working mans’ institute, general stores, a bakery, a sweet shop and a fish and chip shop. You can look inside many of the buildings, which are furnished and often, if the weather necessitates, have a fire blazing. Fascinating stuff. I can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Since I last visited, admittedly a few years ago, they have installed a treetop walkway for kids and intrepid adults and a new pub project is in the process of building built.

In the main modern building, airy galleries house anthropological treasures including iron age jewellery, Neolithic skeletons, suffrage banners and a vintage Fergie tractor. Until quite recently the wonderful Everyman Theatre performed on site every summer. Beneath the heaven-reaching trees, we have enjoyed musical theatre, Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare. We would arrive in daylight but by the time we departed night had begun to fall. It was always a magical walk back to the car park past the ancient buildings, their history more lucid in the twilight. One year, when they were performing The Pirates of Penzance, buccaneers roamed the site leaping out and scaring the bejezus out of everyone.

Something, however, I have never done before is to turn right when entering the main park. In fact I didn’t even know there was a right. Oh dear, what a mistake. How has this happened? No one told me it was possible. Right takes you to St Fagan’s Castle and Gardens with its ancient fish ponds, champion trees, fallen mulberries -thriving in their prone positions, herbaceous borders, grass parterres and knot gardens, cut flower borders and decrepit vineries. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

And it gets even better. I spotted a gate in the boundary wall and through that gate was a pub. We nipped through, had a quick half and a sit down, met a puppy and fully refreshed returned to our exploration.

Then, on the way out, we discovered a wall full of second hand books for sale where I picked up Three Dublin Plays by Sean O’Casey. Gardens, history, beer, puppies, books; a tailor-made day trip, it couldn’t have got much better. Perhaps a plant sales area ……. maybe not.

There is a further twist to this story. My camera battery was getting low and subsequently the photos are very disappointing. Which is a bit of a blow as I wanted to use them for my Six this week. Which I have, because I figured it was better than nothing.

My first picture is a gorgeous sanguisorba in the mixed formal borders in front of the Castle which, if you are being picky, is in fact an Elizabethan mansion built on top of a Norman Castle. I was especially impressed by this planting, full of grasses and late flowering perennials.

Next we have a charming little prefab, which unfortunately we couldn’t go inside. I love the long leggy hypericum in front.

A row of terracotta with associated spiders webs.

One of the fallen mulberries, still producing fruit and looking beautiful in their gnarled splendour. I noticed they had planted some striplings for future generations to enjoy. And yes I did eat a berry.

The only good place for fake grass.

And yes, I saw several young girls who would have ideal for pickling and bottling.

That is your lot. Have a good week, one and all. Stay safe and well.