Tuesday, 25 August 2015

We conquer the Llandovery one way system!

A combination of a break in the rain this morning and an almost empty
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd
Fychan of Caeo 
fridge encouraged us to make a visit to our nearest significant town, historic Llandovery. Its location at the centre of ancient routes linking Dyfed and Powys meant this has been an important strategic military centre since Roman and pre-Roman times. The motte and bailey castle, of which a later ruined stone wall remains, was first constructed in wood by the Normans in 1100. This site is now directly above the main town centre car park together with this fabulous statue of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan of Caeo, a loyal supporter of Owain Glyndwr. During Glyndwr's war of liberation from 1400-1416, Henry IV led his English army through Llandovery in search of his enemy. Llywelyn refused to betray Glyndwr and so, in 1401, was hung drawn and quartered in Llandovery market square. The statue was created by Toby and Gideon Petersen in 2001. In no way historically accurate, it is still powerful symbolically. There is more information and lots of photographs on Howard Williams' Archaeodeath blog post. This shield is at the base of the statue hill. I have no idea what the inscription says! Would any Welsh readers like to translate in a Comment ...?

Llandovery has quite an odd mix of shops. There is a high proportion of
Llandovery Castle 
cafes, pubs and gift-type shops, and several charity and vintage shops. However, other than a couple of banks, there were hardly any of the standard High Street names. The Post Office has a good range of greetings cards and gifts too. We did find a butchers, Mathew's, but the only greengrocery, other than within the surprisingly large CoOp, was outside what turned out to be a fabulous Aladdin's den of a shop. Iechyd Da is a wholefoods shop that also sells fresh sourdough breads and is absolutely crammed with deliciousness! We picked up local honey, smoked soya tofu and a new-to-us hazelnut tofu, half a dozen paper bags of organic fruits and vegetables, and a huge bag of organic oats for my porridge breakfasts. We could have spent even longer (and far more cash) there had we properly perused all the tins and jars too. Perhaps when we are back in town on Friday!

Getting out of Llandovery proved to be trickier than getting in.
Porthmon - a drover 
Resurfacing work on part of the one way system threw us off into a long residential road that came out almost exactly by where we started so we ended up following another mile long diversion that gained about thirty metres, but fortunately did bypass the roadworks. Llandovery isn't far from Cynghordy and, in theory, cyclable. However, we started a cycle ride yesterday and turned back after just half an hour. The hills are steep for out-of-practice puffers and the volume of traffic on these winding single track roads meant we spent more time jumping off our bikes to haul them out of the way than we did actually riding. There are footpath choices around here though so we are planning to get ourselves out for a walk soon. We also want to visit Brecon because we don't think we did when we were around this way for Dave's 65th birthday. Remembering his birthday, when we stayed in a gorgeous cottage on the Monmouth and Brecon canal, gives me an excuse to reblog his prize-winning photograph taken at the time - me walking in the Brecon Beacons!

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