National Botanic Gardens Wales
These short clips of the National Botanic Gardens Wales near Carmarthenshire say it all! We really love the wonderful gardens which are less than half an hour from Old Oak Barn. Excellent value throughout the year, there is always something going on at weekends too. Admission prices can be found here.
Visitors always speak positively of the attraction and during the holidays there are extra events put on for children which are always popular. The recent upgrading of the playground has especially been appreciated and the Butterfly House too of course is a fantastic addition. Read some recent reviews here.
The big thing at the moment of course are the fabulous displays of snowdrops which are worth a visit this month. Next weekend is infact Snowdrop Weekend and it is expected that they will be at their best. However, here at Old Oak Barn we are now fully booked until 10 February when we do have a short weekend break available. If interested please contact me for more details.
Year of Legends 2017
Wales is having a Year of Legends 2017 next year when tourism will be thinking about promoting attractions and events to people across the world! Carmarthenshire is one of the most mythical landscapes in Britain. Its many legends give us all a sense of place and there are lots to choose from if you want to visit somewhere nearby where these stories occured.
Special events will focus on some of the great Welsh Legends for example Hedd Wyn and Hywel dda. The Year of Legends is about the old infused with the modern day. It’s about showcasing the real Wales in a way that is alive with fresh talent and ideas. It’s about being unmistakably Wales and Welsh and internationally outstanding. But the Year of Legends isn’t simply about telling a tale. It’s about immersing people in an epic story. It’s about creating legendary experiences for everyone. And finding the legend within us all!
The most local stories concern the Merched Beca or Rebecca Riots when men dressed as women in disguise and smashed up the toll gates one of which was in St Clears. In 1837 and 1838 the whole country suffered very poor harvests, worse in this part of Wales and awful rain forced farmers to buy corn at famine prices to feed themselves, their animals and their families, which further eroded what little capital they had. Grain harvests collapsed and in 1839 the first protests led by “Rebecca” destroyed the toll-gates at Yr Efail Wen in two attacks in Carmarthenshire. The next time the Rebeccas assembled was roughly three years later, when Tom Bullin was allowed to raise a tollgate by the Mermaid Tavern near St Clears. Its a great story and although true some embellishments have crept into the surviving legend.
What else is happening in Year of Legends 2017?
Maps, information and events to promote legendary walks across Wales such as the Wales Coast Path (first of its kind in the world), Glyndŵr’s Way, Offa’s Dyke Path. Legendary food experiences — will give visitors the chance to sample the best local produce, such as Welsh Mead. Storytelling sessions will be organised. Local legends will be celebrated and pop up events are being planned. Here at Old Oak Barn we are making plans to be involved as well!
Old Oak Barn is well situated for you to get involved in local and community events so watch this space for more information!
Some of the more famous legends include Twm Sion Cati,
The Lady of Llyn Fach is a wonderful example of a beautiful story – watch this short youtube video to learn a little more.
Merlin is one of the more local myths to us here at the cottage. He was it is said born and brought up in Carmarthen and some will remember the Old Oak which disappeared in 1982 and the surrounding myth.
Over the next few weeks we will be writing a few more blogs about Wales Legends and Myths.
Bargain Hunt Carmarthen
Bargain Hunt comes to Carmarthen on Saturday 2 April! The venue is The National Gardens of Wales which is of course just a few miles out of the town off the A40 less than 20 minutes from the end of the M4 and just over 20 minutes from Old Oak Barn!
The Gardens of Wales as they are known are a fantastic day out at anytime of the year and our visitors nearly always spend a day there. It is great value and suitable for all ages. There are often extra activities for children during school holidays. If you would like to know anything more about this event, please telephone 01267 220260/07790 293 367.
There may be over 100 stalls displaying their goodies! Both inside the Great Glasshouse and other buildings plus outside, in a Vintage Market which is being set up for the day. Opening at 10 a.m, we are sure it will attract lots of visitors. There is plenty of parking and refreshments can be bought from inside the Gardens. At this time of year all the Spring flowers will be on show and so although the beautiful daffodils may be passing there will be lots more plants and trees on show.
We are full booked that weekend for Bargain Hunt Carmarthen and until 10 April at the moment but you may well be lucky and find somewhere to stay locally or visit the gardens just for the day! But this is Laugharne Festival weekend too so get looking now if you want a weekend away soon! It is also the Wales Weekend of Adventure! when loads of extra things are planned across Wales so second thoughts definitely get booking now if you want overnight accommodation!
In Narberth at this time of year there is a hive of activity with lots of Christmas events and Christmas shopping going on! It is a mecca for independent shops and in particular craft shops and art galleries. Perhaps the most popular is the well established Susie’s Uggs workshop owned, managed and run by the very experienced and effervescent Susie! At this time of year she and her merry crew work long into the night making sure Christmas orders are met. This I am told can be challenging but customers know they can rely on a great service and hundreds of parcels are sent off in time for Christmas.
The boots have a unique design and a very wide range of colour combinations. The boots and slippers have a warm and cosy feeling and are so comfortable to wear! I say this from experience! Phone Susie on 01834 861047 for a real person and great customer service. Our visitors to Old Oak Barn often drop by and go back year after year because they know they get wonderful original hand made footwear which will last and last. Photos 3 and 4 courtesy of Susie’s website and Owen but the rest I took!
Susie also does bags and hats and other goodies. Check out their website which now has an online shop too!
Llyn Y Fan Fach
This is one of Carmarthenshire’s most beautiful walks and I’m not surprised it features in Lonely Planets top 1000 must see sites across the whole world! We walked it on a beautiful September day with a little cloud cover coming and going which made the shadows and light all the more fantastic to see! The 5K walk starts at the car park with a gentle stroll initially along a firm track. Be warned though – the road from Llandeusant to the car park is full of potholes! For those staying at Old Oak Barn we can provide extra information on how to get there and what to expect!
Heading towards the little trout farm you are flanked by gushing mountain streams and some great views of the distant peak of Pen Y Fan. You will reach Llyn Y Fan Fach in about half an hour – the walk is suitable for most people but if you want to ascend further to the top then allow about 5 hours and suitable clothing and footwear. It is here at the lake that as ancient legend has it a beautiful lady still lives! The story goes that back in the 13th century a farmer grazing cattle nearby spotted the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She agreed to marry him on one proviso – that he must not hit her more than twice. You can guess what happened! In time, yes .. the inevitable happened – three strikes, and the otherworldly wife disappeared back into the lake, taking her magic cows with her. The valley, the guide adds, is rich in medicinal herbs and bog plants, suggesting this may be the mistreated fairy maiden’s healing legacy. It is also linked to story of the Physicians of Myddfai.
Today it is grazed by hundreds of sheep who do a good job at putting up with walkers! The views north from the lake are amazing. We ran out of time to continue to walk to the very top but spoke to some who had who were delighted with their efforts! The spot is actually in Carmarthenshire and in the Black Mountains too which itself is part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. You can read more about the lake – its history and geology if you visit here.
Old Oak Barn flowers are much enjoyed!
I have always taken huge pleasure in growing flowers. For over 40 years now I have sown lots of annuals and during our 28 years here at Cwmpalis I have certainly developed my own random gardens which provide variety, colour and interest. For me one of the pleasures is being able to pick them to enjoy inside. Increasingly though I value watching the birds feed on the seeds be it Red Hot Pokers in July or the later flowering sunflowers. Growing winter bird food naturally is something we can all do!All the photos here were taken by myself and all the flowers have been picked and then displayed ready for visitors to the barn. Some of the favourites are of course sweet peas! The other benefit of course to growing plenty of fragrant flowers is that it helps the bees!If flowers are a little scarce or unavailable then I can improvise and use some of the many herbs – the display on the left includes parsley, marjoram, sage, rosemary and fennel.
Garden of Wales
Only a short drive from Old Oak Barn, The National Botanic Gardens of Wales have some great events coming up this Autumn. The garden is both a visitor attraction and a centre for research and conservation. It has the world’s largest single-span glasshouse measuring 110m long by 60m wide designed by Lord Foster. Nearly all our visitors drop in for the afternoon or for longer. During this summer 2015 children have been treated to lots of extra activities. We think you too will enjoy a visit this Autumn. It is one of Carmarthenshire’s top attractions!
The programme for September at The Garden of Wales is as follows:-
Orchid Festival (the 5th and 6th);
World music ‘Month of Sundays’ (6th, 13th, 20th & 27th);
Chrysanthemum Weekend (12th and 13th);
Food Fair (September 19-20);
Over 50s Day – with Special VIP guest Esther Rantzen on the 25th;
MG car rally on the 27th;
Tuesday Tours of the Great Glasshouse (Sep 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29).
Please visit their website for lots more information on what to expect. It is open nearly every single day of the year from 10.am. Just closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day infact!
Established just a few years now “The Spooky Magic Carmarthen” tour entertains visitors with a look at the creepy past and includes some grissly stories from centuries ago. You will also take part in some unusual magical experiments involving ghosts, murder weapons, antique photographs and a witch trial. We recommend this attraction and think you too will be highly intrigued at some of the stories even though they often look at rather unsavoury characters. Nick is obviously a gifted raconteur!
Creepy Carmarthen tours continue every Wednesday evening from now until the end of September – the next one takes place on Wednesday 2nd September at 7pm. To book please call 01267 231557. Adult tickets are £7.50 each, children & OAPs are £5 and a family ticket is available for two adults and up to three children for £23. All walks depart from Carmarthen Guildhall.
Highly recommended by Trip Advisor, winner of the “Visitor Experience of the Year” at the Carmarthenshire Tourism Awards in 2013 – the walk is a must for both visitors and locals alike. Have a read of the reviews to learn more!
If staying at Old Oak Barn then we can organise your evening out for you!
Tin Shed Laugharne
They call this an “experience” – Tin Shed Experience and that is exactly what it is! A fantastic trip down memory lane in a fairly recently established little quirky museum in the centre of Laugharne. It has been set up and is still run by two locals who obviously have a passion for war time memorabilia! No techy displays here but instead either Seimon or Andrew or one of their trusty volunteers are on hand to tell you in person all about each exhibit – it is a not for profit organisation.
Tin Shed Experience is open Wed – Sunday usually from 10.am or sometimes by arrangement. Best to check their website for exact times. There is a small entrance fee for the museum and a donation bucket too! Donations are greatly appreciated and will help ensure the operation of the museum through the coming years. About 75% of the museum has been rebuilt using recycled materials and they are always on the lookout for unwanted tin or timber or indeed more memorabilia!
This picture shows the exhibit of the famous locally born pilot who fought in WW1 and WW2 “Ira Jones” – a local hero!
There are lots of interesting bits and pieces – some fascinating items which have somehow just landed in the museum by chance. The dressed models have been lovingly put together with great attention to detail. Lots of local schools now visit the museum so that children can see for themselves a little bit of Welsh History. Why not visit yourselves soon to find out more.
This year in 2015 Tin Shed Experience in Laugharne has been voted the third best museum in Wales just behind St Fagans and Big Pit! Congratulations!
Unlike many local attractions Heatherton nr Tenby has free admission! You simply pay for what you play on. This lets visitors choose what they want to partake in before purchasing tickets. Anyone prefering not to get actively involved can simply watch and take pleasure from seeing their friends and family enjoy themselves. I am sure that many will decide to have a few goes on things when they see how much fun the park is! This year there has been a big investment in the park with extra rides including Zorb Football, a Hedge Maze and two Hobbit Houses for children. Some playground equipment is free for little ones too.
It is now open from 10 in the morning until 6pm. It is only about 30 minutes from Old Oak Barn. Our visitors often go for the day and then stop off in Tenby on their way back to St Clears.
Heatherton has received a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Adviser in 2015. Congratulations – we can see why you are the No 2 attraction in the Tenby area!