The sun has (at last) come out here in South Wales, and the days are getting longer, but strangely the temperatures have dropped again. Every morning this week, I have emerged from my home at 6am and had to de-ice my car to drive to work. In a bid to make myself feel warmer, I thought I’d look back at a local excursion I took last summer.
One of the downsides to living in an area where you didn’t grow up is that you miss out on visiting all the places that your local friends visited as part of school trips and family outings but are now bored of as an adult. I try to seek these places out, I suppose to bring myself up to speed with the lives of the people around me. One such place is St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life, just outside Cardiff. I’d heard people talking about St Fagans since I first moved to Wales 14 years ago, but I’d never had the opportunity to go. So I decided to direct my own fate and drive myself there.
Also known as St Fagans Museum of National History, the open-air museum is free (virtually unheard of in the UK), although you do have to pay £3.50 for parking. There’s also a local bus that runs from the city centre.
St Fagans, as it is simply refered to locally, is home to over forty original buildings from different historical periods that have been re-erected. Only two of the buildings are in their intended, original home. As well as the different types of buildings, which have all been renovated and furnished using traditional methods and products, there’s a full programme of events that take place at St Fagans. On the day I visited, a lovely and informative American lady demonstrated to us how she was making leather from the hide of an animal. There was also a theatre group there who were providing much entertainment for children of all ages, and a member of museum staff was always close by to answer questions and share their enthusiasm for the exhibits.
If you are unlucky to visit on a rainy day, there are indoor galleries as well. The museum is not just about history, either. Cultural symbols and recent victories for Wales are also explored, such as the recent development of a Welsh Scrabble board (which provided the inspiration for my friend’s 50th birthday present in December).