Castles, castles and more castles!

So I’ve now left Bangor for good! It’s strange to write that and to say it mainly because it’s makes me a little sad that this era of my life is over. Also, I am currently suffering the pains of trying to find a full time job which is a lot more difficult than I previously thought (it would help if there were more jobs for people to apply for or if experience wasn’t such an important matter!) But this isn’t the main focus for this blog post, it is the travelling I did in the weeks before I left. I thought that it would be good to start using this blog as my main travel account and start writing about the types of people that I meet and anything weird or quirky that takes my fancy. So let’s begin.

One of the main things I did just before I left Bangor as to travel around North Wales visiting some of the castles. Now I’m sure some of you will know that I am a major history geek! Medieval history is my love and if I could I would do another degree completely devoted to history. But I cannot afford to do it so I just learn about what I can in my spare time. One of the best things about living in Wales was the rich history that surrounded the area. North Wales was very important between the 1100s and the 1300s as it was the constant source of hardship for the Norman (Plantagenet) kings at the time. But once Edward I or Longshanks was able to claim all of Wales for his own he decided to build 5 castles in the North to make sure that it didn’t leave his control. The 3 castles I visited are part of this grouping.

First off, I went to Beaumaris with Ryan. I’ve been there many times before as part of family holidays but Ryan had never been so we went together. It’s interesting seeing how someone else reacts to a place like this. I knew my way around and some of the history surrounding it’s construction but Ryan was ignorant to this as he did not know much about Wales during this period. It was a good chance for me to share my knowledge and passion and educate someone on what had roughly happened during this period. It’s important to note that Beaumaris was the last and most castle to be built and it was never finished as the English crown ran out of money before it’s completion.

This is what makes this castle so strange to me, as it never had anyone living or working there properly. Although the outer walls were finished the inner keep never was and it’s strange to imagine how it would have looked as there are only concept designs from the architect. I often try to put myself in the shoes of people who lived during that time when I’m wandering through places like this but I couldn’t and there isn’t anybody who can because nobody walked along the parapets or stared out across the menai straits. But it is a good place to visit and be astounded at what could be achieved.

The next castle I visited was Conwy. This time I went with my friend Luke but I had been once before with Ryan in March but I’m never going to pass up the chance to walk around a castle. I always feel a childish joy of being able to do so. This castle is different to Beaumaris primarily because it was finished and some kings and queens actually lived in it. The layout also shows that this was to be a workable castle meaning that there would be people here practically everyday seeing to the running of this part of the country/island. Walking up and down the stairs made me feel really strange as I knew that some very important people will have walked the same path.

What’s nice about Conwy castle is the fact that there is a lot of it still in tact and you can see where all the different rooms were and where the separating walls would have been. It’s just a shame that certain features of it are now gone such as the Royal walkway that lead to the personal dock of the King and Queen. You walk down to part of it but then there is a giant fence blocking you off from the rest of it. I suppose that an exposed walkway was liable to breaking with the weather that is experienced in that part if the world. It’s nice to know that certain things from the past are looked after and made up but it’s a shame that so many historical sites in the UK were left to fall into disrepair for so many years.

On the note of things being looked after, it brings me onto Caernarvon Castle. I’ve never visited this castle before but I have been to the place where it is found. I went wandering this time with Luke and Graham. Now this castle is different from all the other CADW castles in this part of Wales and that’s because this one has to be kept in a good condition as it is still used for the investiture of the new Princes of Wales. Because of this there is also a giant museum in one section of the castle that houses a lot of information about the wars that have been fought by England and Wales during Modern History. I never knew that a castle could hold such an extensive museum but then again this castle is a lot bigger on the inside. I secretly suspect it is a TARDIS. I have honestly never been in so much awe as I have when I visited this place. The fact that the majority is still open to visitors is amazing and walking around the place made me realise jsut how much has changed since it was first built.

With every castle you will notice that people were a different size back when they were constructed whether it’s the narrow walkways or the low ceilings you can tell that life was different back then. Whenever I’m walking up and down the winding staircases I think of how difficult it must have been for people to run up and down them in times of need and especially in armour. I’m not one of the widest people and yet certain sections became difficult for me to walk through never mind if I’d have had some metal plates on top of me. Also the staircases are so dark! I don’t how people walked up and down them with a torch in their hand, I’d have definitely fallen but then in retrospect I suppose it would have been normal for people to walk up them and you wouldn’t have the fear of falling up or down them.

Travelling around Wales for the week made me realise how much I’d missed travelling and I’m hoping that one day in the future I will have enough money to go even further afield and possibly travel for longer. But until then you will have to contend yourselves with the holiday travel blogs and potential travelling around the UK.

Hasta la fuego

Lauren x

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