Sunday, April 12, 2015

UK Adventure 2015, Day 5: Caerphilly isn't a new kind of cream cheese.

Other than my aforementioned excursion to the Doctor Who Experience, my time in Cardiff has been deliberately rather laid-back. I spent time either out enjoying the weather by the bay or catching up with writing in my room. My legs feel all that walking I never have to do at home and, while I don't mind it personally, I don't want to be embarrassingly wobbly when I return to London.

I found myself with a bit more time on my hands than I was prepared for, and I have the hotel room 'til Saturday morning. I pondered a day of idling by the bay, but Matthew Graham suggested I hop a train and go look in on Caerphilly Castle. The castle is the largest in Wales and the second largest in the UK, and has been used in a variety of TV shows (specifically here, two of Matt's Doctor Who episodes, 'The Rebel Flesh' and 'The Almost People'). I enjoy filming locations, and it wasn't far at all, so I took a train to Caerphilly to see what was up.

Caerphilly is built encircling the castle, and is (if Wikipedia and my calculator serve me) about 1/6 the size of my hometown of Newport News population-wise. It's the sort of size and layout of town I'm not used to back home, and that I'm actually rather fond of visiting when I come over.

I stopped for late lunch at the Grazing Ground, a small tea shop I passed by while looking for a Costa. The people at the counter were really lovely and friendly, the tea was good, and the soup (carrot and coriander) was excellent. I set off for a ramble after that, figuring I'd find my way to the castle eventually if it was in the middle of everything anyway.

It was, and I did. Before I knew it, I was on the path that led straight to it, along with what appeared to be a wedding party. There were other sightseers, yes... but there was definitely some high class stuff going down.

That turned my visit into a bit of stealth hide-and-seek as I attempted to get around the insides of the castle without inadvertently photobombing the wedding party. It's got a few educational/informative setups within, but is mostly a maze of unmarked towers and hallways and stairwells for your roaming enjoyment.

In one room was a set of four abstract metal heads facing each other in a square, with the backs of each depicting a scene from a joint story they all told. Dubbed 'The King,' 'The Wife,' 'The Villain,' and 'The Lover,' they represent King Edward II, his wife Isabella, Edward's best friend Hugh Le Despencer, and Isabella's lover Roger Mortimer. As it happens, it's a rather recent art installation known as the Caerphilly heads.

I managed to escape without ending up in any wedding photos and took the train home to rest up for my trip back to London on Saturday. Everything from here on out will end up being relatively fast and loose and up in the air.

I can't wait to see what happens.