Sunday, 20 October 2013

Dylan Thomas Centre and St Fagans

Below is my “Days Out” column from The Weekend supplement in the Saturday, October 21, 2013, issue of the South Wales Evening Post.


Days Out! 
With Richard Thomas
Formerly the city's Guildhall, which was originally built in 1825, the Dylan Thomas Centre building was restored and refurbished to host the UK Year of Literature and Writing in 1995. Opened by former US President Jimmy Carter, one of the world's most famous Dylan Thomas enthusiasts, The Dylan Thomas Centre has a permanent exhibition on Dylan Thomas and his life and is also home to many literary events throughout the year. 
WHERE? The Dylan Thomas Centre is located in the in the Maritime Quarter near to Swansea Museum. 
 WHY? Between October 27 and 9 October the centre will be holding its annual Dylan Thomas Festeval. Highlights include the launch of a new Dylan Thomas centenary commission from Gillian Clarke; Doctor Who Day, a celebration of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary with talks, events, special guests including Louise Jameson, workshops and Daleks. We'll present an evening on The Killing, featuring two of the biggest names writing about it: crime and mystery novelist David Hewson and Emma Kennedy, author of The Killing Handbook. Fluellen offer a preview of their production of Rebecca's Daughters, John Goodby discusses his new critical study of Dylan's poetry, and there will be readings from Dylan's work in his old local, The Uplands Tavern.
 WHEN? The Dylan Thomas Centre is open 10am to 4.30pm seven days a week.
 CONTACT: To book tickets for an event phone 01792 463980.
 HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? Event times vary. For information about the different event times visit:
 WHO WILL ENJOY IT? As well as hosting artistic events, the centre also houses the permanent "Man and Myth" Dylan Thomas exhibition, the largest collection of memorabilia of its kind in the world. This exhibit is designed to appeal to the Dylan Thomas expert and interested visitor alike. 
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? To celebrate Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, on 2 November it is Doctor Who Day at the centre, experts and aficionados of the series will be on hand to discuss its history and future, with a children's art workshop, a writers' panel, and a visit from the Daleks. 
 HOW DO I GET THERE? For sat nav users the centre's address and postcode is: Somerset Place, Swansea, SA1 1RR. 
 WHERE CAN I PARK? A pay and display car park is situated just a short walk away from the Museum on Oystermouth Road. For sat nav users the postcode is SA1 3RD.
 LUNCH? Afterwards you can relax at the Meridian Tower, the tallest building in Wales, where on the top floor diners can enjoy first class Mediterranean cuisine and spectacular views of Swansea in the Grape and Olive.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? There are two excellent museums nearby to visit. Swansea Museum on Victoria Road has six galleries containing all kinds of unusual objects from Swansea’s past as well as the wider world. One highlight is The Amazing Cabinet of Curiosities gallery dedicated to everything Victorian, an era that was obsessed with the bizarre and strange. There are also Egyptology exhibits including an Ancient Egyptian mummy see. And just down the road is National Waterfront Museum which houses more than 100 historical artefacts from Wales’ industrial past.
Enjoy a walk through history from Celtic times to the present at St Fagans: National History Museum.
St Fagans is one of Europe's leading open–air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction. Open to the public since 1948, the museum stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle and gardens, a late 16th-century manor house donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth. Entry is free. For more information visit:
WHERE? St Fagans is situated on 100 acres of parkland near Cardiff. Located inside the site are over 40 original buildings from different historical periods, which have been re-erected over the last 50-years.  Among these historical gems are old fashioned houses, as well as a farm, school, chapel and a Workmen's Institute.
WHY? At St Fagans traditional crafts and activities help bring the past back to life. Inside the museum’s workshops craftsmen demonstrate traditional skills and their produce are for sale if you want to take home some souvenirs. Native breeds of livestock can also be seen in the fields and farmyards, and demonstrations of farming tasks take place daily too.
WHEN? The museum is open daily between 10am and 5pm.
CONTACT: Phone 029 2057 3500.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? Allow at least between 2 and 4 hours for your visit. With so many interesting buildings to see, you can spend the whole day at St Fagan’s and have lots left to see on your next visit.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? Anyone with an interest in Welsh history and culture will enjoy exploring the 100-acre area packed with re-erected historical buildings. A visit to the Rhyd-y-Car Ironworkers' Houses is almost like traveling through time as you see six homes, their contents and gardens change from 1805 to 1985. Other popular locations include St Teilo's Church built in stages between 1100 and 1520, as well as Kennixton Farmhouse dating from 1610.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
HOW TO GET THERE? St Fagans: National History Museum is located 4 miles west of Cardiff City Centre, just off the A4232. For sat-nav users the full address and postcode is: St Fagans National History Museum Cardiff CF5 6XB.
LUNCH:  The assisted-service Vale Restaurant, situated on the first floor of the museum, serves hot and cold lunches; a range of sandwiches, baguettes & salads; home-made soup; cakes; and hot and cold drinks. The restaurant is family friendly and a range of children’s sandwich boxes and meals are also available.
There is also the Gwalia Tea Rooms, a traditional 1930's tea room serving light lunches and afternoon teas, as well as the Cafe Bardi, situated in the Main Entrance Hall, which as well as hot and cold drinks, serves a variety of home-made cakes, sandwiches, boxed salads and soup.
WHERE CAN I PARK? There is a car park on site, but this costs £3.50.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? Dominating Cardiff city centre is Cardiff Castle, a remarkable site with a history that spans over 2000 years to Roman times.

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