Saturday, 26 September 2015

South Wales, Caerleon in Gwent, Roman Gems and King Arthur

Who's Casting a Shadow on St Cadoc's Church? ©Solange Hando

Have you ever heard of Caerleon?
Maybe not, but just three miles from Newport in Gwent, South Wales, this quiet flower-decked village reveals an amazing past.

Roman Amphitheatre in Caerleon ©Solange Hando

First it was the Celts, then the Romans arrived in AD 75, over 5000 of them, building a massive fortress which they named Isca after the river Usk.

But the Romans liked the good life and besides the remains of the barracks, you can still wonder at this lovely amphitheatre and the Baths -don't miss them, it's magic-, near the Legionary Museum where gems which slipped down the drain in Roman times are on display.

Living Arthurian Legends in Caerleon, South Wales ©Solange Hando

Later, they say, the Roman amphitheatre  became the seat of King Arthur's Round Table, after he was crowned in St Cadoc's, the parish church (top).

No one knows for sure but everyone loves a legend and along the High Street in Caerleon, the Forum greets visitors with a sculpture garden where Merlin, Guinevere and Morgan le Fey mingle with a host of legendary spirits.

The Famous Pub in Caerleon ©Solange Hando

Maybe this is what inspired the illustrious poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson, when he planned 'The Idylls of the King' in Caerleon's Hanbury Arms.

'The Usk murmurs by the windows,' he mused, 'and I sit like King Arthur at Caerleon... a most quiet village... with a little museum of Roman tombstones and other things.'

The River Usk seen from the Hanbury Arms ©Solange Hando

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana

Sunset on the River from Chobe Safari Lodge ©Solange Hando

The Chobe Safari Lodge is located on the bank of the river by the same name, on the edge of Botswana's oldest national park.

This sunset view was taken from the hotel Sedudu Bar, set on stilts at the water's edge, hopefully far enough from hippos and crocodiles.

Guest Room at the Chobe Safari Lodge, Botswana ©Solange Hando

The Chobe Safari Lodge has 8 rondavels, or thatched circular huts, and 68 rooms with balcony or raised patio. Rooms have air conditioning, mosquito nets and repellent, tea and coffee facilities and TV.
WiFi is available in public places and free of charge. Other amenities include a swimming pool, beauty salon, a craft shop, two bars and an open-sided restaurant.

Grounds are spacious with trees and lawns where you are sure to spot banded mongooses, monkeys and warthogs. There is also a camp site at the far end of the compound.

Colour in Rest Room ©Solange Hando

The lodge is tastefully furnished in African style with amazing wooden ceilings in public areas and lovely details here and there reflecting the skill of local craftsmen and artists, such as painted birds in in the rest room washbasins.

Dawn Safari, Expect the Unexpected ©Solange Hando

The Chobe lodge offers a range of activities from day trips to the Victoria Falls and visits to Zimbabwe or to the nearest Namibian village but top attraction is bird and game viewing either on water or land.

There are 560 species of birds in the park and all the big game you would expect except rhinos. Sightings can't be guaranteed but guides do their utmost to please their guests, even if it means getting stuck in the sand.

Watching us Watching them ©Solange Hando

No problem, they'd eaten well...