This weekend sees Wales' biggest and best food festival
come to Abergavenny.
The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst
foodies will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving
visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales.
Complementing the stalls are a variety of masterclasses, tastings
and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with
workshops, story telling and live music.
Don't worry if you can't make it to Abergavenny, there are two
more great food festivals coming up over the next few
Look our for the Bridgend
Food Feastival (26-27 September) and the Newport Food Festival (4 October)
Event - Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Location - Porthcawl
Date - 26 - 28 September
On the face of it Porthcawl seems to be a typical British
seaside resort. Just 30 minutes from Cardiff, the town has
everything you would expect - sandy beaches, a fairground, seafront
Grand Pavilion and of course fish and chip shops.
Every September, the otherwise tranquil town comes alive as the
unlikely venue for one of the world's biggest and best Elvis
The Porthcawl Elvis Festival sees the town swamped with fans,
lookalikes and tribute acts all enjoying the atmosphere and the
various concerts and events throughout the area.
The festival is centred on the historic Grand Pavilion, a
traditional sea front theatre which is host to the main concerts
but the whole town gets in on the act with various events happening
throughout the resort all weekend.
The highlight of the weekend is the big Elvies award ceremony
where the best Elvis impersonators are rewarded for their work.
Continuing to build on the success of hosting the 2010
Ryder Cup, the Celtic Manor Resort near Newport will find itself
back in the golfing spotlight this week as it hosts the 2014 Wales
First held in 2000 the tournament is now firmly established on the
European Tour and attracts some of the biggest names in golf.
This year's competitors include Lee Westwood, Jamie Donaldson and
More information is available on the website
know all about our castles, museums and other well-known
attractions by now. But aside from all those, there are a
plethora of hidden gems lurking throughout the region, each with
their own story and ability to make any trip to Wales a memorable
The Guardian Memorial
It's been compared to the Angel of the North, and it's easy to see
Towering above the village of Six Bells, in the heart of the Valleys, the Guardian
stands as a monument to the mining industry that once dominated
It stands on the site of the former Six Bells Colliery, not that
you'll know it, given how you are now surrounded by meadows and
wildlife. The inscriptions on the base of the statue
commemorates the lives lost at the 1960 Six Bells disaster.
Nearby, Ty Ebbw Fach houses a small exhibition on the statue as
well as a café, making it an ideal places for a refreshment
For more information, please visit the website
Nestled at the heart of the Southern
Wales is perhaps the most famous valley in the world.
Once upon a time, the Rhondda Valley produced the coal
that powered the world.
How times change, the pits and heaps have long gone to be replaced
by glorious countryside and great mountain top views.
There are still reminders of the area's past, not least at the
Rhondda Heritage Park, where in the company of an ex miner you
embark on an Underground Experience Tour. Find out what life was
like for the men (and indeed boys) who worked in the mines.
Up above the valley, the views from the mountain tops are
spectacular. There are many walks and routes to follow, not least
from the Dare Valley Country Park. Who knows, they might lead to
historic sites or hidden waterfalls.
The valley actually stretches all the way up to the Brecon
Beacons. And it is here, in the foothills of the mountains
that you will find the tiny village of Penderyn, home to the only
whisky distillery in Wales.
They started production here in 2000 and the first bottle was
released on St David's Day in 2004. It was the first whisky to be
(legally!) produced in Wales since the 19th century. The distillery
is situated on a natural spring and it uses this water, to produce
The visitor centre opened in 2008 and gives visitors a tour
explaining how the distilling process works. Even better, at the
end of the tour you get the chance to sample the whisky (or vodka,
gin or cream liquor that they also produce).
For more information on this region of Southern Wales, please visit the website.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Caerphilly is all
about the castle.
To be fair, covering 120,000 m2 Caerphilly Castle does tend to
dominate the town. It was built by Norman invaders but it was
an attack during the 17th century that left the castle
with its most striking feature - a leaning tower, which at 10
degrees has more of a tilt than its more famous counterpart in
When you've finished exploring it there is a lot more to do in
this corner of Southern Wales. A journey of 8 miles and
almost 400 years brings you to Llancaiach Fawr Manor and the
year 1645. You'll meet the servants of the manor who are busy
looking after the house for the master, Colonel Pritchard.
They'll regale you with tales of what life is like for them
amidst the turmoil of the civil war which rages around them.
What you need with so much history in an area is a museum to bring
it all together. Well, luckily for Caerphilly there's the Winding House. As the
name suggests, the building housed the winding mechanism for the
local colliery (in fact you can still see the engine in action on
special days throughout the year). Today the museum is home
exhibitions and artefacts charting the area's past.
Back in the 21st century and over in the next
valley is Cwmcarn Forest's
Mynydd, quite possibly the biggest, hardest, most
technical downhill mountain biking track in the country. It
also has terrific views over South Wales, not that you'll be able
to take them in as you hurtle down the side of the mountain.
There are also a number of other tracks at the centre if you're not
quite up to the big one or if you're after something a little more
sedate you can enjoy the beautiful 7 mile long forest drive.
To find our more about Caerphilly, please visit the website
The Wye Valley and Vale of Usk is
an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it's not difficult to see
The rolling countryside is a magnet for walkers with some
well-known and popular trails including the Offa's Dyke Path. It is
also where the Wales Coast Path begins (or
ends, depending on which way around you're going). In fact,
Offa's Dyke and the coast path join up so that you can complete a
whole circuit of Wales if you really want to!
The plenty of historic attractions too. There are castles
galore including the first one to be built at Chepstow and the last one too
at Raglan. One of the most
impressive monuments is Tintern Abbey standing
proudly on the banks of the River Wye.
Why not combine walking with history by doing the Three Castles Walk which is a
20 mile triangular walk taking in White Castle, Skenfirth Castle
and Grosmont Castle.
The area also has a reputation for excellent food. There are
plenty of top class restaurants or cosy country pubs to choose from
whilst Abergavenny's Angel Hotel is renowned for its Afternoon Teas - well worth
indulging. Don't miss the Abergavenny Food Festival each
September which is an excellent chance to see (and of course taste)
the best of the area's produce.
For more information on the area please visit the website
Don't be fooled by the name. Whilst it has plenty
of modern features, NEWport has an abundance of
In fact, you can trace the area's history all the way back to
Roman times. Just to the north of Newport City Centre lies Caerleon. A pretty,
quiet town today, but 2000 years ago it was one of the furthest
outposts of the might Roman Empire.
And you don't have to look far to find traces of its past.
The remains of the amphitheatre, once the site of blood thirsty
"entertainment" and the barracks, once home to 5000 soldiers are
prominent, whilst the baths and National Roman Legion Museum are
also well worth a visit.
Elsewhere, the area's history encompasses a medieval ship discovered
beneath the mud of the River Usk, a 17th century mansion, once
home to some rather eccentric aristocrats, and one of only eight Transporter Bridges still
operating anywhere in the world.
It's not all about the history though. The area does
contemporary too. It boasts some of the best and most
luxurious hotels and resorts in the Southern Wales
For instance, the Celtic Manor can be found here
- you can stay in one of their five star bedrooms, enjoy a
sumptuous meal in one of the restaurants, relax and unwind in the
spa or enjoy a round of golf on one of their three courses - just
like some of the world's best golfers did when the Ryder Cup was hosted here in
To find out more about visiting Newport, click on
It's all very well me writing this blog and telling you
about all about the wonderful things you can do in and around
Bridgend and Porthcawl. After all that's my job. But
what do locals love about their area?
Well, our friends at BridgendBites have invited people to
film their "Perfect Day" videos.
And what a range of videos they've come up with - golf, shopping, horse riding, mountain biking, quad biking, surfing. Even fashion
designer David Emanuel has got in on
the act, reminiscing about how he spent his "Perfect Day" growing
up in the area.
So take a look at all the videos by clicking
here and let us know what would make your "Perfect
Gwent…or head of the Gwent valleys if you want to know what it
means. Being at the top of these valleys, it comes as no
surprise that the area has a number of lofty claims to fame.
It has the highest town in Wales - Brynmawr, standing at 380
metres above sea level. It is also home to the highest golf
course in Wales, with the West Mon course standing at
457 metres. It also has one of the tallest sculptures in
Wales - Six Bell's Guardian memorial
towering 20 metres over the village below.
As well as all these giant geographical landmarks, it also an area
that celebrates political giants. Tredegar was the home town
to Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS. In fact, the place
where he first cut his teeth in politics, Bedwellty House is now open to
the public. Together with the surrounding parkland, it is now
one of the most popular attractions in the area.
Other attractions in the area include the Festival Park shopping village
and Parc Bryn Bach, a acres of
green space, morrland and lake - ideal for all sort of outdoor
Click the links to take a look at what else Blaenau Gwent and the
surrounding Valleys can offer.