SWANSEA-PARKS, BEACHES AND A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Many people bypass Swansea as a city break on their way to the beaches and outdoor pursuits of the Gower Peninsula. Yet Swansea has 32 miles of coastline, a flourishing tourist scene and many attractions that make it a great day out or weekend break.

Swansea is the city where I was born and I lived there until I was 6.  I was recently asked by travel blogger Ali from What Ali Sees to contribute to a series she was collating about first travel memories, which you can read here. My earliest travel memories were of wild camping on the Gower and reflecting on this made me realise that it was 30 years since I’d been back to Swansea, despite the fact we only live across the Severn Bridge – how had that happened? It was time for a long overdue visit and to show my children the city I was born in.

Swansea has had a huge amount of development over recent years and many tourist attractions have opened up. But we weren’t going to visit these, we were going to visit the places I had spent my early years. Generally these were places that were free – my parents were young and broke and we had an abundance of parks and beaches on our doorstep, so it was the outdoor life for us.  We lived in the Uplands and the first stop on our tour was a childhood favourite of mine, Cwmdonkin Park.

CWMDONKIN PARK

Cwmdonkin is of course famous for its links with Welsh Poet, Dylan Thomas, who lived nearby at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, now open to the public. The park featured in various of his works, including his Reminiscences of Childhood.

 “And in the park was a world within the world of the seatown”.

Returning to Cwmdonkin, it’s an exceptionally well kept, vibrant park with a playground, bowling green, kiosk and tennis courts. Bonus – you can get Welsh cakes at the kiosk! When Cwmdonkin first opened it received a number of specimen trees from Kew Gardens, which it was required to report on every year and the park still has exotic trees and rockery pools.

BRYNMILL PARK

In my childhood years Brynmill had a pets corner, a poor sad lonely monkey in a cage and a solitary mynah bird. I remember the playground we visited almost daily after school and the kiosk selling ices. Brynmill was smaller than I remember but the playground was a hit with my children. Dragging them away from there, we bought some bird seed from the kiosk and went to feed the ducks on the lake. This turned into a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ as a large number of pesky pigeons harassed us constantly.

Escaping from the pigeon attack, we strolled the park.

Like Cwmdonkin, we found Brynmill a really well maintained park and I was glad that two of my favourite childhood haunts were in such great shape. As a child we also went to Singleton Park and Victoria Park, but we ran out of park time on this trip to get round all 4 and so had to make do with a drive by!

THE BEACH

In recent years Mumbles has had a revival. We popped by on this visit to see the new RNLI Lifeboat Station and of course sample the joys of the penny falls amusements.  I’m sure there used to be a helter-skelter on Mumbles Pier which we could see from our house.

The Swansea area has a whopping 50 beaches. That’s a boast that surely few cities in Britain can rival. As a child we camped and played on many of the Gower Beaches, from Three Cliffs to Rhossilli and Caswell.  For this trip the beaches of Mumbles and Swansea were enough to keep my children happy.

The sweeping views of the sea and Swansea Bay from all coastal vantage points give the city an open and expansive feel.

JOE’S ICE CREAM

A Swansea institution, no visit is complete without a trip to Joe’s. The Uplands ice cream cafe with its wicker chairs is long gone but we popped to the Mumbles cafe for an essential ice cream. I had to try the Welsh cake flavour!

Our two days in Swansea came to an end in a huge glass of ice cream, sauce, cream and wafers – as befits any childhood jaunt.

I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting my childhood and sharing it with my own children. It was great to see them enjoy the same parks and beaches and the simple pleasures of feeding the ducks, playing on the swings and messing about on the beach.  I’ll be continuing my trip down memory lane in the Autumn when we spend a weekend in Port Eynon on the Gower, so I definitely won’t be leaving it 30 years until my next visit!

 

WHERE JO GOES -CITY BREAKS WITH KIDS 

Porto – Jardins do Palacio de Cristal/Porto- Food Tour/Porto City Highlights/New York/Oxford UK/London – Greenwich/HMS Belfast/British Library/O2 Arena/Royal Albert Hall/World’s Biggest Lego Store/Ham House /Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre/

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18 Comments

  1. June 27, 2017 / 8:28 am

    We went on a road trip around South Wales a couple of years ago. Swansea was meant to be our last destination, but sadly we never made it there because our rental car broke down. #citytripping

  2. June 27, 2017 / 8:43 am

    My first travel memories as also camping, a Bernie Falls in the Redwood Forest in Northern Cali. I also haven’t been back since I was a kid, but on our next Cali Trip I’ve planned to see it so I can show my husband! Thanks for even taking me down memory lane! #CityTripping

    • June 27, 2017 / 11:45 am

      Have a wonderful time there is something very charming about going back to your childhood travels.

  3. June 28, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    My first travel memories revolve around caravan stays and UK destinations – two things we’re now working on as a family of our own, with Swansea and its many beaches being a part of that. We live in South Wales, and are so keen to explore more, especially the coastal areas. Thanks for sharing!

    • June 28, 2017 / 6:35 pm

      You’re so well placed for a beautiful area, I love the south Wales coastline.

  4. June 28, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    It looks great to me. A mix of beaches, history and ice-cream, you can’t argue with that. If you get the weather too it would make a great city break. #citytripping

  5. June 28, 2017 / 6:14 pm

    How fun to relive some childhood memories, see what’s different and the same after the years – I’ve never actually been to Swansea itself although we went to the Gower earlier this year. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  6. June 29, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    You had me at ice cream! Delicious!
    And the kids seem to be having lots of fun in Swansea. I don’t think I ever went when I lived in the UK, what an oversight! #WanderfulWednesday

  7. July 1, 2017 / 8:46 am

    Ah Joe’s ice cream – you can’t go to Swansea without visiting Joe’s #countrykids

  8. July 1, 2017 / 11:44 am

    It’s always amazing how long we can leave it between visiting those places we call “home” isn’t it? We try to take the kids to see our original stomping grounds occasionally. The parks look like they were a great hit with the kids, so much open space to explore and enjoy. Ice cream on the beach sounds as good there as it does here, maybe one day I’ll even get to try Joe’s ice cream!

    Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

  9. July 2, 2017 / 11:27 pm

    This is a part of Wales I want to explore more, like you said we normally pass through on our way to the Gower although we have done a few day trips here and really like to coastline and the city offer a lot of things to do.We are actually planning to spend a weekend there in the summer holidays and cannot wait

    Just popping over from Country Kids
    Laura x

  10. July 3, 2017 / 8:46 pm

    This is a trip down memory lane for me too, as I grew up about 30 miles from Swansea. It was our closest big town. My mum still lives nearby, and our friends now live in the Uplands, so we go regularly. Would you believe, though – I still haven’t bought ice cream from Joe’s! Mind you, it was on sale in most local restaurants…. #Countrykids

  11. July 5, 2017 / 4:26 pm

    50 beaches!!!!!! I never know most of this so thanks for educating me haha. I still can’t believe there’s so many beaches, great list of things to do as well, I’m off to research more about Swansea! 🙂 #countrykids

  12. July 6, 2017 / 11:30 am

    I will have to keep these in mind next time we make the trek to the LC – especially the ice-cream my boys will just love that! #countrykids

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