Swansea, on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, is a great family friendly holiday destination. There is so much to do in the area – from exploring the fishing village of Mumbles, to visiting museums such as the National Waterfront Museum and the Dylan Thomas Centre.
Swansea is Wales’ Waterfront City. It sits on the sandy five-mile stretch of Swansea Bay beach and is a great base for exploring the best of South-West Wales. The area is well known for its connections to Dylan Thomas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who owns a house at Mumbles. However there is much more to Swansea, which has the largest covered daily market in Wales and is home to Ospreys Rugby Club.
The dock area is seeing major development with the SA1 Waterfront zone developing a mix of commercial and residential units.
Swansea Marina is located behind the Swansea barrage at the mouth of the River Tawe. The marina is council run, locked and central to town. There are further moorings at the Yacht Club, a friendly place with a good bar and restaurant looking over the river to the new development of SA1.
There is a small barrage here as this waterway, the Bristol Channel, sees the second highest rise and fall in the world, I am reliably told by Uain in the marina office. There are fantastic plans to build a tidal lagoon, creating energy from the tides.
“The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world and within this Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range during spring tides of 8.5m. The construction of a tidal lagoon to harness this natural resource would help the UK transition a low carbon future with greater energy security and lower electricity costs, while providing regenerative economic and recreational benefits to the local community. Our vision is to pioneer a large-scale source of indigenous, low carbon electricity that is both affordable and sustainable long-term.” Project Tidal Lagoon
IN SEARCH OF FOOD
Swansea’s main drag of restaurants is on Wind Street, with popular franchised pubs and value eateries. There are some independents tucked away round the edges and Coffee Bar Cinema looks well worth a visit, but reliable favourites, such as Five Guys, will keep the teens happy.
The stylish Sail Bridge draws you over the water to the iconic buildings at SA1, passing the Dylan Thomas museum, aiming for the brick chimney and the crowds spilling out of popular bars.
There is also the Thai Elephant restaurant, convivial TwoCann and La Parilla, in the attractive old J Shed, sister to La Braseria, over on Wind Street, with a huge range of fresh fish and meats to chose from before deciding how the chef will cook them.
I head back to Mama Mia, though, as I cannot resist a good, family run Italian, and they have lemon polpetto with parmesan on the menu, though not as good as my recipe from Nigel Slater. The whole area of Wind Street has a dusty Ramblas feel to it, with quiet groups wandering around, but it is not over busy.
The indoor market is busy. Fresh fish flap, cockles chatter and I have to try laverbread, an important traditional food. I am not sure why they use the word bread to describe this green gloop. A national delicacy made from seaweed, it is washed and then cooked to a soft greenish black paste. It is rich in minerals and vitamins, full of protein and low in calories.
I also grab a bag of sugar dusted Welsh cakes hot off the slow griddle – and this is more like it. They are wonderful, a great price and many of the stalls sell them, all looking fresh and fragrant.
I reckon there is still time for a proper breakfast before I head off to Saundersfoot, so I cross that floaty bridge again to see what SA1 is like in the morning and follow a troop of workers into Garbo’s. There is no one playing a piano, or singing, but there is a reliable, good value full Welsh coming out of the kitchen, so why not join them?
Uncle Bob’s little black book
SA1 – Quay Three: Deli/ bar. Try the potato and kale cake with poached egg
In the market – Thai Taste
Mumbles – The Woodman at Blackpill
Mumbles – Verdi’s: For cyclists and hikers. Sit on the Knuckle by the slip and enjoy one of Joe’s ice creams
Redroses – Sporting Chance: Try the mixed grill … 36ozs of meat
Bike routes – National cycle routes 4 and 43 run through Swansea
As does Sustrans Celtic Trial: www.sustrans.org.uk/wales/route/celtic-trail
Penny’s Blog: hopshikesandbites.blogspot.co.uk