Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Thursday was our last day of touring, and still had several things we were interested in seeing, in addition to making it back to the London area by about 7. One of our Brokie friends had invited us to spend the night with her before we had to fly home - which of course we eagerly accepted! She was due home from work 7ish, so that was our target.

After negotiating a bit, we picked 2 attractions and got on our way.

Cosmeston is the recreated medieval village that the guy at the medieval fair we went to in Oxford told us about. It's near the coast just south of Cardiff, so we headed there. The surrounding site used to be a quarry, which has been flooded and is now a wetlands preserve. The village is hidden back in the midst of all that, so it's very secluded from the modern town just a block away.

The village has been rebuilt based on the archelogical studies they have done about the original village - rebuilt half a dozen buildings on their ancient foundations, etc. They have recently started new digs on the far side of the village, exploring what they think was the manor house. Their dig has somewhat taken over the information cottage at the entrance. No matter, we were encouraged to step over the junk to read the displays while we waited for our tour!

There were a lot of people back at the tourist information house, where we purchased our tour tickets, so I was very surprised to see we were the only two for our tour and we got a very personalized escort through the village.

It was a great tour - our guide was a volunteer on her second summer here. She took us through the buildings, painting a story about who lived in each, what the daily and annual cycle was for the area. The path out front was a major thoroughfare, aparently, between St. Davids and Chepstow (and beyond). Funny - exacly our path that day!

Walking out back some maintenance guys were rebuilding a damaged gate, and we could hear the rather unhappy inhabitants of that yard closed up in their byer.

These guys were a mix of a boar and some other old breed, resulting in a hybrid very similar to the medieval pigs. And noisy! :-D

This is the inside of the house of one of the wealthier citizens of town - the one owning the barn and byer next door. The first thing one notices is how dark it is inside. This person was wealthy enough to be buringing candles during the day - and you did need them. There were windows, but small and under the overhanging thatched eaves, so they didn't admit much light.

The open firepit in the center of the floor was standard. The fire providing not only light and warmth, but also smoke, which was necessary for keeping the thatched roof dry and cured. Properly cared for they said a thatched roof would last 40 years -- or a person's lifetime at the time.

The earthen lid you can see inside the grate is a 'Couvre le Feu' - literally a lid to cover the ashes with at night to keep the ashes until the next day, but also so as to put out the fire/smoke for when the residents climbed up in the lofts to sleep. They said this is the origin of 'curfew' - for when you cover the fire, it's time for bed.

Next door was the combination bakery and ale-house. Both businesses needing grain, they were frequently co-located. This one also had a distinct stone flagstone path between the back door and front door - which they said was historically accurate. Seems this building got a lot of foot traffic!

The baker had two ovens beside the house -- the only bread baking ovens allowed in the village. His monopoly was obviously quite lucrative, so it was good to be the baker. (ya know, it's only now occuring to me that maybe my persona should be a baker...!)

One oven was for baking bread, which aparently came in three different grades. The highest grade was the most highly refined white flour bread. This grade needed the hottest oven to cook (for some reason that escapes me). As it was so hot, of course the bottom of the loaves burned. Since this was the most expensive grade of bread, it's customers were not interested in the burned crust - so the baker cut it off.. selling just the 'upper crust' to the affluent members of the community. The other oven had an open top and was used for smoking meats, or for heating caulrons for cooking (and brewing ales).

I can't remember if this structure was actually called a 'pig dome' or not, but it was something like that. Momma pig was in there snoozing - and SNORTING away. :-)

And, another pic just for good measure. This is a boat in the fisherman's house. Looked just like the boats seen in the Lord of the Rings movie - at the flashback to Gollum when he was a hobbit!

Once again we had a terrific tour. The girls who took us around were fun and knowledgeable. Before we left, another guy ran up to say Hi to us. Our tour guides had told him that we were from Colorado and that we were doing some medieval persona research. He said if only he'd known he would have arranged for a tour especially for that! LOL - I'm not sure we would have been prepared for that, but oh well, could have been fun. But he went on to say he'd spent most of March in Greely at UNC this year -- just 20 minutes away! Too funny. He was planning on coming back to the states - but up to the Dakotas as he will be participating in a reenactment of Wounded Knee. I said this reenactment business sure is an all-encompassing hobby! He laughed.

At Cosmeston they host a few festivals and reenactments a year. We picked up their schedule for future reference...



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