Sometimes when you’ve lived in an area for many years you often end up visiting the same places time and time again. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with this as these places are places we cherish for various reasons and I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. However over the last year I’ve started to explore our locality that little bit more, to seek out new places, to experience new things and if you like broaden my horizons.
Last year one of my sister’s friends shared some lovely photographs on facebook from an afternoon out her and her family had enjoyed. I remember thinking it looked lovely and asked where it was. So when she told me and it was only some twenty minutes or so anyway in the Ceri Valley, I was really surprised but knew it was somewhere I wanted to visit myself. That was the end of the Summer holidays last year and I was determined to visit this holidays. I had hoped we could go at the beginning of the holidays but as the place was mainly outdoors we had to wait for a dry day.
Finally last Wednesday after several rather wet days we had a break in the rain and I decided we would head out in search of the place I had been dying to visit, Sculpture Heaven. We had a slightly early lunch and then all climbed into the car and set off. Having looked at the directions on Sculpture Heavens website I knew roughly where I was going but asked Trystan to help with the directions once we turned off the main road using my route planner. It was actually really straight forward and we found our destination easily. As we went to turn in to park we could see that the car parks were full and there was another visitor waiting to park in front of us so I decided to go along the road a little further to see if there was anywhere else to park. However after ten minutes there was no where that would be safe for me park and then walk back with my four and my minded child I had that day. So we turned back in the hope someone had left the car parks. Luckily when we got back we did find a space in the small overflow car parked. The children who hadn’t been so keen on being dragged away from a game they were playing suddenly couldn’t wait to explore.
As we made our way through the gate into the garden there were several buildings on the right, one was a small shop and the others were workshops. We were greeted by one of the owners who I knew from the website was the artist, he apologised for not being able to talk to us about the gardens as he would normally do but it was very busy. I assured him it was okay and we were looking forward to exploring and then headed off to explore the two acres of gardens.
The children immediately wanted to run ahead and look at everything so I called them back to me and explained we were going to take our time looking around and would start in the corner near the tea room. I was immediately struck by how tranquil and calm the gardens were and despite being very busy there was enough space and areas to explore that you didn’t feel you were on top of each other.
There was so much to see and art cleverly displayed throughout the gardens. You have a sense of freedom when walking around and there were a few occasions when I had to call the children back to me so I could take it all in. I think the children were amazed by all the different areas and were very excited to run on ahead before me to the next area. It was lovely to watch them feel comfortable touching and having a go with some of the art. One of their favorite areas was the zen garden, where they spent ages taking it in turns to rake the sand and create patterns with it.
Each area or garden was so different from The Angel House, The Gothic Garden, the Romantic Garden, Greenman Bower, are just a few of the areas/gardens. So much thought and work has gone into each one, each one could easily have been created in one large garden and left at that so to have all these different ones in one place really is breathtaking. Then when you realise that all it has all been created by the owners its mind blowing. The owners Mr and Mrs Barter moved to their home in 1995 and set up their sculpture workshop then started creating their gardens. In 2008 they then opened to the public for the first time, that was the start of something special and over the last nine years they have become a well loved place to visit and rightly so. What’s more amazing is that it is free to come and enjoy Sculpture Heaven. There is a tea room called the Starfish which works on a donation basis and serves homemade cakes and cordials. I had hoped to have tried something while there but sadly it was packed but this means a return visit will have to be made. On the website it states that the Starfish donates all profits to the Halo Trust who are a UK charity who clear landmines from war torn countries to enable people to return to their villages and fields safely. This is such a generous and thoughtful thing to do.
I took some time to sit on one of the benches while the children explored to try and take in my surroundings and to enjoy the tranquility of the setting. Even the children at various points found themselves sitting and taking it all in. Once we had looked around everywhere we headed to the shop known as the Apothecary to have a look. The older boys wanted to stay outside and play a game of four in a row on one of the benches. I found a sculpture of a dragon I liked and decided to buy it for our garden. But before I bought it the children wanted to have another look around so off we went and do you know I actually think it is worthwhile because there were still pieces I hadn’t seen the first time around.
It’s not often you find somewhere like Sculpture Heaven and it really is a hidden gem. The sun even put in an appearance while we were there and somehow added to the magic that is Sculpture Heaven.
If you asked me which was my favourite part of the gardens I would say it all, although I loved the Gothic garden with the striking reds flowers and dark foliage. But honestly I think Sculpture Heaven has been very cleverly done and we will defiantly be going back. I would love to hear about the owners work and the way the gardens work plus of course I would love to sample the delicacies in the Starfish. I’m pretty sure the children would be happy to visit again too. On our way out I bought the dragon I had seen earlier and thanked the owner for his hospitality and said we would be back again.
So if your every in West Wales I couldn’t recommend a visit to Sculpture Heaven enough, it’s one of those places that leaves you wanting to return again and again. The only downside is that this little gem is only open two days a week from April until the end of September although in some ways I think this makes it more special if that’s at all possible. If you would like some more information on Sculpture Heaven you can visit their website here