Wales is often bypassed by travellers in favour of England, Scotland and Ireland. That's possibly what makes it so enchanting. That and the fact it is part of the mother of English-speaking nations but has its very own language.
Pembrokeshire in the south of Wales is a 'peninsula of peninsulas', coves and sandy bays, perpendicular cliffs, raging surf and the wild currents and gales of the Irish Sea.
Tenby Dinbych-y-Pysgod is a charming seaside town on Carmarthen Bay, tucked between two sweeping beaches fronting an island-studded seascape. Narrow streets wind from the town's medieval centre past tiny gardens. From the steps down the steep slopes are magical views of dockside arches where fishmongers sell the morning's catch. Rows of brightly painted houses and accommodation places sit along the clifftops.
Caldey Island Ynys Pyr is a 30-minute ferry ride from Tenby. Settled by Celtic monks in the sixth century, it is one of Britain's holy islands. The community of twenty Cistercian monks continues old Celtic traditions. They live their lives in accordance with the strict Rule of St Benedict. Monks and islanders welcome day visitors to share their island's delights, peace and tranquillity.
Visitors see the dairy farms which produce excellent milk, butter, cream and ice cream, and perfumes and toiletries made from island flowers, herbs and gorse. Frank Miller is the island's chocolatier and his delicious products are sent around the world. You can tour the island by foot and take in the lighthouse, parish church of St David's, small museum and post office.
Mumbles Mwmbwls is the name of the village once known as Oystermouth. 'Mumbles' is derived from the French mamelles, or breasts, in reference to the twin islets off the end of Mumbles Head.
Oystermouth Castle was the stronghold of the Norman lords of Gower who built a wooden fort in the 1180s and a stone castle in the late 13th century. The world's first passenger train ran from Mumbles in 1807. It was horse-drawn on rails.
Catherine Zeta Jones was born in Mumbles and when she and her husband, Michael Douglas, visit they make a point of eating at Knights Restaurant. It's right on the seafront and offers an extensive menu. One of their specialties is monk fish, bacon, leeks and brandy sauce. They have a list of around 120 wines.
A drive to the beautiful village of Manorbier takes you through some of Pembrokeshire's loveliest parts. The road winds along leafy hedged lanes to a narrow valley carved from two streams which flow to Manorbier Bay.
Manorbier Castle is a combination of beauty and function, residence and fortification, comfort and utility. It could be thought of as a lavish residence for wealthy Norman landowners, and while it was that, it also represents life with the Normans and the subjugation of the local Welsh.
The historic site gives an accurate impression of feudal life in the Middle Ages, with the castle, the church on the opposite hillside and agricultural lands merging with the sea.
In 1670 the castle passed to the Phillips family and today is owned by Lady Dunsany, a descendant of the Phillipses. It is open to the public and those interested in castles will see an excellent example of turrets and bulwarks. It has a fine fish pond, orchard, vineyard, and beautiful old hazel trees. If you fancy staying, it will accommodate up to twelve people and is rented by the week.
Brent Cockbain, an Australian playing rugby for Wales, recommended The Plantagenet House restaurant in a 12th century inn. They serve Welsh delicacies and you do need to book.
To make the most of your holiday in the UK, DriveAway Holidays will arrange car rental before you leave home.