When I first arrived in Swansea over 20 years ago Dylan Thomas’s words were often repeated to me “The graveyard of ambition”, which was very depressing to say the least. The parallel attitude was one of competition between Swansea and Cardiff, not just during sporting events such as rugby and the universities sports day but in most aspects of city life.

Now attitudes have dramatically changed and Swansea folk see the contrasts. Cardiff the industrial sprawling city; Swansea a small waterfront city with a beach within 5 minutes walk of the heart and beautiful countryside a short distance away. In fact there are more than 50 parks within the City 7 and County including several that are registered Grade 1 Historical parks, all open to the public and with interesting features.

Singleton Park which has a wonderful botanical garden where a comprehensive range of over 200 different plants and shrubs are grown. This is also the gardening hub growing plants to be displayed throughout Swansea including hundreds of hanging baskets that you can enjoy on almost every street corner. These are also available for the public to buy but you need to order early and already this year’s stock have been pre-sold. Take a walk around the gardens whether you are a gardener or not, be surprised. Singleton Park has a lake with swan shaped paddle boats to enjoy and a very popular lakeside café. The park is huge and you might think you are out in the country with no city sounds. The Swiss House is an unexpected site with an interesting history. The park is a great place to take the family or just to stroll through and enjoy the tranquillity. Then there are the music concerts and annual car show.

Other parks include Clyne which has a world beating rhododendron collection that bloom during Spring and bring visitors from around the globe.  Clyne Park is brimming with plants brought back from around the world during the late nineteenth century and which are now mature species. During the summer Sunday afternoons draw a crowd to experience the different bands who perform at the top of the park where a marque and light refreshments are available. Sitting in a deck chair on a sunny Sunday afternoon is reminiscent of bygones days and my memories of the fifties.

Brynmill Park has an extensive lake and an abundance of wildfowl. So this is just a small selection of larger parks, not forgetting Cwmdonkin Park in the Uplands area and the original fountain featured in Dylan Thomas’s poem Hunchback in the Park. In fact this park was were Thomas spent his youth, being brought up in an adjacent house (which is open to visits by appointment and has been taken back to a 1940s/50’s setting as it was in Dylan’s youth). Buy his book The Artist as a Young Dog and as you walk through the park his sort stories will leap off the page and come alive as you stand in the very spots that he wrote about.

But the wonderful green nature reserves and historical parks are just one aspect of Swansea that you can enjoy as a family or solo, each large enough for brisk exercise or leisurely stroll, each having a café or nearby family friendly pub to finish.

Swansea abounds with art galleries, theatres, museums and other attractions apart from the beaches, wonderful indoor market and numerous great coffee shops and restaurants.  The leisurely pace of Swansea  will slow you down to relax and enjoy life. Oh! And Swansea is compact so you can come by coach or train and still enjoy everything without driving or parking restrictions. I do think this contrasts with the hustle and bustle of Cardiff and a final thought. I recall talking to a woman on the beach at Mumbles who said “I’ve come from Cardiff for the day. I love it here, the peace, friendliness and feeling safe”  Beat that!

Mike Leahy Managing Director  Swan TV