226 – Part 9 – Exploring Barry Island and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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One calm evening we took a stroll along the beach at Barry Island.

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Once upon a time Barry was a quiet little rural backwater with an island situated just off shore.  However all this was to suddenly change during the industrial revolution.

Tons of coal were being mined in the South Wales Valleys, and the docks that had been built by the Marquess of Bute in Cardiff were soon found to be struggling to keep up with the amount of coal being produced.

Some of the mine owners, including a wealthy businessman named David Davies, the owner of  the Ocean Collieries company, got their heads together and came up with an ambitious plan to build a new dock in Barry, to rival that of Cardiff. Work on the first new dock at Barry began in 1884 and was completed in 1889. In the first year of trade alone, one million tons of coal was shipped.  More dock basins were subsequently added to accommodate yet more ships, until by 1913 Barry had become the largest coal exporting port in the world.

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 The flourishing town of Barry had expanded rapidly and the island was by now connected to the mainland by a causeway.

Not only did the railway transport coal, but it also brought miners and their families for day trips to the sea and consequently Barry developed into a seaside resort. In the 1930’s the miners were allowed time off work during the last week in July and the first week in August. During this, Barry’s hey day, thousands of miners’ families would flock to the beach during the “Miners Fortnight”.

Yet with the decline in the trade of coal and the eventual closing of the mines the docks and holiday resort suffered badly and the town fell into a deep depression.

In recent years Welsh government money had been reinvested into the town and the resort has seen something of a revival. The pleasure park has been taken under new ownership. The popular  BBC comedy television series “Gavin and Stacey” also helped to promote the town.

Whitmore Bay has a wide sandy beach which stretches between two rocky headlands, Nell’s Point to the east and Friars Point to the west. Around the corner of Nell’s Point is a second sandy beach named  Jackson’s Bay.

You can see right across the Bristol Channel to the coast of Somerset and Devon and the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm. The Bristol channel has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world which can reach in excess of 15 metres.

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The promenade with its brightly coloured beach huts.

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Barry Island’s new climbing wall.

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Aneurin loved the beach and of course he promised not to get wet.

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Whoops !!! Boys will be boys !!!

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Marco’s Café.

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A “Barrybados” sunset.

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The following day we set off to explore some more of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. We were heading for Southerndown.  On our way we stopped off in the village of Ogmore where there is a beautiful ruined Norman castle dating from 1106.

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Legend has it that the castle is haunted by a Woman in White who is protecting her buried treasure.

Alongside the castle runs a tidal river that leads to the estuary.

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There is a series of stepping stones where the river can be traversed on foot at low tide.

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Nearby is a farm and stables where you can hire a horse to ride. Groups of riders can be seen gently trotting through the river and heading on down towards the estuary and the sandy dunes of Merthyr Mawr.

We continued our drive passing through Ogmore-by-Sea, then the village of Southerndown and on to Dunraven Bay.  This is my favourite spot along this stretch of Welsh coastline. When we arrived the tide was out.  This is the perfect time to explore the exposed rocks and rock pools which are full of molluscs and sea anemones.

The pebbly foreshore, then the rocks and sandy beach beyond.

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Nonna and Aneurin exploring.

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The sedimentary rocks contain many fossils.

In years gone by, during storms along this stretch of rocky coastline, men known as wreckers would lure unsuspecting ships in the direction of the dangerous shoreline with lights and cause them to flounder so that their cargoes could be plundered.

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Nearby are the ruins of Dunraven Castle, an old demolished mansion. You can walk around the beautifully planted walled gardens and enjoy the magnificent views of the Heritage Coast.  You can also visit  the Heritage Coast Centre at Dunraven. This is where we chose to stop and have our picnic lunch.

A lovely old thatched cottage at Dunraven Bay.

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We then drove further along the coast to take a quick look at another local seaside resort named Porthcawl.

The pavillion and town beach.

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Here there were yet more rock pools for Aneurin to explore.

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*photos by Melinda Abbott

#public domain photos

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#barryisland #wales #ogmorecastle #dunravenbay #southerndown #valeofglamorgan #barry #porthcawl #beach

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

225 – Part 8 – Aneurin with All Creatures Great and Small / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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For most of the second week of our holiday, we had my 5 year old grandson come and stay with us at the cottage. He is full of beans and endless questions, but is just adorable and I love him to bits !!!

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Melinda and Aneurin also seemed to bond very well.  We played lots of games, did jigsaws and read lots of books.

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Aneurin even made some Shaun the Sheep cakes.  Delicious !!!

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In front of our cottage was a gated gravel yard which was perfect for playing football and letting off steam.  All good wholesome fun !!!

The cottage was on a large 260 acre working farm  which breeds beef and sheep. The farmer kindly allowed Aneurin to sit in his tractor.

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Each day of our stay we tried to get out and about and on one occasion we visited another local farm in the rural Vale of Glamorgan.  Warren Mill Farm is a little off the beaten track down country lanes, but well signposted. They keep quite a selection of animals on site all of which seem very tame and enjoy being petted and fed.

I think I am really getting into chickens !!! I’d love to keep some. I just didn’t realise how many diverse breeds there are.

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As well as free-range chickens, there were also some burrowing prairie dogs running free. They are curious little creatures and were really interesting to watch.

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We purchased buy small paper bags of food for the animals.

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A rare breed of sheep.

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Some llamas and alpacas.

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Ouch !!! Watch those fingers !!!

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Miniature ponies and donkeys.

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Water Buffalo – We are used to these in Italy as they produce milk for making delicious mozzarella cheese. They seem to be quite docile animals.

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Some very hairy pigs.

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One of the most beautiful pigs I have ever seen !!!

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The farm also has a coarse fishing lake.  There is a picnic area with a stall selling snacks and cups of tea, and an area where children can play and ride various toy tractors and diggers.

The ground was a bit of a quagmire due to long spells of heavy rain but it didn’t seem to phase Aneurin !!! The muddier the better !!!

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Another day we chose to visit the Welsh Hawking Centre which is situated close to Barry.

This is a small family run business, which keeps a wide range of birds of prey, ranging from small hawks to super sized owls, eagles and vultures.  In fact it contains the largest collection of raptors in Wales. Some of the birds are endangered species and the centre breeds them and hand rears the young chicks. It has earned a worldwide reputation in this field.  These magnificent birds are so photogenic. Here are some beautiful falcons ……

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Buzz is a magnificent European Eagle Owl. It is one of the largest species of owl and has distinctive ear tufts.

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Falconry was once the traditional sport of kings. An expert handler gives displays of this ancient art in an open field. Here he is using meat on a lure to exercise the falcon and encourage it to acrobatically swoop and dive to catch the food.

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A Barn Owl – Such a beautiful bird when seen up close.

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The handler asked for volunteers to handle the bird. Aneurin put his hand up straight away !!!

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Aneurin wearing a gauntlet to protect his hand.

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Well done Aneurin !!!

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This was a great morning’s visit – Highly recommended – Ideal for both adults and children alike.

 * photos by Melinda Abbott

All other photos, except where indicated, by me © Louise Shapcott

#valeofglamorgan #bonvilston #wales #warrenmillfarm #welshhawkingcentre

#glamorgan #farm #hawks #owls

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

224 – Part 7 -Visiting St Fagans in Cardiff / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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St Fagan’s National History Museum  also known as the Museum of Welsh Life is located just outside of Cardiff to the west of the City.  It is set in the 100 acre grounds of St Fagan’s Castle, an Elizabethan manor house dating from the 16th century.

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It is mainly an open air museum which seeks to preserve traditional historic rural buildings. The museum has over forty such buildings which have been dismantled with great care from their original sites in various parts of Wales, and have been reconstructed stone by stone, brick by brick  within St Fagan’s village.  Each building has then been meticulously decorated and  furnished to show how people lived during certain eras in rural Wales.

Kennixton is a typical farmhouse from Llangennith, the Gower in South Wales, dating from 1610.

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Inside it is furnished with items from the 18th century.

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A conical pigsty

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Melin Bompren Cornmill built in 1853 from Cross Inn, New Quay, Ceredigion (Cardiganshire).

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Hendre’r-ywydd Uchaf Farmhouse built in 1508 from Llangynhafal, Clwyd (Denbighshire).

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Abernodwydd Farmhouse – A timber-framed thatched farmhouse, built in 1678, from Llangadfan, Powys (Montgomeryshire)

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Garreg Fawr Farmhouse was built in 1544 from Waunfawr, Gwynedd (Caernarfonshire).

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A Tollhouse built in 1771 from Aberystwyth that stood on a private or turnpike road.

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Six terraced houses named Rhyd-y-car – dating from 1795, built to accommodate iron ore miners. These have been furnished in the style of various eras: 1805, 1855, 1895, 1925, 1955 and 1985.

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A Cockpit, dating from the 17th century, from the Hawk and Buckle Inn, Denbigh.

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A tiny two-roomed building, built of brick in 1936, it is said to have been the smallest free-standing post office in Wales. From Blaen-waun, Whitland, Carmarthenshire.

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A small country school from Maestir, Lampeter, Ceredigion (Cardiganshire). Built in 1880.

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St Teilo’s Church dates from the late 12th century and came from Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, Glamorgan. The interior is decorated with replica medieval paintings.

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Oakdale Workmen’s Institute from Oakdale, Gwent (Monmouthshire)

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Derwin Bakehouse from Aberystwyth. You can buy freshly baked bread here and scones.

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Gwalia Stores from Ogmore Vale, Glamorgan.

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There is also a traditional fairground, which my little grandson Aneurin enjoyed very much.

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Llwyn-yr –Eos is an example of a small working Farm with typical Welsh breeds of livestock. It was lambing season !!! Below are some newborn lambs.

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There are woodland paths to follow and a hide for birdwatching.

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St Fagan’s Elizabethan Manor House and its ornamental gardens and lake. As it was early springtime there were many daffodils in flower.

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Aneurin particularly enjoyed watching the ducks as they dived and dabbled.

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St Fagans is a wonderful place to visit and is suitable for all ages.  There is so much to explore, you could never see it all in just one day. The best thing of all is that entrance is entirely free and parking is just £5 per day. Highly recommended !!!

 * photos by Melinda Abbott

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#stfagans #stfagan’s #cardiff #glamorgan #museum #museumofwelshlife #nationalhistorymuseum #wales

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

 

223 – Part 6 – Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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Our week’s stay at our cottage in Itton sadly came to an end, so soon it was time to move on to our second destination, another holiday cottage on a working farm. Redland Farm is near the village of Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan, situated to the west of Cardiff and just a short drive from the city. The friendly owner warmly greeted us and made us feel very welcome.

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On our first full day in Glamorgan I decided to show Melinda around Cardiff, one of my favourite cities. It was a chilly day with a biting cold wind. We drove into town and parked up at Sophia Gardens, one of Cardiff’s large public parks which is located close to Cardiff Castle. This park takes its name from Lady Sophia, who was the second wife of the 2nd Marquess of Bute.  The Millenium footbridge traverses the River Taff into Bute Park.

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A little history …

The Stewarts / Stuarts were an aristocratic family of Anglo / Norman origin who settled in Scotland in the 11th century. Over the course of many years they took over large estates in the South Wales area. In 1794 John Stuart was awarded the title of the 1st Marquess of Bute. He owned Cardiff Castle and considerable areas of surrounding landscaped parkland. When he died in 1814 the title passed to his son John Crichton-Stuart, who became the 2nd Marquess of Bute.  He became known as “the founder of modern Cardiff” as he brought prosperity to the area by setting up coal and iron mining industries in the South Wales valleys, and by building Cardiff’s extensive docks for the shipping of coal.  In its heyday Cardiff was the largest exporter of coal in the world. In 1913 alone approximately 10.7 million tons of coal were exported from this port.

The 2nd Marquess of Bute also set about restoring and refashioning Cardiff Castle into a grand mansion. The 3rd Marquess of Bute and his architect William Burges continued this work with extravagant plans to transform the building into a lavishly decorated “fairytale castle” of eclectic neo gothic styles.

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Melinda and I walked past the “Animal Wall” which was erected in front of the castle in 1890.

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The castle’s elaborate clock tower.

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We peeked though the gateway to see the Norman stone keep which was built on the site of a Roman fort.

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Across the road Melinda had a browse in one of the Welsh souvenir shops.

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There was a wonderful display of intricately hand carved Lovespoons and an array of other Welsh woolly delights !!!

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We then took a wander through of one of Cardiff’s several old shopping arcades which include the High Street Arcade, the Royal Arcade,  the Wyndham Arcade, the  Morgan Arcade and  Duke Street Arcade. The Castle Arcade was opened in 1887 and contains many small cafés, bistros, shops and boutiques.

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An array of tasty cheeses at Madame Fromage.

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St John the Baptist Church offers an oasis of calm in the heart of the bustling city centre.

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The church runs a little tea shop where Melinda and I treated ourselves to a reviving cuppa and a tasty bite to eat.

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Closeby in the Hayes is the Old Library which is now the home to the Cardiff Story Museum which is dedicated to the history of the city and contains many interesting interactive exhibits.

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Across from St John’s is the entrance to Cardiff’s undercover market.

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The Central Market opened in 1891 and even today there are numerous stalls selling all varieties of fresh produce, cooked food, local and foreign delicacies, fruit, vegetables, flowers and other goods.

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Melinda is something of a beer aficionado and was keen to try some of the local brews. Brains Brewery was founded in Cardiff in 1882 and its beer is one of the best known in Wales. Melinda delighted in sampling several varieties.

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We finished off our little tour of Cardiff city centre with some therapeutic shopping of course !!! No trip to Cardiff is complete without visiting some of the large shopping malls and central shopping areas.

You can read more about Cardiff and see more of my photos of this vibrant city here at one of my former blog entries:  140 – Cardiff – “The Land of My Fathers”.

* photos by Melinda Abbott

#  public domain photos

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#cardiff #city

#glamorgan #wales #castle #welsh #lovespoons #welshcakes #market

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

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222 – Part 5. Visiting the Old Market Town of Monmouth / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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After completing our tour of the Dean Heritage Centre  we decided to drive through the Forest towards the town ancient market town of Monmouth. On our way I spotted a sign to the Kymin and I took a detour. After a steep climb we arrived at the top of a Kymin Hill from which there  are spectacular views of the Monmouth and the surrounding countryside.

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The Kymin, now a National Trust property, is a round house / tower, constructed in 1794.

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This was a favourite picnic spot for Georgian gentry. Closeby there is also a Naval Temple that was built in 1800 to commemorate the second anniversary of the Battle of the Nile (1798) and to celebrate the supremacy of the British Navy. The monument is dedicated to several Naval Admirals of that era, including Lord Nelson. Nelson, himself, is known to have visited the Kymin in 1802.

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Rule Britannia !!!

There are many lovely woodland walks at the Kymin and it is a perfect spot for picnics.

We continued on our way and made our descent into Monmouth and parked the car and explored on foot. Monmouth is a typical country market town with a long straight high street with many small shops.

In the centre of Monmouth in Agincourt Square is the Shire Hall which was once the court of assizes and quarter sessions.

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Under the clock is a statue of the English King Henry V who was born in Monmouth in 1387. In 1417 Henry and his army won the famous Battle of Agincourt in France during the Hundred Years’ War.

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Also in Agincourt Square stands a statue of Charles Stewart Rolls.  who was an early pioneer in motoring and aviation. He was a baloonist and was the first to successfully fly across the English Channel and back without stopping. Unfortunately Charles died in a tragic flying accident in 1910.  The Rolls family had lived near Monmouth at  Hendre House for several generations.  Charles was also  a co-founder of the company known as Rolls Royce.

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We wandered on along Church Street.

Here we stumbled upon the old Savoy Theatre, which is said to be the oldest known theatre site in Wales.

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Just around the corner is the St Mary’s Priory Church with its magnificent towering spire.

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The church was beautifully decorated with flowers for Easter.

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Opposite the church are some old Arms Houses.

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Some streets with festooned with cheery Easter decorations.

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We then headed down the long Monnow High Street which is lined with numerous small shops.

At the fare end of the high street is the bridge and gatehouse over the River Monnow.

The bridge dates from the late 13th century, and the gatehouse dates from the end of the 13th / early 14th century, and is the only remaining example of a medieval fortified river bridge in Britain. This longstanding structure is made of red sandstone.

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The River Monnow

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All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

(except where  photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner)

#monmouth #monmouthshire #thekymin #rivermonnow

#monnowbridge #wales

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

221 – Part 4. A Day Out in The Forest of Dean / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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One day Melinda and I hopped over the river Wye into Gloucestershire, England to explore the Forest of Dean, an area of ancient forest of mixed woodland. We headed for Soudley near Cinderford where the Dean Heritage Centre is situated. This strives to preserve the unique history, heritage and traditions of the Forest of Dean.

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We found this to be an excellent museum with several galleries containing interesting artifacts, exhibits, and memorabilia with many interactive displays for children. We learned of the history of the Forest from the Ice Age onwards. Coal and iron have been mined in the area since time immemorial. Also there was lots of  information  about local wildlife and habitat of animals living in the forest.

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With the dawning of the Industrial Revolution many industries sprang up in the forest, which in addition to coal and iron mines included mining for ochre and other mineral deposits. There were also several iron foundries.

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The industrial age brought the use of steam powered engines.

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Many of the miners were “Freeminers” – The right to mine for coal is believed to have been first granted by King Edward II, to any man born within the Forest of Dean’s traditional boundaries, (known as the Hundred of St Briavels)  who had worked underground for more than a year and a day.  In its grounds the Heritage Centre has constructed a replica of a typical freeminer’s mine that has been dug into the hillside.

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Other local industries included forestry and timber work, stone work, fishing, farming, clock making and charcoal burning. The Heritage Centre also has an example of a charcoal burner’s camp.

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There is also a Victorian / Edwardian forester’s cottage, complete with a vegetable garden and domestic animals, including chickens and ferrets.

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There was also an example of an Anderson Shelter which were issued to British families during World War II to offer protection during German bombing raids.

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The centre also has a working water wheel and an attractive mill pond.

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A colourful Mandarin duck.

Within the grounds of the museum there are numerous woodland trails to explore and also a playground for children.

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On display there were also some wonderful chainsaw carvings. This bear was my favourite.

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Some gruffalos ……

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Melinda and her new friend !

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#forestofdean #deanheritagecentre #gloucestershre #soudley

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

 

 

220 – Part 3. Exploring Chepstow and the Wye Valley / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

Today the  River Wye forms a natural border between the countries of Wales and England. In fact, curiously the town of Chepstow is situated half in Monmouthshire, Wales and half in Gloucestershire, England. In lower Chepstow an elegant arched cast iron bridge spans the river. This was built in 1810 and replaced former crossings constructed of wood.

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We took a stroll on the Welsh riverside where there is a park with a bandstand.

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On a formidable cliff adjacent to the river stands the mighty castle which dates back to the 11th century.

Here are some photos I took on a former visit to Chepstow.

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Chepstow’s Visitor Centre

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A Georgian street leading down to the river.

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Chepstow was once a port of some importance and was protected by sturdy town walls, which can still be seen today.

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The Priory Church of St Mary

We found a sweet little tea shop named the Tiffin in St Mary’s Street.

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Following the River Wye upstream you come to the village of Tintern. Here are the remains of a Cisternian abbey which was founded in 1131. It fell into ruin following the Dissolution of Monasteries ordered by King Henry VIII. This is a photographer’s paradise. As you can see we were graced by beautiful weather and clear blue skies.

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This magnificent historic structure is now preserved and cared for by the Welsh association known as  Cadw.

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Next to the Abbey is the Anchor Inn where we called in for refreshments and sampled a rhubarb and rose hip sponge cake with cups of tea. Delicious !

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Tintern village sits on the banks of the River Wye and is the heart of the lower Wye Valley. Steep, wooded hills, rivers, streams and leafy walks all add to the natural beauty of this beautiful unspoiled area. There are many interesting trails through the Wye Valley. Nearby is Offa’s Dyke, an ancient earthwork barrier built in the 8th century by Offa, King of Mercia to divide his kingdom with that of Powys (now Wales). Below are some views of the river.

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An abandoned old cottage. If only we had the money to buy it !!!

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Also in Tintern is the old Abbey Mill with small shops selling local crafts and souvenirs.

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Typical costume of Wales

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Welsh Love Spoons

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A Davy miners’ safety lamp and copper kettle

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Continuing on a little further is the Old Station Visitor Centre, with its tea rooms and picnic area. The station was built in 1876 and closed in the 1950’s. Old railway carriages contain exhibitions and various railway memorabilia.

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Carved wooden figure of King Offa of 8th century Mercia

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Carved wooden figure of King Tewdrig of Gwent

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Carved wooden figure of Eleanor of Provence, spouse of England’s Henry III. (It looks as if she has a splitting headache !!!)

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Wooden sculpture of Sabrina the princess / goddess of the River Severn

Continuing further up-stream we came to the small picturesque village of Brockweir, which is situated on the English side of the river Wye. The river is traversed by a cast iron bridge that was constructed in 1906. We took a wander along the riverbank and as you can see the river was in full spate. We then walked on through the village.

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Monk’s Hall dates from the 14th century.

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All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

(except where  photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner)

#chepstow #wyevalley #tintern #abbey #brockweir #wales #monmouthshire

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

219 – Part 2. Visiting Family in the Chepstow Area / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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I was so longing to see my family. Our eldest two grandchildren live in Chepstow. Jamie is now 14 and Tommy will be 13 in July. Vicky kindly invited us to Easter Sunday lunch, where we also met up with my sons, our third grandson Aneurin who is 5, and Vicki’s mum Marilyn.

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Jamie and Bob

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Jamie and Jack

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Melinda, Louise, Tommy and Bob

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Tommy and Bob

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Aneurin

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Louise, Marilyn, Melinda

One day that week I took grandsons Jamie and Tommy for a day out at “Go Ape” – a high rope and wire adventure course located in Lydney, in the Forest of Dean.

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Here are the boys getting togged up with safety harnesses.

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Unfortunately this day the weather was far from kind and the apparatus was really slippery due to the rain. Yet the boys were determined to give it a go. As they scaled the heights Vicki and I watched and cheered them on from below.

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Good fun was had by all. Well done boys !!! You are both amazing !!! I would never have had the courage to have tried it for myself.

We also had a family get-together in Trellech Grange, where my aunty Vera and Uncle David were staying at the sweet little cottage of a longstanding friend of theirs, Anne.

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Anne’s lovely little dog.

The following day we all met up again – this time at the pub next to Anne’s cottage – The Fountain Inn.

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Here’s Melinda – propping up the bar whilst sampling another local beer !!!

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On this occasion our family group was augmented by the addition of my cousin Jackie, her husband Nick and their 6 year old son Max.

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A few days later we organised for Aunty Vera, Uncle David and Anne to come and visit us at our cottage. We had prepared afternoon tea for us all. Very British !!!

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The cottage was a perfect setting.

* photos by Melinda Abbott

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

 

 

 

218 – Part 1. Arriving in Wales / Louise and Melinda’s Wales Holiday

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Melinda and I had been planning our trip to Wales for some time. Paul and I had not been able to get back to the UK for over 2 years, and was feeling really homesick, and was really missing my family, especially our grandchildren. I am not good at traveling on my own, however my American friend, Melinda, who lives in Minturno, kindly offered to accompany. This was to be her first trip to Wales. So we were counting down the days until our joint holiday.  We flew to Bristol, England via Easyjet.

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Melinda and me, Louise

Unfortunately there are currently no direct flights to Cardiff airport, which would have been our preferred destination. Our Bristol flight was due to land at around 7pm, so rather than rushing to pick up the hire car late that evening, we had opted to book a room for that night in a little guesthouse in the nearby village of Winford situated in the Chew Valley. We hired a taxi at the airport which dropped us and our luggage off at The Oaks B&B.

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Beforehand I had done my homework, and I knew it was only a short walk from here to the village pub, which went by the name of the Prince of Waterloo, where we both ordered a Fish and Chip and Mushy Peas Supper. How I had longed for fish and chips whilst living in Italy !!! And we were not to be disappointed, it was delicious. Melinda, who loves to sample new beers ordered a pint of Cornish Tribute which also went down very well.

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Our twin room at The Oaks Bed and Breakfast was very comfortable.

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We found the owner to be very kind and helpful. She told us that previously she and her husband had run the Prince of Wellington pub.

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Melinda making friends with the pub’s cat

The following morning, after a good breakfast, Melinda and I had a little time on our hands, so we decided to go for a walk and explore the village.

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A taxi picked us up and deposited us at the car hire depot at the airport. For a month or more I had been practicing my driving skills. We have been living in Italy for 11 years now, and during that time I have hardly driven at all. Italian drivers can be quite scary, however I really wanted to hire a car for our Wales trip, so I had to force myself to overcome my fear.

We hired a Toyota Yaris, which was a little strange to drive at first but I soon began to get the hang of it. On that day I wanted to avoid motorway driving so we took a cross country route which eventually got us to Aust, where we crossed the River Severn and the River Wye over the Old Severn Bridge

We had now entered my beloved Wales.  We then headed into Chepstow and on to the small nearby village of Itton where our first holiday cottage was located. This charming cosy country abode was to be our home for a week. The owner of the property, Helen, made us feel very welcome.

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“Clare’s Cottage” was beautifully decorated, warm and well equipped.  The cottage also had a beautiful garden.

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There were some lovely free range chickens running around the garden.

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We soon made friends with some of the neighbours !!!

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Highly recommended !!! A great position for exploring the local towns and beautiful countryside of Monmouthshire.

More information about “Clare’s Cottage

*photos by Melinda Abbott

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

(except where  photos have been rightfully accredited to the photographer / owner)

#cottage #wyevalley #itton #monmouthshire

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy