N is for Newport - Wales, that is. The one place my DL wanted to visit was Newport as his grandfather was born there. He has the whole clan listed in his grandfather's Bible and Grandpa Herbert was born in the late 1800s but immigrated to Canada when he was in his twenties. Since my paternal grandmother was also born in Wales, both of us think of ourselves as part Welsh. Before we went together, I visited my friend Jane with my travel partner Cathy and stayed for 3 nights. I'd stayed with Jane 6 years ago when she kindly showed me around Newport and Cardiff, but this was Cathy's first time in Wales.
We caught the train in Salisbury around 10:30 am and arrived at 12:30 - not a long trip at all. Jane and her friend Neil, along with Freyja - Jane's new dog - met us at the station and after dropping our bags, we went out to Duckpool Farm where another of Jane's friends lives. It's a beautiful location with lots of property and a paddock, just right for someone who owns a horse. That evening, Neil took us all our for a lovely dinner at a traditional Welsh pub called "Cripple Creek." (photo at left)
After a breakfast of cereal and yogurt, and visiting Jane's new horse, we three girls headed out for a day touring the area around Newport. First stop was Abergavveny for gas and then we drove to a town called Crickhowell. We strolled through the narrow streets and arrived at the local church where I took a few photos of the beautiful rolling hills beyond the cemetery. The locals were obviously still celebrating the Queen's Jubilee as there were flags and pennants everywhere. Next stop was Hay-on-Wye, which is world renowed for books and bookstores. We stopped at The Granary for lunch where Cathy & I tried "bubble and squeak." Fully fortified, we walked down to the River Wye and strolled along its banks.
Next stop was the Skirrid Inn, famous for being the oldest public house in Wales. The first record of its existence was in 1110! From earliest times, courts were held on the first floor, complete with a Judge's retiring room. People believe that the Master-Hangman, Bloody Judge Jeffreys (1644-1689) sat in judgement at the Skirrid and many men met their end hanging from a beam. The scorch and drag marks of the rope can still be seen to this day. The owner, Geoff Fiddler, was there upon our arrival and when I told him I have Welsh blood, he offered to allow us upstairs to view the rooms where people can stay. As we cautiously crept up the stairs - past the rope - we suddenly heard a blood-curdling scream, followed by our own screams and the sound of 3 hearts pounding in fright. But it was just Geoff trying to scare the bejeezus out of us. Well, mission accomplished. And then we all howled with laughter! There were 3 rooms and one actually felt like there was a ghost in there! We all felt a chill go up our backs when we went in. If you'd like to read a bit more about the haunted areas of Wales, just click here.
Our final stop of the day was at Llanthony Abbey where I took lots of photos of the ruins. It was an Augustinian Abbey and is found in a secluded valley in the Black Mountains, dating back to 1100 when a Norman nobleman, Walter deLancy, came upon a ruined chapel and decided to stay and dedicate himself to solitary prayer and study.
Newport has had a great history since medieval times and then it became the focus of coal exports in the 19th century. Now it is famous for its transporter bridge, of which there are only 8 in the entire world. It was built in 1906, and it was fascinating to see it span the River Usk and learn how it functions. The river banks are very low so near to the city center so an ordinary bridge, which would need very long approach ramps, wouldn't be able to allow ships to pass underneath it. Also, a ferry wouldn't be able to cross during low tides. To read more about the bridge, just click here.
Naturally, I must thank Mrs. Nesbitt for creating ABC Wednesday many years ago and keeping it going now with her numerous assistants. I hope you enjoy this short slideshow I made up using my own photos. The music is "Angel of Monmouth" which I thought suitable since Newport is in Monmouthsire. My most noteworthy memory of Wales is that, even under grey skies, it is so colourful, especially the deep greens! See for yourself.