2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

Our home for the next 25 days

Hatherley Manor, Down Hatherley Lane

Chepstow Castle

The Metropole in Llandrindod Wells

Steve and our new set of wheels - the Rolls

Inside the Metropole

Hatherley outside Gloucester a way out in the countryside was a joy to wake up to.

A peaceful night's sleep for all; cool and breezy and autumn is sure setting in quickly.

Taking our time this morning we left a little later than would be usual on a road trip and headed west and south, crossing the Severn and making our way down the west bank towards the Bristol Channel. The adjustment to the driving is really far easier than I imagined. Nothing to it really, just remember to look right instead of left. Lovely little villages and soon we were in Wales or in the native tongue Cymru (Coomree). All road signs, place names and instructions are in both languages, the native taking top priority. Now we never heard anyone speaking Welsh but then how would we know if they were? It's hard enough trying to understand what some of these locals call English.

The first Welsh town we hit was Chepstow at the mouth of the River Wye. Beautiful and ancient and dominated by the Chepstow Castle. Built in 1067 it was the first Norman castle built in Britain. Spectaculary impressive and really overwhelming to behold and very well preserved showing no signs of any warring elements or affects. From Chepstow it was on to Cardiff and the real adventure began again. No British village, town or city is laid out in functioning grid. No street retains its name for more than two blocks and woe be the unwary tourist who makes an errant turn.Indeed I am that befuddled moron. Lost in the maze of permanent congestion we circled around and around managing once to pass Cardiff Castle, to backtrack again and again for an hour desperate to escape Cardiff. It seems no one thought to put signs or names on the many narrow streets

but eventually we found our way out making our way up into central Wales, the gradually increasing highlands, the decreasing traffic and winding country roads. Banked with flowing purple heather and stony streams, narrow lakes and grand vistas of panoramic valleys we encountered so many charming villages along the route.

Our stay tonight in in Llandrindod Wells, a famous Victorian era spa retreat for the royals and the wealthy. A hamlet now, quaint and much slower paced than previously.

Staying at the Metropole Hotel a massive Victorian structure with towers, narrow winding hallways, elegant meeting rooms and old styled fixtures and decore. Built in 1872 it is

large and ancient and charming, much like myself. It's quiet again, and coolish here in the mid-Wales area, a lovely place to be. Tomorrow it's on to Shrewsbury and Chester and we are doing just fine. A different place, a different pace but then that's the whole point of traveling. Cheers...Steve & Joan & Patricia.

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