E-tap hotel is basic, but remarkably comfortable. Well except for the small toilet. Without taking too much away from the imagination if I sit on the loo my shoulders are wedged against either wall. And as for the clean up afterwards, well. Can I leave it with you imagining a large guy, doing amazing contortions, balancing on one leg, whilst swearing, almost taking the toilet roll holder off the wall and finally emerging with a back so cricked that it takes most of the day to unwind!
Breakfast is part of the cost and consists of toast, baking, cereal, tea or coffee and juice. It is not bad and probably the healthiest thing we have done for ourselves for over a week.
Then it is into the car and the short trip to Uncle Eric’s.
Aunty Gill has already gone to work, Gills grand daughter is racing around getting ready to go to work and Uncle Eric and Smokey the Dog are out on a short walk to do toilet. That’s Smokey not Uncle Eric. Well I hope that’s the case.
Uncle Eric arrives, the grand daughter leaves and Smokey gets imprisoned in the kitchen. Aunty Gill has left a sight seeing itinerary and instructions for Uncle Eric and off we go on our tour.
First up we head to a place called Tredagar House. This is a stately home with quite a history that is literally five minutes from where Uncle Eric lives. As with all local attractions the locals rarely manage to go and see it. This was the case with Tredagar House and Uncle Eric.
It costs nothing to get into the extensive grounds and we pop in for a wee walk around and several photos of the outside of the house and surrounding area. A guided tour kicks off in about 40 minutes; the cost is about six pounds each. But in saying that we were not aware that there was a cost at first and instead headed off to have a cuppa at the adjacent café.
Time for the tour and we head up to the assembly point. It is then that we notice that folks have a ticket in their hands, and instead of having all the time in the world we now find that we only have a very short time to get to the shop, purchase the ticket, get our parking validated (part of the ticket price) and get back for the tour.
We make it but I think that that was mainly thanks to the couple of other groups who had been waiting for the tour start and saw our sudden departure to become fully paid up tour members.
Anyway we made the tour. And what a tour it was. The guide absolutely knew his stuff, but he was also very entertaining and the two hour tour flew past way too fast.
There is far too much involved in the house to make explanation in this note. But the highlights for us were that each room had been set up in a different period that the house (or each part) had been built or modified for. The other was that the guide knew every bit of scandal and rumour that related to the owners. And he shared it all with us.
The tour over we head off into the main part of Newport. We revisit several places we went last night, but seeing them in the daylight helps to put the place into some sort of prospective. Uncle Eric has lived in the area for much of his adult life and he makes an excellent tour guide.
We visit an old church in the centre of the town. Once again the history of the place is extensive, but a guide book helped to smooth our passage around the building and its history. I take a large number of photographs. Leaving the church the memory card in the camera is now full. We still have a number of other places to visit so we decide to head back to Uncle Eric’s place to give me a chance to download the camera.
On the way we go and visit the work place of my cousin Tracey. This is Eric’s daughter. Once again I would not have recognised her in the street, but she obviously knows me but she admits only from photographs sent over by my parents. A short catch up with her and it’s off again.
We drive through a heavily populated area of Council Housing (very much lower socio-economic and I am glad that we have been shown this area along with the iconic ones), around a corner, down a small hill and we are back at the village of Bassaleg again. The two suburbs are minutes from each other but a world apart.
The image transference done we head back out on leg two of our tour.
Uncle Eric takes us to a local restaurant, part of a national chain called Whetherspoons. This time we insist on paying. Lunch is very nice and we are soon heading back down into the town and over to a unique bridge called “The Transporter”. Well it’s not really a bridge, but more a suspended platform hanging from a gantry which travels on a rail system over the river and inner harbour. It is now no longer being used, but it is certainly unique.
We head to an area that is steeped in Roman history. This area (that’s name I can not recall) is the site of an unearthed amphitheatre that is nearly two thousands years old. The entrance, seating, under floor chambers and stairways are all still clearly visible and accessible. The ruins are in a field just outside of Newport and there is no cost or restriction on access. Just walk through a stone wall (also Roman) and onto the ruin.
A short distance from here is a museum dedicated to the Roman occupation of the area.
Once again this is free access and its contents and displays are amazing. Not only do they have the remains of Roman life such as coins, weapons and armour, but they have commissioned some UK’s top people to recreate the stuff today. There are full sets of armour for several ranks of soldier. There are video displays of working iron and creating stuff like arrow heads and pillum (throwing spear) heads.
An entire floor of mosaic tiles have been found in an area nearby and reconstructed as a display floor inside the museum.
The visit was eye opening and very educational, but also entertaining. Brilliant.
From the ruins we stopped by my Cousin Kevin’s place. This is a tiny narrow house in a long row of houses that could have come directly from “Coronation Street”. Kevin is not home, but later news explains the tragedy that was the reason behind that.
It is time to head back home. Aunty Gill arrived a little while after we got to their place and it was decided to do a salad for tea. This was met by both Rowena and I with a sigh of relief. Food was soon on the table and we settled down to a very nice mixed salad (Uncle Eric’s doing) and greens with potatoes and ham and pork pie. I just love the pork pie here.
As we settle into the lounge Uncle Eric receives a call from Tracey. Kevin has had a heart attack at work and has been taken to the hospital. This would have been as we were outside his house. He is not very well and has been transferred to a nearby hospital in Cardiff for more intensive care.
We later find out that he was experiencing discomfort at work, went to the work medical centre (luckily well staffed by medical professionals) collapsed and was brought back to life with electric shocks. It had been touch and go.
The plan had been to travel to Uncle Eric’s holiday caravan in Weymouth tomorrow, but in light of Kevin we suggest that we put all that off until we know what is happening.
However they insist that we carry on with our holiday and they will play it by ear. I am not overly comfortable with this but it is their call and they are both quite insistent.
So we head back to the hotel, and await news.
It takes quite a while before I am able to fall asleep and have to reset the TV timer a couple of times before it finally gets to do its job.
A funny sort of day. I would like to have gone to see Kevin, but he is in intensive care and on restricted visitation. But I also feel that the rellies would prefer for us to go about our business while they deal with their family and this sad event. We will respect this. But Rowena and I both have the feeling that we are not really part of the family, are not welcome as part of what is happening and this is sad.