A newly-married couple from Los Angeles quit their jobs to work on farms and wineries across Europe. Read it from the beginning...

Roadtrip through Wales

Posted: May 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Wales | 3 Comments »

We rented a coffee can-sized car (a Chevrolet “Matiz”) and drove around Wales this past weekend. We’re actually heading out again this morning to visit the Big Pit, a coal mine museum. So, in lieu of a full post, here are some observations:

Driving on the left side of the road isn’t as jarring a change as we expected. Shifting with the left hand, however, took some getting used to. I kept slapping the door with my right hand, reaching for the shifter.

We strongly endorse McVitie’s Digestives biscuits as an excellent energy source for hill-walking. We climbed to the second highest peak in Wales — it takes about an hour. It takes another twenty minutes to get to the highest peak, but we needed to get going.

Hay-on-Wye, the tiny town packed with books, is the most charming place we’ve been so far. Bookshelves are tucked all over the city: in alleys, on the decaying castle, from cafes.

This “bookstore” had no one around. It was a whole wall of books, with a box for people to put their money.

Ice cream made from sheep milk: not too bad! Very creamy, a bit grassy. We didn’t know it was non-cow milk until we were done. I had “cinder toffee.” It tasted like the top off a creme brulee.

We had Indian for dinner. Everything was heavy on the coconut milk, and too sweet as a result. In general, we’re finding meals in Britain to be heavy on the sweetness.

A “road” as indicated on a map could mean anything from a nice, two-lane paved and painted thing, down to a rutted dirt path squeezed between ten-foot hedges that may or may not be someone’s driveway. You just don’t know until you get there.

Also, the dashed white line separating lanes is more of a suggestion than enforced law, it seems.

Roundabouts make a lot of sense. Much faster than traffic lights. On the other hand, plopping a roundabout in the middle of a freeway — not as intuitive.

Tintern Abbey is picturesque and grand in a way I’ve never seen before: vaulted stone arches with nothing by sky and birds behind them; the knowledge that men walked these same stone paths 800 years ago. Birds flew in and out like the place was a new kind of forest. It was raining, which gave the whole place a weighty atmosphere — and emphasized the lack of, and importance of, a roof.

Now we’re off for the Big Pit: National Coal Museum! And later, of course, a little bit of work. We’re working. We promise.


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3 Comments on “Roadtrip through Wales”

  1. 1 Gina said at 9:45 am on May 17th, 2010:

    The picture of the abbey is stunning! Yay, you guys! 🙂

  2. 2 DonnaAnn said at 9:53 am on May 17th, 2010:

    OMG you’ve discovered McVitie’s!!!!! The best biscuit in the world.

    Glad to hear from you… was thinking about you over the weekend.

  3. 3 Liz & Terry said at 11:59 am on May 17th, 2010:

    Hi
    Terry is Tom Dalzell’s co-editor on the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang & Unconventional English. Cathy emailed me to tell us about your trip to Wales and we’re delighted you enjoyed Hay-On-Wye so much. We live in a lovely little village called Caerwent – it’s in Monmouthshire and not far from Tintern! I’ll ask Cathy to let you have our contact details (not good to put them on a blog). Hope we can catch up with you.


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