Got up early – before 7:00! – to a gray looking day but we had a road-trip planned and didn’t care. We left just after 9:00 and headed south on quiet smaller roads, passing through Tewkesbury after about an hour.
We turned west at Gloucester and continued further south, through Lydney and on to Chepstow in Wales.
The Severn River gradually widened into the Severn Estuary, and apparently the tides are high enough at times that you can surf on them. As we headed further south the sky started to clear and ended up beautiful and sunny, although still very chilly.
We stopped in Chepstow for a walk around and refreshment. In the old part of the town the sidewalks have short sayings carved into them and coloured blue, as well as groups of large coin impressions.
In front of some of the buildings there’s a plaque sunk into the sidewalk telling the story and history of the building or area.
In the centre of the area there’s a memorial to the wars, and there are poppies imbedded in the stairs, and sculptures in the walls.
Leaving Chepstow we continued south to Newport, where we stopped at the velodrome, which has been renamed in honour of Geraint Thomas, the Welshman who won this year’s Tour de France.
They let us inside to watch the practice but I wasn’t allowed to take photos. I’ve watched a bit of track cycling on tv but have never been inside a course before. It was very interesting – there were several groups of riders in the inside of the track at the far end warming up and getting instructions from coaches, while three or four at a time did their training on the track. The track itself is steeply sloped at each end up to 42 degrees, and I had thought that the straight stretches were flat, but they’re also slanted, although not nearly so sharply.
After watching for a bit we made our way out – the facility has a bunch of other things happening – a full gym as well as indoor and outdoor courts for tennis and ping-pong, etc. The bright blue sky was getting a bit cloudy again, but the rain was holding off.
We left Newport and went north, stopping for a walkabout at Goytre Wharf, which is a tying up place for canal boats.
The canal is 35 miles long and was originally opened in the early 1800’s to carry coal, and it runs through the Brecon Beacons National Park.
We then went on to Abergavenny, where we once again stopped and walked around a bit looking for a place to get a bite to eat. We found a nice little cafe where we ordered cheeseburgers, and ended up chatting with the owner. We asked him about the mural on the wall of Puglia, Italy and it turns out that he’s Italian so we had lots to talk about.
There was also a mural on the side of the building across the road – it showed the local area as it is now, with a panel overlaid on one side that showed it as it was in 1665 and another panel showing it in 1100, all with Sugar Loaf mountain in the background.
There was an older lady waiting for a sandwich to take out and she was very talkative – her name was Jean and she must be a regular customer. When she got her sandwich she went over to a side counter to make use of some sauces and ended up making a bit of a mess that she wiped up with a handful of napkins, leaving a big greasy smear on the chair she’d used as a table.
Homeward bound after eating, the GPS took us through Hereford, which wasn’t really the route we’d wanted but we decided to follow it anyway. It was almost a huge mistake – the traffic was starting to slow and we could see that the other direction wasn’t moving at all. Luckily there was more than one lane and we were able to bypass the worst of it fairly quickly. The news on the radio mentioned the stalled traffic in that area, and I read later that there’d been an accident between a motorcycle and a car.
The last hour or so of the drive home was in the dark but at least it wasn’t raining. Neither of us was hungry after the delicious burgers we’d had so a light snack sufficed for dinner.