Monday, July 30, 2007

Wales part 3

Still on deadline… so here are more Tales from Wales.

Thursday 26 July – Bristol

Poured with rain so we went to Bristol. DH loved going over the Severn Bridge – bridges are NOT my favourite things (and whenever I’ve had to drive across Dartford on my own I’ve chuntered to myself all the way across it – it’s suspension bridges I loathe, and I really don’t think I’d be able to cope with the Golden Gate bridge. Or the one up in Scotland that moves with the wind. Nononono). Anyway, I had to be brave in front of the kids, so I took a picture.

Bristol is currently a bit of a building site, so traffic was slow and heavy. (We heard later on the radio that the traffic in Bristol is the slowest-moving in the UK – yep, we can believe that.) Spent the day at the science museum, including a fabulous planetarium show and lots of interactive psychological tests. Very interested to see how well I did on the pitch test – especially as I’m deaf! The tests for scent were also interesting (I couldn’t smell pheromones at all – but I think my sense of smell is as dodgy as my hearing!). There was a screen where you could see yourself in terms of thermal readings; and another which measured your responses to pictures (i.e. the one you responded to most made your fingers sweat more). The pics weren’t the same every time; son reacted most strongly to the pic of the busty brunette blowing a kiss (for heaven’s sake, he’s TEN!), and he hung around to watch my pictures. ‘Mum, that’s a NAKED MAN! They can’t show that here!’ (Back view, face down on bed, good fodder for romantic novelists *g* but, um, shocking to a ten-year-old.) There was a picture of someone at the dentist’s, mouth open and syringe going in – that’s what I thought I would react to, given my traumas of the other week. But no: I reacted most strongly to the picture of a steeplejack right at the top of a steeple and you could see view all the way down to the ground below. ‘So you were lying, then,’ says son. ‘You ARE scared of heights.’ No. Just big bridges and open-tread spiral stairs, which is to do with a recurrent nightmare from my childhood. Son loved the ‘virtual volleyball’ and building a train track (following in Brunel’s footsteps, and this is where DH went a bit nerdy), and Madam loved all the Alice in Wonderland illusions; DH and I both liked the planetarium best.

Read Nicola Cornick's Lord of Scandal in the evening; as usual, she never disappoints. Great plot, great characters, fabulous dialogue. Regency romance at its best.

Friday 27 July – Caerleon, Newport and Usk

We had intended to go on a boat trip round Symonds Yat (view here to the left is from the conservatory of our cottage), but the River Wye was still swollen badly by floodwater and no boats were running.

So we headed down to Caerleon instead to see the only fully excavated Roman amphitheatre in Britain. Fascinating stuff - you can really imagine what it would've been like to be on a central stage there (though I have to admit Greek drama is more to my taste than Roman farce) or being a gladiator...

We would’ve visited the baths, too, but when we’d been round the town three times and failed to find a parking space, DH had had enough and instructed me, ‘Just direct us somewhere we haven’t been.’) So we went to Newport – the local museum was very interesting, containing Roman mosaics (and part of a leather shield) from the nearby village of Caerwent, tableaux of rooms from the late 1800s (lightbulb moment for me – especially the doctor’s surgery), and a nice gemstone collection. Newport itself will probably be lovely when the regeneration projects have finished.
Daughter decided she wants to learn Welsh and Latin. ‘Mum, you can buy a book and we’ll share it.’ Riiiight.

Then we went to Usk. But there were no signposts on the way out of the car park, and we found ourselves driving through narrow, steep (as in 16% gradient) and winding roads. Fab view, but we didn’t quite end up where we’d intended to go!

Sad to be leaving the area on Saturday. We’d really wanted to go to Hay-on-Wye and also Hereford Cathedral to see the Mappa Mundi and the chained library (i.e. books were so precious in the middle ages that they were often chained to the library so they couldn’t be stolen), but given the weather problems it wasn’t possible. No way would we be disaster tourists, there to gawp at the damage and getting in the way of the emergency services. My heart really goes out to those affected by the floods. And I hope that the government’s conscience is thoroughly pricked so they do actually help the people who’ve been affected. (Despite their stealth taxes there has been a major lack of investment in areas outside London – the rural flood barriers and defences are in an atrocious state - hmm, I said no politics, so take the rants about east coast erosion and the fact that the government ignores everywhere outside London as read.)


Jan Jones said...

Glad you're back and that you all had a good time, Kate. Love your holiday diary - I now don't need to go there at all because I've been there vicariously!

Anonymous said...

Nice to read about your holiday travels Kate. The pics are making me feel quite homesick. And the mention of welshcakes well say no more. I'm going to have to have a care package sent over.
I had to laugh at your mention of fear of suspension bridges. The whole drive across the Golden Gate I had my eyes closed and kept thinking about earthquakes. Uugh!


AA said...

Hey great holiday diary Kate. Pleased you didn't let the weather slow you down.
Nice to have you back. Good luck with the dentist and the deadline. Two awful D words....


Kate Hardy said...

It's definitely worth a visit, Jan. :o)

Chris - the idea of the Golden Gate scares me stupid!

Amy - thank you. I think I'm going to need luck...

Shirley said...

Ooh, lots of lovely posts for me to catch up with. Great pics, too. Thanks for sharing.
So glad you had all had a good time.
Hope the de*t**t isn't as bad as you fear.