We went to Wales over the Old Severn Bridge: I've not been that way for years, but when we lived in Swansea when I was a child that was the way you got to England. The old Severn Bridge services has been replaced by a housing estate. That service station had the best view down over the estuary, and the weirdest system of tunnels connecting all the various car parks to the main building so you could walk there without getting wet.
After the Severn bridge, we pootled up the Wye to Tintern Abbey. The lighting was dramatic.
I imagine a deep God-voice booming over this photo: "I'm sure I used to have a lid for this thing..."
The cottage was rather lovely. It had a haha!
It had a fireplace and was well supplied with logs. I wasn't sure how Az would react to a crackling real fire, but he coped remarkably well...
I didn't take a photo of the Rayburn, whose name was apparently Roger. I have never had much time for range cookers in the past, but I must say I warmed to Roger. He was oil fired, so required no stoking or cleaning, and I really liked his griddle/press thing on the top, it was great for toasting Welshcakes, and he kept the place comfortably warm, despite the frost. Though I think you do get a bit of a smell with even the best maintained oilfired systems, the real fire smell got rid of that.
There was a field next to the cottage which we were allowed to use - it was very lovely with a river running through it.
Az seemed pleased.
A walk through the field and along a footpath turned out to be rather longer and more muddy than originally planned. Still, there were lots of snowdrops.
We walked past a Necromantic Farm where the sheep and hens were black. I swear I saw some black pheasants as well, but Mark didn't see those.
The hounds were somewhat exhausted by all this exercise, so we left them and went to Hay on Wye for a bit of a bookshop session. I managed to find a Patricia Wrightson I didn't have: the Nargun and the Stars. Then it was time for the customary Giant Icecream Photo. (I had icecream too, only it was on waffles and by the time it got there I was so hungry I forgot photography. )
The next morning we had a visitor... a handsome Border Collie visitor! Mollydog became rather excited and flirty. It was a holiday romance. Sadly the light was awful so I didn't manage to get much of a picture of the playing.
We went to find the the Golden Valley, but found it disappointingly unGolden and generally more than a bit manky. So we gave up and went to Hay on Wye again, this time with dogs.
The hounds had a hamburger between them for lunch. I resisted Mollydog's insistence that she really could not sit down on an unpadded floor for some time, but when her back legs started shaking pitifully from the effort of standing up I gave in and let her have my scarf.
Mark went to see the Castle bookshop, which we'd missed out on before. I skipped it and admired the building from outside. I love the way that at one end it's a working building, and at the other end it's a ruin, without really having a defined point where it goes from one to the other. I like the fact that it's not been heritage-industried, but is none the less, still just hanging about somehow.
And from the other side... yes, I think those are Tudor chimneys, though I admit I couldn't remember what period they belonged to at the time, only that they were 'diagnostic' in some way. I think the bit on the right is the medieval bit, but that's a pure guess. There was no Educational Notice.
What IS this thing? Or is it several things? And why is it just lying about in the grounds of a very old and ruinous building, abandoned and unexplained with a cat on it? I think the world is a better place with a certain amount of random very old unsanitised crap lying about. And no noticeboards.
Wrenching ourselves from the wonderous junk of Hay, we took off up the black mountains to find some snow. There was still some left on the tops, and it was really quite chilly.
If I remember rightly, the road coming down from the right is the road from the Gospel Pass down into the Vale of Ewyas. It was rather cold here too.
We stopped at Llanthony Priory. It was rather lovely. Parts of it even had a lid on, though not this bit.
Philmophlegm communed with a Welsh Cob. I don't know what they were telepathising about.
Time for more fire!
This photo of a nude Mollydog haring about the field doesn't seem to fit in anywhere in the narrative, but I like it. She wasn't wearing a collar because we'd just got up and gone out for a loon about before breakfast. Shocking!
The fact that there were two entrances to the field caused a certain amount of confusion. A certain greyhound kept ending up at the wrong one... no matter which one I went in and out through!
Before we went home, we went up Sugarloaf mountain, the mountain next to the cottage. Well, we didn't go right the way to the top. That would have involved effort. But we went up far enough to get tired and sit down to admire the view.
Time to go home. There were no complaints about the inadequacy of the bedding this time.