Final expenses for two months in UK…Favorite photos….

The four of us in front of a large fireplace.

From this site

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Chepstow:
“Chepstow is located on the west bank of the River Wye, some 3 miles (4.8 km) north of its confluence with the Severn estuary. To the north of the town, the Wye passes through a limestone gorge, and there are limestone cliffs at Chepstow both north and south of the town centre and on the opposite (east) side of the river. The town is overlooked by the inland cliffs at Wyndcliff near St Arvans, about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the town, and, from parts of the town, the Severn estuary and its bridges can be seen. The historic centre of Chepstow occupies part of a bend in the River Wye, and slopes up from the river to the town centre and beyond. As well as cliffs used for rock climbing, percolation of acidic groundwater has dissolved limestone to produce caves in the area, including Otter Hole, one of the longest cave systems in Britain and noted for its mineral deposits. The climate of the town is affected by its position close to the Severn estuary.

The bedrock of Chepstow is limestone, mudstone, and sandstone, overlain in places with some gravels and the clay and silt of the river’s tidal flats, which are of marine origin and up to two million years old. Most of the rock was produced in a warm, tropical marine environment when Europe was closer to the equator. The rock of Sedbury cliffs and those under Chepstow Castle are carboniferous limestones, hundreds of metres deep in the area, made of particles and shells of sea creatures from 330-360 million years ago. Layered outcrops of darker Black Rock limestone, which makes up a broad part of Chepstow’s bedrock, are very clear in cliffs along Craig Yr Afon, part of the Wales Coast Path extending from Wyebank Road, and by the link road from Bulwark Road to the M48, where the looser reddish Mercia Mudstone (which extends under Bulwark and Sedbury and forms the cliffs at the Severn) and the lighter Hunts Bay limestone are also seen.

The River Wye at Chepstow has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.[18] The river was established as a boundary between England and Wales by Athelstan in 928. However, after the Norman conquest, areas east of the Wye, within the former Saxon royal manor of Tidenham and including Beachley, Tutshill, Sedbury, and Tidenham Chase, were included within the lordship of Striguil or Chepstow. In 1536, the river was confirmed as the boundary between Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire. Since the early 19th century, housing development has continued on the east bank of the river opposite Chepstow, at Tutshill and Sedbury. Those areas, though located in England rather than Wales, are now effectively suburbs of the town.”

By crossing this bridge, near the Boat Inn Restaurant in Chepstow, we left Wales and entered England.  
Here are our total expenses for the 62-nights we spent in the UK.:
Expense      US Dollar       GBP
4 Holiday Rentals    $ 8,381.40  $ 6,426.17
Southampton Hotel (2)  $    276.94  $    213.35
Car Rental + Fuel  $ 1,985.64  $  1,529.73
Dining Out  $    675.07  $     520.07
Groceries  $ 1,502.48  $  1,157.50
Pharmacy  $    478.20  $     368.40
Tours  $      42.00  $       32.36
Total  $13,341.73  $10,247.58
Avg Daily- 62 ngts  $     215.19  $     165.28

When we look back over the past two months, mostly spent in England and most recently in Wales, we can’s help but smile, grateful that we changed our usual plan of staying in one location for longer periods.

The two weeks in Falmouth overlooking the Atlantic Ocean’s Falmouth Bay, the two weeks we lived on a farm in both St. Teath, Cornwall and then three more weeks on a farm in Witheridge Tiverton Devon and then in Chepstow, Wales have all been outstanding experiences.

This breathtaking renovated room in Chepstow Castle, may have been used as a bedroom.

These shorter-term stays have definitely inspired us to continue booking short term stays as we move forward into the future. The next bookings we are yet to arrange are for India beginning in February after our upcoming train tour on the Maharajas Express, a luxury train journey from Mumbai to Delhi.

As mentioned earlier, we decided to stay in hotels during our almost two remaining months after the six-night train excursion.  Our next booked adventure is a Viking Ocean cruise from Mumbai India on April 3, 2020, ending in Greenwich, England on May 2, 2010. 

The four of us in front of the Raglan Castle.

From there, at this point, we have no plans other than the cruise on November 10, 2020, departing from Lisbon, Portugal, ending on December 2, 2020, in Cape Town, South Africa.  We’ve yet to hear back from immigration if they’ll let us return.

The two castles presented a different perspective of life in medieval times.

Once we hear from immigration, we’ll be able to book plans between May 2020 and December 2020. It makes no sense to book anything until we know if we can return to South Africa.

In the interim, right now we’re thinking in terms of the upcoming two nights in Southampton and the upcoming 15-night cruise to the US.  Tonight, while in Southampton, we are having dinner with Kim and Keith who found us and our site from reading Tom’s posts on Cruise Critic several years ago. 

Ken and Tom at Chepstow Castle.

As the time nears to our two months in the US, we get excited at the prospect of seeing family and friends in Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona.  We’ve yet to book flights for these locations, preferring to “play it by ear” while we’re there.  It will all work out, one way or another.

In a matter of moments, we’ll be heading out the door to make the two-hour drive from Monmouthshire to Southampton and begin the next phase of our travels.

Our two castle tours were delightful, especially with friends Linda and Ken

We’re so grateful to be in a position to continue to treasure our life of world travel for however long we can and for the opportunity to share it all with our readers.

We’ll be back tomorrow from the Leonardo Royal Southampton Grand Harbour hotel, a stone’s throw from the cruise terminal, rated four stars.  It looks fabulous online at this link. Of course, we add photos in a few days.

We were very content with our Shirenewton rental, conveniently located to downtown Chepstow.

As for our above total expenses for the 62-nights we spent in the UK, we’ve yet to add fuel for the trip to Southampton and meals for two days, nor the upcoming cruise.  We’ll do a separate “total expenses” when the cruise ends.

May your day be rich in experience and love.

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2018:
The next day Tom and I and Tom and Lois visited Lisa at her home in Marloth Park where, as a volunteer with Wild & Free, she rescues and releases bush babies.  Such dedication.  For more photos, please click here.

Final full day in Wales…Packed and ready for Southampton…

Out to lunch at the Cripple Creek Inn with Linda and Ken after visiting Raglan Castle.

From this siteFascinating Fact of the Day about Chepstow:
New housing development in the twentieth century took place to the north and south of the town centre, and more recently beyond the A466 road to the west of the town. The town developed rapidly after the opening of the Severn Bridge in 1966, which replaced the car ferry between Beachley and Aust and allowed easier commuting between Chepstow and larger centres including Bristol and Cardiff. Over £2 million was invested in regenerating the town centre in 2004–05. This scheme, which includes sculptures and other public art, encountered some local criticism over its high cost but gained several national awards reflecting its high design quality. The area beside the river has also been landscaped in association with a flood defense scheme.

We’re wrapping up the 11 days we spent in Wales. Our bags are packed in a manner that will make it easy to unpack for the cruise. The final bag to close is the third supplies and toiletries bag and the backpack with our laptops.

Overnight last night I backed up my computer on our portable hard drive which surprises me it still works after purchasing it seven years ago. I’ve already backed up everything to one of two clouds and thus, regardless of digital crashes, we’re covered.

In the past 24 hours, I did a lot of consolidating removing packaging of various new unopened items to already opened items, making more space in the bag.  We do this regularly but I hadn’t done it since we arrived in the UK two months ago.
Linda and Ken each had the duck breast.
As of the end of today, we’ll have eaten most of the food we had on hand since we have no intention of taking food with us onto the cruise, especially based on the fact we’ll be flying to Minnesota (from Fort Lauderdale) in a mere 2½ weeks.  That’s hard to believe how quickly the time has passed.

After I finish today’s post and we’ve had our final late afternoon meal, I’ll begin working on the final expenses for these past two months, entering totals in tomorrow’s post and also on our spreadsheet.

A few days ago we each ordered the latest and greatest Google phones which will serve us well in years to come.  We’ll no longer have to buy SIM cards.  This phone is capable of affordable short term calling and data in 200 countries. 

Once the phones arrive we’ll sign up for Google Fi which has a pay-as-you-go plan that works for us.  They aren’t long term contracts with flat monthly fees but rather plans where we purchase calling and data as needed.  It automatically “kicks-in” when necessary.
Tom’s Italian chicken pasta lunch with garlic bread, of course.

With frequent use of our laptops using WiFi provided in holiday homes, we don’t have much need for data on phones other than for navigation while driving.  With Google Fi, we’ll only use the phone feature for short calls from wherever we may be in the world since there are fees based on the country we are in. 

We’ll continue to use Skype and Messenger for free calls.  We plan to cancel our current phone number plan with Skype which enabled us to make calls to any landlines or cell phones anywhere in the world.  But, there too there are monthly fees and costs for any calls that aren’t Skype to Skype.

The plan is such that Tom and I will need to use What’s App or Messenger to call each other. Otherwise, we’d have to each pay $.20 a minute based on our combined plan, which can add up quickly.  Texts are free so we may text one another while we’re apart anywhere in the world.
My delicious lunch with three grilled scallops and a few slices of gluten-free sausage.

With my current phone almost completely dead, I’m looking forward to being able to add apps.  My current phone even with an added data card doesn’t allow for the addition of many apps.  With the new 128 gig phone, I am looking forward to downloading every app I choose. 

We’re signing off for today to get back to packing some odds and ends and soon get to work on tomorrow’s post.  We’re leaving at 10:00 am and will upload the post before we depart.  We’ll see you tomorrow with the “numbers” and some favorite photos.

Happy Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2018:
This male stole the warthog kill from the females, eventually leaving the remains for the hungry females. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Raglan Castle…A look inside medieval times…Wonderful dinner with friends…Two days and counting…

When the four of us walked across the drawbridge over the moat at Raglan Castle it was easy to imagine the circumstances under which they needed to close off the castle.

From this site:
Fascinating Fact of the Day about Raglan, Wales:
By 1632, a Court House was established in Raglan. “The jury to meet at the Court House at Ragland the 25th March next by ten of the clock under peyn of xls. apeece* (see below) to have a view and inquire of lands in Landenny (Llandenny) and Ragland late of Philip David Morris”, (Dec. 1632). Subsequent leet courts refer to the liberty of Raglan and in 1682 the hundred of Ragland is mentioned. Court Roll excerpts reflect the issues of the day: In 1680, ‘The bridge called Pontleecke upon the highway leading from Raglan towards Chepstow to be out of repair. Moses Morgan fined for not spending 14s of the parish money towards repairing the stocks and whipping post in the parish of Raglan’. In 1695 the repair of bridges is still under discussion, ‘The bridge called Pont y bonehouse in the town of Raglan, 1695. John Curre, gent., steward’.

There is no longer a direct train service to the village, the local railway station having closed in 1955. The railway station buildings have been removed to St Fagans. The village continued to be an important thoroughfare in the 18th and 19th centuries, which explains its three substantial coaching inns the Beaufort Arms, the Ship and the Crown where the mail coaches would stop.


*By 1632, a Court House was established in Raglan. “The jury to meet at the Court House at Ragland the 25th March next by ten of the clock under peyn of xls. apeece to have a view and inquire of lands in Landenny (Llandenny) and Ragland late of Philip David Morris”, (Dec. 1632). Subsequent leet courts refer to the liberty of Raglan and in 1682 the hundred of Ragland is mentioned. Court Roll excerpts reflect the issues of the day: In 1680, ‘The bridge called Pontleecke upon the highway leading from Raglan towards Chepstow to be out of repair. Moses Morgan fined for not spending 14s of the parish money towards repairing the stocks and whipping post in the parish of Raglan’. In 1695 the repair of bridges is still under discussion, ‘The bridge called Pont y bonehouse in the town of Raglan, 1695. John Curre, gent., steward.”
The doorways in Raglan Castle have interesting designs.
Last night’s dinner at The Boat Inn in Chepstow (our second visit) with Liz and Dave from Bristol was sheer pleasure.  We hadn’t seen Liz for five years when we met in South Kensington, London in August 2014.  Last night we met Dave for the first time but somehow over the years of email communication, we felt as if we knew him.
Intricate patterns carved in stone remain yet today. 

I could kick myself for failing to take any photos. The conversation was so wonderfully entertaining, it totally slipped my mind.  We had another fine meal in this highly rated bistro/pub and the hours slipped by.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye.  We each had a long drive ahead of us in the dark.  It was the first time we drove from Chepstow to Shirenewton in the dark but by this time, Tom had the route figured out, and we got back to our holiday home in no time.

The lush green countryside that surrounds the castle is breathtaking, even today with the addition of farms and homes.

Once back in the house, we settled in for a quiet remainder of the night and before too long we were off to bed.  I had a fitful night, tossing and turning, sleeping only for short periods with lots of dreams.

Window panes such as these were an integral part of the original design.

With my phone not working I used Tom’s phone to play solitaire in-between the equivalent of “naps.” It’s so boring I often fall back to sleep before too long but last night was an exception.  Overall, I don’t think I slept more than four hours.

Tom seated on the king’s throne.

You know how it is…we can easily start overthinking during the night to send ourselves into a flurry of worry and doubt.  Although generally speaking, I am not a worrier (Tom handles that for me).  But last night after two glasses of white wine at dinner, my mind was racing.  

I think I should go back to red wine on the upcoming cruise which doesn’t seem to have an effect on my quality of sleep.  On cruises, I usually have a few glasses of red wine early in the evening (at happy hour) and then switch to mineral water for the remainder of the evening.  This avoids any unpleasant after-effects.

A tucked-away toilet (referred to as a “loo” in the UK).

The cardiologist in South Africa recommended drinking only red wine (in moderation, of course) which seems to have a good effect on the heart.  I didn’t drink any alcohol for over 20 years and started drinking red wine a few years ago on cruises.

While we’ve been “at home” in the UK, these past two months, we’ve had no alcohol whatsoever.  It was only this week when out to dine with Linda and Ken and then again last night, that I tried some white wine.  No more of that for me.

More intricate stone carvings remain among the ruins.

Today, we’re washing our final loads of laundry hoping everything will dry indoors on the drying rack.  Some items seem to take three days to dry so we may be pushing it when we’re leaving on Tuesday to drive to Southampton for a two-night hotel stay and again dinner with friends we made who’ve been reading our posts for years.

“A prie-dieu (French: literally, “pray [to] God”, invariable in the plural) is a type of prayer desk primarily intended for private devotional use, but may also be found in churches. It is a small, ornamental wooden desk furnished with a thin, sloping shelf for books or hands and a kneeler.”

At noon, we’re heading back to The Boat Inn for our final meal out in Chepstow.  We made a reservation for the “Sunday roast,” a popular tradition in the UK when one may choose to order beef, pork or lamb.  Tom usually chooses the beef while I go for the lamb.  We’ll take photos to share in tomorrow’s post.

Curved window panes.

Below is the last of the information we’re posting on Raglan Castle where once again, we had a memorable experience with Linda and Ken after touring two castles this past week.

From this site:

“Despite Tudor and Jacobean rebuilding the Raglan Castle we see today is largely the work of one hugely ambitious man – Sir William Herbert.

In less than 10 years this country squire turned himself into arguably the most powerful Welshman of the age. He began his dazzling career fighting in France, where he was captured and ransomed and was knighted in 1452.

Having grown rich by importing Gascony wine, Herbert was made sheriff of Glamorgan and constable of Usk Castle. He played a crucial role in a decisive defeat of Lancastrian forces during the Wars of the Roses in 1461.”

These three windows indicate three levels from which the floors eventually
 wore away.

“The grateful new king Edward IV rewarded Herbert by making him chief justice and chamberlain of South Wales – and grandly styling him Baron Herbert of Raglan. Underlining this meteoric rise young Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII was sent to Sir William to be brought up at Raglan Castle.

Great men need great houses. So Herbert continued his father’s work at Raglan on an epic scale, creating a magnificent new gatehouse and two great courts of sumptuous apartments. Now he could dispense hospitality with the best.

Poet Dafydd Llwyd praised his incredible fortress-palace with its ‘hundred rooms filled with festive fare, its hundred chimneys for men of high degree’.”
Tom standing in the fireplace in the massive kitchen often used to prepare meals for 100’s of guests.

“Herbert’s final accolade was the most remarkable of all. In 1468 he was created Earl of Pembroke as a reward for his capture of Harlech Castle, the last Lancastrian stronghold in England and Wales. It made him the first member of the Welsh gentry to enter the ranks of the English peerage.

He didn’t enjoy this prestige for long. Herbert was defeated and captured at the battle of Edgecote in 1469 – and brutally beheaded the very next day. The reported death of 5,000 men, mostly Welshmen, in his army makes it one of Wales’s greatest losses in battle.

The body of the ambitious earl was brought back to southeast Wales and buried in the Cistercian abbey church at Tintern. It was left to the Somersets, earls of Worcester, to usher in the glories of the Tudor age at Raglan.”

Have a superb Sunday!  Go Vikings!
Photo from one year ago today, October 20, 2018:
A group of cape buffalo may be called an “obstinacy.”  For more photos from the “Ridiculous Nine,” please click here.

Part 1…Raglan Castle…A look inside medieval times…

Ken set up our camera timers for this photo.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Raglan WalesFrom this site:
“Raglan (Welsh: Rhaglan) is a village and community in Monmouthshire, southeast Wales, United Kingdom. It is located some 9 miles south-west of Monmouth, midway between Monmouth and Abergavenny on the A40 road very near to the junction with the A449 road. The fame of the village derives from its castle, Raglan Castle, built for William ap Thomas and now maintained by Cadw.

The village stands at the crossing point of two Roman roads, that from Gloucester to Usk, and that from Chepstow to Abergavenny.[2] The origins of the village are unknown but Raglan was first mentioned in the will of Walter de Clare.

The earliest market in Raglan was recorded in 1354. The market cross in the town, which stands in the centre of the crossroads between the church and the Beaufort Arms Inn, consists now only of a massive base on which has been mounted a lamp post. In the large space around this stone, the markets were held, the base of the cross forming the table on which bargains were struck.

The agricultural roots of Raglan are illustrated by a 1397 account between the ‘reevem’ or reeve Ieuan Hire and Ieuan ap Grono and haywards (hedge wardens) Iorwerth ap Gwillym and Hoe ap Gwillym Goch.

The earliest records of the manor of Raglan Court are found on 26 October – 28 July 1391 during the reign of Richard II. At this time Raglan Castle was probably no more than a hill fort. After 1415 Raglan Castle was greatly expanded.

Records from 1587 refer to Raglan as a town. For the court, 13 July 1587, the marginal heading reads Burgus de Ragland cum Curia Manerii de Ragland cum membris and the caption becomes ‘The Court of William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester of his said borough and the Court of the said Earl of his said manor with members’. From 1 June 1587 onwards, most courts refer to the Borough of Ragland in the following manner: ‘The Court of the said manor with the Court of the borough or the town of Ragland’.”

Raglan Castle in Raglan Wales is quite impressive.  See the information below for details.

When we embarked on the drive to Raglan Castle, located in the village of Raglan, we were concerned, once again, that roads wouldn’t be marked and it would be easy to get lost. 

Raglan Castle wasn’t as restored as Chepstow Castle but had many fascinating features. 

A GPS signal isn’t available in most of the countryside but, of course, we saved the directions off-line, as we have all along, hoping it would be helpful.  This time we arrived at our destination without incident but we wondered why it’s been so difficult in the past.

The moat surrounding the castle is a stunning feature.

Touring the two castles, both Chepstow and Raglan Castle with Linda and Ken made the experience all the more interesting. With our collective varying perceptions, the conversation flowed as we toured each castle, often pointing our great photos ops to one another.

The Moat Walk at Raglan Castle runs around its outer edge and is thought to have been added around 1600 by the fourth Earl of Worcester.

Linda and Ken seemed more enthralled with Raglan Castle but we couldn’t decide between the two.  Each has its own special features and unique persona.  In both cases, our imaginations went wild as we toured each of the ruins.

A grand view of the moat surrounding Raglan Castle.

After our lengthy tour of Raglan Castle, which took much longer due to its massive size we headed to lunch at the Cripple Creek Pub & Restaurant where we had a lovely lunch although not quite as spectacular as the prior day at The Boat Inn in Chepstow along the River Wye.

In 1938 Henry Somerset, the 10th Duke, entrusted guardianship of Raglan Castle to the Commissioner of Works, and the castle became a permanent tourist attraction. Today, the castle is classed as a Grade I listed building and as a Scheduled Monument, administered by Cadw.

As a matter of fact, tonight, we’ll be meeting longtime friends/readers Liz and Dave at The Boat Inn for dinner (referred to as supper in this part of the world).  We’re so looking forward to them and…dining in that fantastic restaurant once again.

Tom took a rest on this two-wheeled cart.

For the information we gathered about Raglan Castle please see below.  Tomorrow, we’ll add additional information as we wrap up the two-day post.

From this site:
“The Welsh fortress-palace was transformed into a regal residence. The unmistakable silhouette of Raglan crowning a ridge amid glorious countryside is the grandest castle ever built by Welshmen.

We can thank Sir William ap Thomas, the ‘blue knight of Gwent’, for the moated Great Tower of 1435 that still dominates this mighty fortress-palace. His son Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, created the gatehouse with its flared ‘machicolations’.”

Raglan Castle was at least twice the size of Chepstow Castle which we shared in the past two day’s posts.

“These stone arches allowed missiles to be rained down on attackers. But Raglan came 150 years later than the turbulent heyday of castle-building. It was designed to impress as much as to intimidate.

Under various earls of Worcester Raglan was transformed into a magnificent country seat with a fashionable long gallery and one of the finest Renaissance gardens in Britain. But loyalty to the crown was to prove its undoing.”

Note this window’s scalloped edge.

“Despite a garrison of 800 men and one of the longest sieges of the Civil War, it fell to parliamentary forces and was deliberately destroyed. Among the looted treasures was a piece of Tudor wooden panelling, now proudly displayed in the visitor centre after being rescued from a cow shed in the 1950s.

Despite Tudor and Jacobean rebuilding the Raglan Castle we see today is largely the work of one hugely ambitious man – Sir William Herbert.

In less than 10 years this country squire turned himself into arguably the most powerful Welshman of the age. He began his dazzling career fighting in France, where he was captured and ransomed, and was knighted in 1452.”

As the moat wraps around the spectacular castle.

“Having grown rich by importing Gascony wine, Herbert was made sheriff of Glamorgan and constable of Usk Castle. He played a crucial role in a decisive defeat of Lancastrian forces during the Wars of the Roses in 1461.

The grateful new king Edward IV rewarded Herbert by making him chief justice and chamberlain of south Wales – and grandly styling him Baron Herbert of Raglan. Underlining this meteoric rise young Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII was sent to Sir William to be brought up at Raglan Castle.”

Today, the sun is shining and we plan to take a walk in the neighborhood. There’s a beautiful church nearby which we’d only seen from the car in the pouring rain.  

That’s all folks.  We’ll see you again tomorrow with new photos and Raglan Castle facts.  Please check back.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2018:

“Leopards are the least social – and perhaps the most beautiful – of the African big cats. They usually keep to themselves, lurking in the dense riverine bush or around rocky koppies, emerging to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.”  For more photos please click here.

Part 2…Chepstow Castle…A look inside medieval times…

During various stages of the restoration of Chepstow Castles, bars were placed across low windows for the safety of tourists.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Chepstow:

From this site:
“In the 19th century, a shipbuilding industry developed, and the town was also known for the production of clocks, bells, and grindstones. In 1840 leaders of the Chartist insurrection in Newport were transported from Chepstow to Van Diemen’s Land. The port’s trade declined after the early 19th century, as Cardiff, Newport, and Swansea became more suitable for handling the bulk export of coal and steel from the Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire valleys. However, shipbuilding was briefly revived when the National Shipyard No.1 was established during the First World War and for a short period afterward, when the first prefabricated ships, including the War Glory, were constructed there. The influx of labour for the shipyards, from 1917, led to the start of “garden suburb” housing development at Hardwick (now known locally as “Garden City”) and Bulwark. The shipyard itself became a works for fabricating major engineering structures. From 1938, Chepstow housed the head office of the Red & White bus company, on Bulwark Road.”

This will be the last day of presenting photos from Chepstow Castle. Tomorrow, we’ll move on to Raglan Castle for two days. For the remaining two posts from Chepstow, Monday and Tuesday, we’ll include some favorite photos from the 11 nights we spent here.

Each door in Chepstow Castle has unique characteristics.

After we spend two nights in Southampton before boarding the cruise, we’ll tally the total expenses for our two months in the UK from August 23rd to October 24th. This post will appear on the day we board the ship.

These large areas leave a lot to the imagination.

From that point, all posts for 15 nights will be cruise and ports-of-call related. I realize that while we’re cruising posts may be redundant but as always, on yet another cruise of our total of 25, we’ll do our best to keep it interesting and informative.

In this case, the presence of vines created such a pleasing effect, it remained in place.

Chepstow Castle will remain in our minds for a long time to come. Lately, we’d been saying one can tire of touring old buildings which could most likely occur after seven years.  

Another fascinating doorway.

Undoubtedly, we’ll continue to peruse historic churches, restored castles, as well as significant old structures throughout the world. It’s impossible not to do so.

Many castles we’ve explored in the past have been totally restored with furnishings and accouterments typical for the era. The rich decor is often appealing and interesting but the medieval period has definitely piqued our interest while in the UK.  
Ken was intent on taking many photos.

The varied aspects of a castle’s ruins leave much to the imagination inspiring us to research data we can share here with our photos.

For more on Chepstow Castle, please see below:
“Foundation, 1067–1188

The Great Tower
The speed with which William the Conqueror committed to the creation of a castle at Chepstow is testament to its strategic importance. There is no evidence for a settlement there of any size before the Norman invasion of Wales, although it is possible that the castle site itself may have previously been a prehistoric or early medieval stronghold. The site overlooked an important crossing point on the River Wye, a major artery of communications inland to Monmouth and Hereford. At the time, the Welsh kingdoms in the area were independent of the English Crown and the castle in Chepstow would also have helped suppress the Welsh from attacking Gloucestershire along the Severn shore towards Gloucester. However, recent analysis suggests that the rulers of Gwent, who had recently fought against King Harold, may initially have been on good terms with the Normans.

The precipitous limestone cliffs beside the river afforded an excellent defensive location. Building work started under William FitzOsbern in 1067 or shortly afterwards. The Great Tower was probably completed by about 1090, possibly intended as a show of strength by King William in dealing with the Welsh king Rhys ap Tewdwr. It was constructed in stone from the first (as opposed to wood, like most others built at this time), marking its importance as a stronghold on the border between England and Wales. Although much of the stone seems to have been quarried locally, there is also evidence that some of the blocks were re-used from the Roman ruins at Caerwent.

The castle originally had the Norman name of Striguil, derived from the Welsh word ystraigl meaning “river bend”. FitzOsbern also founded a priory nearby, and the associated market town and port of Chepstow developed over the next few centuries. The castle and the associated Marcher lordship were generally known as Striguil until the late 14th century, and as Chepstow thereafter.

Expansion by William Marshal and Roger Bigod, 1189–1300

It’s easy to imagine weddings held in this area.

Plan of Chepstow Castle from 1825
Further fortifications were added by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, starting in the 1190s. The wood in the doors of the gatehouse has been dated by dendrochronology to the period 1159–89. Marshal extended and modernised the castle, drawing on his knowledge of warfare gained in France and the Crusades. He built the present main gatehouse, strengthened the defences of the Middle Bailey with round towers, and, before his death in 1219, may also have rebuilt the Upper Bailey defences. Further work to expand the Great Tower was undertaken for William Marshal’s sons William, Richard, Gilbert, and Walter, in the period to 1245.

In 1270, the castle was inherited by Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk, who was a grandson of William Marshal’s eldest daughter, Maud. He constructed a new range of buildings in the Lower Bailey, as accommodation for himself and his family. Bigod was also responsible for building Chepstow’s town wall, the “Port Wall”, around 1274–78. The castle was visited by King Edward I in 1284, at the end of his triumphal tour through Wales. Soon afterwards, Bigod had built a new tower (later known as “Marten’s Tower”), which now dominates the landward approach to the castle, and also remodelled the Great Tower.

A grassy courtyard.  Although there is grass in many areas of the castle it’s unlikely grass was planted in any areas.  For tourist purposes, the beautiful lawns highlight the less colorful castle.
Decline in defensive importance, 1300–1403
From the 14th century, and in particular the end of the wars between England and Wales in the early 15th century, its defensive importance declined. In 1312 it passed into the control of Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk, and later his daughter Margaret. It was garrisoned in response to the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr in 1403 with twenty men-at-arms and sixty archers but its great size, limited strategic importance, geographical location and the size of its garrison all probably contributed to Glyndŵr’s forces avoiding attacking it, although they did successfully attack Newport Castle.
The 15th to 17th centuries.

In 1468, the castle was part of the estates granted by the Earl of Norfolk to William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke in exchange for lands in the east of England. In 1508, it passed to Sir Charles Somerset, later the Earl of Worcester, who remodelled the buildings extensively as private accommodation. From the 16th century, after the abolition of the Marcher lords’ autonomous powers by King Henry VIII through the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542, and Chepstow’s incorporation as part of the new county of Monmouthshire, the castle became more designed for occupation as a great house.”

For the continuation of this information, please click here
The stones used in building and restoring the castle vary in color creating an appealing aesthetic.

We’d planned to drive to Chepstow for lunch today but have decided to stay in due to the heavy rain.  We’d hoped to have lunch on our remaining days at the local pub/restaurant but after yesterday’s inferior lunch, we changed our minds. Tomorrow evening we’re meeting up with readers/friends Liz and Dave for dinner in Chepstow. 

The food was not the quality and freshness we’ve experienced elsewhere in Chepstow or other areas in the UK.  Thus, tomorrow Saturday, Sunday and Monday, we’ll dine in Chepstow at one of its many wonderful restaurants. 
Glass windows were used in Wales as follows: “1066 to 1215 AD was the Norman period, which used glass in churches and some fortified buildings, castles, etc. 1216-1398 AD, the High Middle Ages, saw the introduction of Gothic and early English church architecture with much larger windows openings comprising smaller leaded panes.”

Today, we’ll put a dent in our remaining food by having a late lunch (instead of breakfast) and a lite bite in the evening.  

Moss and vines typically grow on stone structures in humid climates. although it can be destructive to the longevity of the structure.  For restored castle and other publicly displayed ruins, often the vines and moss are regularly removed.

The time is flying so quickly! We’re only six days from boarding the cruise in Southampton and only three weeks from today to arriving in the US. We’re looking forward to it all.

Have a healthful and peaceful day.
Photo from one year ago today, October 18, 2018:
“Formerly widely distributed throughout the bushveld regions of South Africa. In the 19th century, it was exterminated by hunters, except in KwaZulu-Natal’s Umfolozi region. Although now thriving where it has been re-introduced into parts of its former region, it still suffers from poaching.”  For more photos please click here.

Part 1…Chepstow Castle…A look inside medieval times…

Chepstow Castle was impressive as we approached.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Chepstow:

From this site:
Chepstow was given its first charter in 1524 and became part of Monmouthshire when the county was formed. The town appears as “Strigulia”, “Chepstowe” and “Castelh Gwent” on the Cambriae Typus map of 1573.[10] The castle and town changed hands several times during the English Civil War and the regicide Henry Marten was later imprisoned and died in the castle. The port continued to flourish; during the period 1790 to 1795, records show a greater tonnage of goods handled than Swansea, Cardiff, and Newport combined. Chepstow reached the peak of its importance during the Napoleonic Wars, when its exports of timber, for ships, and bark, for leather tanning, were especially vital. There were also exports of wire and paper, made in the many mills on the tributaries of the Wye. An important aspect of Chepstow’s trade was entrepôt trade: bringing larger cargoes into the manageable deep water of the Wye on high tide and breaking down the load for on-shipment in the many trows up the Wye to Hereford past the coin stamping mill at Redbrook, or up the Severn to Gloucester and beyond. Chepstow also traded across the estuary to Bristol on suitable tides to work vessels up and down the Avon to that city’s centre. Many buildings in the town remain from the late 18th and early 19th centuries; the elegant cast-iron bridge across the Wye was opened in 1816 to replace an earlier wooden structure.”
Our tour through Chepstow Castle on Tuesday with friends Linda and Ken, who live in South Africa was delightful. We took our time as we wandered through the historic structure reveling its magnificence and the skill with which it has been partially restored to its original beauty over the years.
The main entrance to the castle.

Wales/England/UK takes pride in the maintenance of their castles which was evidenced on both Tuesday and Wednesday when we toured yet another stunning structure with Linda and Ken, Raglan Castle which we’ll share in a few days once we’ve completed posting photos of Chepstow Castle.

Coat of arms on shields at the entrance gate.

With both Linda and Ken as skilled photo enthusiasts, we all ran about seeking the most advantageous photos ops of which there was an endless supply.  We oohed and ahhed from area to area totally in awe of what our eyes beheld.

Unfortunately, it was another cloudy day but it never rained while we were touring the castle with Linda and Ken.

Of course, we couldn’t wait for the opportunity to do research to discover more about the castle and its varied history.  The Internet was rife with comments and observations at numerous sites. 

 Linda and I bundled up on a cool day.  I had three layers under my hoodie.

However, we’ve found the history we’ve included today and in the next few days was most thorough and comprehensive at this site, one we often use for historical facts.  

Ken and Tom posing at a window.

There’s some controversy if Wikipedia’s information is accurate but we often find other information, perhaps written as a “personal observations” less accurate as opposed to the history itself that Wikipedia strives to present.

Inside the entrance courtyard.

Here is a portion of the information on the building of Chepstow Castle we gleaned from the above-mentioned site which we’ll continue to add to in the next few day’s posts:

“Chepstow Castle (Welsh: Castell Cas-gwent) at Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. Located above cliffs on the River Wye, construction began in 1067 under the instruction of the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern. Originally known as Striguil, it was the southernmost of a chain of castles built in the Welsh Marches, and with its attached lordship took the name of the adjoining market town in about the 14th century.

In the 12th century, the castle was used in the conquest of Gwent, the first independent Welsh kingdom to be conquered by the Normans. It was subsequently held by two of the most powerful Anglo-Norman magnates of medieval England, William Marshal and Richard de Clare. However, by the 16th century its military importance had waned and parts of its structure were converted into domestic ranges. Although re-garrisoned during and after the English Civil War, by the 1700s it had fallen into decay. With the later growth of tourism, the castle became a popular visitor destination.”

Many floors of the castle were long gone but it was easy to determine where the
floors were located by the placement of fireplaces and windows.

The ruins were Grade I listed on 6 December 1950. (In the UK, ruins are graded by number with those in the poorest condition at the lower end of the spectrum. If they aren’t graded, they may be subject to demolition.  Obviously, not all ruins are worthy of restoration).

It was easy to imagine how an area such as this would have been used in centuries past.

“Chepstow Castle is situated on a narrow ridge between the limestone river cliff and a valley, known locally as the Dell, on its landward side. Its full extent is best appreciated from the opposite bank of the River Wye. The castle has four baileys, added in turn through its history. Despite this, it is not a defensively strong castle, having neither a strong keep nor a concentric layout. The multiple baileys instead show its construction history, which is generally considered in four major phases.  The first serious architectural study of Chepstow began in 1904 and the canonical description was long considered to be by Perks in 1955. Recent studies have revised the details of these phases but still, maintain the same broad structure.”

The sun peeked out just as we were done with our self-tour.  

It’s easy to imagine life in a castle during the medieval era.  Of course, many of us have had an opportunity to watch TV series and movies depicted the difficult lives of the occupants of the castles (and more so for those outside the castle).

This stunning parlor or bedroom had obviously been restored to what may have been it’s natural beauty.  This room is awe-inspiring.

Disease was rampant and life expectancy was alarming low: “Life expectancy at birth was a brief 25 years during the Roman Empire and it reached 33 years by the Middle Ages and raised up to 55 years in the early 1900s. In the Middle Ages, the average life span of males born in landholding families in England was 31.3 years and the biggest danger was surviving childhood.”

The view through an arched doorway…
What a stunning experience we had on Tuesday with Linda and Ken followed by the over-the-top lunch we had at the Boat Inn in Chepstow along the River Wye.  If you missed yesterday’s post, please click here.
The leaves are turning on the beautiful trees on the grounds of Chepstow Castle.

Today, we’re back on our own planning to walk down the road for lunch at the local pub.  Much to our delight, the sun is shining although the temperature is quite cool, starting this morning at 46F, 8C.  I suppose this cool weather is good for us to adjust when we’ll be in bitter cold Minnesota in a mere 22 days.

Have a bright sunny day filled with warmth and comfort.
Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2018:
A female resting beside her mate.  For more, please click here.

Friends and sightseeing today…

A housing complex in the countryside.  It appears there are many single-family homes in England and Wales with adjoining walls, comparable to privately owned townhouses, apartments or condos in the US and other countries.

 Fascinating Fact of the Day About Shirenewton, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales:

From this site:
“After the Romans left, Chepstow was within the southern part of the Welsh kingdom of Gwent, known as Gwent Is-coed (ie. Gwent this side of the woods). To the north of the modern town centre, a small church was established dedicated to St. Cynfarch (alternatively Cynmarch, Kynemark or Kingsmark), a disciple of St. Dyfrig. This later became an Augustinian priory on what is now Kingsmark Lane, but no traces of it remain. The town is close to the southern point of Offa’s Dyke, which begins on the east bank of the Wye at Sedbury and runs all the way to the Irish Sea in north Wales. This was built in the late 8th century as a boundary between Mercia and the Welsh kingdoms, although some recent research has questioned whether the stretch near Chepstow formed part of the original Dyke. It is possible, though not clearly substantiated, that Chepstow may have superseded Caerwent as a trading centre, and been used by both Saxons and the Welsh. The Lancaut and Beachley peninsulas, opposite Chepstow, were in Welsh rather than Mercian control at that time, although by the time of the Domesday Book Striguil was assessed as part of Gloucestershire.”
This morning at 10:00 am we’re meeting up with Linda and Ken at the Chepstow Castle, a short distance from the center of town.  When they didn’t get to their holiday home until late in the day, after a very long road trip, they were exhausted and decided to stay in.

As it turns out their holiday home is quite a distance from ours (40 minutes) and thus we’ve all decided to get together during the days and back to our respective houses before dark.  The roads are narrow, winding and slippery in the rain and not easy to maneuver at night in the dark.

Subsequently, today we plan to stop for a “cuppa,” the English equivalent of a cup of tea, which these days may imply a cup of coffee as well, see a few sites and then head to a pub in the center of town in Chepstow which is packed with pubs and restaurants.
The view of the Wye River we encountered on a drive in the area.
Afterward, Tom and I will stop at the market to pick up a few items and head back to our holiday home to spend a quiet evening in.  Having late lunches with Linda and Ken won’t require a full dinner to follow when neither of us will be hungry by dinnertime. 

This is typical for us.  We’re so used to eating light during the day, that a full meal from noon to mid-afternoon is sufficient to hold us with a small snack in the evening.

With nothing planned for dinner last night, we’d planned to drive the short distance down the road to the local pub as shown in the photo below for a bite to eat.  As it turned out they were closed on Mondays.
The local restaurant where we’ll dine after Linda and Ken leave Monmouthshire.
With few groceries on hand, we made breakfast for dinner of sauteed onion, and cheese omelets with bacon, which proved to hit the spot.  We settled in for the evening and watched a few episodes of shows we’ve found on the UK channel,  Acorn TV (Amazon Prime for a small monthly fee).  

With only 24 days until we arrive in Minneapolis with new phones awaiting us, I decided not to have my current phone repaired.  We placed the SIM card on Tom’s phone for the remaining nine days we’ll be in the UK.  

Once we board the ship on the 24th we won’t have WiFi or calling on either of our phones but can use Skype on our laptops if we need to make a call.  Of course, we’ll have the ship’s WiFi on the unlimited package for the 15-night cruise.
These views are certainly more appealing on a sunny day.
As a matter of fact, we signed up for the “full perks” package when a special was offered after we’d booked the cruise.  The package includes WiFi for two, gratuities, the full beverage package for both of us and a US $400 cabin credit which can only be used onboard.

On the upcoming anniversary of our world travels on October 31st, most likely we’ll celebrate by dining in one of the specialty restaurants, using a portion of the cabin credit.  

Any remaining cabin credit may be used in the shops aboard ship, for laundry, for more specialty dining, or services in the spa (which we never use).  The drink package includes specialty coffees which we both love.  
Cattle grazing on a farm in the area.
On most ships, they make my macchiato sugar free which is still delicious.  Based on priority benefits as Elite members we’re able to order free cocktails from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm each evening.  

With this additional drink package, we can have any beverages at no cost throughout the day and evening.  We rarely drink alcoholic beverages during the day even when socializing while cruising.  

However, today, I may have a glass of wine and, Tom a beer during lunch with Linda and Ken.  Neither of us has had any cocktails or wine since we’ve been in the UK except for a few occasions when we’ve been out to dinner.

Well, folks, it’s time for us to get on the road to meet Linda and Ken at the Chepstow Castle.  Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos!

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 15, 2018:
“The cheetah’s body is built for speed. Its legs are relatively long compared to its greyhound-like body; it has a big heart and lungs and wide nasal passages. It is the fastest land animal, timed running at speeds of up to 114km/hour.”  For more photos of the “Ridiculous Nine,” please click here.

A drive through the area on a rainy day…Yikes, my phone is dying!…

A horse on a nearby farm covered with a red blanket in the rain.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Chepstow, Shirenewton, Monmouthshire, Wales:

From this site:
“The oldest site of known habitation at Chepstow is at Thornwell, overlooking the estuaries of the Wye and Severn close to the modern M48 motorway junction, where archaeological investigations in advance of recent housing development revealed continuous human occupation from the Mesolithic period of around 5000 BC until the end of the Roman period, about 400 AD. There are also Iron Age fortified camps in the area, dating from the time of the Silures, at Bulwark, 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the town centre, and at Piercefield and Lancaut, some 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the north. During the Roman occupation, there was a bridge or causeway across the Wye, about 0.6 miles (0.97 km) upstream of the later town bridge. Chepstow is located at a crossing point directly between the Roman towns at Gloucester (Glevum) and Caerwent (Venta Silurum). Although historians think it likely that there was a small Roman fort in the area, the only evidence found so far has been of Roman material and burials, rather than buildings.”
We figured out that we’ve experienced eight sunny days since we arrived in the UK on  August 23, 2019.  Subsequently, taking photos has been challenging to say the least.

Yesterday, mid-day, we took off to see if we could come up with some photos.  We didn’t do so well when it started pouring only minutes after we left the house.  The rain was coming down so hard that the camera lens was wet, not a good situation.  

There were only a few roads where we could take photos from the car and less where we could pull over so I could get out of the car.  As mentioned earlier, most roads in the UK countryside are narrow and winding, without a shoulder making them unsuitable for pulling over.
It was raining so hard, the camera lens was wet while attempting to take a photo of this nearby church.

Also, the high hedges along the roads prevent us from appreciating the exquisite scenery while driving, getting only an occasional glimpse in an opening.  We’ve experienced this since we arrived in the UK seven weeks ago.

When we do get a peek of the countryside it is breathtaking reminding us of parts of New Zealand.  Now, here in Chepstow, we are fairly close to two rivers, the River Wye and the Severn River and hope to have a few sunny days before we depart to take advantage of the stunning views.

The traditional dining room at the hotel restaurant where we had lunch on Friday.

Today, Linda and Ken will arrive and most likely we venture out for some indoor activities on the rainy days.  They are British and are used to all the rain this time of year.

Over the past few days, my phone has been acting up.  It shuts down each time it freezes while I am performing a task.  Also, loud music plays upon reboot and there is absolutely no way to stop that song.  This is an issue when I am having trouble sleeping and playing games on my phone to lull me back to sleep. This sound awakens Tom.

Tom’s lunch.

I’ve reset the phone to “factory reset,” run anti-virus software and an AVG cleaner, all to no avail.  I’ve gone through all my apps and disabled all I can while uninstalling as much as possible.  If anyone out there has a suggestion, please email me instructions to resolve the issue.

I’m not motivated to get it fixed or replaced since when we arrive in the US in 3½ weeks, our two new Google world phones will be waiting.  The new versions of these phones are being presented online tomorrow, October 15th.  

My Caesar salad minus croutons which Tom ate as usual.

After reviewing all the information as to the models we’d prefer, we’ll place our orders to be delivered to Minnesota with 24 hours after our arrival.  We’ll be able to communicate with our family, friends and each other while in the US and once we leave the US again two months later, we’ll have worldwide service paid in small monthly bundles with no longterm contract required.

We’ve conducted some research for a possible eating establishment for tonight’s dinner with Linda and Ken.  But, we’ll wait to definitively decide until we touch base with them soon.

Have a fantastic Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2018:
The continuation of the “ridiculous Nine”…”The average litter size for the wild dog is between four and eight puppies. They suckle for the first three months of their lives before being taught to hunt.  For more photos, please click here.

Once again, adapting to a new location…Photos…

The property is called The Studio but its larger than a studio apartment.  The main consist of living room, kitchen, dining area, and bathroom.  The master bedroom is upstairs on a mezzanine level, a small loft room with a futon bed.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Chepstow, Shirenewton, Monmouthshire, Wales:

From this site:“The name Chepstow derives from the old English ceap/chepe stowe, meaning market place or trading centre. The word “stow” usually denotes a place of special significance, and the root chep is the same as that in other placenames such as Chipping Sodbury and Cheapside. The name is first recorded in 1307, but may have been used by the English in earlier centuries. However, the name used by the Normans for the castle and lordship was Striguil (in various spellings, such as Estrighoiel), probably from a Welsh word ystraigyl, meaning a bend in the river. The Welsh name Cas-gwent refers to the “castle of Gwent”. That placename itself derives from the Roman settlement Venta Silurum or ‘Market of the Silures’, now named Caerwent, 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Chepstow, which had been the Romano-British commercial centre of south-east Wales.”

Every holiday home and also hotels require a certain amount of adapting on our part.  It’s not that we’re comparing our “old lives” before we began traveling.  It’s simply that we’re adapting from the last place we stayed whether it was for a week, a month or longer.

This is the property we’re currently renting.  It was a former town hall and next door where the owners live was the Rectory.  

Cruising often requires a considerable amount of adaptation but after 25 cruises in the past seven years, we no longer need to adapt to the small cabin’s lack of space when we so much enjoy the daily lifestyle aboard ship, spending little time in the cabin, other than for showering, dressing, and sleeping.

The kitchen, although small is fine for our needs.

Within moments of arriving at any new location, we access the potential issues.  We don’t say anything to the owner/property manager.  In most cases, the nuances were mentioned in the online listing.  

At times, an owner may minimize the less positive aspects, not necessarily to “hide them” but more so, these certain issues may be a bigger deal for us than other travelers, especially those staying two to three nights as opposed to our longer periods in most cases.

The stairway leading to the mezzanine/loft area where the bed, a dresser, and two small nightstands are located.

We knew when we rented “The Studio,” a former town hall, there would be several items that would require adaptation on our part which includes:

1.  The only bedroom is up a flight of stairs and is extremely small. There’s no bathroom on that level requiring we go downstairs in the middle of the night, should the need arise.  The bed is low to the floor, maybe 12 inches, as are the two nightstands.
2.  In the past several rentals in the UK, the only bathroom has been up a flight of stairs (not the case in Ireland where there was one on each level).  Recently, we’ve become adapted to going up and down stairs several times a day which ultimately has been a good form of exercise.
3.  The kitchen has an under-counter refrigerator with a tiny freezer. There’s only room for two ice cube trays, the bag of ice and two packages of bacon or one package of meat.  As it turns out, with Linda and Ken coming tomorrow, we plan to dine out each of four evenings and again after they leave for the remaining four nights until we drive to Southampton, staying in a hotel for two more nights until we board the cruise on the 24th.
4.  Parking is on the street but once we park in our designated spot we have a walk across a rock garden to reach our place.  We were drenched when we arrived on Friday and, it was a challenge for Tom to haul the heavy bags.  The owners kindly assisted with the bags.
5.  There’s no convenient spot in the house to store our opened bags since we aren’t unpacking here either, just taking out toiletries and clothing as needed.  As it turned out, there an enclosed shared storage area between us and the owner, on the main floor, the size of a double garage.  We were able to find places to leave our bags opened for easy access. It’s working out well.

The bathroom is all-new, as is most of the property and located on the main floor.

Once we adapted to these variances, we’re settled in and comfortably situated, these nuances being of less significance today.

Soon, we plan to get out for few photos for tomorrow.  With Linda and Ken arriving tomorrow afternoon, staying in a nearby holiday home, we’ll enjoy four days of sightseeing, wine drinking and the sheer pleasure of their company.  We’re looking forward to seeing them once again!

For the first time in a holiday home, we won’t be making the bed.  It’s low to the floor and a little difficult to maneuver around.

That’s it for today, folks.  We’ll be back with more tomorrow.  Happy day!


Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2018:
More on the “Ridiculous Nine” mentioned in yesterday’s post. “The spotted hyaena hunts and scavenges by night and is closely connected in African folklore with the supernatural world. Anyone who has heard the sound of hyaenas in full cry around midnight would understand the animal’s association with the dark arts.”  For more photos, please click here.

We’ve arrived in…Chepstow, Shirenewton, Monmouthshire, Wales…Beautiful country…

It was drizzling as we walk along the vehicle-free road in the centre of town, High St.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Chepstow, Shirenewton, Monmouthshire, Wales:

From this site:
“Chepstow (Welsh: Cas-gwent) is a town and community in Monmouthshire, Wales, adjoining the border with Gloucestershire, England. It is located on the River Wye, about 2 miles (3.2 km) above its confluence with the River Severn, and adjoining the western end of the Severn Bridge. It is 16 miles (26 km) east of Newport, 28 miles (45 km) east-northeast of Cardiff, 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Bristol and 110 miles (180 km) west of London.”
Yesterday’s drive from Witheridge, Tiverton, Devon, England to Chepstow, Shirenewton, Monmouthshire, Wales (Whew! Lots of names!) was uneventful.  In England with high hedges and hills lining the highway and the lack of shoulder on many roads, it’s difficult if not impossible to take photos while driving.
There are several hotels and pubs/restaurants in the centre of the town of Chepstow.  We look forward to visiting several while Linda and Ken are here from Monday through Friday.

We stopped at an old-world pub and restaurant in Bridgewater and had a pleasing lunch.  I had a chicken Ceasar salad and Tom had a club sandwich (he loves bread!) while we became totally engaged in the lively refined-English chatter of a group of lovely elderly women who were having a get-together.  We could have imagined being at Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle) with the “ladies for lunch.”

Nor are we able to fully appreciate the beauty of the countryside from the highways and narrow roads as much as when we’re entrenched in an area where we have good access to the sprawling views.  
Chepstow Methodist Church.

A balloon or helicopter ride would be most advantageous.  It’s absolutely stunning in the countryside of England, Wales and not too long ago, Ireland and their many small towns and villages.  We have no doubt, we’d feel the same way about Scotland which most likely we’ll visit sometime down the road.

The Priory Church of St. Mary.

The world is a huge place.  When we speak to people we’ve met along the way, they often comment on how much we’ve seen of the world in our almost seven years. We always say, “As much as we’ve seen, we haven’t put a dent in it.”

If we stayed only a week in most locations we’d have seen a lot more.  In one way we may have limited ourselves by our often long stays in many locations.  But, if we had, we’d be “burnt-out” long ago and have stopped traveling by now.  
We walked under the Chepstow Town Gate. 

Having had the opportunity to experience an area long enough to visit their shops, dine in their restaurant, cook their local meats and produce, meet their local people and embrace their culture and nature has been well-worth limiting the number of countries we’ve visited.

We’ve yet to visit 100 countries although we should reach that number in the next year or two.  But this isn’t “The Amazing Race” nor are we interested in having bragging rights as to how many countries we’ve visited thus far.

The village is interesting and diverse with a wide array of shops and eateries.

To us, this is irrelevant.  What more important has been the vastness and scope of the experiences we’ve had, the people we’ve met, the cultures we’ve explored at our leisure and of course, the number of posts we’ve shared here, now at 2,617 as of today, along with photos into the thousands.

The house we rented in Chepstow is exactly as represented in the photos, clean, crisp, well equipped and small.  When we’d spent a little more than our budget for the first three properties in the UK:  Falmouth, St. Teath and Witheridge, we decided to go a little lighter, cost-wise, on the last property for its total of 11 nights.

Tom didn’t buy a thing at this sidewalk cake sale.  He’s saving himself for the upcoming cruise in 12 days.

Once here, we weren’t disappointed, especially with the bathroom on the main floor.  The bedroom is up on a “mezzanine” (loft) level but more on that tomorrow when we go into a little more detail about the property with photos.
This morning, we drove to High Street in Chepstow’s centre of town and couldn’t have been more thrilled to see yet another hilly village packed with shops, pubs, restaurants and a wide array of businesses.

Although it was raining it didn’t keep tourists or locals from shopping in the village.

We stopped at a “Boots” store for a few toiletries for the upcoming cruise, checked out the menus posted outside several pubs and restaurants and Tom got an excellent and much-needed haircut.

We walked up and down the hilly roads while I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  I could walk with ease.  Wow!

Be well!  Be happy!

Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2018:
One year ago, we had the fantastic experience of seeing what is called, “The Ridiculous Nine” as opposed to the “Big Five” all occurring in one morning on safari with friends, Lois and Tom who stayed with us for one heart-pounding experience after another.  Please click here for details and many more photos.