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Gloucestershire, at the border of England & Wales


(When these pictures are posted, and you'd like to have a copy of the picture, simply right-click on the enlargement and "save picture as")
 

Friday, June 15Click here for an enlargement

For now we say goodbye to Holland and cross the Channel to Great Click here for an enlargementBritain and the airport of Coventry, where we met my friend Bryan Mitchell and climbed into his very unique Fiat SUV (three front seats!) for the trip to his family's home near the town of Monmouth, in Gloucestershire, along the beautiful River Wye.  When we arrived at their home, we were greeted by Bryan's wife Agnes, their beautiful 10-year-oldClick here for an enlargement daughter Phoebe, and a blur of wiggles that turned out to be their 4-year-old black lab, Minnie, once she settled down long enough to stand still!  From the Click here for an enlargementmoment we arrived, we were treated like royalty!  The next morning, after a great English breakfast, all five of us got mountain bikes out of the garage and rode from Yat Rock (a high rock overlooking the Wye Valley, the word "Yat"Click here for an enlargement translates as "gateway") down to the town of Monmouth.  The bike trail was all ours, slightly muddy from overnight rains, 6 miles long, and all downhill!  Nice!!  Thinking ahead, Bryan and Agnes had staged Click here for an enlargementtheir SUV in town, so after a beautiful ride, stopping along the river to walk across a suspension bridge, then walking around the village and having lunch at a great little sandwich shop, we got to take the easy way home!  While Agnes prepared dinner, Bryan & I returnedClick here for an enlargement to collect the bikes.  Over dinner, our hosts gave us the plans for Sunday's activities, as well as ideas for our next week's adventures, since we would be on our Click here for an enlargementown while they went off to work and school.   We spent Sunday in Wales, near Bryan's hometown, visiting an interesting village of traditional old houses and businesses from several centuries, which have all been relocated to create a village of sorts.  After this tour, we were treated to a real "British Pub" experience.  This pubClick here for an enlargement allows dogs, and there were a few hunting dogs sleeping sprawled out on the floor, but until new management took over, the pub would not allow children to enter at any time! 

Click here for an enlargementOn Monday Jeanie & I toured the area on foot, walking down from Yat Rock into the town of Goodrich, looking for the Goodrich Castle, and hoping to find it before the rain found us.  We passed an asparagus field of several hundred acres, a busy working farm with sheep and pigs, andClick here for an enlargement miles of beautiful fertile valley.  Just as it started to drizzle, we saw a tall spire and thought we were on the right road.  We came to an old vicarage and thought it might connect to the castle, but as Click here for an enlargementwe approached, the owner of the home, Pat Jones, came out to meet us.  Learning that we were looking for the castle, she showed us the right footpath to take, then asked us in for tea and cake while the downpour passedClick here for an enlargement over us.  Meeting this gracious lady and touring this beautifully-restored 16th century vicarage was the highlight of our day!  We did have a pleasant walk to the castle and around it's grounds, which, back in the 11th c., was well- situated to dominate all passage along the river.  We then made our way back up the hill to Yat Rock, taking a break half way to sample the great-tasting asparagus beiClick here for an enlargementng grown in the valley!  The next few days were spent walking with Minnie along footpaths which traced the River Wye, or just through the surrounding forests and pastures.  There were so many trails to choose from, we could have happily spent months walking them all!

-Robert


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