Safely home again in East Croydon

The roundabouts! Such a danger to a newbie to driving in England. We only had two close calls that we know about, perhaps there were more. When we arrived at our final stay in Swindon we eventually had to give up trying to get the right exit to the roundabout and went and parked up near Sainsburys. After the break, the getting into the little housing estate where we were staying seemed quite easy.

I was feeling so stressed yesterday that we booked the car for an extra day so that I wouldn’t feel under pressure to get back early. With a coffee break at a gorgeous little pub, followed by lunch at another pub (not quite so gorgeous) it took us about 6 hours to drive about 200 kms. There was a choice of motorways or small roads with lots of roundabouts, I’m not sure what is worse given that cars seem to drive at motorway speeds no matter what the road is like.

We had been thinking of going to a seaside town, and since trains go there and we have been to Brighton, we decided on Hastings (also because of the name, of course). We have been able to book an inexpensive room in the centre of the town within walking distance to the beach for $90 for two nights, $103 with the AirBNB fee. That is such good value as other prices started at $150.00 per night. AirBNB have redefined BNB to bed and bath, not bed and breakfast, and the price does not include breakfast. However, we are happy to pay less and either bring our own food or go to a cafe.

The worst part of our road trip was the driving. Even my navigator got a bit stressed. However, we were able to visit some beautiful locations and it was definitely worth it.

We enjoyed walking around Hay on Wye on Wednesday afteroon. The sunshine continued all day. The next day we drove through the Brecon Beacons, a scenic area with mountains, rivers, waterfalls and forests. We saw very little, but enough to feel it would be lovely to revisit for a few days. The featured photo shows a visitor centre where we had lunch. We didn’t do much walking – the attractions of the area are walks – so actually missed out. We had a room booked in Monmouth and had to head in that direction in mid afternoon.

Brecon Beacons reservoir (1 of 1)
This is a large reservoir – not a lake
Brecon Beacons upwards (1 of 1)
lots of views like this

The idea was that we would travel towards East Croydon, breaking the journey at a couple of places and leaving a short drive home at the end. However, I didn’t actually calculate the distances. Monmouth is a large village with fame as the birthplace of one of the Henrys and of Rolls, of Rolls Royce. There were many attractive old buildings. We had dinner there the first night before going to our accomodation in a nearby tiny village.

The house has been extensively renovated, but we had a room in the old part of the house with exposed beams and a sloping floor. The bed head was considerably lower that the foot and I only needed one pillow to sleep, normally I have two. The room was spacious, with two little armchairs. Hosts often overlook the need for armchairs in a room when you are staying in someone’s house. We had a large bathroom to ourselves, not ensuite, but close by.

Monmouth our bed for tonight (1 of 1)
sloping floor – but such a charming room

In the morning our host had set up a breakfast in the dining room. This room was also low ceilinged and part of the old house. We felt she was operating more as a traditional bed and breakfast as she prepared toast and scrambled eggs for Stephen. We had an interesting talk with her about the house and history. We enjoy being in houses with lots of books – it makes us feel at home.

We went to a nearby beauty spot on our way out of Monmouth. In the 18th century a special picnic place called the Whitehouse was built because the wealthy did not want their picnics spoiled by weather. It’s a pretty solid building, but does have windows so that they could see the view.

the white house at Kymin, Monmouth (1 of 1)

It was a cool, misty day, so the views weren’t great and as the White House was closed we had our picnic in the car.

military monument at Kymin, Monmouth (1 of 1).jpg
Kymin military monument
ancient gate Monmouth (1 of 1)
An ancient gate in Monmouth, built around 1270 AD
looking down the street, Monmouth (1 of 1).jpg
looking down the street at Monmouth from the gateway

Our last night’s accomodation said on the AirBNB site that guests had sole use of the space. As our hosts went away for the night, that turned out to be true, but isn’t necessarily the case. I gave feedback that they need to reconsider the description. The house was fairly modest, but had comfortable arm chairs, fast internet, and we were able to set up the ipad to watch the last episode of “A very English scandal” on the large screeen TV. Our room had a bed and a wardrobe in it, nothing else. However, we slept well – the ultimate test.

Then the tiring drive home.

This morning is blogging, facetime with Matt, and in the afternoon, taking the car back to the hire place, then some shopping. Stephen has booked us into a play in London on Wednesday. And we have our seaside trip to look forward to. We hope for fine weather, but this is England…

We just had a lovely session with Matt. He looked very happy and relaxed – after an excited greeting when we first saw him. Hidde gave us his news and we gave him our news.




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