Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We are looking forward to 2016 and we think it will be the best year so far.
We decided that rather than spending the money to fly home we would save it for traveling through Europe. We are saving our big trips for later in the year but we decided to do a few smaller trips over the break.
We went to Prague and Germany for about a week in December. The Christmas markets were beautiful. Two days before Christmas we went to Bath to find our Jane Austen roots.
We spent Christmas in Oxford. We were able to attend several musical activities at the cathedrals in Oxford. We listed to Nine Lessons and Carols in Christ Church Cathedral. It is a beautiful carol tradition by the Christ Church Boys Choir. It was heavenly. We also attended midnight mass at the cathedral and it was a beautiful place to welcome in Christmas Day.
For my birthday we were able to visit the London.
The winter here has been, well, different. While you have been enjoying snow and freezing weather we have been enjoying rain and fifty degree temperatures. The rivers around us have been flooding but luckily it has mostly just filled up the meadows around us. The meadows are the best kept secret of Oxford. They surround Oxford and often have little pubs, churches or ruins in them. They are straight from a movie set!
This week we decided to visit Wales. Wales is technically its own country and so it has its own language and its own roads. Anyone who has driven in Wales will know what we mean by that. They have these single-track roads that have two huge hedges on both sides and are barely big enough for a small car. They also expect two cars to fit on these roads. All my years of playing Mario Cart finally came to real life. There is nothing like going 60 miles per hour on a small road like that.
Southern Wales is only a few hours from us so we rented a car and made our way to Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey is a 12th century Abbey that was closed down in the 1500s by King Henry VIII. Since closing down it has slowly decayed into a beautiful ruin. The Abbey itself sits in a beautiful corner of a range of hills with the river Wye running right below it. This area was frequented by William Wordsworth who wrote a beautiful poem about the area. Because you couldn’t come with us this week I hope you spend a minute and read this poem, then close your eyes and imagine being here with us. Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth
After the abbey we found our way to Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in Britain. It is in the middle of Wales and is surrounded by man made lakes. The history is fascinating but I am too lazy to summarize it so you can read it here.
We then drove on to a second set of ruined churches in the middle of a forest in southern Wales. The Llanthony Priory was amazing. The spirit and environment were rejuvenating. It is these small little places that end up being the best part of our trip.
We then finished the day in the literature capital of the UK, Hay-on-Wye. This is a small little town that is home to the top 25 bookstores in all of the UK. You can pretty much find any old book you can image in the town. We even found some old WWI trench maps.
It was a great little trip and we have enjoyed our time. Happy New Year!