Saturday, 9 August 2008

On Holiday!!

For the past month we’ve been back in the UK basking in the ‘cool’ British weather soaking up country life on a grand scale. From our base on the southern English coast in Dorset we can happily see the Milky Way at night and watch shooting stars and satellites pass over head. The only noises to keep us awake at night are the nearby sheep or the incredible silence. This is definitely NOT Taipei where seeing one star in the sky is enough to cause excitement!

Some highlights of our trip so far include stay in the ruins of the 12C ruins of the Llanthony Abbey ruins in the Welsh Black Mountains. We stayed in the top of an ancient tower reached by a narrow twisting spiral staircase. (You can see our window in the pics.) We had to descend the 48 steps to get to our bathroom, which was shared with other guests. If the bathroom was occupied... Bummer!

The breakfast was hearty and the surrounding countryside reaching up to barren moorlands.

Then there was the fossil hunting on Dorset beaches – great fun. Just a couple of hours and look what we found. Recent bad weather had loosened the pyrites fossils from the mudstone cliffs. There’s nothing like coming across something so ancient and so beautifully detailed.

Of course I forgot to mention the typical changeable British weather and the high cost of everything which made us wince! Just one more week left and then back to Taipei. Sob!


Mike Hemsley said...

Waah! Proud of you posting while officially on R+R! I remember this place.. as I recall it's just over the next ridge ... and just before the 'truth of the Gospel' where young cyclists' legs are subjected to temptation of dismounting. We didn't make it to Llanthony so I'm dead jealous, but we did spend a happy afternoon in Hay-on-Wye browsing for books! Mike

ZenCrafter said...

Pyrite fossils! Oh my, what a truly amazing find! The whole vacation sounds restful.

CL said...

These pictures are really beautiful, aren't they? but the steps going up to the room are certainly way more narrow than they look like in the picture... It was good exercise for me to struggle up and down especially after the 6-hour hard trekking in the Black Mountains...But Welsh valleys are really very nice!

High Desert Diva said...

Must be nice to visit home after being so far away.

Love the tower room, would not like to descend 48 stairs to go to the bathroom, however!

And all the fossil finds...wonderful!

Mike Hemsley said...

From Gerald of Wales - The Description of Wales. A description of Llanthony in 1188:

In the deep vale of Ewyas, which is about an arrow-shot broad,
encircled on all sides by lofty mountains, stands the church of
Saint John the Baptist, covered with lead, and built of wrought
stone; and, considering the nature of the place, not unhandsomely
constructed, on the very spot where the humble chapel of David, the archbishop, had formerly stood decorated only with moss and ivy. A situation truly calculated for religion, and more adapted to
canonical discipline, than all the monasteries of the British isle.
It was founded by two hermits, in honour of the retired life, far
removed from the bustle of mankind, in a solitary vale watered by the river Hodeni. [...]Owing to its mountainous situation, the rains are frequent, the winds boisterous, and the clouds in winter almost continual. The air, though heavy, is healthy; and diseases are so rare, that the brotherhood, when worn out by long toil and affliction during their residence with the daughter, retiring to this asylum, and to their
mother's lap, soon regain their long-wished-for health. [...] Here the monks, sitting in their cloisters, enjoying the fresh air, when they happen to look up
towards the horizon, behold the tops of the mountains, as it were,
touching the heavens, and herds of wild deer feeding on their
summits: the body of the sun does not become visible above the
heights of the mountains, even in a clear atmosphere, till about the
hour of prime, or a little before. A place truly fitted for
contemplation, a happy and delightful spot, fully competent, from its first establishment, to supply all its own wants ...