Tintern Abbey & the Grace of God

If there was one sight Steph insisted on seeing while in the UK, it was Tintern Abbey. Remarkably for being such a large tourist draw, it’s not the easiest place to get to but Steph had all the routes figured out so we headed out this morning to beat the crowds.

Tintern Abbey wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought it would be far away from civilization and surrounded by fields. Instead, it’s on the edge of the quaint village of Tintern and next to the river Wye (just a stones throw from the English border).

There were almost no other tourists so we got to walk around and take plenty of photos without having people getting in the way. Just before Steph took her last photo, the SD card in our camera died. As in “Screw you, I’ve taken enough danged photos”. This sentiment also applied to efforts to remove any previous photo from the card. Fortunately, I’d copied off all our other photos earlier in the day but all those Steph had just taken? Gone.

She was not pleased. If you are a Star Trek fan, just imagine the scene in Wrath of Khan where Kirk screams. Now replace Kirk with Steph and “Khaaaannnn!” with “SanDissssskkk!” and you’ve got the right reaction.

Crushed, her dreams squashed and with only the images in her personal memory, Steph went inside to buy postcards. She mentioned that her SD card had failed and one of the clerks said, “Oh! We’ve got some for sale just over there.”

Steph was most pleased. And now, we proudly present to you those photos.

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2 Castles, 2 Countries

Wednesday was our last in London but we had enough time before our train left for Wales to fit in one more sight. So we went Underground to the Tower of London.

The Tower of London is more than just a single tower; it’s an enormous castle that also hosts the Crown Jewels and a great deal of history including being the place where three Queens were executed. The admission fee is a bit on the steep side, but if you can get in with one of the Yeoman Warder tours, it’s worth every penny (or pence, I should say). Every Warder is a 22-year vet of the British armed forces, live in the Tower and have a huge (and somewhat mischievous) grasp on the Tower and its history.

After London we headed toward Wales. Our original plan had been to visit a friend of Steph’s that lived in Port Talbot but she had a family emergency so we got off a stop earlier in Cardiff. What’s to do in Cardiff? Heck if we knew, so we wandered about a bit and found this …

Cardiff Castle. That’s just the keep – the rest of the place is much bigger and we got to take a tour around it. Being that we arrived late in the day, the tour group was small, us plus the tour guide. Rather nice. The place was owned by a family that controlled most of the coal producing lands in Wales just as steam power took off. That made them rather wealthy (think Bill Gates eat your heart out wealthy).

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