Country Drives, Cows, and Elizabeth I

One day, before we headed to the hospital to see Uncle Harold, Mom and I decided to take a country drive. Initially we were going to head to Christ’s Church, which is at the top of a hill overlooking Caerleon and offers a wonderful view. But on the way there we saw a smaller side road and following Mr. Frost’s advice, took it.

It was a classic English road, about 1½ lanes wide, with hedges or mini-hills banking each side. After the first scare with an overly abundant shrub, I opted to keep my elbow inside the vehicle and spare myself any more vacation-related injuries.

Despite its miniature stature, the road was lovely. Gorgeous trees towered overhead, a breeze blew us along, not a hint of rain anywhere, just blue skies and white fluffy clouds. And we spotted four squirrels and one bunny. I know, who cares about squirrels, right? Well, I do. And I miss seeing wildlife of any kind in Cairo – the dusty ancient men perched on plastic chairs on the street corner just don’t do it for me!

We drove through a few small villages and at one point we came upon an old church. Thinking it’s a good time for a leg-stretch, we parked alongside the graveyard (all English churches are surrounded by graves). I grabbed my camera and we started ambling through. Our presence was obviously noted, as suddenly we were hailed by a tall man walking towards us. He was the church warden and was kind enough to find a brochure on the church for us, as well as unlock it and let us in and give us a little history of the place.

We were standing in the Church of Saints Peter, Paul and John in Llantrisant, Wales. The oldest part of the church is a small narrow window, which is believed to be from the 13th century. The main section was built in the 16th century, and the tower and porch are from the Tudor period and have “1593 ER XXXV” written high on the wall, indicating it was erected during Elizabeth I’s time. The exterior is stone, and the interior is very simple whitewashed walls, stark wooden pews, and one stained glass window that was dedicated in 1981. They’re in need of a new roof, and I could see determined (possibly devout?) vines were actually creeping through the walls. There were heaters all along the floors in front of each pew and the warden told us that since there was no heating in the church, and the congregation was getting older, they had recently opted for the electric heaters. It was all really quite charming.

We left Llantrisant and continued on, after the warden assured us we would see signs for Usk (which we knew how to get home from). Along the way, we stopped in front of a stretch of deep green fields with happily grazing cows and sheep. We ate our vegan sausage rolls and watched the cows. Afterwards we took a little walk and tried to get closer to the cows, who managed to maintain the distance regardless of where we stood (stupid cows). So we then turned our attention to the sheep, but realized that the ‘edges were a tad too tall to see over (about 10’ tall) and too dense to see through, so we gave up and merely watched from a side-angle.

A little farther on we finally saw signs for Usk. So we drove through the town (which is much like Caerleon, I think), back to Caerleon and then on to the hospital for visiting hours with traveling tales and vegan sausage rolls to share.