July 7

This morning we were greeted with the unpleasant news about the bombings in London. Many of us wept and we are all deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers and blessing go out to the people of our recent host city. How fitting it is the we journey to the Eisteddfod, a festival promoting world peace through music.

Putting the bad news aside, we had a morning free and full of choices. Some of us went to the beautiful Cardiff Bay with its pretty scenery, many shops, and pubs. Others made their way to St. Fagan's, an historical village similar to Greenfiled Village in Dearborn, MI or Sturbridge Village in MA. Still others chose to go to downtown Cardiff. Once there we fanned out across the city; to the National Museum and its impressive collection of Impressionist painting and a spectacular display on evolution or to patronize the local shops and eateries. Downtown Cardiff has its castle at the center, quaint stone buildings housing shops and pubs, and lovely Victorian shopping arcades. We learned about the Welsh tradition of Love Spoons and I was among those filling our backpacks (or bum bags as they are called here) with gifts and goodies.

Upon the recommendation of the shop owner, a few of us lunched at one of the local pubs and enjoyed authentic Welsh Rarebit---yum! As expected, the tea is the best. This unseasoned traveler even tasted clotted cream-- heavenly!

In the afternoon we headed towards Chepstow. Once there, we were greeted by members of the Chepstow Men's Choir, and taken to Abaty Tyndyrn (Tintern Abbey), ruins of a 1300 Cistern abbey. The abbey's Gothic remains stand tall against its pastoral surroundings. Sun streams in from its absent roof casting beautiful light patterns across its massive stone columns and arches. We gathered for a picture, wearing our cornflower blue tour-shirts, and sang g a bit. John Lemly read lines from William Wadsworth's poem "Tintern Abbey," which was written on July 13, 1798.

Continuing on to Chepstow Castle, we posed for another photo-- and had a quick stint as a marching band!

Our hosts for our evening concert were extremely warm and welcoming. The concert at St. Mary's benefit ted the St. David's foundation, a hospice care in Chepstow. Here we were billed as "the Mt. Hollyaoke Ladies Chorus"--- has a bit of a British ring to it, doesn't it? Our concert was well received and our hosts from the men's chorus were most hospitable. We were welcomed to a social at a nearby athletic club, where the Welsh truly opened their arms and embraced us fully. The folks sitting with me were genuinely surprised to see some of us women drinking pints of beer--- apparently not a "ladies drink." The men sang more informally and if we weren't concerned about our bus drivers' need for sleep, I'm certain the revelry would have gone on until the wee hours of the morning.

Off to the Llangollen festival in the morning! --Anne FP '05


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