Our visit to Richard and Maureen
Twenty-two of us boarded the coach on a wet Wednesday morning to visit Richard and Maureen in their new home in Caerphilly. Unfortunately our numbers had become depleted due to some intended travellers being ill, however we were determined to enjoy our visit.
Due to the wet weather, we stopped at motorway services instead of somewhere more interesting, arriving mid afternoon at our hotel, Bryn Meadows. We were given a lovely welcome by the friendly staff and made ourselves comfortable in our rooms. For dinner that night we were joined by Richard and Maureen and had a lovely evening catching up on the gossip.
After breakfast the following morning (full Welsh breakfast – very similar to a full English!) we travelled the few miles into Caerphilly itself. Exploration of the castle was first on the list for many. The castle is second only in size to Windsor Castle, but not quite as well preserved! It really is ‘one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit’ as can be seen by the tower that leans at a greater angle than the Leaning Tower of Pisa due to attention from Cromwell’s Model Army, but it is still standing! Also on the list of ‘must visits’ was the statue of one of Britain’s funnies men who is possibly the town’s most famous son, Tommy Cooper.
We then boarded our coach and headed for Richard and Maureen’s home, a short distance out of town. Our driver dropped us off at the foot of the steep hill leading to their property, much to the surprise of some local residents, who wondered if we were lost! Richard, kindly brought his car down the hill for the less mobile. What a lovely welcome we had. We were all swept away by their new home and what they had done to it. Maureen showed us round the beautiful interior. Quite clearly they had worked very hard on the property. When they ran through the list of their various hobbies and past times, we were left wondering where they found the time to do what they had done in the house. Maureen had prepared a very tasty afternoon tea, mostly of Welsh confectionaries and Welsh cheese. We were really made very welcome. But, we had to leave sometime and presented then both with a National Gardens voucher in thanks for their hospitality.
On our way home we stopped at the National Trust property – Dyrham Park, just outside Bristol. The property is a 270 acre deer park with a palatial house at its centre. The coach park is some way from the centre of the property down a steep hill, but there is a shuttle bus, which most of our travellers took advantage of. Some of us (more athletic or plain foolish!) decided to walk to the property. This is a pleasant walk as long as you keep to the roadway. However, some of us made the fatal mistake of following one of our number on a short cut over the hills, assuming that he knew the way. Anybody who has done serious walking knows that this is a bad mistake! No names, of course, but YOU know who you are!! So after walking double the distance we reached the house for a well deserved. Most of us toured the house and then went into the splendid gardens complete with ponds. There are a number of walks a\round the estate, if you have time for a longer stay. Some of us also managed a visit to the charming St Peter’s church, the local parish church which overlooks the estate and predates it. After taking the shuttle bus back to our coach (no shortcuts) we commenced our uneventful journey home.
This was a very special trip and we were all pleased to see Richard and Maureen enjoying their well deserved ‘retirement.’