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July/August 2014

Issue 56
BUSINESS | HOMES| FOOD | AND MUCH MORE
Complimentary Copy
SUMMER
IS HERE
WHAT
DID WE
DO IN
THE WAR
FANCY A
DANCE?
Morris dancing
with attitude
WWI and the
county
Picnic ideas,
fashion tips
and lots for
you to do
4
5
Editor: Jo Barnes
Contact: 01633 777240
e-mail: jo.barnes@gwent-wales.co.uk
Design: Katie Adams
Advertising: Alia Sarsam
Contact: 01633 777285
Web: www.monmouthshirecountylife.co.uk
Twitter: @MCLmagazine
Cover: Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales
Contacts
contents
Published by: Newsquest, Wales and Gloucestershire, Cardiff Road,
Maesglas, Newport, South Wales, NP20 3QN
4 Picnic time
Get out and enjoy the sunshine
6 Wedding fun
Great ideas for your big day
8 County news
12 His and hers
Four pages of summer looks
18 Memories of war
Naylor Firth takes a look at
Monmouthshires role in the
Great War
22 On your bike
Why the county is so great
for cyclists
26 Celebrating the sacred
A special event for Tintern
29 Meander and life in the county
The latest musings of Nigel
Jarrett and graduate surveyor
Fiona Weaver talks about horses
30 On the way up
We chat to local band Rusty
Shackle about Glastonbury and
touring the USA
32 Are you dancing?
Morris dancing with attitude
36 Wild about art
Christine Dadd shares her passion
38 Competition time
41 On your rafts...
Get set for the raft race
42 County food
10 pages of food news, reviews
and recipes
53 County business
56 Whats on
60 County travel
62 Out and about
Six pages of events from around
the county
69 County homes
12 pages of property
and ideas for your
home
82 Hidden gems
Naylor Firth delves into
the history of the county
6
Who doesnt love a picnic. And these fun pieces will make you love them even more...
1. Thermos ask. 55. www.black-by-design.co.uk 2 . Lunch bag. 4.95. www.prety-chic.co.uk
3. Cat plate. 6.50. www.peanutanddip.com 4. Woodencutlery. 4 per pack of 20. www.peachblossom.co.uk
5. Picnic blanket. 24. www.ellieellie.co.uk 6. Plastic jug. 12.75. www.kozoil-shop.co.uk 7. Glass. 14. www.cloudberryliving.co.uk
8. Flask and cup. 10. www.mrsallsorts.com 9. Melamine picnic box. 46.99. www.dorisandboris.co.uk
Its picnic time for us all
1
2
3
4
6
7
9 8
5
8
Weddingbits
1. Print. 18. www.artyharty.com
2. Set of four Champagne flutes. 29.95. www.annabeljames.co.uk
3. Invitations. 3.99. www.gingerray.co.uk
4. Treat bags. 2.49. wwwcandleandcake.co.uk
5. Embroidered bath robe. 60. www.thefinecottoncompany.com
5
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2
4
3
9
10
Countynews
CONSERVATION work on a
world-famous monument in
an Abergavenny church has
begun.
The Jesse gure at St
Marys Priory Church
is undergoing major
conservation work to ensure
it is maintained for generations
to come.
The wooden monument,
which has only ever left
the church once to go to
the Tate Gallery in London
and regularly features on
television, sits in the north
transept at the entrance to
The Lewis Chapel.
Father Mark Soady, the
Vicar of St Marys Church,
said the extraordinary larger-
than-life gure once formed
the base of an intricate and
elaborate construction, which
depicts the family tree of Jesus
Christ from Jesse, the father of
King David.
So-called Jesse gures and
Jesse trees are not uncommon
in stained glass. But this is the
only one in wood to be found
in the United Kingdom, and
probably the world.
He said: We do not know
who carved it but we do know
that it retains its extraordinary
command of our attention and
fascination.
Carved from one solid piece
of oak, probably in the 15th
century, it was originally highly
coloured and depicted all the
Davidic kings and descendants,
surmounted by the gures of
Mary and the Child, and Christ
in glory.
Latest thought estimates the
height of the tree growing
from Jesses side would have
been between 25ft and 30ft.
Conservator, Valentine
Walsh was commissioned
to carry out the project and
began work last Thursday.
Father Mark said: The
work is being carried out with
a matter of urgency to ensure
the paint doesnt peel off and
that the structure is sound.
It needs tender loving care
to ensure it is maintained for
generations to come.
Funded by the St Marys
Priory Monuments Fund,
set up to help maintain the
large number of Medieval
monuments in the church, the
project is expected to cost
thousands rather than tens
of thousands be completed
within a month.
CONSERVATION WORK UNDER WAY
AT ABERGAVENNY CHURCH
ABERGAVENNY writer Owen Sheers has been shortlisted for the 2014 Wales Book of the
Year. The author is one of nine in contention for literary honour.
The verse-drama follows three young soldiers from Bristol who are sent to Afghanistan.
The winners of the 2014 Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Caernarfon on July 10.
Each category winner will receive a prize of 2,000, and the two main winners in each language
will receive an additional 6,000.
Lleucu Siencyn, chief executive of Literature Wales said: The 2014 Wales Book of the Year
Short List reects the high standard of work published during 2013. Three categories, two
languages, and 18 authors all hoping for the title of English or Welsh-language Wales Book of the
Year 2014. Each book is worth reading, and with nine weeks before the Award Ceremony, this
is the perfect time to start.
Abergavenny writer
shortlisted for Wales award
OVER several decades,
a series of books, and
hundreds of articles and
drawings in the South
Wales Argus, historian,
artist and headmaster Fred
J Hando became something
of a household name in his
beloved Gwent.
Now his rst cousin
(once removed), president
of Newport County AFC,
retired teacher, and former
Newport councillor, David
Hando, has himself gone
into print to tell the story of
his Uncle Fred.
David Hando said: The
launch of my book at St
Julians Methodist Church
was attended by, among
others, three authors,
two poets, a judge, and a
number of ex-Hatherleigh
pupils, one of whom
discharged himself from
hospital to be there.
Another was a lady of
94 who brought along her
school report, of which she
was very proud.
Fred J Hando was
awarded an MBE in 1953
for services to education
and to Monmouthshire,
and by then his words
and drawings had been a
regular feature in the Argus
for 30 years, as they would
be until just days before his
death, in February 1970.
These are generously
represented in David
Handos book, Fred
J Hando, A Proud
Son of Gwent, which
contains examples of
Freds drawings of local
landmarks, the areas more
out-of-the-way places,
and the covers of and a
chapter from each of his
books.
He had a great
appreciation of the
beauty of the countryside,
prompted by his
experiences in France (in
the Royal Engineers) during
the First World War, and
seeing the devastation in
Flanders, said David.
He tried to encourage
people to appreciate what
he called the little places
of a shy county. He was
passionate about, and
fascinated by, Gwent. He
loved the countryside, and
he loved Newport.
This has been a labour
of love for me, and I
wanted to tell his story
using his words as much
as possible, and including
examples of his work.
* Fred J Hando, A
Proud Son of Gwent, is
available, priced 14.50, by
contacting David Hando on
01633 413166.
BOOK REVEALS LIFE OF
GWENT HISTORIAN AND
ARGUS COLUMNIST,
FRED HANDO
Father Mark Soady with
Valentine Walsh
David Hando
Follow us on Twitter: @mclmagazine
11
Countynews
Follow us on Twitter: @mclmagazine
A
young show jumper from
Chepstow has received a 500
boost from a local business to
help her achieve her Olympic dream.
Equestrian fanatic, Charlie Bennett,
14, contacted more than 100
companies to ask for sponsorship; yet
only a few acknowledged her appeal,
and all declined her request.
Undeterred by the rejections,
Charlie approached business owner,
Justin Marriott, director of Langstone-
based Pro Steel Engineering to ask for
nancial support to fund her vision of
becoming a future Olympian.
Impressed by her motivation, Justin
suggested that Charlie contacted
his partner, Richard Selby. She was
delighted when Richard responded to
her letter with a sponsorship offer.
The talented show jumper has been
horse riding since she was six.
Charlie and her ponies compete
most weekends, regularly travelling
to England to enter contests. Often
placed top of competitions, she recently
qualied for the prestigious Blue Chip
Championship Finals, held at Hartpury
Arena, Gloucestershire.
The Wyedean School pupil is a
member of Severnvale Equestrian
Centre, Tidenham. Committed to her
horses, Charlie visits the stables twice
daily to ride and care for her ponies -
Patchwork Poncho, Capital Flash and
Marigold Montana.
From a single-parent household,
Charlie and her mother, Sarah
Goddard, were nding it nancially
difcult to fund her hobby.
Sarah said: Charlie often
receives prize money from winning
competitions, but the amount doesnt
cover the entry fees and associated
costs. I would have struggled to
fund her passion without the help of
Richard and Justin. She arranged the
sponsorship all of her own back. Im
very proud of my talented daughter!
Charlie plans to use the money for
entry fees to weekly show jumping
competitions and the upkeep of her
horses.
Richard Selby, director at Pro Steel
Engineering, said: We admire how
proactive and ambitious Charlie is,
and she is so focused on her dream of
becoming an Olympian. It takes a great
deal of determination for a young girl
to approach business-owners to ask
for sponsorship, so we were happy to
support her. Its important to invest in
the young stars of the future. We wish
Charlie and her ponies all the success in
their competitions.

C
hief executive of St Davids
Hospice Care, Emma Saysell
(pictured), who lives in
Monmouthshire, was awarded
an MBE in the Queens Birthday
Honours list.
Mrs Saysell said her honour,
which was for services to
voluntary sector health provision
in Newport, was a tribute to all
the supporters, volunteers and
staff at St Davids.
The mum of two, 44, joined St
Davids Hospice Care 19 years
ago, initially working as a nurse
for Velindre.
She said: I was completely
shocked and humbled when I found
out.
I am just passionate about St
Davids Hospice Care in Wales and
I want to say that it is down to the
amazing staff who work with me
and the volunteers at St Davids.
Hospice care relies so heavily
peoples support, volunteers and
staff.
This is a tribute to them.
Most people who know me
know that I just love it. It is not just
a job to me, it is a life choice. It is
my hobby.
I am completely humbled and
grateful. I am thrilled.
Sharon Lacey, of Chepstow, was
honoured with a British Empire
Medal for services to speech and
language therapy in Newport.
Mrs Lacey, a professional lead
for adult speech and language at
Aneurin Bevan Health Board, has
worked
in the role continuously in Gwent
since 1988, and previously worked
there in 1982. She is currently
based at the Anuerin Bevan speech
and language therapy department in
Caerleon.
She said: It was a bolt out
of the blue really I had a letter
last month telling me I had been
nominated and that was an honour
in itself.
I feel delighted and extremely
humbled. I have been very lucky
and have worked with fantastic
colleagues and patients throughout
my career. I have learnt a lot from
my patients and particularly enjoy
the one on one work.
She added: I have just done my
job. Im a rm believer in the NHS
and patient care, so I just try to
do the best I can. Its lovely to be
honoured in this way Im thrilled.
W
e are excited to be
launching a new awards
for Monmouthshire where we will
be celebrating the people who
make the county such a great
place to live and work.
The Mons, as we have
christened them, are being
launched to coincide with the
10th year of Monmouthshire
County Life a magazine which is
dedicated to all thats great about
the county.
We are holding a very
special, invitation-only event
on September 11 at Marriott
St Pierre, in Chepstow, to not
only celebrate our anniversary
but also to award 10 people/
businesses with one of The Mons.
The idea behind The Mons is
simple we have some fantastic
people and businesses out there
in Monmouthshire who are often
unsung.
They do great things from
organising festivals to running
niche businesses or from helping
others to creating wonderful
artworks. We arent looking at
those who are good at blowing
their own trumpets, we are
looking at the unsung heroes
of Monmouthshire who work
behind the scenes to attract
visitors, promote the area and
generally make it such a lovely
place.
We are not looking for entries,
although if you want to nominate
someone for consideration,
please email MCL editor Jo
Barnes at jo.barnes@gwent-wales.
co.uk.
We have drawn up a list of
judges who know Monmouthshire
and its people well and have
asked them to nominate people/
businesses to us who they think
deserve to be recognised.
Once we get all those
nominations in, the MCL team will
pick 10 winners of the inaugural
awards. The closing date for
nominations is August 1, 2014.
They will be invited along
to the event on September 11
to receive a certicate and a
hand-crafted award, which has
been designed and made in
Monmouthshire.
Pictures from the event, along
with the names of the winners,
will be published in a forthcoming
edition of the magazine.
2014
THE
Mons
ABERGAVENNYS Tourist Information Centre has moved into a new
home.
The centre, which was based next to the bus station for 23 years until
its closure earlier this month, re-opened a short distance away in the Tithe
Barn, Monk Street.
The service had faced an uncertain future when Brecon Beacons
National Park Authority, which ran the service with Monmouthshire
council, decided to close the building as part of its budget savings.
The county council contributes 35,000 a year towards the service
on top of utilities and maintenance but could not make up the shortfall.
Abergavenny Town Council stepped in and agreed to contribute 11,500
towards the running costs and St Marys Priory Development Trust, which
owns the Tithe Barn, offered space within the building.
It is now run in partnership with the Brecon Beacons National Park
Authority, Abergavenny Town Council and Monmouthshire council and
will open to visitors between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday until
November when hours are reduced during winter. It is also expected to
open on Sundays during the summer holidays.
Chepstow show
jumper canters
towards
Olympic dream
NEW HOME FOR ABERGAVENNY
TOURISM CENTRE
Charity leader
among Queens
birthday honours
Summers here and what beter way to
stand out than these fab bright fashions...
L
e
t

t
h
e
sunshine in
1
2
3
4
Wooden necklace.
18. Oliver Bonas
Floral prom
dress. 49.
M&Co
Strapless dress.
TBC. River Island
Blazer. 165. Peter Hahn
6
7
5
Mylene rufe tea
dress. 60.
Litlewoods.com
Stud detail bag. 35.
Simplybe
Renee
dress. 78.
Eucalyptus
14
SUMMER CAN OFTEN BE A
TRICKY TIME FOR MENS STYLE
AS JOSH KNAPMAN FINDS OUT...
T
he key to this years
sunny season is to
keep it classic but
simple. Throw away
those awful bright-pink
Hawaiian board shorts
and stick to the plain,
clean colours.
Vintage-style clothing
is big this year so the
occasional, subtle patern
here or there wont harm
the look either. For the
summer, an important
look to get right is
holiday-wear. This means
beach style.
This year, a simple pair
of chino shorts (Matalan,
10) and a long sleeve
shirt (Matalan, 12) in a
plain or pastel colour will
be a strong look. You can
go for short sleeves if you
like, but rolled-up long
sleeves will add an edge
to the look. Complete this
outft with either sandals
or boat shoes (Matalan,
16), depending on
where you decide to
spend your holiday.
When it comes to
those working days
in the summer, lighter
colours will make the
ofce a friendlier place
to be. A horizontal
striped, light-coloured
shirt (www.landsend.
co.uk, 29.95) will ofer
a smart seasonal look.
Complete the look with
grey trousers (Burton,
40) and brown Chelsea
boots (Asos, 45).
For the summers
nights out, keep it casual
with smart shoes, as the
footwear can smarten
the whole outft. A
pair of dark stretch-
skinny jeans (Burton,
28) and a shirt with a
subtle vintage patern
(Burton, 22) is a simple
yet stylish outft for an
evening out. Smarten up
the look with a pair of
brown suede brogues
(Burton, 40).
Any summer look
would not be complete
without sunglasses.
There are two popular
choices this year. The frst
is a variant of last years
hit wayfarer, a half-
framed, horn rimmed
wayfarer (Sunglass
Junkie, 16). The second
popular choice is a
vintage round framed
pair of sunglasses,
a good choice being
Ralph by Ralph Lauren
(MyOptique Group,
60).
Stretch skinny
jeans. Burton. 28
Shirt. Burton 22
Horn rimmed
wayfarers. Sunglass
Junkie. 16
Ralph by
Ralph Lauren.
MyOptique
Group. 60
Step out
in style
Step out
in style
15
Long sleeve shirt.
Matalan. 12
Chino shorts.
Matalan. 10
Shirt. www.landsend.co.uk.
29.95
Chelsea boots.
Asos.
45
Brown suede
brogues. Burton. 40
17
Abergavenny, Wales locally owned and operated Baroque
Boutique & Beauty provides big city choices with small
town customer care...
The latest news from
Baroque Boutique
W
e have two big weekend events
planned in the diary so please
save the dates! The first is a SALE
WEEKEND on July 26 and 27, 2014.
Visit the boutique and take advantage
of our summer sale and special offers. If
you would like to book a private session
with a stylist on this weekend please call
us on 01873 858030.
Another big weekend planned is a
BRIDESMAID DESIGNER WEEKEND!
At the beginning of February 2014
we hosted a Bridesmaid Designer
Weekend to mark our first year in
business. More than 40 brides visited
the boutique with their excited
bridesmaids. The atmosphere was
electric and we would like to do it all
again!
Please save the date for our next
Bridesmaid Designer Weekend on
October 4 and 5, 2014.
Book your private appointment
with one of our stylists and sample the
entire range of dresses. A large range
of colours and sizes will be available
to match your wedding theme and
design. Places are limited so please call
01873 858030 to book early and avoid
disappointment.
Our beauty studio and THE ROOM
at BAROQUE hair salon are based
inside the boutique offering our clients
the ultimate in fashion and beauty.
We will be running special promotions
on bridesmaid dresses, hair and
beauty over the Bridesmaid Designer
Weekend.
To keep up-to-date with the latest
news, please sign-up to our newsletter
at www.baroqueboutique.co.uk, follow
us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
We frequently run events on our
Mother-of-the-Bride, Bridesmaid, Prom
and Casual range. It would be great if
you could join us!
At Baroque Boutique, we are
committed to providing high quality
products with a friendly and welcoming
customer service.
We hope to see you in the near
future as we continue to establish
ourselves as the premier ladies boutique
in South Wales.
Baroque Boutique | High Fashion for Major Life Events
Contact Marion Challenor
Website www.baroqueboutique.co.uk | Tel 01873 858030
Email enquiries@baroqueboutique.co.uk
Address 18 Cross Street | Abergavenny | Monmouthshire | NP7 5EW
18
The South Wales
Borderers
The regiment was formed in 1689 and traditionally
drew its recruits from the border counties of
Monmouthshire, Brecknockshire, Radnor and
Montgomeryshire, as well as Cardiganshire. During
the Great War, the regiment elded 20 battalions
of which the rst two were composed of regular
troops.
The 1st Battalion was one of the rst British
units to take part in the war, landing at Le Havre a
week after war had been declared as part of the
British Expeditionary Force. Barely six weeks later,
at the end of September, they lost eight ofcers
and 200 men at the Battle of Aisne. At the end of
October desperate ghting at the Battle of Gheluvelt
continued for more than two weeks, at the end of
which the battalion had lost all its ofcers but four
and more than 800 men.
They were soon engaged at the Battle of Mons
and continued to take part in nearly every major
battle throughout the next four years including the
Marne, Ypres, Loos, the Somme, Arras and the
Hindenberg Line. At the end of the war they formed
part of the Occupation Force located in Bonn.
At the outbreak of war, the 2nd Battalion was
coming to the end of a two-year spell of duty in
Tientsin, NE China. Germany had established a
marine footing at the port of Tsingtao and the
Borderers were ordered to assist the Japanese Army
in capturing the port. In March 1915 the battalion
was ordered to Galliopli where for the next ten
months it was engaged in bloody ghting against the
Turks.
In March 1916, after two months recuperation in
Egypt, they moved to Flanders and for the remainder
of the war became engaged in major battles such
as the Somme and Cambrai. At wars end they too
formed part of the Occupation Force located in
Cologne.
The 10th, 11th and 12th battalions were also
known as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Gwent Battalions and
were formed at the end of 1914 and beginning of
1915. The 1st Gwents fought from late 1915 until
wars end and suffered very high casualties together
with the 2nd Gwents in the Battle of Albert in 1916.
The 2nd and 3rd Gwents fought from early 1916
until they were both disbanded in February 1918.
An indication of the level of involvement of the
regiment in WWI conicts can be seen in their
awarding of 72 Battle Honours and six Victoria
Crosses.
Memories of war
100 years afer the start of the war to end all wars,
Naylor Firth takes a look at how Monmouthshire
took part...
The Monmouthshire
Regiment
The Monmouthshire Regiment was
formed in 1859 as a volunteer unit and
became a Territorial Force in 1908. At
the outbreak of WWI, three First Line
battalions had formed with all members
undertaking to serve overseas. Each
Battalion was about 800 strong made
up of nine companies with strong local
afliations.
The 1st Battalion drew its recruits
from Newport, Chepstow and the
Rhymney Valley, the 2nd Battalion
from Monmouth, Pontypool, Blaenavon
and the Eastern Valley, while the 3rd
Battalion was drawn from Abergavenny,
Ebbw Vale, Tredegar and the Ebbw
Valleys.
Early in November 1914 the 2nd
Battalion left Southampton on the SS
Manchester Importer, landing at Le
Havre, and by the end of the month
were engaged in trench warfare,
suffering 170 casualties by March 1915.
The 1st and 3rd Battalions followed on
14 February 1915 in the SS Caledonian
and SS Chyabassa respectively and by
the end of April all three battalions were
to experience German gas attacks.
The battles around Ypres in April/
May saw the Monmouthshire Regiment
decimated. On May 8, 1915 the 1,600
men of the 1st and 3rd Battalions were
reduced to just over 100 combatants
and the actions of B Company of the
3rd Mons recorded in the Ofcial
History of the War as being among the
historic episodes of WWI. Casualties
were such that the three battalions were
amalgamated for a while until the end
of July.
The recruitment areas for the 1st,
2nd and 3rd Mons included many
mining communities and their expertise
was quickly utilised from the summer
of 1915 onwards by forming Pioneer
Battalions from the 1st and 3rd in each
division where they were located; the
2nd Mons followed in this role in early
1916. The work involved digging every
form of trench and tunnelling under
the enemy so that the excavated areas
could be packed with explosives. All the
time, however, they could be expected
to take up their ries again and become
front-line soldiers.
Casualties were high, yet the
requirement for miners back in South
Wales to maintain coal supplies was
critical, resulting in the 3rd Mons being
dissolved in August 1916. The remaining
two battalions were often involved in
activities in the front line and continued
their invaluable activities until the end
of hostilities in November 1918. The
2nd Mons were the only Territorials
from the British Army to march into
Germany at the end of the War as they
entered Cologne on December 9, 1918.
Ebbw Vale Station, left,
and Chepstow Station, 1914
Left: 2nd Battallion South Wales
Borderers, Tientsin, China.
Right: Flanders, October 1916
19
Monmouthshires
war memorials
WWI resulted in the greatest carnage of any war in human
history. Great Britain alone suffered more than 2.5 million
dead and wounded, more than 10 per cent of the total male
population, and one in three of those eligible to ght were
either killed or wounded. Every community from the largest
city to the smallest hamlet was affected and memorials to
those who fell can be found throughout the country.
The memorials in Monmouthshire vary in size and form
from the large cenotaphs in Newport and Chepstow to
stained-glass windows in the smallest churches. The names
detailed on them all hide harrowing experiences and the
tiny church at Kilgwrrwg hidden is the Monmouthshire
countryside in its stained-glass window epitomises the
sacrice and suffering experienced by sons and families in the
county.
Joseph and Frederick Bevan were brothers and lived in the
hamlet with their parents. Joseph, the eldest, joined the Navy
as a reservist but such was the level of casualties in the land-
based forces that he and his colleagues in the Naval Division
were drafted to ght in the trenches in Flanders. He was
wounded during the aftermath of the battle on the Somme
in February 1917 and died aged 25 of gunshot wounds,
frostbite and pneumonia on February 8. He was buried in the
military cemetery at Boulogne.
Frederick Bevan was two years younger than his brother
and joined the South Wales Borderers as a private. His war
was to end on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey during the
disastrous attempts to dislodge the Turkish forces from the
entrance to the Black Sea. The Borderers landed there in July
1916 and Frederick died of wounds on August 11; he was
buried at Gallipoli. Within the space of six months his parents
were to receive cards telling them that both their sons were
dead.
Richard Morgans family were neighbours of the Bevans
in the hamlet and Richard was similar in age to Joseph. He
joined the Royal Navy early in 1916 and was promoted to
able seaman in June 1918. He served on the Destroyer HMS
Garland and drowned on 11 November 1918, when the boat
he was in capsized. Richard Morgans war grave lies at the
east end of the tiny Kilgwrrwg churchyard and all three men
are commemorated in the stained-glass window above it.
Was Richard Morgan the last man killed during the First
World War? Who can tell, and is that statistic important?
Every death, be it the rst or the last, in that war to end all
wars was a tragedy.
In 1902 the Workman, Clark & Co
shipyard in Belfast built the 8151 ton
cargo ship SS Irak for the Irak Steamship
Co of Liverpool, which operated her for
the next ten years.
In 1911 she was sold to T&J
Brockelbank, also of Liverpool, and
renamed the SS Mandasor, only to be
sold in 1913 to the Hamberg-Amerika
Line in Hamburg and renamed again as
the SS Belgia.
In August 1914 the Belgia was
en-route from Boston in the USA to
Hamburg, carrying a considerable
quantity of specie (coinage) and
200,000 worth of food. She found
herself off the Scilly Isles on August 3.
The captain was informed that evening
that war had broken out between
Germany and France and, rather than
risk being captured by a French vessel in
the English Channel, he altered course up
the Bristol Channel, taking on a Newport
pilot when off Trevose Head saying he
was running short of coal.
The Belgia arrived off Newport
just before 6pm on August 4 and was
ordered by the dockmaster to anchor
off the English and Welsh Lightship,
considered to be within the Port of
Newport. The declaration of war
between Germany and Britain came into
effect at 11pm that evening.
Monmouthshire thus had a war prize
within its boundaries the moment
war was declared and the local
authorities lost no time in dealing
with this situation.
Newport Constabulary hastily
equipped 12 constables with
borrowed service ries and the
chief constable, Captain CE Gower, with
the aid of the dockmaster, Capt Cutcliffe,
set off in one of Newports tugs to board
and capture the Belgia.
The ship was transporting 73 German
reservists together with 20 crew but
these offered no resistance.
The Belgia became the rst mercantile
prize of WWI and the reservists among
the rst German prisoners of war.
Contemporary newspaper reports
indicated that the Belgia was also carrying
wheat, copper ingots, tobacco, cotton
bales, logs, phosphate rock and a number
of live alligators and other reptiles
destined for Hamburg Zoo.
By early September much of the
cargo was already included in auctions
conducted at the Waterloo Hotel at
Alexandra Dock in Newport.
In June 1915 the vessel was declared
a lawful prize by the Admiralty and
passed into new ownership, having been
acquired by the Strick Line in London and
renamed the SS Huntsrick.
She lead a relatively charmed life for
the next two years until June 8, 1917,
when she was off Cape Spartel at the
entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar. She
was en route from London to Salonika
with a cargo of troops, stores and motor
launches when she was torpedoed by the
German submarine U-39 with the loss of
15 people.
The SS Belgia and the capture of the
frst German prisoners of war
The grave of Richard Morgan at Kilgwrrwg
Pictures of the SS Belgia and the
Newport policemen who went to
aarest it: Newport Past website.
www.newportpast.com
20
Royal Navy ships named
afer Monmouthshire towns
Monmouthshires recipients
of the Victoria Cross
Angus Buchanan was born in Coleford in 1894 into
a medical family and educated at Monmouth School
where he became head boy. From Monmouth he went
to Oxford to read classics and played rugby, rowed and
was secretary of the Athletics Club. He joined up in
1915 and as a captain in the South Wales Borderers was
posted to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Captain Buchanan saw action in Gallipoli and
Mesopotamia against the Turks. This rather reserved
ofcer was awarded the Military Cross early in 1916
and that summer he was awarded the Victoria Cross for
rescuing two men under intense machine-gun re who
had been wounded 150 yards from the nearest cover.
He was blinded by a bullet before he could receive both
medals from the King in Bristol in November 1917.
He later completed his degree in law and worked as a
solicitor in Coleford until his death in 1944.
William Williams was born in 1880 Shropshire
but brought up in Chepstow before joining the Royal
Navys Boys Service when he was 15. He worked in the
Newport area while maintaining his links through the
Royal Naval Reserve and signed up again in 1914.
Able Seaman Williams also saw action in Gallipoli
when, in April 1915, he was awarded the Victoria
Cross. During one critical landing he continued to hold a
securing rope for a lighter in four feet of water for more
than an hour under continuous Turkish re and was
mortally wounded by a shell as he was being rescued.
King George V presented Chepstow with a German
submarine gun from UB-91 in 1921 in his memory
where it still rests behind the war memorial in Beaufort
Square.
Jack Williams was born in Nantyglo in 1886 and
joined the South Wales Borderers in late 1914, after
working as a blacksmith in the local colliery. By the start
of 1915 he was already a sergeant and in 1916 was
awarded the DCM for gallantry in the battle of Mametz
Wood. In 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal
and bar for two further acts of gallantry as well as the
Medaille Militaire from the French.
In 1918 at Villers-Outreaux he single-handedly
captured 15 Germans under heavy re, bayonetting
ve of them as they turned on him. He was awarded
the VC and became the most decorated Welsh non-
commissioned ofcer ever. At the end of the war, CSM
Williams returned to his job with the Ebbw Vale Steel,
Iron and Coal Co. He died in 1953 and is buried in the
Ebbw Vale Cemetery.
At the commencement of WWI Great Britain
had the largest number and tonnage of armed
ships in the world. Keeping the sea lanes
open to the countries of the British Empire
was a vital requirement, especially after the
declaration of war. During the war, ve Royal
Navy ships served which were named after
Monmouthshire towns.
HMS Chepstow was an 810 ton coastal
minesweeping sloop, one of the Racecourse
class of 32 minesweepers, all of which were
almost identical in build and propelled by
paddlewheels. She was built by the Ayrshire
Dockyard Co and launched on February 29,
1916. HMS Chepstow had a maximum speed
of 15 knots and carried a crew of 50. She
survived the war and was eventually scrapped
in November 1927 at the yards of Hughes
Bolckow in Blyth, Northumberland.
The ships bell of HMS Chepstow, bought
from the Admiralty in 1928 for 5, hung
for a number of years on the east side of
Chepstows town arch until in 1969 when it
was moved into St Marys Church, Chepstow,
where it hangs on the north chancel wall.
HMS Monmouth was the sixth ship to
bear this name and was launched from the
London & Glasgow Shipbuilding Co yard on
November 13, 1901. At nearly 10,000 tons,
this armoured cruiser had a crew of 678
and a maximum speed of 23 knots. HMS
Monmouth spent most of her life in the Far
East and was put into reserve in January 1914,
only to be recalled in August 1914 and sent to
South America.
At the beginning of November 1914 she
and the armoured cruiser HMS Good Hope
were involved in the Battle of Coronel off the
Chilean coast. Faster and better equipped
German ships sank both British cruisers within
two hours of engagement with a loss of the
entire crews totalling 1,600 men the Royal
Navys worst defeat in more than a century.
HMS Pontypool was launched from the
Renfrew Yard of Lobnitz & Co in June 1918.
The 700-ton minesweeper was one of the
Aberdare Class vessels and was originally
called HMS Polperro. She was scrapped in
1922.
HMS Raglan was a 6,250-ton oating gun
platform, or monitor, equipped with two 14in
guns in a single turret. These American guns
had originally been destined for the Greek
Navy but the British blockade made this
impossible and instead Churchill arranged for
them to be redirected. Four monitors of the
Abercrombie Class were built, designed for
shore bombardment. HMS Raglan was built
by Harland & Wolff in their Govan yard and
launched in April 1915.
She spent most of her short life in and
around the Dardanelles and for a while
carried two seaplanes. This slow and
ponderous ship was caught without her
normal battleship escort by seven Turkish
warships in January 1918 and sunk with the
loss of 127 crew.
HMS Usk was launched from Yarrows
shipyard in July 1903. This River Class
destroyer had a crew of 70 and spent her rst
ve years on the east coast of Britain before
spending ve years based in Hong Kong,
where she was involved in the early months
of the war. In November 1914 she arrived
in the Dardanelles where she assisted with
the landings at ANZAC Cove and undertook
one of the rst air-sea rescues of a pilot and
observer whose seaplane had crashed into the
Straits. In 1920 she was sold to Thomas Ward
of Shefeld and broken up in Morecombe
Bay.
Top left:
HMS
Chepstow
Top right:
HMS Usk
Bottom:
HMS
Raglan
Captain Angus Buchanan VC
21
Monmouthshire
shipbuilding
Iron ships had been built at Chepstow ever since
Edward Finch located his works on the river bank
to build Brunels railway bridge in the mid-1800s.
In 1916 a consortium lead by John Silley, a
previous employee at Finchs, bought the yard to
build ships on the principle of standardisation of
design and units, a technique studied by Silley in
the American motor industry.
The Standard Shipbuilding & Engineering Co
set about expanding the yard and building ships in
response to the British governments plans for UK
yards to build ships faster than the German U-boat
eet could sink them, there being no effective
counter-measures to their menace.
The SS Petworth and SS Tutshill were both of
just over 2,000 tons and were laid down in 1917.
They were launched about eight months later
and were engaged as colliers supplying the eet
with South Wales coal. Both survived WWI
only to be torpedoed by U-boats in WWII in the
Mediterranean within three months of each other
and barely 50 miles apart.
A little later two 470-ton tugs were laid down,
the Dainty and the Dandy, launched towards the
end of 1918. The Dainty was sold to the Irish Free
State in 1922, the rst vessel owned by the newly-
established Eire.
In tandem with the expansion of their yard the
company set about building accommodation for
the increased numbers of employees required.
Garden City was laid out and the rst 30 houses
completed by early 1917. Women started to be
employed in manual operations at the yard in the
light of more men being needed in Flanders.
The government nationalised the yard in August
1917 as National Yard No1, commandeered the
Beachley Peninsula where they built National Yard
No 2 and laid down plans for the construction of
National Yard No 3 at Portbury, near Bristol. The
latter was never built. The Beachley yard never
built a ship and was dismantled as soon as it was
completed and the Chepstow yard was eventually
sold to the Monmouth Shipbuilding Co after much
legal haggling by August 1920.
During the next four years 13 ships were built
and launched from Chepstow, six of which were
6,500-ton cargo ships that were immediately sold
to Italian shipping companies.
One of them, the SS War Genius eventually
became the German-owned Carl Fritzen and was
scuttled off the River Plate in Uruguay on the
second day of WWII as HMS Ajax approached.
Ajax having sunk the German freighter Olinda the
previous day.
The Monmouth Shipbuilding Co Ltd was sold
to the Faireld Shipbuilding Co in August 1924, a
name still closely associated with Chepstow.
Monmouthshire and
armaments production
The outbreak of hostilities in August 1914
found Britain woefully ill-equipped to wage
a land war. This was particularly apparent
in terms of eld artillery and shells, both
of which were to be needed in enormous
quantities for the war of attrition in the
battleelds of NE France and Belgium.
By the end of 1914, the British Army
Expeditionary Force had experienced this
tremendous weakness in their ability to
confront a better-equipped enemy.
In May 1915 the government created
the Ministry of Munitions with David Lloyd
George as minister and rapid changes took
place.
At the start of the war there only 16
companies involved in the production
of armaments in the UK. However,
there were many others involved in the
engineering and chemical sectors whose
expertise and equipment could easily
be adapted to producing munitions. In
addition there were buildings and facilities
in operations unrelated to war needs which
could be converted to war production;
for example, numerous rail transport
workshops and textile mills underwent
rapid changes in products.
Thus by the end of 1915 there were 73
additional operations producing armaments
and munitions and by the end of the war
the number was 218.
Artillery shells would be needed in very
large numbers in a range of calibres and
Monmouthshire was called upon to harness
its expertise in metal processing in the
creation of three of the 43 National Shell
Factories in the UK.
The Uskside Engineering Co National
Works at Newport was opened in 1915
to produce 4.5in, 6in and 18-pdr shell
casings. The Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and
Coal Co factory was opened in June 1915
to produce 18-pdr and 60-pdr casings but
was closed in July 1916. A second factory
in Newport was opened late in 1915 at
Maesglas with the conversion of the GWR
engine sheds and the Tyne Engineering
Works factory to produce 4.5in and 60-
pdr casings as well as 9.2in nose bushes.
Newports Alexandra Dock provided
a suitable site for the establishment of one
of Britains two National Cartridge & Box
Repair factories in buildings covering more
than 13 acres.
Monmouthshire was fortunate in having
neither any Explosives Manufacturing
Factories nor National Filling Factories
where so many fatal accidents took place
during these hazardous procedures.
However during WWII the county would
be the site both for explosives production
at Caerwent and armaments production at
Glascoed.
Staff from Maesglad National
Shell Factory. Newport Past.
www.newportpast.com
SS Tutshill
22
BY JASON
SMITH,
DIRECTOR,
BEARINGS
WEST LTD
Abergavenny:
a cycling town
S
o why has Abergavenny developed this
symbiotic relationship with cycling. As
always, there is no simple answer. The
reality is much more complex.
Undoubtedly one of the critical factors is
location and terrain. Quite simply, the riding is
some of the best in the UK, both on road and
off road.
The variety can sometimes be overwhelming.
Hills (or rather mountains) that can give even
the best riders a challenge and stunning river
valleys which thread their way through through
those beastly hills. Its no surprise to those of us
who live and ride in the area that the route from
Abergavenny to Hay, through the magical Vale of
Ewyas and over Gospel Pass was labelled one of
Britains best bike rides by the Guardian.
Thats just the road cycling.
Mountain bikers can endlessly interchange
between mountain-ridge riding and forest trails
all day long. All of this is on the doorstep there
is no need for bike racks and car journeys.
As stunning as the terrain is, a cycling
town needs riders. Abergavenny has them in
abundance. Many do their own thing or share
rides with small groups of friends.
There are however, literally hundreds who
are members of Abergavenny RC. Last year it
was voted Welsh club of the year at the Welsh
Cycling awards evening. Quite something for a
club which didnt even exist until 1979.
Started by two established racing cyclists and
a keen bunch of kids, at rst, the club only
had about 12 members, mostly under 16.
Developing young riders has been an
ethos of the club and is best displayed on
Saturday mornings at the leisure centre redgra.
Sometimes up to 50 young riders are buzzing
around under the watchful eye of coaches and
cycling besotted parents.
Since the late 1980s, the club has regularly
churned out idols forming a rich heritage for
todays youngsters to draw inspiration from.
From Richard Wooles (coached Wales road race
team and now Canada Track coach) and Julian
Winn (rode professionally, won national road
race title and coached GB at Beijing Olympics)
through to the latest generation epitomised by
Becky James.
The club has a committed core of volunteers
who when not riding themselves are busy
organising a multitude of cycling events: MTB,
road racing, cyclo-cross, charity rides, audax,
time trials, roller racing and hill climbs. The club
has even organised cyclo-cross events at the
highest national level, both National Trophy and
National Championship.
One volunteer stands astride all others - Bill
Owen. His ambitions for cycling in Abergavenny
have quite simply not known any bounds.
He started the Abergavenny Classic in 1985
which after a successful period, morphed
into the Grand Prix of Wales. He has been
instrumental in bringing the national road racing
championships
to the area, not once but twice. The Grand Prix
of Wales has bulked out to now become the
Abergavenny Festival of Cycling seven days in
which to gorge on all things cycling, from racing
to burgeoning fringe events that includes a lm
night, social rides and a quiz night.
The town also hosts one of the the most
bizarre sportive rides in the cycling calendar.
Every year in early May a bunch of hardy
(some would say crazy) cyclists tackle the
Tumbleup4Life challenge to raise money for
cancer charities. The challenge is to climb the
infamous Tumble a 6km climb of 512m up to
a maximum of 15 times in one day.
Not forgetting the serious side to
Abergavenny cycling scene. Abergavenny
Cycle Group is a campaign group established
to promote cycling as a mode of transport
in the area and to campaign for safer cycling
routes. Unbeknown to many the group have
been instrumental in getting 2two electric bikes
available to hire, for residents and visitors alike.
The cycling festival started on Monday June
23 with the showing of the Marco Pantani
lm The Accidental Death of a Cyclist
at Abergavenny cinema and culminates on
Sunday June 29 with the National Road Race
Championships. Take yourself and the kids along
and experience a true cycling town.
There are certain towns that are synonymous
with sports. Llanelli and rugby; Wrexham and
football and Abergavenny and cycling...
23
What did you think after that ride?
I loved it! Its a great feeling of freedom on the
bike, its uplifting. Within weeks I signed up for
a charity ride which was 26 miles. At the time
that seemed a lot for me as I found eight to 10
miles hard. I set myself a training plan and built
up my mileage gradually over eight weeks. I was
hooked pretty quickly and used to look forward
to going out two to three times a week.
What sort of cycling do you enjoy?
I quickly came to love cycling and invested in my
rst road bike. Ive tried off road riding and the
Velodrome but being on the open road is what I
love most. I now cycle two to four times a week
and average around 120 miles each week.
Do you cycle competitively?
I have started time trialling this year. For those
who dont know a time trial is a timed event
over a set distance. You are racing the clock
and yourself, its not a bunch race as such. Im
competing in the Celtic Series this year which
is eight time trials organised by various cycling
clubs in Wales. Theres always a great turnout
for these friendly events and a good number
of women competing which is great to see. So
far I have won a 3rd place in the Vet Womens
category and 5!
Would you say cycling was an addictive
sport?
Cycling for me is a great stress buster. Theres
nothing quite it. You see things differently from
a bike. You will notice something different on a
road youve driven down a 100 times before.
It has that great feel good factor to it. If I dont
ride regularly it does affect my well being
because my body has got used to a certain level
of exercise.
Why do you think it is so popular?
Weve had great success in recent years with
British riders winning prestigious cycling titles
such as the Tour de France and success in the
Olympics. Theres been far more publicity
around the sport and its prole has been raised
as a result. Added to this there has been a lot
more investment in cycling from grass roots
level right up to professional level.
Why was the Monmouthshire Wheelers
set up?
It was set up by an enthusiastic small group
of road cyclists. We started off as a few local
people who wanted to go for a ride and things
went from there. Soon friends of friends were
turning up on a Sunday morning and after a few
runs we established Monmouthshire Wheelers
Cycling Club. We are a social cycling club. Our
main club runs cater for people of different
abilities and tness and we always run two to
three groups depending on numbers and theres
always a cake and coffee stop on our rides! Ive
also set up a women-only ride that I run once a
month. Its aimed at the novice level and its had
a very positive effect on the numbers of women
joining our club.
What would you say to new cyclists who
are worried about being out on the roads?
You need to respect other road users and be
very conscious of your behaviour on the roads
as much as theirs. When you start choose some
quiet roads until you are condent in trafc.
The more condent you are in trafc, the safer
you will be. There are some drivers out there
who are not so considerate to cyclists and there
are some cyclists who do not ride well on the
road. Cyclists and motorists need to share the
road and this is best achieved by both being
considerate of the other.

Why is Monmouthshire such a great place
for cycling?
Ive cycled in a lot of other places and this is still
wins hands down for me. The condition of the
roads is very good compared to a lot of places,
the scenery is beautiful and the landscape is
challenging. Theres a huge network of quiet
country lanes and a lot of welcoming cafes to
stop and refuel at during a ride. A lot of Bristol
cycling clubs regularly come over the bridge to
ride in Monmouthshire too.

What is your favourite route in the county?
Thats a tough choice! The Wye Valley around
Tintern is simply stunning and the Usk Valley
also very pretty. For a more challenging route
climbing the Tumble out of Llanfoist is also a
great ride!

How important is it for people to get on
their bikes?
The great thing about cycling is that anyone
can have a go and they can ride as far as they
choose to. Its important to encourage it at a
young age to keep the sport growing and its
great exercise as you get older to keep your
mind and body healthy.

How would you suggest they go about doing
it?
Theres a lot of social cycling clubs starting up
now. Its probably the best way of getting into
cycling. Most of these clubs are on social media
like facebook and twitter and you can search
for clubs in your area on the British & Welsh
Cycling websites. You could also register with
goskyride and look for rides set up by people
in your area.

What one piece of advice would you say is
essential for someone starting out?
Never be afraid to ask questions. We all
started at some point and didnt know what we
were doing either.
How would you recommend a novice cyclist
moves on to taking part in organised rides?
Find something that suits your needs. There
are a lot of clubs out there with different
approaches so dont be afraid to contact them
and ask what sort of rides they do, what kind of
ability are the riders etc.

What equipment do you need?
I started with a borrowed bike and helmet,
that was it! I had nothing else and then I built
up slowly. If youre going to cycle regularly
throughout the year youll nd that you will
need appropriate clothing for the weather. Its
something you discover as you go along really.

Would you support the campaign
for getting a cycle track opened on the
old railway line from near Chepstow to
Monmouth?
Yes I would. I have cycled with my children on
the cycle track from Monmouth to Symonds
Yat and its great. Its safe and a great route for
families.

Whats the best bit about cycling?
Ive made some great friends and had some
fabulous cycling adventures with them. Its
also important that you give back to your
sport. I enjoy a very active role assisting with
the running of Monmouthshire Wheelers and
Ive helped out at sportives, marshalling time
trials and assisting with the National Road
Race Championships. I take a lot of pride in
my sport and have a lot of respect for those
who volunteer their time to run local clubs and
organise rides.

And the worst?
I ride with my feet clipped into the pedals. So
when you stop and forget to unclip and fall over.
I have done this a couple of times! I did say we
all begin somewhere!

I LIKE TO RIDE
MY BICYCLE
Monmouthshire resident Sue Hollin, aged 43, took up
cycling afer borrowing her husbands old bike and her
sons helmet one day and just going for a ride...
Sue Hollin makes it to the top of the Tumble, and
below, cycling through Usk
25
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26
Celebrating
the sacred
O
ne of the highlights of the Sacred Site and
Sound Festival will be an atmospheric
performance of Sir John Taveners Towards
Silence within the nave of Tintern Abbey, set against
a dramatic light show.
The composer, who contributed so much to the
revival of sacred music in the 20th century, died last
November and the event is being dedicated to his life
and work.
Central to the Saturday evening concert at
the abbey, also featuring works by Britten and
Arvo Part, will be a performance of Taveners
Protecting Veil for cello and strings performed by
internationally acclaimed Welsh cellist Kathryn Price
with the Welsh Chamber Orchestra.
Kathryn, who lives in St Arvans but regularly
performs at major venues across the globe, will
be ying in from the Madrid Festival for the event,
offering fans a rare opportunity to enjoy one of her
recitals on home soil.
The festival programme not only reects the
areas historic links with the spiritual but also with
creative inspiration, most notably for artists and
poets of the Romantic period who were moved
by the picturesque scenes encountered on their
journeys along the river.
Staging such an event at such an iconic location
represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for both
organisers and performers.
Kathryn describes it as a truly extraordinary
venture while Anthony Hose, principal conductor
of the Welsh Chamber Orchestra, thinks it will be a
wonderful experience for both the audience and the
performers.
Anthony nowadays divides his time between his
homes in Florida, where he is director of Orchestral
Studies at Stetson University, and Cardiff, the
base from which he works with many of the top
orchestras in Britain and across Europe.
Tintern Abbey has a mystical quality, he said.
Tintern is the seting in mid-July for a unique
festival celebrating the sacred in music, words
and light at riverside venues associated with
religious worship for nearly a thousand years...
By Annabel Hughes. Pictures by Michael Woodward
To perform these works at this venue is very
special.
Artistic director Vanessa Dodd said: The aim
is to reconnect these sacred sites with what they
were originally created for to provide spiritual
nourishment.
People have read about the daily life of the
Cistercian monks at the abbey but tend to forget
that it was a place of worship.
Events such as open-air productions of
Shakespeare are staged there but no-one before
has attempted to reintroduce the sacred music
to its spiritual home.
St Michaels Church, which hosts an evening
of poetry and music on the Friday night, is a
wonderful venue too open to all as a place of
rest and contemplation.
We live in a secular age but I think many
people still seek the spiritual something
beyond themselves.
Since moving here I have found the whole
valley like a spiritual refuge.
You deal with your working life and the
problems of everyday living in the outside
world then drive back at the end of the day to a
place that is comforting and healing.
We want the festival to reect the
sentiments of poet WH Davies What is this
life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and
stare.
Kathryn Price, the last protege of William
Plith who had earlier tutored Jacqueline du Pre,
may live just a couple of miles from Tintern but
she has never performed at the abbey.
I dont think something like this has ever
been presented there on this scale, she said.
Tintern Abbey is such a national historic site
that it is brilliant to bring it to life with a mix of
what is essentially ancient music interpreted by
modern composers.
Ive played in venues like the amphitheatre at
Delphi in Greece and the monastery and basilica
at St Lorenzo de El Escorial near Madrid, where
the atmosphere is completely charged.
The beauty of the setting helps to create
the atmosphere in the concert. You feel this
connection to everything.
Taveners Protecting Veil is very special.
Its a marvellous piece, beautifully orchestrated.
To present this piece in the abbey, mixed with
modern lighting and staging, is quite astounding.
Tavener was best known for writing for
singers and this concerto is almost sung by the
cello.
The piano and some woodwind instruments
cover the range of the human voice but the
possibility of emulating the sound of the human
voice is unique to the cello.
Protecting Veil was rst performed by
Steven Isserlis at the Proms in 1989. Like
many of Taveners works it reects his Russian
Orthodox faith.
It was inspired by the Orthodox feast of the
Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, which
commemorates the apparition of Mary the
Theotokus in the early 10th century at the
Blachernae Palace church in Constantinople
The work lasts around 45 minutes and is in
eight sections, each based on an icon in the life
of the Virgin Mary, to whom Tintern Abbey was
dedicated.
Its very challenging largely because
you have to sustain a high vocal line for such
extended periods of time. Even playing the
opening 10 bars is exhausting! said Kathryn.
One awesome section is where the
unaccompanied cello plays the Lament of the
Mother of God at the Cross. You can see what
Mary would have felt. It puts human emotions
back into the Godlike. The music conveys Her
words.
The nale of the Saturday concert is Taveners
Towards Silence, which is both a meditation
on the Four States of Being according to the
Vedanta, and at the same time a meditation
on the Four States of Dying Vaishnavara the
Waking State, Taijasa the Dream State, Prajna
the Condition of Deep Sleep and Tunja that
which is Beyond.
Visual artist John Clive has the daunting task
of creating abstract images on a computer that
interpret Taveners complex vision.
Towards Silence is a profound and
beautiful piece and hearing it performed in this
wonderfully sacred site will be an extraordinary
spiritual experience, he said.
My task is to try to distil that experience
respectful of Sir Johns music and the sacredness
of the location.
It is one of the most challenging projects I
have ever undertaken because I dont want my
contribution to deect from the composers
artistic intentions.
Ideally the aim is to augment the work yet
it doesnt really need augmentation. The images
need to be intrinsic to the music rather than
echoing it.
Its rather like trying to visualise meditation
itself. At the moment I feel I am building a bridge
across a river when the other bank is shrouded
in fog!
Its the rst time the work has been
illustrated in this way, using modern technology
to express very deep ideas. Ive spent months
studying the score and the sources behind it,
trying to nd the underlying geometry. Its like
trying to draw the genes of a tree rather than
the tree itself.
Its something I have been aspiring to in my
artistic career encouraging people to reect
rather than trying to stimulate or educate them.
Brittany artist Mick Abbott is also facing one
of his biggest challenges, in creating a series
Friday July 18 (8pm)
St Michaels Church
A Reection on Nature and
the Cosmos,
featuring poetry by award-winning Welsh poet
and author Grahame Davies and music for
solo voice, violin and choir commissioned from
Celia Harper, founder of Sulis music.
Saturday July 19 (from 7.30pm)
Tintern Abbey - works by Tavener,
Britten and Arvo
Part performed by the Welsh Chamber
Orchestra under conductor Anthony Hose
and Cantemus Chamber Choir under Huw
Williams, director of music at the Chapel
Royal.
Tickets for the Abbey event at 15 (early bird
12) are available online by googling Eventbrite
Tintern Sacred or Tintern Village Sacred.
Please take a folding chair and clothing suitable
for an outdoor event. Refreshments will be
available in the monks refectory prior to the
performance and during the interval.
Linked to festival:
Tuesday July 15,
The Rose and Crown -
Tintern Philosophy Circle debate
Is Nothing Sacred Anymore? led by
authors Peter Gandy and John Clarke.
of artworks for an exhibition at the Abbey entitled
Paradise and Other Places.
His starting point was the 17th century sculptures
known as calvaires depicting the life of Christ, which are
a familiar sight in northern France.
The sculptures are very expressive. The characters
depicted are usually wearing contemporary clothing
which equates to seeing a Shakespeare play today done
in modern dress.
Mick rst makes a drawing of the calvaire, then
photographs it, then transfers the image to an iPad
where he creates his own interpretation of the subject,
such as The Golden Calf, Flight Into Egypt, Seven Deadly
Sins.
The 40 panels Mick is creating will t together like a
concertina to make a shape that can be adapted for any
space.
In life you read things that have a profound impact
and I have used some of these words on the panels
Do not go quietly into the night, The only thing
necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do
nothing and so on.
While Tintern Abbey was the inspiration for the work
Mick hopes in the future to display it in churches around
the UK and France.
I saw this project as a great opportunity. It is such a
vast and open-ended subject but I think its some of
the best work I have ever done.
Pictures: Kathryn Price at
the abbey and panels by
artist Mick Abbott

A Monmouthshire
meander with Nigel Jarret
MyCountyLife
Fiona Weaver
with her horse
I
might be the only person in Britain
to have taken cover while walking
through a sculpture park, scarcely an
admission to endear me to Bear Grylls,
Ray Mears and others who can throttle a
meddlesome anaconda and make a tent
out of its skin.
It happened in the Grizedale Forest,
Cumbria, and Id been lulled by quirkiness
- a meandering but meaningless stone
wall by Andy Goldsworthy, a column
of stained glass sending forth rainbow
light - when I came across some boar
of the wild persuasion. They were in a
clearing near the path, rooting around or
looking my way and appearing about as
wild-boarish as could be.
In the Cubs, now an unreasonably
long time ago, Id been taught to hold my
ground when confronted by danger. This
works when cows start to frisk towards
me while Im meandering, or when Im
buttonholed by a late-
night drunk who thinks
my name is Jimmy.
But, having read about
the re-appearance of wild
boar and their tendency
to run teeth-bared at
interlopers, I decided
to hoof it. Five minutes
later and under cover,
I noticed that none of
the boar had moved. In
fact, their behaviour was
extremely unboarlike.
They turned out to be
made from leaves and
branches and were Exhibit
No. 22.
So as well as being probably the sole
UK person to have been fooled on
a sculpture trail, I could well hold the
record for lingering beside one of its
attractions. Those bosky boars were
amazing. I picnicked among them and
meditated on things porcine and artistic.
Theres a life-size sculpture of a horse
and jockey outside the entrance to
Chepstow Racecourse. Its made of tree
branches and Im tempted to photograph
it by going up close and framing it against
a nearby stand of oaks: the sculpture
leaping out of the thing from which it
was made; art emerging from nature, as
it were.
Call me cynical if you will, but Im
surprised that these perishable public
artefacts havent been nicked, set alight
or vandalized.
There are sculptors themselves who
torch their work, take a picture of the
conagration and exhibit the prints. They
probably get an Arts Council grant for it,
and good luck to them.
Artists by denition inhabit a different
region from ours. Thats because
they do something with our common
surroundings for which we have neither
talent nor inclination. So goodness knows
why we expect them to produce stuff
we can understand. If youre not dull, a
pickled shark in an art gallery should be
intriguing rather than silly or meaningless.
I therefore repair to
Wyndcliffe Court, an
Arts and Crafts country
house above St Arvans
with a garden designed
by Henry Avray Tipping
in the 1920s which is
a work of art in itself.
The house has been
commandeered by
sculptors whose work is
on show and for sale in
the grounds, some of it
whimsical, some sharply
serious.
I prefer abstract
sculpture to abstract
painting. The latter is usually incapable
of rising above mere illustration but
sculpture, especially out of doors and
defying all weathers, has a changeable
but enduring life. As long as its not
realistic and scary, Im prepared to run
my ngers across its surface. Anyway, I
learned my lesson at another time and in
another place. (That opening admission,
by the way, which makes me appear
slightly pathetic, is strictly private.)
www.NigelJarrett.wordpress.com
Who are you what do you do
and where in Monmouthshire do
you live?
My name is Fiona Weaver. I
am a graduate surveyor with
Hutchings & Thomas Chartered
Surveyors in Newport. I live in
Penhow.
What do you like most about
Monmouthshire?
I like the views of the countryside
from horseback, country life and
country pubs.
Where would you
recommend for an unforgettable
dining experience?
The Cripple Creek Inn just out
Raglan.
What is your favourite book
and why?
My favourite book at the
moment is Katie Jerram on
Showing because I nd it
entertaining and educating.
What do you tell friends about
Monmouthshire who have never
been here?
I tell them about the lovely
undulating countryside, good
restaurants and great country
pubs.
Who would be your ideal
companion on a trip around
Monmouthshire?
International and Olympic
equestrian event rider Sir Mark
Todd. Id love to show Sir Mark
around the county and to point
all our lovely countryside. Id
hope to pick up a few eventing
and dressage tips along the way
from the world famous New
Zealand horseman.
Favourite town in the county
and why?
Chepstow because it has a good
spread of individual shops, a
variety of restaurants and it
is home to the annual Welsh
National.
Favourite Monmouthshire
landmark which you think is a
must-see?
Sugar Loaf the views are
incredible from the top on a
sunny day.
If there is one thing missing
from the county, what would
it be?
I think Monmouthshire is missing
a beach!
What annual event in the
county is a must?
There are so many great
events in the county to choose
from, but I highly recommend
Chepstow Agricultural Show at
its new location for a great family
day out with various attractions
and plenty to see and buy.
Fiona Weaver, a graduate surveyor chats
to us about country pubs, horse riding
and the beach
Going places...
Theres a buzz out on the feld on a balmy
summers evening in May, as Folk Friday
at Devauden Music Festival cranks up to
welcome its headline act. And Will Loram
is there lapping up the atmosphere...
B
ehind the stage I am trying to quiz a
likely bunch of butties before they arm
themselves with their instruments and do
what they do best play damned good get-up-
and-dance songs that get an audience going.
Asking a sextet questions, means you get
a lot of answers. But through the crossre of
one-liners is a sense of it just being a bunch
of friends having fun. Having fun among
themselves; having fun at the festival; and having
fun with their music.
This is a band that is going places. You can
tell by the way people talk about them. Rusty
Shackle will get people dancing... one of the
crowd tell me. And obvious afciando, she was
tapping her foot in anticipation before they had
even got on the stage. You just watch. There
will be people singing along to the songs. And
they know all the words...
It sounds like they have more than a couple
of fans, and last year managed to sell out of
venues with over four weeks to spare.
At the moment the signicant places they
are going are: a tour of America including the
Wakarusa Music Festival; and Glastonbury on
the Avalon stage. And that is just for starters.
But back to the band, and where I was
standing with them, as they loitered seemly
jitters-free in the vicinity of their instruments.
After a couple of moments of hesitation Liam
Collins and Scott McKeon admit to being
leaders - sort of - of the band. It began with
them anyway, four years ago. Scott had Liam
got together and started playing and writing
songs together with a strong rootsy vibe, and
then others joined as they wanted to ll out the
sound, and the more they added, the better it
sounded, so they now stand at six in the group.
They are all part of a community of Caldicot
school friends or from the local music scene.
So now there are Baz (Mathew) Barwick,
, Owen Emanuel, Ryan Williams, and Scotts
brother James all aged between 20 and 30 -
joining Liam and Scott to handle the plethora of
instruments that include guitars, ddle, banjo,
bass, mandolin, trumpet and percussion. Oh
and Ryan sometimes squeezes in a bit of piano.
In the music business people like to give
labels, and ofcially Rusty Shackle are a folk
rock band, but they do not like to be tied
down. Liam was playing in a rock band before
Rusty Shackle, while Scott was in a foot-tapping
Folk Fusion outt called One String Loose. So
although they go under the general label of Folk
there are a lot of different inuences including
jazz, rock, and a bit of indie.
And as everyone likes to pigeonhole - to
make it easier to reference they
are often compared to Mumford
and Sons. But that is mainly because
Scott plays the banjo. Not being
posh boys like Mumford, but boyos
from the local comp, they prefer a
comparison to the Levellers.
Liam tells me later that one
of the big inuences was Bruce
Springteens Seeger Sessions album,
where the Boss goes digging for
blue colour music roots, but Rusty
Shackle seems to be open to all
ingredients when it comes to mixing
the gumbo, even sneaking in some
gospel style into some of the latest
tracks.
With each band member playing
two or three instruments in each
song, it is a big sound that they
produce, and usually at a roaring
pace.
Maybe because they are all
grounded in coming from the same
Caldicot community, there seems
to be a total lack of hubris in any
of the band members, which is
refreshing considering what they do
best is a look at me performance
of exuberance and enthusiasm that
unleashes like a mini hurricane into
the crowd . Offstage they are a
bunch of fun to be with, down to
earth group of guys, who it would
be great to sit down with in the pub
and jaw with for a couple of hours.
As they all hold down good
regular jobs, their success is really
just the cream on top of the
weekend hobby of playing together
for gigs and festivals.
Each year we have built on
the gigs and festivals, says Liam,
reeling off a string of places that
they played last year. At the end of
the summer I did not know how we
were going to top that, but here we
are going off to America, and then
to Glastonbury.
Its mental thats it actually
happened.
Well, not so mental actually. If
you look at the cold hard facts of
what they have done: their maiden
four track EP Hounds of Justice
reached the No. 2 spot in the
iTunes singer songwriter charts; in
2012 Rusty Shackle beat off the
competition at Cardiffs Big Gig
to win a performing slot at the
Olympic Torch Relay Concert; and
during 2013 the band played over
20 festivals all over the UK including
Cambridge Folk Festival and also
released their second studio album
The Bones which reached number
13 in the iTunes Singer Songwriter
Charts.
This years count is 26 gigs or
festivals, not including a couple
of last minute venues on their US
tour. And all that from the humble
beginnings of a slot in a charity
fundraiser at The Gate in Cardiff.
But this is Devauden Music Festival,
and this feels like home turf to
them. And with playing three
times before, it might turn into an
annual event like The Levellers with
Beautiful Days.
With minutes to go, they amble
up the steps at the back of the
stage, and plug in and tune up.
They settle, nod to each other. Liam
grabs the mic, and in the tap of
two beats they are transformed
into a dynamic group of music
makers picking the crowd up
in the surging wave of music to
sways, shakes, rattles, and rolls
along with all those other musical
inuences.
Check out Rusty Shackle at
www.rustyshackle.com or catch
them on FaceBook https://www.
facebook.com/RustyShackleUK
32
W
ell think again. You may not get the
rst two, but Caldicots very own
Border Urban Morris Side (BUMS)
has proved that Morris dancing can not only be
cool, but great fun as well.
Ok, we know all about the Morris dancing
image, which has been taking stick about its
bells and kerchiefs since the Goodies were
peddling their 1970s kipper humour. But this
Morris side has an eclectic mix of inuences
which takes it out of the ordinary and into the
extraordinary.
For a start, there is none of the gentle folksy
feel to their costume. It is more like something
from a Hollywood Halloween Fright Night
movie, rather than the ancient and rustic
eccentric get up. This is a fusion of the tradition
of the Border dancers blacking up their faces
so when they slipped across the border to
dance for a few extra pennies, their employers
would not recognise them and give the sack for
begging and the fact that the founder of this
Caldicot Morris side was an avid biker, and the
scary face menace goes with that territory.
And you have got to be cool when David
Hasselhoff was judging Britains Got Talent
in 2009 declared: Ive seen Morris dancing
before, but I have never seen anything like this
before when the BUMS got their 15 minutes
of TV fame when BGT was still king of the TV
talent competitions.
And then performing at Glastonbury for
three years in a row. Now that is pretty cool.
So what is it about the BUMS which is so
entertaining, and what makes this sort of take
on Morris dancing such fun to do?
For a start off there is the look. It is like a
Halloween fancy dress party for all the family
because the age ranges from young children to
the almost middle aged.
To start with, top hats are decorated with
feathers, and the face is painted in a black and
white in sinister and not so sinister fashions,
with regulation cool sunglasses optional.
Working down, the rags waistcoat jacket
which creates such a stunning spectacle as
they whirl and clash in their dances, is a touch
of urban grit to the uniform of what is still a
traditional country dance, even if it sometimes
looks like a British martial art the way some of
the BUMS wield their sticks.
To nd out about the BUMS I was invited
along to the 16th birthday party of Aiden
Huntley, who tasted his rst Glastonbury as
a 13-year-old performer now thats quite
something for a boy that age.
Dressed in all their regalia, the 15 dancers
strut their stuff to the musical accompaniment
of guitar, ddle, mandolin and percussion,
before the cake is pulled out. It is difcult to
know where the BUMS Morris side ends and
Aidens nearest and dearest begins, as what
stands out is the feeling of belonging to a large
extended family.
There are a huge variety of reasons some
of our members join, but what they have in
Fancy a dance?
There are some things that you never expect to happen, like England winning
the football World Cup; Wales trouncing the All Blacks with a 40 plus score
line; or Morris dancing being cool as Will Loram fnds out...
33
common is that they were usually asked by someone
in the group and eventually the time was right and they
agreed to join, says Dikka Cram, a post ofce worker
and musican in the side.
There are no age limits in our group but of course it
would be hard to teach a two-year-old. The youngest we
have had was eight. Anyone can join. At the moment we
have a mother and her two children (aged 15 and seven),
ve people in their 40s, three in their early 20s (one
is my son, two are his best friends who he talked into
joining). And about half were already celtic musicians.
Although Caldicot based, some BUMS travel from
Risca and Newport for the Sunday afternoon practice
sessions.
Morris dancing may have its roots in a pre-Christian
English countryside, or it may have had its origins in
travelling troupes of North Africa Moorish dancers,
but at the end of the 19th century it almost died out
completely, with only four sides remaining. But in the
early 1900s rst the music and then the dances were
recorded for prosperity. However, it was only in the era
of the Beatles and Rolling Stones riding the fast train to
modernity, that Morris dancing really found its revival.
And since then a distinct Borders Morris tradition has
evolved involving big bands and plenty of whooping and
stick hitting.
The Gaffer, 44-year-old Tommy Price from Risca,
likes the stick part. The sticks have to be hazel for a
good, proper sound, and he sees their dances as a war
dance equivalent to the Mauri haka.
If it was all hankies I would not do it, he says.
His role is to organise the dancers like a sergeant-
major on a parade ground. All in a very friendly way.
And his skill at this organisation was very apparent when
they danced at the Devauden Music Festival, where as
usual, after dancing for entertainment of the crowd, they
then grabbed volunteers who then joined in the fun,
learning how to dance Border Morris style.
As well as the dancing, the other half of Morris dance
is the music, and although ofcially the Stickman the
person who looks after the all important sticks celtic
music teacher Donald Stewart leads the band, and
at performances introduces the dances with an easy
humour. For him part of the attraction is the reaching
back through the mists of time into some pretty primal
traditions.
When asked what relevance does Morris dancing have
today? He replied: No relevance whatsoever, which
does make it a bit cool. Then the music starts, the drum
bangs, the dance begins and [with us at least] we tap into
some very old, even primal energy of this island. That is
very cool.
If you are interested in having fun, dancing, or
making music with The BUMS contact Dikka at
bumsmorris@gmail.com or nd them on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-BUMs-The-
Border-Urban-Morris-Side/211179202269049
35
36
Wild about painting
Christine Dadd is rapidly making a name for herself in the art world
with her stunning oil paintings of wildlife, as Annabel Hughes
discovers...
B
ut in her home town of Chepstow,
for the moment at least, shes
still best known as the lady who
works in the framing shop near the
Co-op!
Cheerful and thoroughly down to
earth, Christine is still coming to terms
with the fact that her lifelong passion
for painting is nally developing into a
full-time career. Her big breakthrough
came last year when she was chosen
as a nalist from thousands of entries
in the annual David Shepherd Wildlife
Artist of the Year Competition and
her painting of a python regis was
hung in the prestigious Mall Galleries
in London SW1. She is now looking
forward to launching her rst solo
exhibition Summer on Safari at
Craft Renaissance Gallery, Kemeys
Commander near Usk (which will run
from July 12 to September 9).
Gallery owner Helen Mitchell says: I
love the way Christines paintings focus
on patterns and textures - the stripes of
a zebra, the scales of a snake or on a
single feature, like the eye.
Shes a very talented artist but
very unassuming too. Im really keen
to introduce her work to a wider
audience.
Christines story is an inspiration for
anyone who believes the old adage that
life begins at forty
From as far back as I can remember
I liked painting and drawing, but I
left school at 16 and got my rst job
looking after lab rats in the lung disease
research unit at Llandough Hospital,
she said.
After that, because Ive always
loved horses too, I worked at
the Atlantic Arabian Stud Farm in
Monmouthshire, which is where I
bought my rst Section A pony.
Christine married husband Roger when
she was 22 and gave up work for a
while to bring up her children.
Her daughter Victoria is now 32 and
living in New Zealand, her son Philip is
30 and lives in Gloucester with his wife
and three year old daughter Abigail.
We moved from Cardiff to
Oswestry when the children were quite
Christine Dadd with some of her
work and below, at work at Artists
Corner in Chepstow, where she also
has studio space
young and I picked up painting and drawing again as a hobby subjects like
houses, cars, trucks, planes, horses, pets, anything that I was asked to do.
Then in 1999 we came to Chepstow. My husband thought I needed to
get out and meet people and one day he came home with a newspaper ad
for student courses at the Royal Forest of Dean College.
One of them was a 12-month, full time course in visual arts and he
pushed me into applying.
I had a fantastic time there then went on to study for three years at
Pittville Art College in Cheltenham.
It was hard work but really rewarding. I loved the art history side of it
although, because Im dyslexic, my husband had to help me with my essays
and my dissertation.
37
I tried ceramics and really enjoyed that
too but I decided to concentrate on the
painting side. Life classes taught me a lot
about painting animals about muscles,
and bone structure.
I was 40 when I rst became a student
and 44 by the time I graduated with my
BA Hons. The whole experience really
boosted my self-condence.
At the nal exam exhibition I sold a
big painting of zebras in ve minutes - for
more money than I was asking. There
were big celebrations that night!
Ive always loved painting wildlife but
the style I have now came from college.
Id describe it as realistic, but not photo-
realistic. I have an idea in my mind what
I am after when I take my photographs
of an animal. I like to focus on part of the
animal or on shapes and textures.
My paintings started small and just got
bigger and bigger. I enjoy the freedom of
a large panting but Im thinking of making
them smaller again so that theyll t more
easily into someones house!
Weve travelled to all kinds of places
the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya, a
crocodile farm in Florida, Fraser Island in
Australia where whales came right up to
the side of the boat.
In India I waited three weeks to see
a tiger. The guide told us not just to look
ahead of the truck, but to look behind and
to the side too and one day, as I looked
to the side, I saw a tiger walking towards
us. She was really magnicent - so sleek
and t. She didnt take any notice of us;
she just walked past and allowed us to
follow her for a while along the track. Its
an experience Ill never forget.
Friends also provide Christine with
her subjects. She painted a gorilla, for
example, from a photograph taken by a
friend on a trip to Rwanda.
After leaving college Christine was
commissioned to do a painting of the
wreckage of a Second World War plane
that had crashed in the Forest of Dean.
That work now hangs in the Speech
House.
She then got a job at Castle Galleries
in Bristol selling paintings and prints and
went on to manage one of the companys
galleries in Cardiff.
I kept thinking I ought to start painting
again. Then nine years ago, I got a part-
time job at Artists Corner in Chepstow,
selling art materials and measuring
paintings and prints for framing, and it
gave me the chance to paint at home
in my spare time. When the business
moved to the top of the town two and a
half years ago the opportunity came up
for me to share the space with the framer,
Steve. So we are now Artists Corner and
On Canvas.
It means I have somewhere to paint
and to exhibit my work - but I also help
out in the framing shop whenever Im
needed. Its a great arrangement for me.
Christine is still amazed by her success
in the David Shepherd competition. I
entered two paintings of a tiger and one
of a snake. I didnt hear anything for ages
then had a call to say the snake had been
selected to hang at The Mall Galleries. I
couldnt believe it.
At the time of writing she was waiting
to hear if her entries in this years
competition - including one of a Samba
deer had been shortlisted. Meanwhile
she has been producing new work for her
exhibition at Craft Renaissance. At some
point in the future she says shed love to
give a helping hand to young people with a
talent for art giving talks at schools and
possibly exhibiting some of their work at
On Canvas.
Christine may be living proof that its
never too late to pursue your dreams
but, then again, its never too early
either
F
rom July 19 to 26, St Davids Hall takes on a carnival
atmosphere and during that time music making seems
to occupy every space, even bursting out onto the streets.
The variety of music ranges from folk, jazz and childrens
concerts through to the evening concerts which form the hub
of the Welsh Proms.
MCL has teamed up with St Davids Hall to offer one
lucky reader two tickets to the fantastic Romantic Prom on
Wednesday July 23, at 7.30pm.
One-time wunderkind and passionate advocate of the
violin, Chlo Hanslip brings a special Slavic intensity and
depth to the heart-felt lyricism of Tchaikovksys Violin
Concerto, heard next to the wind-swept and tempestuous
drama of Dvoks Seventh Symphony and the sheer joyful
energy of Smetana. Conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes
OBE. Join us for an evening of high octane Russian and Czech
romantic music.
To be in with a chance to win just answer this simple
question: How many years has the Welsh Proms been
running for?
Countycomps
This summer for the 31st year
running, Cardi city centre will once
again be flled with music...
Win 2 tickets to
the Welsh Proms
Send your answer, along with your
name, address and telephone
number to: MCL/Proms competition,
Monmouthshire County Life magazine,
Cardiff Road, Maesglas, Newport NP20
3QN.
Closing date is July 15, 2014. The
winner will be notified and usual
Newsquest rules apply.
E
very year, thousands of overseas students are educated at
independent schools across the UK. When their school closes for
half term holidays and exeat weekends throughout the year, they
need a great host family who will provide a home away from home.
Pippas Guardians has been providing high quality guardianship
services to international students for more than 15 years. A family-run
company, they understand the value of a good home and how a host
family can positively impact on a students wellbeing.
Pippas Guardians know their students well and match them with
well-suited families.
As well as receiving a generous payment, there are many other
advantages in being a host family.
It is a great opportunity to introduce your family to other cultures
and languages. Sharing your traditions and family life with an overseas
student and knowing that you are helping them during their time in
the UK is very gratifying. Long term friendships often develop and
many host families keep in touch with the students and their families
once they are back home.
A HOME
FROM HOME
Welcoming an overseas student
into your home can be a very
rewarding experience and long
term friendships ofen develop...
41
O
rganisers have a long held wish to
exceed the 100-entry mark and if things
continue as they are at present then that
aim could very well be reached.
And it could be thanks to a otilla of rafts
entered into the 2014 event from a single
employer which may help to smash the entry
record.
Logistics rm DHL has entered a couple of
rafts in the race in previous years but this year
will eld no less than 20 crafts on the river.
The Monmouth Raft Race, staged by The
Rotary Club of Monmouth and sponsored by
Mandarin Stone, Basepoint as well as DHL,
raises funds for St Davids Hospice Care and
other local charities.
It is now well on target to be bigger and
better than ever when it is held on Sunday,
September 7.
Norman Williams, of Monmouth Rotary
Club, said: The 20 rafts from DHL is certainly
the biggest entry by a single employer since
Monmouth Rotary Club have been running
the event, which is over the past 11 years and
I would think, probably the most ever. We
occasionally get three entries from a single
employer but nothing more.
Already some 52 crews have entered,
including the 20 from DHL. This is a fantastic
effort from DHL. The rm is encouraging their
depots around the country to enter a raft this
time so we may well have even more entries
from DHL.
We had 72 rafts at last years event and
more than 25,000 was raised for charity. This
year it is hoped that we will be able to break the
magic 100 mark of rafts taking part which will
allow us to raise even more money for charity.
The event sees crews build their own rafts
manned by between four and 10 people.
Norman said: Although its called a raft
race, most crews treat it as a fun afternoon
on the river with their friends. Many entrants
persuade their employers or local pub to enter
a raft on their behalf. Its a great publicity
opportunity and building a raft is a good team
building exercise.
But is there a limit to the number of rafts
which can be accommodated for the raft race
and if there is whats that number?
Norman said: It isnt a question of how
many rafts the river can take. Its limitless. Its
more of a question how many we can handle
at the start and nish, in terms of vehicle
movements, off loading and scrutineering
rafts, getting rafts in and out of the water and
minimising congestion around the nish. Again
vehicle movements become critical at the nish.
Im comfortable with 100 rafts, but would
start to get anxious once we pass 120. So
perhaps thats the limit for this year.
So the message would appear to be if youre
thinking on entering and havent done so yet,
get your skates on as you wouldnt want to miss
out if the cut off number is reached.
Kris Broome, of St Davids Hospice Care,
said: There is nothing else quite like the
Monmouth Raft Race for its fun, spectacle,
inventiveness and the creativity of the entrants
and their crafts. The event is a major fund
raiser for St Davids Hospice Care and were
extremely grateful to sponsors, entrants and to
Monmouth Rotary Club, for all that they do to
ensure it is a success year after year.
The raft race starts from the steps of
Monmouth Rowing Club and nishes 6.5 miles
downriver at Tump Farm in Whitebrook, where
there is a family festival with food, live music,
childrens fairground and a bar.
The main band at the nish in Whitebrook is
Tywsted River with Chepstow group illeagle as
support. Timing will be electronic with results
available online as the afternoon progresses.
System supplied by Module IT. Organisers are
planning to use a Twitter hashtag feature which
will enable spectators to upload pictures to be
displayed throughout the afternoon. There may
even be live video online from The Boat.
Entry costs just 75 per raft including
a commitment to raise a minimum of
100 per raft in sponsorship. Online
entries can be submitted by visiting www.
monmouthraftrace.com or download an
entry form from the same web page and post
the entry to the address given or call raft race
secretary, Rotarian David Forbes on 01600
712665 or Kris Broome at St Davids Hospice
Care on 01633 851051.
Raf race looks
set to beat record
The 49th staging of The Rotary Club of Monmouth
Raf Race 2014 looks set to break all records.
Top: Rafts of all shapes and sizes take part in this fun
event
Above: illeagle, who will be performing at the nsih
42
EAT
MONM OUT HSHIRE
10 pages of recipes
and news from
around the county
THE FORMER executive
head chef of the Crown
at Whitebrook, James
Sommerin, has opened
his new restaurant at The
Esplanade in Penarth.
The restaurant, called
Restaurant James Sommerin,
seats 70 diners, including a
private dining room which
seats 12 and a special chefs
table for two to four diners.
Chef James, who helped
the Crown at Whitebrook
win a Michelin Star which
it retained for seven years
while he was in charge,
and his wife Louise have
cultivated an environment
at the new establishement
with breathtaking panoramic
views over the Severn Estuary
and an open-plan kitchen
arrangement which allows
diners a behind-the-scenes
view of the action.
The restaurant itself is an
elegant, yet down-to-earth
dining space and is James
dream location.
Its redevelopment has
been carried out with a
huge degree of integrity and
respect for the buildings
original character, retaining
and enhancing many of its
original features.
James
takes the
plunge
with new
venture
PIONEERING
CHEFS FACE
BANQUET
CHALLENGE
A MONMOUTHSHIRE butcher has
become the only accredited Master
Butcher in Wales. Adrian Walker
owns Golden Valley Meat and
Game Ltd in Grosmont and earned
the highest accolade possible for a
butcher earlier this year.
A spokeswoman for the Meat
Training Council confirmed Mr
Walker is the only Wales-based
butcher to have been given the
award.
Mr Walker, who has been
running his small family butcher
business since 1988, said: I started
my butchery career working as a
Saturday boy on the front counter
in a local butchers shop.
When I was 18 I started
working as a senior butcher in a
well-known supermarket and a year
later I opened my own business.
To win the accreditation Mr
Walker had to provide a CV and
complete a portfolio illustrating
his knowledge and experience.
He was moderated by the Meat
Training Council and then a more
detailed assessment was made of
my portfolio and premises.
Mr Walker hopes the award will
provide support for young, local
butchers with their training.
MONMOUTHSHIRE
MAN IS ONLY MASTER
BUTCHER IN WALES
A
chef from St Josephs Hospital in
Newport is among 14 senior chefs
from across Wales preparing for a
high-pressure nal challenge to complete a
pioneering qualication.
Pascal Merril will join three chefs from the
Celtic Manor Resort and the 10 others in their
bid to be the rst chefs in the UK to complete
the Higher Apprenticeship for Chefs, a higher-
level qualication which demonstrates their
craft skills and knowledge.
For their nal assessment, the chefs must plan,
prepare and cook a banquet for 112 people
at the International Festival of Business 2014
in Liverpool on two consecutive nights in July
under the watchful eye of expert judges.
The dinners will be ofcially hosted and judged
by the Culinary Association of Wales, The
Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, The Craft
Guild of Chefs, The British Culinary Federation,
The Masterchefs of Great Britain and The
Federation of Chefs Scotland.
Developed by People 1st Cymru, supported
by The European Social Fund and the Welsh
Government, the Higher Apprenticeship has
been piloted and tested by Cambrian Training
Company with chefs across Wales.
Veronica Burt, project manager at People 1st
Cymru, said: Our research has identied the
need for a new career pathway for chefs at
senior level. This exciting new qualication will
play a key role in developing the recognising
high level craft skills of chefs across Wales and
help enhance the our tourism offer as a nation.
I would like to formally congratulate our
14 nalists on becoming the rst chefs to
undertake the qualication, not just in Wales
but across the entire UK!
B
ryan Webb, Michelin star chef at Tyddyn Llan
restaurant with rooms in Denbighshire, has
been joined by acclaimed chef Ian Bennett the
pair have been friends and colleagues for more than
30 years.
Now the culinary craftsmen will join forces on
a permanent basis as Ian joins Bryan, who is also a
Masterchefs Fellow, in the award-winning kitchen at
Tyddyn Llan.
Bryan, who trained at the Crown at Whitebrook
in Monmouthshire, and Ian, who has previously
worked at The Walnut Tree, near Abergavenny,
forged a rm friendship when they worked together
in Colin Pressdees renowned Swansea restaurant,
The Drangway, in the 1980s.
Ian then worked at Bryans London
establishments, before setting up his own successful
restaurant, The Welcome to Town, in Llanrhidian
on Gower.
Tyddyn Llan offers a wide range of menu choices
from a bargain two-course lunch at only 21.00
through to a full blow-out nine-course tasting
menu. a nine-course tasting menu and a three-
course dinner menu with a wide range of seasonal
dishes such as: sewin, lobster, crab, wild bass with
laverbread, new seasons spring lamb, local Welsh
black beef and ducks from Goosnargh.
Friends reunite in the kitchen
43
EAT
MONM OUT HSHIRE 10 pages of recipes
and news from
around the county
SUPPORTING OUR
FOOD PRODUCERS
1. Salad servers. 12. www.oliverbonas.com
2. Oil and vinegar bottles. 23.50. www.scandinavianshop.co.uk
3. Nautical stripe salad servers. 17.95. www.coastalhome.co.uk
4. Bamboo bowl. 8.50. www.oliverbonas.com
5. Oil and vinegar lab set. 20.95. www.presentindicative.com
Salad
days
2
5
1
3
4
46
Lets eat
SUPPORTING OUR
FOOD PRODUCERS
EAT
MONM OUT HSHIRE


Clytha Estate
Wood Pigeon,
Beetroot, Hazelnut,
Wild Mushroom
Michael Hendry is head chef at Llansantffraed Court Hotel,
near Abergavenny. He was previously sous chef at the Crown
at Whitebrook when it held a Michelin star and he has built up
a wealth of experience in ne dining. He is passionate about
using local produce, including from the hotels own large kitchen
garden. Since taking over the kitchen at Llansantffraed Court,
the restaurant won Best Small Place to Eat in the 2013 National
Tourism Awards for Wales.
Matched Wine France,
Guy Allion, Les Parcs,
Pinot Noir, 2011
INGREDIENTS
8 pigeon breasts
16 baby beetroot (cooked)
100g forest Blewitt
mushrooms
100g Pied de Mouton
mushroom
100g butter
5 large beetroot
50g sugar
50g roasted crushed
hazelnuts
1 parsnip
550ml chicken stock/50ml
sherry vinegar
For beetroot pure:
Peel and chop the
beetroot into even
segments
Cook until tender in
water and then drain
Fry 50g of shallots in
a little oil and add the
cooked beetroot
Add 500ml of chicken
stock and 50g of sugar
Reduce until all stock
has almost evaporated
Add 50ml of good
sherry vinegar and blitz
mixture in processor
Chefs tip: Put puree in
a squeezy bottle to make
neat designs on the plate
For pigeon breast:
Season breasts with
salt and pepper and finely
chopped rosemary and
thyme
Seal in a vacuum pac
bag and cook at 62C for
5 minutes
Take out and rest for 15
minutes in a warm place,
then pan fry in a hot pan
for 1 minute each side,
again leave to rest
For mushrooms:
Saut in a little oil, until
each side is coloured, then
finish with some butter and
seasoning
For parsnip crisps:
Peel parsnips and
discard outer skin
Use the peeler to make
fine strips of parsnip
Deep fry the parsnip
strips in hot oil (160C)
until golden brown
For beetroot:
Heat baby beetroots
gently in 50ml of chicken
stock and add 50g of
butter
To assemble:
Dress plates with some
of the beetroot puree
Sprinkle some of the
crushed hazelnuts on each
plate
Arrange the mushroom,
parsnip crisps and beetroot
on the plate
Place pigeon breasts
(cut in half, lengthways)
attractively on the plate
Sprinkle some foraged
leaves on the plate to
garnish
Summer treats
By Hannah Freeman
M
onmouthshire in summertime is
magical. The greenhouse is lling
daily. The tomato plants are begging for
their stakes and the wild strawberries
which sit at the base of the roses have
owered, the tiny berries turning from
their spring green to their summer red.
In the lanes about the farmhouse the
elderowers are draping themselves
elegantly about the hedgerows; we pick
these and infuse them with sugar and
water, reducing the nal mixture to a
syrup which is wonderful topped with
local zz or sparking water and plenty
of ice for the children.
Summer is a time for snatched
barbecues before the heavens open. We
enjoy local lamb marinated in rosemary
and olive oil, barbecued unil the exterior
is a caramelised brown and the centre
moist and pink, a handful of summer
leaves make for a simple feast.
Village fete season is also upon us, full
of homemade cakes, jams and preserves
these are often lled with hidden, yet
tasty delights.
Ideal for summer fetes and al fresco
lunches Eton Mess is a perfect summer
pudding - good quality shop bought
meringue is always permissible - carefully
fold a little elderower cordial into
whipped cream and layer with fresh
sliced strawberries and meringue,
garnish with a little mint and leave for
the avours to meld and the meringue
to soften slightly in the fridge. Also try
a few sardines or mackerel wrapped
in fragrant herbs and tied with string
and brown paper, a little package for
the barbecue which captures summer
perfectly.
In season: strawberries, raspberries,
watercress, French beans, mackerel,
tomatoes and sardines
Why not dine at: The Star Inn at
Llansoy, dedicated to local sourced
products this pub practically overlooks
the county and provides a varied menu
including traditional favourites such as
liver and bacon to more classical dishes -
Scallops St Jacques and Duck breast with
pommes anna, chou vert and a cherry
balsamic. Sunday lunch comes highly
recommended. The Star is also family
friendly with a play area to keep the little
ones quiet. 01600 650256
Why not try: Mon Teas, Monnow
Street. A hidden gem of a shop, well
stocked with more than 100 teas, all the
classic favourites as well as more unusual
offerings and also a chance to pick up
a new pot or infuser. As a nation of tea
drinkers, a shop dedicated solely to tea
is a very welcome addition to the high
street. monteas.co.uk
Why not visit: Abergavenny
farmers market. Held on the fourth
Thursday in the month 9.30am to
2pm in the beautiful market hall
its packed with passionate foodies
offering a little taste of Abergavennys
rm culinary credentials. 01873
860271
47
Brecon Lamb
Loin and Breast,
Artichokes,
Samphire
Assiette Of
Lemon and
Rhubarb
Matched Wine South
Africa, Ladybird,
Cabernet Sauvignon,
Cabernet Franc, Merlot,
2011
1 lamb loin (150g each)
2 lamb breasts
300ml milk
10 Jerusalem artichokes
4 globe artichokes
100g crosnes
100g samphire grass
For the lamb loin:
Prepare and chop
segments of the lamb loin
( make sure no skin is left
on the outside and that
the fat is trimmed neatly)
Put lamb in vacuum
bags with some rosemary
and a garlic clove
Seal and cook for 18
minutes at 63C
For artichoke puree:
Peel six Jerusalem
artichokes and chop
evenly
Put the chopped
artichokes in a pan with
300ml of milk
Cook until soft, then
blitz in a processor and
season
For artichokes:
For the globes, peel
outer leaves off with small
knife and then peel the
outer stem off with a
peeler. Immediately put in
to lemon juice and cook
in salted water until soft
(around 7 minutes)
Chefs tip: Lemon juice
stops the artichokes from
turning brown
Jerusalems: Peel the
remaining artichokes and
cook in salted water with
lemon juice made with
one lemon
For lamb breast:
Trim any excess fat off
the lamb breasts
Seal breasts in vacuum
bags with 1 clove of
chopped garlic and 2
sprigs of rosemary
Cook for 12 hours at
72C
To assemble:
In a hot pan, place the
lamb loin, fat side down,
and gently render the fat
until crisp and golden,
then gently fry the lamb
until brown on all sides
In a separate pan,
gently heat the lamb
breast until golden on all
sides
In another pan heat the
artichokes and crosnes
until lightly caramelised on
all sides, add the chicken
stock and butter to glaze
Add the samphire to
the mixture and cook for
3 minutes
Put some of the puree
on a plate, then arrange
the carved lamb breast,
artichokes, samphire and
top with lamb loin
Finish with some jus
and some artichoke crisps

Matched Wine
Chile, Late
Harvested, Sauvignon
Blanc, 2011
9 eggs
5 lemons (juice and
zest)
340ml cream
300g sugar
100g mascarpone
1 vanilla pod
100g icing sugar
400g rhubarb
250g stock syrup
1 25ml shot grenadine
For lemon custard:
Whip the eggs and
sugar together
Add the lemons and
cream
Put mixture into
lined moulds and cook
at 120C for 12-15
minutes or until set
Chill moulds in
fridge until ready to eat
For mascarpone
cream:
Mix mascarpone/
vanilla and icing sugar
together until smooth
For poached rhubarb
Wash and peel 150g
rhubarb
Cut the rhubarb into
pieces
Add 100ml of syrup
stock and one shot of
grenadine and poach
the rhubarb until soft
Chefs tip: Cooking
rhubarb with some
grenadine keeps the
rhubarb nice and pink
For rhubarb sorbet:
Put 250g rhubarb
and 250g stock syrup
in a Paco jet tin and
freeze for 24 hours
Churn when
required
To assemble:
Squeeze some of
the mascarpone cream
onto the plate
Cut a ring of lemon
tart and place on top
of the mascarpone
Arrange some of the
rhubarb pieces on top
of the lemon tart
Garnish dish with
the rhubarb sorbet
T
wenty3 bar and lounge are
located above Superdrug in
Chepstow town centre, where
once inside you will nd a
modern, airy space with the added
advantage of a superb rooftop sun
terrace.
The venue is making a name
for itself as a quality cafe/cocktail
bar serving excellent meals from
breakfast through to dinner, the
best freshly made cocktails, quality
wine and Champagnes as well as a
good selection of beers, lagers and
soft drinks.
On Sunday, why not pop along
for a barbeque on the terrace with
prices from 4.95 for a main with
two sides from chef Michael, who
produces weekly specials including
his Jerk Chicken and Spicy Rice.
Twenty3 bar and lounge is open
to all until 7pm Tuesday to Sunday,
after which it is over 18s.
every other Friday there is live
music with Open Mic nights on the
last Friday of the month.
There is also a resident DJ on
Saturday nights, who plays the
very best of the 80s, 90s, 00s and
current chart until 2am.
Food is served Tuesday to Friday
10am to 9pm; Saturday 10am to
8pm and Sunday 1pm to 8pm.
The venue is also available for
hire for private parties or you
could just book and area for food
and drinks pacages.
CHEPSTOWS
HIDDEN SECRET
49
U
pon arrival, I began to
realise why he hadnt
heard of it. The restaurant is
tucked away in small street and
has an exterior that looks more
country cottage than curry
house.
I liked its look. The Mango
House is inviting inside and
out. The interior has stone
arches and a wooden staircase;
it is the sort of setting that
would be welcoming on a cold
evening.
We sat in the waiting area
with the menus while our
table was dressed. Opening
the menu, I was pleasantly
surprised to see an entire
page dedicated to vegetarian
specials.
When we were shown
to our table we quickly
ordered a selection of dips and
poppadoms as is always a must
whenever we visit an Indian
restaurant.
If the quality of dips is any
indication of a good curry
house then The Mango House
receives top marks. The dips
were hot (naga chilli mix
pickle being the hottest) and
wonderfully fresh tasting. The
yogurt dip was so flavoursome
we played a game of guess
the ingredients (garlic, mint,
lime, chickpeas, coriander
we deduced). The poppadoms
were also very flavoursome and
seeded.
Due to the excellent
selection of veggie dishes,
devout meat-eater Tom joined
us vegetarians and ordered
one.
Tom went for the Vegetable
Handi with garlic rice, fianc
had the Sobzi Methi with
almond rice and I decided on
the Balti Dall with potatoes and
kidney bean rice.
The boys both ordered
an aloo coriander naan to
accompany the meal. I did not,
remembering that every time I
go for a curry I end up taking
half of it home in a doggy bag
thanks to overly stuffing myself
with naan. Tom told me the
trick is to pile all the curry on
the naan and that way it goes
soft and its less filling. Im not
sure I agree.
When food came, both
fianc and me spent a good
minute staring longingly at
Toms dish, the mere smell of
the rice was enough to make
our mouths water. I had to
taste some. The rice was rich
and garlicy, his curry tasty but
not too hot.
By the end of the meal we
all agreed The Mango House
is the place to go if you are in
need of home-style cooked
curries. The dishes taste fresh
and comforting, the service is
friendly and welcoming.
Top marks from me even if
I still had to take some of my
Balti Dall home with me in a
doggy bag.
MH
The Mango
House, Magor
S
ituated in the heart of
Abergavenny, the Kings
Arms Hotel (Kings Arms)
promises something for
everyone.
Upon entering I was greeted
by the sight of wooden tables
and chairs with centerpieces
of fresh roses and walls dotted
with rustic artwork. It definitely
felt like home unpretentious,
warm and inviting. If you like to
eat your lunch in peace, this is
the pub for you.
Looking at the menu, I was
pleased to see a vast array of
dishes from light lunches and
starters to main courses and
sandwiches there was plenty
to choose from, and it took me
a while to do so.
It was refreshing to see
interesting additions to a classic
pub menu, and although I love
a hearty pie with chips, theres
something exciting about trying
new things especially when it
comes to food.
So, I opted for the Wye
valley asparagus, soft boiled
duck egg and toasted soldiers.
I had, that week, in fact, tried
to make egg and soldiers and
failed quite miserably. I cooked
the egg for too long and ended
up mashing the boiled egg on
soggy toast. It was a very sad
affair, indeed.
The Kings Arms version,
however, was off the scale. It
arrived in less than ten minutes,
and, presented like a work of
art, looked incredible.
Everything was cooked to
perfection and drizzled with
a citrusy, perfectly seasoned
dressing. I tried the asparagus
first, and having previously
been a little skeptical about this
vegetable, I finally understood
what all the fuss was about.
It was decadent; melt in the
mouth and full of that summer
flavour. It was then that I had
a food epiphany (yes, thats a
thing). I realized that to make
an otherwise (seemingly)
plain green vegetable truly
special, it needs the right
accompaniments. The Kings
Arms changed my mind about
asparagus, and, dipping it into
a duck egg oozing gold, I had
never been more content.
Perfectly light, yet filling enough
to keep me going until the
evenings barbecue!
NW
The Kings Arms
Hotel, Abergavenny
When good food is ofered right on your
doorstep, you really cant go wrong.
My friend Tom loves a curry - he is
the go-to guy for Indian restaurant
recommendations - so when I suggested he
join the fanc and me to visit The Mango
House in Magor I was surprised to fnd he
had not heard of it.
51
T
his four star AA-rated hotel is set in
about seven acres of delightfully rustic
grounds, verdant with grass and dotted
with clusters of trees surprising given
its location on the edge of an industrial
estate. You could be forgiven for thinking
you were somewhere much more rural.
The gardens come complete with a
patio area with ample seating, outdoor
chess, and a petanque court, as well as
two charming gazebos and a love seat
suspended from the bough of a tree,
ideal for wedding photos.
Inside, the hotel, which was built in
the early 1980s and following a number
of cosmetic updates still retains a sort of
old world charm, boasts an expansive
open-plan lounge/lobby area with
comfortable chairs and sofas, a well-
stocked bar and a grand piano.
The reception staff were speedy and
attentive, and within minutes we were
ushered to our room.
We were staying in the Caldey Suite.
The room was large and tastefully
decorated in cream and gold, with floral
touches. There were hot drink-making
facilities (with Paned Gymreig teabags
and coffee sachets, which I thought was
a nice touch), an iPod dock and a large,
flat-screen TV and DVD player with a
thoughtful selection of films to watch. A
queen-size bed replete with fluffy pillows
and cushions made the perfect spot to
park our bags as we prepared for dinner.
Downstairs in the bustling Ravellos
restaurant, we were greeted warmly
by duty manager Tim and taken to our
table by an efficient young waiter who
remained attentive throughout our meal.
An appetizer came in the form of a rich,
bite-sized portion of smoky chicken liver
pt served on a crunchy disk of bread
with fresh tomato and cucumber.
To start, I chose king prawn ravioli
with a lobster and chilli bisque and lobster
aioli, while my partner opted for confit
chicken and pistachio terrine, pear puree
and pickled ribbon vegetables. My ravioli
was well-cooked and tender, bursting
with flavours of sea and complemented
by the piquant bisque. The terrine was
perfectly light with a strong flavour of
pistachio tempered by sweet pear and
tart vegetables.
I was unable to resist the Parkway
steak and chips for the main. The meat
was medium-rare, as requested, with
decent chips, sweet, juicy confit tomatoes
and Welsh beer-battered onion rings,
which were delicious, though a little
greasy. My partners chicken breast was
well cooked and served with earthy black
pudding and creamy leeks.
Dessert was a delectably sweet
treacle and Welsh honey tart with Welsh
Gold honeycomb ice cream for me,
apple and butterscotch brle for her.
We rounded off our meal with coffee
in the lounge. Live music and dancing
around the piano kept a contingent of
elderly guests entertained. Well fed and
drowsy, my partner and I retired to our
suite.
The bed was supremely comfortable
but the room became quite hot and
stuffy, and opening the window made
us party to a loud flock of squabbling
birds. Apart from that, the room was
very quiet.
The following morning we were
given a tour of the hotel and grounds
by Tim and his colleague Nichola. We
were shown around six conference
rooms which, through the clever use
of moving walls, can be partitioned off
into various combinations of size and
shape to accommodate groups for any
occasion. A cosy Dragons Den, located
away from the bustle of the lobby area,
houses a large TV for rugby screenings
and a wood-burning stove for cold winter
nights.
In need of sustenance after the tour,
The Best Western Plus
Parkway Hotel & Spa,
Cwmbran
Will Pearce enjoyed the delights of this hotel just
over the border from Monmouthshire...
we made our way back to Ravellos for the breakfast buffet, which
offered the usual continental and cooked breakfast fare while attentive
staff replenished our cups of tea and filter coffee. The food was delicious
and fresh.
After a stroll around the grounds we made our way to the Colonial
leisure club and spa.
A swimming pool, hot tub, steam room and sauna comprise one half
of the leisure club, while an adjoining conservatory houses the Country
Coffee Shop and a number of generous recliners on which to unwind
after a hard day of pampering. Large doors lead out to a sun terrace
with more recliners nestled beneath gently swaying trees.
I could get used to this, I thought, sprawled across a deckchair in
the sun as the other half received her full body aromatherapy massage.
New to this sort of thing, I elected to undergo the back, neck and
shoulder massage which was, quite frankly, heavenly. The spa therapists
were polite and knowledgeable, and a range of Yon-Ka products such as
aromatherapy oils, scented candles and the like, were available to buy.
Feeling well and truly relaxed, we packed out bags and went on our
way.
The Parkway may not be ultra-modern or chic, but it knows its
clientele and it caters to them extremely well. My partner and I agreed
that the real highlight of our stay was the warmth and attentiveness of
the staff, who went out of their way to make our weekend feel special.
We wouldnt hesitate to come back.
The Castle Inn,
Usk
S
et in the heart of Usk, in Twyn Square, is the Castle
Inn a pub which has recently been taken over and
which is raising its game in the food stakes.
The chef is Matthew Dawkins, who trained under
James Sommerin when he was executive head chef of the
then Michelin-starred Crown at Whitebrook. Matthew
went on to be head chef at The Star at Llansoy and is
now leading the kitchen at this Usk eaterie.
I wasnt quite sure what to expect when we arrived
one sunny early summer evening. At first glimpse, The
Castle is a traditional local pub, traditionally decorated
with a large dining room area at the back of the building
overlooking the beer garden.
We perused the menu, made our choices and enjoyed
our drinks while waiting for the food to arrive.
Once the food arrived you could see where the pub
was looking to go - gastro food with some clever little
twists.
My starter of smoke duck breasts with spiced apple
puree, parsnip crisps, roasted walnut and watercress
salad (6.95) came under a glass cloche filled with
smoke, which the waitress whipped off dramatically
letting the smokie smell whaft across the table. It was
delicious, as was Dans slightly less dramatic smoked
salmon roulade (6.50).
The mains were hearty (as they were when Matthew
was at The Star). A packed plate of slow roast belly pork
with braised cabbage, apple and sage mash, roasted
shallot puree and a calvados cream (13.95) was what I
was presented with, which I devoured completey. Dans
Monmouthshire stuffed chicken roulade, dauphinoise
potato, green bean parcel, and creamy peppercorn sauce
(14.50) was equally hearty and tasty.
Sweets were 5.95 each and again, the presentation
when they were delivered to the table gave us a clue to
the kind of training Matthew has had. My Strawberry
and Pimms Pannacotta with cucmber syrup looked and
tasted delicately divine - just right after my hearty main.
Dan decided on the Mocha Crunch chocolate and coffee
cheesecake - a light and delicious end to the meal.
If you are looking for great food, reasonably priced in
a relaxed setting, then take a trip to The Castle Inn - once
news gets out about the standard of the food they are
serving, I am sure this is going to become a must-visit for
those food lovers out there.
JB
53
Monmouth MP David Davies ofcially opened new
telecom equipment refurbishment and repair facilities
at TXO Chepstow.
Mr Davies said: Txo Systems is a stand out
example of a Welsh company fully integrated with the
global economy. TXOs commitment to the area will
ensure new employment opportunities and a centring
of global expertise. I look forward to delving into their
success story at a local level.
The Chepstow-headquartered business, which is
based at newhouse Farm Industrial estate, specialises
in the recovery, reuse, resale and recycling of pre-
owned telecoms and networking infrastructure
equipment globally, enabling its customers to
drive down cost while meeting environmental and
sustainability targets.
The company is expanding its service offering to
include an on-site multi-vendor telecom network
repair facility.
The new facility will provide a single-source solution
for telecom operators and service p wishing to extend
the life of their telecom networks. Telecom equipment
manufacturers will also be able to use the facility to
outsource repair and maintenance contracts.
TXO Systems has experienced an impressive 40
per cent CAGR in the last three years of trading,
taking total employee numbers up from 20 to 100
globally. This year the business received a 4m
Revolving Credit Facility from HSBC to help accelerate
growth still further. The companys three-year growth
plan targets a trebling of turnover and an increase in
global employees to 200 by 2017.
TXO Systems will recruit from the local area
to help expand its operational and sales base in
Chepstow. As one of the worlds largest used telecom
equipment providers, it will continue to make further
investments in its stock holding of 600,000+ telecom
parts, and plans to grow its overseas operations in the
USA, Brazil and China.
Countybusiness
Law rm signals
expansion with Usk acquisition
South Wales law rm Everett
Tomlin Lloyd and Pratt has
strengthened its agricultural
and private client team with the
acquisition of the well respected
Usk practice of Jonathan Stephens
and Co.
ETLP currently has more than
40 staff across ofces at Gold Tops,
Newport, and Clarence Chambers,
Pontypool.
In recent years the rm has
been actively building its private
client agricultural and commercial
departments and now acts for
many well known local and national
businesses.
ETLP has announced that while
Jonathan Stephens and his staff
will be initially based at its Gold
Tops headquarters, as the practice
is committed to maintaining and
developing its presence in Usk it
has opened an additional ofce
with meeting room facilities in the
town at Sessions House, the historic
Grade II listed former courthouse.
Jonathan Stephens and Co was
a non contentious practice mainly
dealing with specialist agricultural
legal issues for clients throughout
Wales and the West Country.
Founder and principal Jonathan
Stephens has received praise over
the last 25 years from Chambers
Directory legal 500 which
describes the practice as a leading
rm in the agricultural sector with
a strong reputation for agricultural
work.
Mr Stephens is described as
vastly experienced and charming.
Ashley Harkus, managing
partner of eTlP, said: We have
been working more closely with
Jonathan for some time now and
I am delighted that he has agreed
to bring his considerable skills and
dedicated staff to join us.
Jonathan is a well respected
lawyer and recognised agricultural
law specialist. We have been
looking to strengthen our
agricultural
practice and have
a presence in the
Usk Valley for
some time. All of
our lawyers are
looking forward
to working with
Jonathan, his
clients and local
businesses .
Jonathan
Stephens
said: Having
practiced in Usk
for more than
30 years it was
very important
to me that my
new rm was
really committed
to having a base
in the area and
looking after
my clients.
Ive enjoyed working closely
with the private client, litigation,
residential and commercial property
team at ETLP who have helped my
clients over the last few years and I
am condent that the time is right
for me to take the next step and
join the rm.
Im delighted my staff have
agreed to join such a progressive
and friendly rm and I now look
forward to the future with our new
colleagues.
J
ust take a stroll down the grocery
aisle in your local supermarket and
you will nd fruit and veg from
countries far and wide or look at
where your laptop was made. Whats
more, the uidity of cross-border
communications and technology means
that we are all connected across the
world. This is all evidence that we live in
a truly global village.
Why chose to expand overseas?
One reason would be to access a wider
customer base, instantly increasing the
potential market for your products and
services, which will increase sales.
Similarly, by looking overseas for
suppliers, companies can benet from
signicant cost savings and synergies.
Yet, despite this fact, statistics
show that Welsh businesses are well
behind the curve on exports to foreign
markets. Anecdotal evidence would
suggest that some businesses suffer
from a colloquialism which limits
not only their horizons but is also
detrimental to their bottom line. In the
competitive landscape of our global
economy, it is simply too much of an
opportunity to ignore.
In my view, the main reason for this
apparent lack of international ambition
is a fear of the unknown. As such, any
company looking to expand overseas
needs a trusted advisor who has an
international presence and experience
dealing with various foreign laws and
regulations.
If you would like to discuss how
you could reach out to the world then
please do not hesitate to contact UHy
Hacker Young on 01633 213 318.
Cennydd Thomas, Corporate
Finance Manager at UHY Hacker
Young
leTS FACe IT THe
WoRlD ReAlly IS
GeTTInG SMAlleR
MP oPenS neW TeleCoM RePAIR
FACIlITy In CHePSToW
Ashley Harkus and Jonathan Stephens
Alan Ockenden, of TXO Systems, with
Monmouth MP David Davies


Whats on
Rhydian Roberts, known as Rhydian, is
a Welsh singer, musical theatre actor
and television presenter. He rose to
fame after nishing as runner-up on the
fourth series of The X Factor in 2007.
And hes coming to perform in Chepstow on
August 30 as part of Castell Roc. MCl caught up
with him to ask about his forthcoming visit to the
county...
How excited are you about coming to perform
at Chepstow Castle?
Im immensely excited as it will be the rst time
for me performing in Chepstow Castle. Its such a
beautiful setting and if we have nice weather that
would be the icing on the cake
How special is it when you perform in front of
crowds from Wales?
Performing in front of any audience is special. No
matter where I perform there are always people
who attend from all over the UK, but of course
being Welsh its lovely to perform in front of a
home audience.
Why do you think an event like Castell Roc is
a great way of showcasing music of all genres?
Festival set ups like this are great because over the
course of the three days there should be something
for everyone. My concert will be a mixture of
different styles, but mainly showcasing songs from
my new album one Day like This.
And what does the future hold for you
anything special you can tell us about?
I have a new single out - The Pearl Fishers Duet
- which has been labelled the ofcial World Cup
song. My nationwide tour starts in London on
October 17, and Im touring all the major cities
in Britain. On October 27 the tour takes me to
Cardiff Millennium Centre. Before then I will be
releasing my album internationally.
CLASSIC
EVENT
To July 20
Chepstow Festival
Something for everyone from theatre to jazz and
poetry to a trip to a marsh.
For full details of everything thats on offer either
grab a festival programme from shops around
the town or visit www.chepstowfestival.co.uk

June 28

Chepstow Flea Market
Throughout the town centre
10am to 4pm
Selling bric a brac/antiques/crafts/collectibles/
plants
Open to both experienced sellers and novices
For information email: chepstowflea@yahoo.
co.uk

July 11
Tom Jones
Chepstow Racecourse
First race is at 6.10pm. last race 9.10pm.
Concert starts 9.30pm.
Sir Toms his hits like Its not Unusual, Whats
new Pussycat and Delilah are sure to bring a
fantastic atmosphere to the course and thrill fans
of all ages.
For tickets: 01291 622260.
July 13
Its a Knockout
Undy Athletic Club, Undy
11am to 6pm
Teams enter to compete in a number of
challenges throughout the day. There will also be
a whole host of stalls and music for spectators
to enjoy.
For more details contact: 01633 462727
July 18 to 20
Dubs at the Castle
Caldicot Castle
Tickets: 25 per adult for the weekend. 10 for
Saturday. 10 for Sunday. Children under 15
free.
This is the seventh year of this gathering of VWs
in the country park at Caldicot.
For more details contact: 07773 771990
July 20 to 21
Knights and fights
Raglan Castle
11am to 4pm
Tickets: Adult 4.50; Family 13.50; Senior
citizens, students and children under 16 3.40;
Disabled and companion - free.
A packed weekend of exciting combat displays
and a range of historical demonstrations. Join in
on the tug-o-war, have-a-go archery or the squire
school for the children. Family activities include
spinning, woodworking and medieval games.
For full details contact 01291 690228
July 25 - August 2
Monmouth Festival
The festival is a free annual nine-day event,
focused on the main stage in the town centrebut
also with satellite activities around the town.
Primarily a music festival, it offers you rock,
blues, soul, ska, jazz, folk, classical and world
music, along with a wide variety of non-music
attractions. Carnival Sunday is a family fun day
not to be missed.
Parking is plentiful in the town centre follow
the permanent signposts and expect a short walk
through the town.
For full details visit www.monmouthfestival.co.uk
July 31 to August 3
Green Gathering
Chepstow Racecourse
9am to 11pm
Organised by Transition Chepstow, acts include 3
Daft Monkeys and Rory Mcleod. There are also
lots of workshops and entertainment over the
weekend.
For full detials visit www.greengathering.org.uk
August 2
Llanthony Show
Llanthony
Founded in 1961, the show is organised by
volunteer with no major corporate sponsorship.
Attractions include showjumping, horse show,
livestock, gymkana, beer race and rodeo.
For full details visit www.llanthonyshow.co.uk
August 8 to 11
Croissant Neuf Summer Party
Three miles from Usk
This multi-awardwinning solar-powered festival
is back. Its a family-friendly affair bursting with
music, circus, fun and games.
For full details, including how to buy tickets, visit
www.partyneuf.co.uk

August 9

Chepstow Show
Chepstow Racecourse
9am 5pm
Tickets: Adults 8; Children 4; Children under
5 years old free; Family ticket 20; oAPs 6.
For full details about this annual agricultural show
visit: www.chepstowshow.co.uk
August 19
Seige!
Raglan Castle
11am to 4pm
Tickets: Adult 4.50; Family 13.50; Senior
citizens, students and children under 16 3.40;
Members and disabled/companions - free.
Raglan Castle will be marking the anniversary of
the last day it was a magnificent home. The Siege
of Raglan Castle ended on August 19, 1646, one
of the longest of the English Civil War. To mark


A selection of just some of the
events going on in Monmouthshire.
Compiled by Jo Barnes
Children at local primary schools are
helping design and create family packs
for use by visitors to Chepstow and
Abergavenny Museums this summer.
The project is part of a series of
community events to promote two free
exhibitions.
Sites of Inspiration celebrates the
cultural impact of Tintern Abbey (at
Chepstow Museum) and Llanthony Priory
(at Abergavenny Museum) and features
original artworks by JMW Turner,
Thomas Gainsborough plus manuscripts
by William and Mary Wordsworth.
Community organiser Paula Cawte
said: We particularly want to encourage
children and young people to come along
to their local museum and see how some
of the greatest artists interpreted our
beautiful Monmouthshire landscape.
We hope anyone visiting the
exhibitions will then become inspired to
create their own paintings and writing
too.
The family packs are being designed
for children by children, to make sure
they enjoy the paintings and artefacts on
display as much as their parents.
We know sometimes young children
get fidgety in gallery environments, so
were including lots of puzzles, quizzes
and challenges to engage and stimulate
them.
Budding artists will also be encouraged
to create their own interpretations
of some of the famous paintings and
use their imagination to create stories
inspired by the art work and artefacts.
Many of the paintings on display are
from the gothic period and its hoped
some of the brooding artwork will
stimulate teenagers and young adults to
get creative too.
Children from five Monmouthshire
schools including Kymin View and The
Dell, in Chepstow, will be involved in
creating the packs which will be available
for free to visitors at Chepstow and
Abergavenny museums this summer.
As well as the exhibitions theres a
host of other activities to keep children
amused at both museums, including arts
and crafts, dressing up and interactive
games.
The Sites of Inspiration exhibitions run
until September 28 and will be followed
by an exhibition of community produced
artwork created and inspired by Sites of
Inspiration.
Find out more information at www.
monmouthshire.gov.uk/museums. Find
Chepstow and Abergavenny Museum on
Facebook. Tel: 01291 625981.
KIDS GET
HANDS ON
FOR FREE
MUSEUMS
EXHIBITION
the anniversary, the castle is inviting visitors
to experience the world in the 17th century.
Mistress Grotte the wisewoman will be there
with her spells and charms, but whatever you
do dont call her a witch! Minstrel Tom will
be here playing his music and he will also be
looking for army recruits too, putting you
through your pike drill paces. There will be
activities and trails for the kids. At 2pm, join
the procession into the Great Hall as we lay a
floral tribute in remembrance of the people of
1646.
For full details contact 01291 690228
August 28
Monmouthshire Show
Monmouth Showground
Tickets: Adult pre show 10/on the day 11;
OAP pre show 9/on the day 10; Child (four
to 16 years) pre show 4/on the day 5;
Family pre show 25/on the day 28.
Come along for a magnificent day out at the
show situated on the banks of the River Wye
in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
There is
something for everyone and everything
you would expect from the biggest one-day
agricultural show in Wales.
For full details visit www.monmouthshow.
co.uk.

60
I
think it was while proudly watching my son
slot into place the large, chunky pieces of a
farm-animal jigsaw puzzle that it rst struck
me.
I was actually feeling relaxed while on a mini-
break with a two-year-old.
Like most new parents, my wife Mara and
I had consigned the concept of lazy weekends
away to the dim and distant past; in our case
two years and six months ago when our son
Alex arrived and seized control of our lives in a
hostile takeover.
But there was no getting away from it, we
were miles from home on a weekend break and
both adults and youngster were chilled out and
having fun. How did that happen?
I love Pembrokeshire. Ive visited on several
occasions over the years and always enjoyed
myself. But this was the rst time with my
own family and, as we set off, I was hoping for
something special.
Hopes started to subside, however, as we
proceeded cautiously along the M4 with the
windscreen wipers struggling to cope on full
speed.
We were heading for Clydey Cottages, a
small holiday complex which prides itself on its
facilities for children.
They would need to be pretty good, I
thought, as BBC weathergirl Behnaz Akhgars
radio forecast held out little hope of an
appearance by the sun anytime soon.
We wanted Alex to sleep during the journey
and awake refreshed and ready for action.
As usual, he had other ideas, dozing off just a
few miles before we arrived. Hence my rst
Clydey Cottages experience was carrying him,
still in car seat and weighing a ton, through the
downpour to Bramble Cottage, our home for
the next few days.
It may not have been the most auspicious
of starts, but the cottage was such a delight
our stress levels were soon going in the right
direction. A cup of tea later and a welcome as
warm as a wood-burner from Jacqui Davies,
who owns Clydey Cottages with husband Dewi,
and we were ready to watch Alex have the time
of his life. Just as soon as he woke up.
The multi award-winning complex was
originally a farm, but has been lovingly
transformed into a cluster of ten cottages of
various sizes.
They are tted out and decorated to the
highest standard but maintain a traditional
quality, inside and out, entirely in keeping with
the rolling countryside that surrounds them.
The cottages ank an area of grass to form a
kind of village green, which boasts a spectacular
view. Ideal for mingling with the neighbours
weather permitting.
But Clydey Cottages main attraction is what
it has for the younger guests.
The ethos seems to be that if the children are
happy the parents are too. And it is difcult to
imagine a child being miserable at Clydey.
Where to begin?
Well, there is an indoor heated swimming
pool which includes play areas and a hot tub.
There is even a poolside cot for goodness sake.
The water is warm and inviting and Alex loved
it. If only it was so easy getting him in the bath.
Then, within a stones throw, there are the
farm animals, which can be petted and fed.
Feeding pains au chocolats to a kunekune pig
was denitely a rst for Alex, but Im condent
he and Iggle found the experience equally
rewarding.
Giving the lambs their milk, rain water
And relax...
Phil Webb ventured to West Wales with
his toddler son for what turned out to be a
remarkably relaxing mini-break...
61
dripping from the end of his
nose, was another highlight,
once hed realised the bottle
wasnt for him.
Clydey also boasts
donkeys, goats, guinea pigs,
rabbits and chickens, and
there is the chance to collect
fresh eggs in the morning.
Spirits remained
undampened in the downpour
as all the children on site
made the most of their animal
encounters.
But the highlight for us, and
where we spent most of our
time, was the soft play area.
Containing just about every
toy imaginable (jigsaw puzzles
included), along with a slide, play
pen and much more, youngsters
love it. And mums and dads
can watch over them from
comfy sofas with a cuppa and a
magazine. There is also a wide
selection of computer games and,
nearby, older children can play
table tennis and pool.
Add to that an outdoor
adventure play area and ample
grass for a game of football and
Clydey Cottages is pretty much a
pre-teen paradise.
Our visit was over all too
quickly, but I suspect it wont be
the last.
(Blob) Clydey Cottages are on
the books of a rather wonderful
little operation called Baby
Friendly Boltholes, whose
mission is to place frazzled
parents in high quality
accommodation even their little
darlings will adore. That includes
hotels and villas across Europe.
Founder Sian Williams said:
With a little thought and
application businesses can really
extend their season, and in
Wales, where you cant guarantee
the weather, it pays dividends.
What Dewi and Jacqui have done
at Clydey Cottages is a perfect
example of this. The facilities
put in place ensure parents
and children have a great time
whatever the weather, which
is why they are hugely popular
throughout the year.
For additional information
visit www.clydeycottages.co.uk,
phone 01239 698619; and www.
babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk,
phone 0203 6031160.
Alex enjoyed his stay with the farm animals, play
area and his relaxed parents
and about
Catch up on events from around
Monmouthshire as we take a look
at whos been out and about
outandabout

Out
USK CASTle exHIBITIon AnD BAll
Adam Humphrey held an
exhibition of his wood carving
at Usk Castle which was hailed
as a success. A ball was also
held at the castle as part of the
event.
Pictures by Emily Herbert.
Adam with his first live carving demonstration, surrounded by those who
attended the opening
Emily Herbert and Adam
Humphreys
Helena Gerrish, Will Loram, Emma Humphreys
Adam Humphreys first solo exhibition in the UK
kicks off in style in Usk Castle
Ryan Evans, Ellie MacCarthy, Claire McMahon,
Adam Humphreys, Chloe Bennett, Emily
Herbert, Alba Martin and Duncan Curry
Alba Martin, Olivia Bhattacharje, Laura Harman
63

ABeRGAVenny MAyoRS BAll
The Mayor of Abergavenny recently held at
ball at the Angel Hotel in the town.
Pictures by Dennis eldridge.
Michael Hegarty and Jean Hegarty
Father Mark Soady, Cllr J. Prosser and Heather
Dash
Mr and Mrs P Casa
elizabeth Courtney Jones, Marilia Freyer, Henryk Freyer
Cllr Sheila Woodhouse, Genovica Gupta
Marion and Coryn, of Baroque Boutique
Joe Meadows, Carol Meadows, and Richard Brown.
Mayor of Abergavenny Cllr Sheila Woodhouse, Miss
Monmouthshire, Emilie Parry-Williams and guest
Mark Heffernan and Jackie Heffernan
Cllr Samantha Dodd and Margaret
Dodd
Donald Gordon and Margaret
Gordon

KeITH PRICe GARAGeS eVenT
Mike Rodway, Jeff Davies, Ashley Williams
John Price, sales manager at Keith Price Garages, with Paul Tunnicliffe, managing
director of Subaru UK
Nicky Grist was guest speaker at the event
Nicky Grist and Meirion Thomas
Paul Pryce, John Foukes, Sue Foukes
Michael, Kevin and Jenny Smith
Simon Gibson, Julie Dillon, Ian Moss, Pam Appleby
Gareth and Becci Porter
Ian and Caleb McDuff
Sophie and Phil Prothero
Keith Price Garages ltd, near Abergavenny, held a special launch event for the
new Subaru STi, which was attended by former rally co-driver nicky Grist and the
managing director of Subaru UK, among other guests.

WynDClIFFe CoURT SCUlPTURe exHIBITIon
Wyndcliffe Court, near
St Arvans, has launched
its series of summer
sculputre exhibitions in
the garden. MCL was
invited along to the rst of
the year.
The garden at Wyndcliffe Court
Sue and Richard Skinner
Kim Pugh, Bryony Jordan
Jonathan and Sue Williams, Derek Biddle
A bronze of a little girl
Willie and Val Stewart
Christine Baxter, Alex Brown, Kiara White, Miranda Baneld
A hare in the ower border
Bob Fowles, Chris Wolverson and Rachel
Wolverson
Part of the sculpture exhibition Colleen Du Pon, Rachel Munford

PoRTSKeWeTT SPRInG BAll
Peter Fox and Joanne Fox
Alan Whiteley, Joyce Whiteley, Ian Standing, Sue Standing, Joe Sawley, Joyce
Sawley
Chris Rann and Lena Rann
Gerry Moss, Anne Moss, Rodney Bode, Cheryl Bode, Ashok Jethwa, Carol Jethwa,
Bob Maddick and Sue Maddick
Tim Gwatkin and Wendy Gwatkin
Andrew Roberts and Jayne Roberts
David Ware and Penny Williams
Adrian Cullimore and Diane
Cullimore
Peter Thompson and Frances
Thompson
Graham Brennan and Andrea
Brennan
A spring ball was recently held in
the village of Portskewett near
Caldicot.
Pictures by Phil Mitchell.
www.mitchellsphotography.co.uk

DAlMATIAn BIKe RIDe - BReCon To CAeRleon
The Dalmatian Bike Ride, from Brecon
to Caerleon over 46 miles along the
Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, is close to
raising its 25,000 target for St Davids Hospice
Care. The event, which was the third Dalmatian
Bike Ride, attracted 250 riders of all ages, some
dressed as dalmatians, who enjoyed the route
through the beautiful Welsh countryside.
organiser Dave Rees welcomed back the riders
when they arrived at The Priory in Caerleon,
which put on a barbeque in the grounds for
participants and their supporters. He said that
next year it was hoped that 500 riders would
take part in the now annual event.
Jack Jones, 10, from Marsheld, gets into the
spirit of things
Sophie yartes, owain Morgan, Charlotte Davies, Rhys Morgan
Teachers from West Mon School
MCL editor Jo Barnes completed the 46-mile ride
with her husband David
Jack Jones gets in some practice before the ride
Team Evans Electrical riding in memory of colleague Kerry Edwards
Rhiannon Burgum
Matthew Neal, 18, of Malpas nick Drew
county
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Oak deckchair.
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four
six
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81
Monmouthshire Supper Club
Downton factor
causes a stir
Paul takes
on an Arctic
challenge
DoWnTon Abbey fever preceded a
recent Paul Fosh Auctions sale after we
listed the servants quarters at Ruperra
Castle.
The romantic ruin of Ruperra Castle
on a private road and surrounded by lush
rolling south Wales hills and farmland is
a stunning backdrop to the former staff
accommodation.
The now crumbling castle, the first
mock castle to be built in Wales, with
its links to King Charles I, Lord Tredegar
and the Charge of the Light Brigade and
chequered history, ensured maximum
media interest in the sale of the property.
We were marketing just half of the
staff house and at a guide of just 50,000
interest was keen, to put it mildly.
Theres nothing quite like a property
with some history, or proven
provenance, to really stoke up interest
and this ticked all the boxes with calls
coming thick and fast.
The auction room was groaning with
the number of people we had in on the
night some with a buyers interest, others
with an interest in the buyer. In the end
and at the 11th hour the property was
withdrawn from sale before any bids
could be taken after a deal was struck
with the previous owner.
Meanwhile its fair to say that the
unique bubble that is 21st century
London is seeing substantial property
price rises. London is almost a country,
or at least unique entity, in itself these
days. Mind you, there are those that
argue it has always been so.
But the mind boggling price surges
being monitored in some parts of the
capital are not being replicated anywhere
else in the UK and definitely not here
in South Wales. However, having said
that, prices are rising and property in
places with potential, such as here in
Monmouthshire, will only be heading in
the one direction and thats upwards.
We still have some very competitively
guide priced properties in our regular
auctions but comparing sale prices year
on year it is plain to see that the figures
properties across the spectrum are
achieving is improving. My message is if
you want to buy at these prices do so
now and dont forget I told you so
M
essing about on the river. The
Monmouthshire Supper Club has
been floated. No were not about to
list on The Stock Exchange but plan to
widen the scope and interest of the club
by giving it a riverine twist.
Ive bought a Canadian-style open
topped canoe which I now launch on
the River Wye near my home. Weve
taken a couple of tentative trial trips
down river so far and noticed a number
of interesting looking restaurants along
the way. Once a flotilla of said crafts
have been assembled were planning
on adding a canoe trip, eat out option
to the Monmouthshire Supper Club.
Thats not to say that everyone need
be afloat to come along on the evening.
Indeed some will arrive in more
traditional ways although I must say
we do encourage people to consider
the green option when it comes
to travelling, cycling being a current
favourite.
As always were looking for ideas as
to the next place the Monmouthshire
Supper Club should visit a suggestion
whereby some of our group can arrive
by canoe will be even more greatly
received.
Until the next time bon apetit and au
revoir!
The next Paul Fosh auction which will
be held at the Park Inn Hotel, Circle
Way East, Llanedyrn, Cardiff, is on
Thursday, July 31, starting at 5pm.
N
ow sitting in
the cool of
an evening in
my Monmouthshire
garden as the strength
of the afternoons sun
fades contemplating
life its hard to
imagine that in less
than nine months I
will be encountering
temperatures of -30c
and the possibility of
100mph winds, ice
floes and even the
chance of coming face
to face with a Polar
bear.
A keen runner
and general outdoor
sportsperson I have
signed up for what the
organisers themselves
describe as quite
possibly the toughest
race of its kind on the
planet.
Why, you may ask?
Well, why not?
I have signed up
for the Likeys 6633
Ultra 2015. I will
be one of just 25
people taking part
in a challenge which
will see me cover at
least 120 miles in
the Yukon, northern
Canada almost entirely
within the Arctic
Circle pulling all the
equipment I need on a
sled, or pulk.
Ill be raising
funds for Macmillan
Cancer Support. If I
successfully complete
the 120-mile challenge
then I will have to
decide whether I am
able to push on to
try for the 350-mile
distance.
Im looking for
sponsors to help
pay for the specialist
equipment Ill need
and travel costs and
the like and they will
get their name on the
pulk.
I need 8,000 for
the kit and entry. I
have already signed
up Quality Solicitors
Rubin lewis oBrien
and HSJ Accountants
as sponsors and
naturally Paul Fosh
Auctions will input
a sizable figure. I do
now need at least four
more main backers
though.
On top of the
equipment sponsors
I have set myself the
aim of raising 15,000
for Macmillan Cancer
Support a charity
close to my heart and
where my mother,
liz Fosh, worked as a
nurse for a number of
years.
Im now in the
process of arranging
a charity fund-raising
luncheon, probably
to be held at Sophia
Gardens, Cardiff,
in October, and am
hopeful that I will
be able to entice an
adventurer to come
to speak. Whichever
person we choose as
our guest speaker,
will Im sure, be
inspirational and Ill be
as keen as anyone to
hear what they have
to say and to get tips
from them on how to
conquer this challenge.
To give an idea of
the enormity of the
challenge, the event
has been run on six
occasions and in that
time only 11 people
have completed it.
To become a
sponsor please get in
touch, email paul@
paulfoshauctions.com
and also take a look at
www.6633ultra.com
Top: The servants quarters at
Ruperra Castle.
Above: Paul Fosh
Left: Red Riding
Hood performanced
in the Church Boys
House by members
of the St Nicholas
Guild in 1907. From
Chepstow and the
River Wye in old
Photographs from
the collection of
Chepstow Museum.
Left below: Gwy
House in use as the
Red Cross Hospital
during WWI. Picture
is from 1916. From
Chepstow and the
River Wye in old
Photographs from
the collection of
Chepstow Museum.
Hidden
gems
A LOOK BACK
IN TIME...
By Naylor Firth
Above: Caldicot
Scouts with the Rev
Frederick W Clark
in about 1910.
From Caldicot and
the Villages of the
Moor Vol 2.
Left: General view
of Flannel Street,
Abergavenny,
just before it
was demolished.
From Vanished
Abergavenny from
the collections
of Abergavenny
Museum.
A
t the beginning of the
19th century childrens
education was the exception
rather than the rule. Most
who attended school did so
for barely a year of their lives
and the wide employment of
child labour in factories and
on the land was a disincentive
to improve the education
system.
A lead was taken by
the various Christian
denominations with the
formation in 1811 of the
National Society for
Promoting the Education of
the Poor in the Principles
of the Established Church
with the aim of building
a school in every parish.
These National Schools, as
they became known, were
complemented in 1814 by
British and Foreign School
Society initiatives. Both
sought to teach the four Rs
of reading, riting, rithmetic
and religion.
The abolition of slavery
in the British Empire in
1833 coincided with the
governments decision to
give grants to both these
initiatives for the purchase of
land and building of schools.
It also coincided with the
rst Factorys Act that
forbad the employment of
children under nine in textile
factories.
Monmouthshire beneted
signicantly from the
establishment of National
and British Schools.
Most buildings were
made from the local old Red
Sandstone with steeply-
pitched slate roofs. There
were
usually two schoolrooms
each equipped with a cast
iron pot-belly stove and high
stone mullioned windows
to prevent the childrens
attention wandering! By the
end of the 1870s a school
was located in nearly every
village and town in the
county.
Caerleons National
School opened early in
March 1831 for the
education of poor children of
both sexes at a cost of just
over 300, and was neat
and commodious, capable of
accommodating more than
200 children.
The Cambrian report at
the time emphasised the
part played by the Minister,
the Rev William Thomas,
in originating and seeing
through the project.
Some of the school
buildings featured a Bath
stone tablet on an exterior
wall with the opening
date inscribed on it as in
the example shown from
Llansoy.
A urry of celebrations
occurred in a number
of these schools during
the 1970s to mark their
centenaries and the picture
of Itton School shows their
centenary celebrations in
June 1973.
Most of the Schools
celebrations were short-
lived as the county council
set about closing them in
the interest of cut-backs.
Conversions to houses
and community centres
became the alternative
uses for these iconic
buildings which had
been so important in
raising the standards
and aspirations of
the countys young
children.
A LOOK BACK
IN TIME...