Midway through a quiet Sunday, I’m possessed — I’ve remembered I didn’t come here to vaccuum — and I haul up any kids interested in coming along and we hare off for Wales and Tintern Abbey. My sat nav proves once again she’s trying to kill me, but an eight mile detour through one track hedge-rowed lanes does not deter us, and soon enough we see the shattered skeleton of Tintern Abbey rise above the Wye. Gorgeous.
I don’t know what it’s like in summer, but on a not-raining but cold Sunday afternoon in February, the Abbey is largely deserted. There were a few other families out exploring the walls and remains of rooms and ruins. The visitor center sells a great guidebook — the entry fee gets you in, but if you want any information: that’s extra. I have a good collection of these guidebooks now, so I can say definitively that this is a good one.
We’ve visited the ruins of Hailes Abbey — another Cistercian abbey complex — so it was exciting to compare the sites and the relative levels of preservation. Well, I was excited. The kids were flabbergasted at the idea of only three fireplaces in the whole compound — kitchen, warming room, and infirmary. Daughter also wanted to know why it was just men. I offered: “Because they thought it would help them concentrate.” After thoughtful consideration, she decided they should instead have worn better clothes, eaten better food, and had more fires to stay warm. “Then they could concentrate better.” Youngest contributed: “If they had turkey, I would like it. No turkey, then I would not like it.” So there you have it. When they learn about Cistercians in school they will remember cold water and lack of turkey dinners.
My middle child decided to help me with the photos. She selected the ones for you to view today, and directed the editing.
“I don’t want to make this one black and white. I want to make it pink.” “I like black and white.” “Why?” “It makes me think of vampires, and vampires are cool.” “You’re weird.” (I’ll leave you to guess who is child and who is me.)