Tintern Abbey

13 Feb

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 like making the picture look old.  Because that place was old.  Like you, Mommy.”

“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.)

“Remember when I called this the grave tree, because I thought someone was dead under it, but it was really a King tree for Queen Elizabeth?”  “A Coronation Tree for George V.”  “Right, that.”

“Sometimes looking at clouds makes my mind go whooooom.”

We agreed to disagree about this one.  I like the three arches, she thinks it’s kind of boring.  And it reminds her of a banana?

“Oh, yeah, I liked yelling in there.  It was all echo-y.”

“Fine, you can do that one black and white but only if I can do whatever I want on the next one.”

“That … is … AWESOME.”

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2 Responses to “Tintern Abbey”

  1. Zazzy February 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    You’re not going to tell me this one isn’t really that old? I agree with your kids about the fireplaces. Seriously? Only three?

    • Monique February 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      Ha ha, established 1131, that’s pretty old. And no kidding about the fireplaces. Mortification of the flesh, etc. Cistercian Order was founded on the theory that all those other monks were too liberal, what with their eating and sleeping and such.

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