Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Tredegar House visited

Last night I went to bed early and slept a full nine hours, and woke up at first light. No lie-in for me as, at Clare's insistence, I needed to visit the GP surgery early to secure an appointment for today, rather than wait for one tomorrow booked weeks ago. The reaction I had to that wasp sting extended beyond a swollen hand to a body rash, uncomfortable and sometimes painful. I was fairly sure it was an allergic reaction to the sting, but she wanted to be sure it wasn't something worse.

Ashley texted to tell me about the double murder of a young couple on their way to work in Queen Street at six this morning. While I was waiting for my appointment in the surgery, I overheard someone saying that the culprit might have been a homeless person. I was thankful that the police very early on announced an arrest and went out of their way to state publicly, and with firmness that this was not a homeless person and not an act of terror or a random killing. 

Apparently, there's been a recent upsurge of new homeless people and new beggars on city centre streets. Despite the valiant efforts made by the city's social work homelessness team, and legions of volunteers, the problem persists. The willingness of gossips to suspect the worst of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people around reflects the fear, suspicion and resentment attached to their persistent presence. It's a shameful reflection on prevalent uncaring social attitudes. 

By half past ten, I was telling my story to the doctor, who confirmed that it was nothing worse than I'd expected, and prescribed me some anti-histamine tablets to help send the slowly diminishing rash on its way a little quicker. She also concluded my current hypertension review, scheduled for tomorrow and gave me this year's anti 'flu jab, all in fifteen minutes, which means I don't need to return for tomorrow's appointment. I then bought some croissants and a pain au raisin at the Co-op store nearby, and headed back home for Clare's birthday breakfast.

Later, we drove to Newport to visit its National Trust masterpiece, Tredegar House. We spent several hours exploring the remarkable stately home, once the house of Welsh landed gentry, the Morgan family. It buildings date from the late fifteenth to eighteenth century, and it's surrounded by beautiful gardens and well kept estate lands. Being landowners, the Morgans became wealthy during the industrial era because all goods transported through their properties were subject to charges, but times changed and family fortunes declined. Before being bought by Newport Council and handed to the National Trust for conservation and management, it had a spell as a Convent secondary school, as the family had become Catholic in the nineteenth century.

It was a damp overcast day, during which it never quite rained properly. There were far more visitors for such a dull weekday than we'd expected. The car park was full, although some of the occupants may well have been commuters leaving their cars conveniently within walking distance of their work places in a nearby business park. Those with a National Trust car sticker don't have to Pay 'n Display like the rest, fortunately. We had very pleasant lunch in the restaurant created in the old estate brew house, in between looking at the house and wandering around the gardens. Work was just beginning on erecting scaffolding around the main house for work on renewing the roof which leaks badly. Some of the rooms had token displays only, rather than being entirely closed, and the guides freely talked about the project to make the place fully watertight again, and looking forward to re-opening after winter closure for the work to be completed.

Clare first visited Tredegar House for the National Eisteddfod a decade or so ago. My first visit was for a Visit Wales tourism promotional event, not long after starting at St John's about thirteen years ago. I was surprised at how much about the property and its lands I had forgotten, or not taken in at the time. It's one of those places I'm sure we'll be visiting again once the roof is fixed and all is back to normal. Having had this outing and lunch, Clare didn't want to go out for a birthday supper, so I cooked supper instead, and followed it up by giving her a long relaxing foot massage to finish the day.

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