We have been flat out for weeks now, decorating the house, exploring Brecon and having guests to stay. By the time we go back to the boat, we will have had 27 visitors.
The first weekend of August marked 200 years of Gurkha service to the Crown and the town centre was shut for a special parade with the band we had listened to the previous evening during a fund raising concert in aid of the people of Nepal. A Welsh Male Voice Choir also performed and both were excellent. The audience sang a rousing National Anthem for both the UK and Wales.
This weekend the town of 9000 has hosted some 50000 visitors for the annual Jazz Festival and Fringe. Music can be heard all over town, in numerous venues and we got the chance to join the crowds in the street market and a few buildings we hadn’t been in before. My niece is with us for a fortnight and she and I climbed St Mary’s Tower to take in the views over the town and ring the church bells. The tour was very interesting and we learnt a lot about bell ringing. You don’t need a lot of strength once the bell is ‘up’ but timing is essential once you start ringing with other people and there is a delay between pulling and the bell ringing, so it must take a lot of practice. They are looking for new ringers but sadly we have to leave at the end of next month, so it will have to wait until we return for good.
We bought tickets for 2 events during Jazz Weekend, the first being the Youth Jazz concert in the Guildhall. This is the culmination of the week long summer school for children, with the finale being the concert. The youngest musician was a violinist, just 9 years old. There were 40 children performing and all took their turn to do a solo improvisation, which must have taken some courage in front of a large audience. It was another great evening.
The second event is a concert in our beautiful Cathedral tonight. The Cathedral also hosted several fringe sessions, a BBQ and stalls. Everywhere around town there was something going on and most were free to enter, so you could easily spend the day wandering around and enjoying the atmosphere. There were buskers on every corner too and we recognised some of them as the tutors from the summer school. Fortunately it was lovely and sunny on Saturday, perfect!
Wales produces an amazing variety of foods and crafts, many on sale in the markets locally, such as gin, cheeses, cider and sheep shaped footstools. Paintings and photographs of this lovely area are everywhere along with souvenirs with ‘cariad’ and ‘cwtch’ and ‘lechyd Da’ (sweetheart, cuddle and good health or cheers!).
Another day we hired a car and headed off to the Showcaves, only 20 miles away to go underground in 3 lovely caves. They also have a dinosaur park with hundreds of models around the forest and an Iron Age village display. We are ‘borrowing’ my cousin’s dog, Dixie and she was able to go into the caves too. She has forced us to explore more of the town’s walks, many by the river through lush forested areas. She is a bit of a swimmer, so we have had to take long walks back to give her time to dry off. Tomorrow we plan to hire a river boat and hope we can keep her inside it.
Between all this, we have continued to do up the house. 3 bedrooms and 1 hallway have now been completely re-decorated and we have the lounge, 2 hallways and the kitchen left to do. It looks like we will be working on the house almost to the end of our stay, given we have the Southampton Boat Show and a trip to London plus more overnight guests to fit in but we should get a week at the end to finally rest and enjoy the house.