Coal Mining and Long Tailed Sheeps – Abergavenny, United Kingdom

From Bath, the bus stopped in Abergavenny where we all drank apple cider in a car park (something of a tradition so the bus driver Julie claimed) and practiced our Welsh. The Black Sheep hostel was actually a Welsh Pub with a hostel in the basement. It was very quaint and they cooked us BBQ for supper which went well with the beer.

Gabby and Renee taught me a new card game called V2 and we played while many of the others sang karaoke including yet another kiwi James` very enthusiastic rendition of “My Ding-A-Ling”. I watched Abba from Abergavenny perform (plastic bodysuits and wigs included) before I went to bed so I am sure I had dreams with Fernando and SOS playing in the background. I decided to go to bed early as I realized I was on the verge of a big sicky.

I felt somewhat better in the morning so I rejoined the group and we were off to Big Pit which is a real underground coal mine! We all donned caps with lamp lights and descended the 300 feet into the dank dark depths of Wales. At one point, we all turned off our lamps to experience just how dark dark can be and I have to say that I have never experienced anything quite like it. Even though it was for but a minute, I lost complete sense of space.

I was troubled by the fact that until the inspectors from London came and made the minimum age 10, there were children as young as 6 working (and losing their lives) in these mines. I thought of the movie October Sky as I walked through the mines (yes, small as I am I still I bumped my head more than once).

The Welsh countryside is spotted heavily with little white and a few black sheep. If you can believe it, their tails are as long as a cats`. There didn`t seem to be any fences so apparently people keep track of their sheep by painting different colored spots on their backsides. I guess they don`t need to mow the luscious green countryside as all these sheep seemed to be eating nonstop.

There is a beautiful purple flower that grows freely throughout Wales called Heather. It smells really nice too. The buildings and houses are quite old and most are made of rock. Some trees looked so perfect that I had to touch them to make sure they weren`t fake. We stopped for lunch in Rhayader for a quick bite and again, I was touched by how friendly the locals were.

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