Friday, 18 June 2010

A Walk through Castle Meadows, Abergavenny

Last week some friends who had read my May post about Gardening on a Shoestring sent me a garden centre voucher for my birthday! So I'm now able to replace some of the plants that didn't survive last winter's prolonged cold spell. And luckily I'd discovered that, to my surprise, our nearest 'participating' garden centre is actually within walking distance, thanks to going out with our local walking group. This is a great bonus as I'm always short of time and we could kill two birds with one stone, as it were, by combining getting some plants with the long walk that my son and I always seem to do on my birthday.

Although it wasn't a mountain hike this year, it passed through an area that I love - and have much photographed and painted in the past. So I thought I'd give you a kind of pictorial guided tour of our walk, mostly illustrated by thumbnails of my pastel paintings, many of which are available as prints on RedBubble or as greeting cards on Greeting Card Universe and Zazzle .

Abergavenny is a small but surprisingly lively market town with a rich history, well described on Wikipedia . and it only took about ten minutes to walk from my house to the Castle, the remains of which stand on a bluff overlooking the Castle Meadows and the River Usk.

 Looking back at the Castle across the Meadows. Little Skirrid in the background.

So down we walked to the Meadows and I was surprised that, in spite of heavy rain a couple of days before, the steep paths were quite dry.

I moved to Abergavenny at the end of April 2002 and spent a lot of May in the Castle Meadows, in all weathers and at different times of day, photographing the buttercups that apparently people come from far and wide to see. Pastel paintings inevitably ensued -

My later oil pastel version of this one hasn't been a great success on Greeting Card Universe, but it's popular, not only with the local Abergavenny people, but also in Norfolk!

It's perhaps a little strange that I moved to Wales in part because I love the mountains. And yet I kept painting the Meadows in all their flatness, in spite of repeatedly being told by people in the know that 'mountains always sell best'. I can only put it down to the fact that, although I love being in the mountains, from a painting point of view, I prefer the flat scenery of much of Norfolk, where I lived previously, though the city of Norwich itself often surprises people with its 'hilliness'! Or maybe I'm just a tad awkward! In any case, I just went on and on painting the Meadows, often the same group of trees that just begged to be painted -


The view on the right is an evening view of the Meadows, looking over the River Usk to the Blorenge Mountain beyond. Our destination was the village of Llanfoist that nestles in the foothills between Abergavenny and the mountain.I haven't painted the Usk at Abergavenny but here is a pastel painting of the river a little further upstream -

And here's a quick sketch of the bridge that we crossed -

Again, you can just see the almost luminous blue glow of the Blorenge in the background, which is where we were heading.

Once over the bridge that carries a main road to an out-of-town supermarket, past an ancient toll-house (which was on the market when I was house-hunting) we turned off the main road, up a pretty lane to the Garden Centre, where I found an Apricot Twist Erysimum that I wanted to replace, a Bowles Mauve, that I'd managed to kill off by moving it to a spot it didn't like. Also several Iceland Poppies, that I'm trying to find time to paint as the cards I made from last year's that I grew from seed have turned out to be very popular.

 I was all for going home at that point but my son is young and fit and for him that was just a little stroll. So on we went, up the lane, which was beginning to get steeper. And I'm so glad we did because of what we found in a field on the way!I tend to use stopping to take photos as an excuse to take a breather when I'm out with my long-legged son but I didn't need an excuse to stop this time!

I'll continue this another time but if you can't wait to see what caught my eye, you may be able to catch a glimpse of them in my Zazzle Panel down at the foot of this page. But be quick - like these cattle, they're very shy and it's easy to miss them!


Di said...

These are beautiful paintings!

Country Mouse Studio said...

That was a beautiful tour, lovely pictures. I love the capture of light in the last one.
It certainly looks like a beautiful area.

Jean said...

I loved your tour. I can't imagine living a mere 10 minute walk from a castle.Absolutely beautiful pictures. No wonder you moved there.

JudyAdamsonArtandDesign said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed my paintings 'tour'!

Jean, our local castle is mostly in ruins now but it's been made into a very good museum, with free entrance for residents of Monmouthshire! There's a whole row of castles up and down the border with England, some better preserved than others. My favourite is Whitecastle, where my grandsons learnt to sledge in the moats, while I took photos of the snow to paint - I'll post those another day, nearer Christmas-time!