Art and about in Grey Britain: Pontypool, Newport, Cardiff

More friends came to stay the second part of last week and it was still grey.  It was basically dry so we were out and about walking the 3 days they were here.  It wasn’t cold but temperatures in the mid-teens and the pervading greyness of a British Summer continued.

Nevertheless one or two things added a little brightness.

On Thursday afternoon we did a short circular walk up the ridge to The Folly and back.  Pleasant but grey.  At this time of year there is generally less colour on the mountains than we saw in Newport Wetlands earlier in the week.  Nevertheless there is the odd splash of colour.  I don’t know whether I am just noticing it more but this year the Willowherb seems particularly floriferous and colourful, creating dense islands of purple.

Against a grey sky, one of the patches of willowherb on the ridge, The Folly in the background

On Friday we did a longer walk, catching the bus up to the head of the Valleys and walking back across the mountain.  Bit of a digression here.  I use the bus a lot.  I work out the options with on-line timetables and just go.  No need to think about the cost because I have an Old Fogeys Bus Pass.  There is a very convenient bus which goes from just round the corner to the start of the walk we were doingh, takes about half an hour and goes once an hour.  On the bus I just flashed my pass but because the others were a) not old enough to qualify as Old Fogeys and b) from England, they had to pay.  The cost was over £4 each.  I can understand why people who don’t have a pass are reluctant to travel by bus and prefer the convenience of using the car because the cost of using the car is hidden and it is wrongly seen as ‘free’ option.  On a bus the money goes straight out of your pocket.  With the car it dribbles over out over a longer period.

The second part of the walk was a variation on the walk I normally do, following the National Cycleway 492 back to Pontypool instead of going up a second ridge.  Ambling along we noticed some small, idiosyncratic and amusing works of art in the vegetation along the edge which brightened the trudge.

Nettle and bramble leaf sprayed silver

.... and sprayed clover leaves

he cycleway, also used as a bridleway, has access points in a number of places and these were protected from off-road bikers by heavy steel ‘gateways’ with pinch points to allow pedal cycles but not motorbikes through and ‘step-overs’ to allow horses to cross but not motorbikes.  The pinch points were necessarily quite narrow and at one a message had been left.  Very droll !!

Keeping out motorbikes .... and The Fat People

As we came into Pontypool we passed one of a number of mosaics created on the sides of the underpasses to commemorate the town’s rich history. Such expressions of municipal pride are good to see.  The cost of these is not insignificant and it is to be hoped that in times of austerity public works of art are not abandoned in the interests of functionalist architecture.

One of the mosaics on underpasses around Pontypool

Altogether the walk took about 5½ hours and a pint outside a canal-side pub was very welcome and very pleasant in the end-of-afternoon sunshine.

No such good start to Saturday.  Very drab and grey.  We went down to Newport in order to catch the train and looked around the new waterfront area.  It may look good in the sunshine, I wouldn’t know, but leaden skies take the brightness out of the colour and make whites look drab.  Of course it’s not helped by the fact that the river is not only tidal but has one of the biggest tidal ranges in the world exposing vast areas of very grey and very glutinous mud as the water recedes and, because of the speed of the rising and falling current, carrying large amounts of the grey sediment in suspension.  Not a pretty site (not a spelling mistake).

White becomes grey and colours drab

The old river bridge and castle against uninspired architecture.

The shapes and colour combination could look dramatic in the sunshine

So could the whole up-river view, but under leaden skies instead it's drab

A bit of graffiti fails to brighten up the river bridge

.... but a modern option looks much brighter even in the gloom

A reminder of the long history of the river

But there's no getting away from the mud

From Newport I went on the Cardiff by which time the sun had come out and colour was restored.  It is an irony that Newport has always been in Cardiff’s shadow and certainly did not look good by contrast on Saturday.  Perhaps I should try to go back to Newport Riverfront when the sun is shining. One piece of news.

Cardiff .... what a difference the sun makes

The greyness has finally got to me and I have now decided to go back to Greece for a few weeks.  I fly out from Manchester on 24 August and return on 14 September.  So the good news is that there may be an Indian Summer in the UK, that seems to be how these things work.

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One Response to Art and about in Grey Britain: Pontypool, Newport, Cardiff

  1. artreviewed says:

    Sorry for all the random likes on your blog entries! I found your blog as Im doing a project for my uni course and your images popped up on google when researching! Im doing a BA in Photo Art and Im in my 2nd year. Thanks for sharing!

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