Our host was not at home when we arrived in Merthyr Tydfil, so we made our way to the local pub where my phone would work and I could call to see when she might be in. By this time, we were both longing for something cold! The Red Lion was not actually open; the doors were open but there were workmen and vans out front. Ever hopeful, Larry stuck his head in to ask. The painter said, sure come on in!
Which we did, He pulled a beer for Larry and poured a perfectly chilled white wine for me and assured us the owner would be in soon. In the meantime I was able to reach our host by phone; she was unexpectedly called away from home for a few days but had everything ready for us, and her best friend would meet us to show us around the house.
The owner of the pub had come in by then and he was curious about these two strangers in his pub. When we explained why we were there, he told us that he had just returned from Columbus, Ohio where he'd been visiting his daughter who was a designer for Abercrombie & Fitch. Columbus is only 2 hours from our home in West Virginia--another small-world moment. He suggested we come back down once we got settled in our b&b.
This was the sight that greeted us when we returned to the b&b. Is this not delightful? This house was once a miner's cottage, a semi-detached high on the hill overlooking the city.
Everywhere were perfect vignettes, proof of the care and love the owner had for her home.
The listing on AirBnB said that the stairs were winding and steep, and that was no lie. We were very careful negotiating them!
In the extensive gardens, another farmhouse sink, this one being used as a planter.
The walkway along the front of this unit of about four homes.
One of many sitting places in the garden, looking over the city far below. It was so quiet here, odd to think so much activity was taking place down there and we couldn't even hear it.
We took up the suggestion of the innkeeper and returned to the Red Lion. I wondered as we went in, would they mind us being there? The owner, had said that there were all locals who came every evening. Would we be in their way, intruding on their time together?
I worried for nothing. As we walked in the people in the bar all raised their glasses in greeting and shouted, "West Virginia!" We were immediately at home, surrounded by interesting and interested people who came from a variety of professions--accountants, research scientists, automotive industry executive, a government tax inspector, a nurse and others.
When I told people we were going to Merthyr Tydfil, the reaction was always the same: "Why? That's not very nice down there. Industrial, ugly." But that was not our experience. We found the people and the place fascinating. Granted, we did not get to explore the town, but the little slice of it we experienced made us want to return someday to see more.
It may not be tourist-pretty, but it's real, and that is what interests me most.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.