Introduction for my VIRTUAL trip to beautiful WALES

In the Spring of 1993, I first set eyes on Crickhowell Wales,  a small market town that sits in the beautiful Usk Valley where the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains meet.    I knew immediately that this was where I wanted to settle.

Crug Hywel (Also known as Table Mountain) an Iron Age hill fort overlooking the town of Crickhowell. 

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First, some history about how I came to find, live and work in this magical place for twelve years.

Prior to 1993, I had been living and working in the United States for twenty-eight years.  From 1972 I had been happily married, raising my two children and establishing myself as a working artist.       However,  as we all know life can throw curve balls, and so when my marriage came to an end in 1987,  I made the decision to stay in the States until my two children were of an independent age and then return to the UK/Europe.

Between 1987 and 1993 along with getting heat and running water into my studio where I was also living  (a story unto itself) – I produced an enormous amount of work.    Numerous large corporate murals, several series of paintings, and continued to give workshops.

There were those who saw me struggling to survive and living in my studio who thought I had gone mad, but in fact I had gone sane….It was the beginning of a new journey – a major turning point.

The 17th century bridge crossing the River Usk leading into Crickhowell. Crickhowell

In 1992 my cousin Lyn Statham came to visit me in the States.     Knowing that I wanted to return to the UK/Europe, she suggested that I come to visit the family in a place called Crickhowell Wales. with a view to settling there…..and the rest is history.

I re-call vividly Lyn and her husband PJ picking me up at Heathrow Airport and then driving me to Wales.      As we left England and approached Wales my heart began to leap, and then as we drove over the 17th century bridge from Llangatock into the town of Crickhowell….I knew deep down in my gut that this was the place I wanted to be.

At that time Lyn, PJ and their two younger children, Andrew and Kara were living in the town of Crickhowell and my Aunt and Uncle (my father’s sister and husband) lived one mile from the town.     For the first time in a few years I felt as if I belonged and was part of a family again.   It was wonderful.

My uncle, cousin Lyn and a very happy me:) 199320200704_105256During this first visit, I fell in love with Bumble the family dog and through Bumble began to meet the people of Crickhowell.    Everyone knew Bumble:).       After I moved there  permanently, Bumble and I walked for miles every day…..

watercolour.- BumbleIMG_2648

Tom, Tasha and Bumble at Ty Gwyn 20200704_121438-2Tom, Kara and Tasha putting on a play in the garden at Ty Gwyn…next to a little mural I painted on one of the ancient walls.    Before tablets and I phones……20200704_105342Prior to 1993 I had never been much of a landscape painter, however the Usk Valley, and Brecon Beacons were to change all of that for me.    The stunning and dramatic shift of light moving over the the magnificent landscape was, and still is mesmerising

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This quick sketch of part of the Crickhowell bridge is the first ever watercolour I painted in Wales.   I sat in Bull Pit Meadow next to the River Usk and felt as if I had died and gone to heaven:)

Note that in 1993 I was still signing my work ‘Janet C Reed’ (Reed being my married name)     After moving permanently to Crickhowell in 1994 I added my maiden name ‘Weight’ to my signature.

I remember the joy I felt when I. made this sketch.   l still have the original and the same brush I used that day. 20200701_161544Having fallen totally in love with Crickhowell and the surrounding area on that first visit,  I  returned to the States to make plans for a permanent move home.

I was forty-seven, my son twenty seven and my daughter about to enter University.

One of my first decisions was to stop driving.    In the States I always felt as if I had a car attached to my body.   In Crickhowell, I could walk everywhere…including to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker.      Twenty-seven years later, I still do NOT drive.   I have continued to design my life so that I don’t need a car – and can honestly say I have never missed it.

Mist over the Brecon Beacons   BKFHY9_369503892_599400181-920x613

Not only could I walk to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker but I could also walk to about twelve pubs – all of which served food – from pub grub to fine dining and everything in between.     How about that for convenience?

This is one of the many reasons Crickhowell and the surrounding area is perfect for walkers and artists.

There are many places to stay – from hotels, Pubs, to Air B’n Bs and self catering cottages, and the painting opportunities are endless.

The Dragon Hotel is a personal favourite of mine….and the breakfasts are amazing.   The Dragon will be our central meeting place during our VIRTUAL week. the-dragon-inn-crickhowell_221220091630184384

As far as transportation is concerned...Cardiff Airport is about an hour and a half away and of course there are trains from London and other parts of the country.      Abervavenny train staton is seven miles from Crickhowell.      Plus for those who do drive there are easy routes from around the UK.      Also there are some excellent taxi services and so for meals in outlying pubs – or airport pick ups –  no problem at all.

I am of course writing this after Covid which is why this trip is a VIRTUAL…..but hopefully it will give everyone a taster into what they can expect when we visit in reality.  

During the next few days, I will take you to different places in and around Crickhowell known for their historic interest and beauty – as well as excellent sketching opportunities.

We will sample the foods, wine and local spirits…..all of which can be purchased in Crickhowell’s delightful local shops.

Grenfell’s one of the many local shops – just across the road from the Dragon. 20200705_133138

One of the many Air B ‘n Bs in the surrounding area.   FB_IMG_1523948682803I couldn’t write about Wales without adding some sheep to the equation.

Tomboy pen, watercolour on a gouache ground. 20200702_095902

For those who joined me on the last two VIRTUAL trips – to Portugal and Amish country, USA..the format here will be similar.

Please feel free to make any comments on the blog and sketch along with me. 

We are meeting at 11.30 today at The Dragon Inn for lunch and whatever else floats your boat…..

This evening, after a walk around the town, we will eat at The Bear – a few hundred yards from the Dragon…..148298-Crickhowell

We meet again tomorrow at The Dragon and then sketch by the river….

Lechyd Da to one and all..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 thoughts on “Introduction for my VIRTUAL trip to beautiful WALES

  1. jenanita01

    So very glad I opened your post today! I have never visited Wales, but always wanted to and this glimpse into what is obviously heaven on earth really inspires me. Your art work is amazing and inspiring too!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much for this lovely comment. Wales is a very special place and the Brecon Beacons, Usk Valley is exceptionally lovely. I will be posting all this week with lots of images. Hope you continue to enjoy. Janet:)

      Reply
  2. Trev Jones

    What a superb description. I know the area well as I live about an hours drive north from there. I had been to Brecon in February before COVID struck. Wales is such a beautiful part of the world and I am blessed to be living here. Good luck.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Trev. Thank you for your lovely comment. Yes, Wales is a very beautiful place and I love the people. I have quite a bit of Welsh blood myself:) Enjoy the day and the beauty that surrounds you. Janet

      Reply
  3. Jane Owen

    In all the years I visited Wales, both parents are from North Wales I have never heard of this beautiful place. Wish my dad was still living because Im sure he would have heard of your beautuful town. I plan to return to the U.K. one day although not sure where to settle yet. I will have to nake a point o visiting thus beautiful place. Thank you for sharing Janet.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Jane…yes you really must come and visit Crickhowell…although in a different part of Wales it would be pretty easy for you to get to. Hope all’s well. Janet :)x

      Reply
  4. Judith

    I’m here, I’m excited, I’m ready to sketch and paint! There is so much to see. I love the sheep. I will definitely be sketching sheep. 🙂 And pub grub sounds good.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I also love sheep….and miss them very much where I am living now…however I am not that far from Wales and so look forward to going back for visit soon…as for pub grub – it’s fantastic:). We start painting tomorrow….x

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Fortunately I am able to get back very easily – it’s only a few hours away. I have so many good friends there. Wales is a wonderful country and I love the Welsh people. I have quite a bit of Welsh blood myself. Thanks so much for commenting. Janet 🙂

      Reply
  5. Writing to Freedom

    It’s nice to learn more about your history and how you came back home to the UK and this delightful town. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit, live, and paint. I love your landscapes of this area, especially that hills with the golden trees.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Brad. When I came back it was a bold move…but it felt so right in my gut – a lesson to remember. Many of my friends swore it wouldn’t work, but it did….:)

      Reply
  6. Jet Eliot

    Oh what a fantastic visit to Crickhowell, Janet. I have always enjoyed your art from your life here, and this virtual tour is again a joy. In this post I especially like the painting of Bumble; and the Usk Valley watercolor landscape. Astounding art, easy to see why you loved it there. I also liked the photos, especially the one with your uncle and cousin, you are so happy here. I would love to visit this town, and I think I probably will. Looking forward to more of the virtual tour. Thank you, my friend.

    Reply
  7. snowbird

    I just loved this post, seeing the mist and all your fantastic artwork had me aching to actually be there. Looking forward to following this. You are such an amazing woman!xxx

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Dina…it means a great deal coming from you – Maybe one of these days we can meet in Crichowell? A lot of people would like me to give a workshop there…I will keep you appraised. xxxx

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Timi. It was a choice and one I am very glad I made. I hated having to drive everywhere when I lived in the States. Even tho I am no longer living in Crikchowell I am living in a place which is similar. I can walk to everything I need within minutes. When I first did it a lot of my friends thought I had lost the plot. That was 25 years ago…I say with a big smile on my face. Hope all’s well with you. Janet XX

      Reply
  8. Ka Malana - Fiestaestrellas.com

    Feeling grateful to get to be able to visit Wales again, and through your eyes! Love these landscape paintings. That cover piece captures all those layers of light, fog, shadow, color. I remember the richness of the colors coming out amidst the rain laden sky in Wales.

    You have such a marvelous life that you are sharing with us, too. It’s hard to image, for me, having children so young as I am now almost 40 and have a 1 year old, and working really hard at trying to complete a graduate program.

    No wonder you fell in love with this place. I love how you described your very special, transformative years before 1993. I remember dreaming I would have a studio one day. While that never happened, and I basically stopped making art around my early 20s, I thank you for sharing this journey on your blog! I am always making time to read as many of your posts as I can.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Having a one year old and working to complete a graduate program is a full time job x 2:). However, like all things in life…this too shall pass and before you know it you will wake up to find that your little one is in school and you are fully qualified. Meanwhile, I keep going back to the. small sketch book…something to doodle in….with your Tombow pen and one brush…..maybe quick sketches of your child…anything to keep the juices flowing.
      When I had my children in 1966 and 1975, Mothers were much younger. In fact in 1966, if you weren’t married and did’t have a baby by the time you were 25 everyone thought there was something wrong with.you! Life constantly evolving. Remember that the creative process is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. So glad you are enjoying to trip to Wales, albeit Virtual xx

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I was very fortunate to live there…however, given that I lived there before social media and selling through the web….it meant giving workshops three times a year in the States and in France and other countries as well as Wales…but all worth it. Hope you have fully recovered and are back to your painting. 🙂

      Reply

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