7.14am, The Bell pub, on the River Monnow bridge, opposite the ruins of Skenfrith castle, Monmouthshire.Wales, UK
It’s so quiet. Hard to believe that the paved laneway across the skinny stone bridge just outside the front door of the pub used to be the main artery between the docks and industrial North of England and the Welsh capital of Cardiff.
That would make The Bell originally a 17th century coaching inn, built on a bend of the Monnow river, which divides the “Welsh Marches” from England. These Marches are the ‘borderland’ counties that more or less sit between the Welsh mountains and the English rolling flats, and are covered with thick forest – which we weaved through yesterday to get here – passing the mystical bits like the ruins of Tintern Abbey on the way.
And what brings us to this eye of the storm in the Wye Valley? Last night was the opening event for the 12th Abergavenny Food Festival, and The Bell’s head chef Justin presented a dinner of local produce, meat and fish – and chose a selection of our wines that he thought worked in well.