Vikki and Matt Visit
We were looking forward to the weekend ahead because our great friends Vikki and Matt were travelling down from London to spend some time with us. Unfortunately, the weather heard and decided to give Vikki her first Welsh Storm. To be honest, it was pretty yuck over all of Wales, and there were warnings out everywhere. Even Princess Eugenie had a bit of windy wedding at Windsor (yes, I did watch it). But Matt and Vikki braved the weather and headed down the M4 anyway.
Saturday morning started with Dan heading off to his park run, which was cancelled because the river looked like this.
But we were determined to check out the Big Pit Museum despite the rain. Armed with jackets and scarves we headed out into the elements.
Arriving at the Big Pit we were greeted by a train. We took a picture for all our train enthusiast family members.
We had been told that The Big Pit was the best mining experience you could have. We weren't so sure at first, it seemed a little deserted and we didn't quite know where to go. But pretty soon we were welcomed into a building where we learnt about the process and history of mining in Wales.
Did you know that when it first started families would work together, with the women and children heading down the mine is baskets to help? The women were the 'horses', moving the coal out of the mine. It would have been heavy, hard work. And dangerous. They used candles to see, a great idea when methane gas hangs around mines.
This experience took you for a walk through a mine, learning the development of technology and tools in the mine. It wasn't a 'real mine' but there were some simulations that had Hannah and I holding hands, 'cause who knows, maybe the dynamite was real.
Our next experience was walking through a 'bath'. No Roman baths though. These were built for the men to clean up after their shift. It changed the life of the men, but it also changed the life of the people at home. See women would be responsible for filling up the bath for her husband and having it ready for when he came home. She had to hand fill it with boiling water and it wasn't just one small jug. Children often fell into the scalding water. So the introduction of these baths at the pit made life better for everyone.
There was a bit of reading about the men and the mining industry in Wales. It really only lasted 100 years or so but had a massive impact on the people, land and economics. While the closing of the mines has been good for the health of people and the land, it has left a hole in terms of comradery and a clear industry for Wales. Many men were quoted as to say it was the "men and friendships they missed".
The final stop on our tour was the actual 'pit'. We were going to head down into the mine to a depth of around 90 meters. Eeeek!
We were all suited up with helmets, headlamp and a belt filled with safety things. We all felt a bit apprehensive but were also excited to experience it. We weren't allowed to take any phones or watches, or anything with batteries down as they can be dangerous. Apparently they could potentially make things go boom. Eek!
It was amazing. We walked around for about an hour. In some parts you couldn't stand up straight. You got an good idea of what it would have been like to work there. Hard, body breaking stuff. Our guide was informative and interesting. We learnt a lot, but the biggest learning was that none of us would like to work in a mine.
By this stage we were starving so we found a pub and ate a snack. Luckily for Hannah Frozen was playing on the tv. It was hard for her to let it go when we had to leave.
That evening we headed to a pup in Ponty that was in the top 10 pubs to try in Wales, Bunch of Grapes. It was a lovely evening of food, wine/lemonade and good company.
This was Dan's meal. Amazing!
We had such a great time visiting together.