Christmas starts for us with the traditional Carol Service in the ruins of Tintern Abbey. It is held on the first Saturday in December and begins with a torch light procession around the grounds and into the Nave where a great host gathers to celebrate the season with 9 readings and 9 carols.

It’s a great tradition. We gather in the Anchor pub just after dark and have a couple of drinks before buying our torches and hymn sheets. Hundreds of torches are lit and as you enter the great Abbey the light bounces of the walls to produce an atmospheric setting for the Christmas service.

The fact there is no roof or windows adds to the wonder of the event. A school choir sets the tone and the congregation sings old favourites with gusto. What a way to get the season of goodwill started.

We couldn’t get a meal in Tintern or at the Fountain at Trellech Grange on the way home so we ate at the Star at Llansoy which is now under new management. We’d heard good reports, but this was the first time we’d visited personally and we were very pleasantly surprised by the standard and variety of food on offer. Worth considering when choosing somewhere to eat and drink. It’s only about 15 minutes from us on the other side of Devauden.

The business we run from Upper Glyn Farm, White Hart Multimedia, had its Christmas lunch at the Royal George Hotel in Tintern in a private room for 12. I have to say the food, service and atmosphere was excellent as ever and its no surprise that the venue is one of our top recommendations for a meal.

December 21st is my birthday and for the past 11 years we go for a long walk with a few local pubs on the way. This year we walked from the farm to the Fountain at Trellech Grange which opened early so we could have a quick drink at 11am.

Then it was onto the Kingstone Brewery in Tintern where they laid on an excellent lunch washed down by some of their superb ale. Ed and Tori are fantastic hosts and their food and drink are always first class.

We left later than intended because it was so good and walked to the Boat at Penallt on the Welsh side taking the lower Wye valley trail. The last hour in the dark but easy to navigate with torches.

Normally the Boat is rocking at this time of year but the pub across the river called the Bell had a Belvis festival on with an Elvis impressionist, so we had the Boat to ourselves. It was bliss. Camped around a blazing stove we celebrated in style and I loved every minute with good friends and family. The dogs were exhausted but happy in front of the fire.

We were back in The Fountain on Christmas Eve singing carols again. The lunchtime sing song in CAMRA’s Monmouthshire country pub of the year is another tradition where we meet friends and have a drink in this warm and friendly pub.

We had a lovely family book all three cottages on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Mum, three sisters and their families from Dorset and South Africa came together to celebrate and they had a wonderful time judging by their comments and reviews.

After Christmas we were delighted to see Mags Slocombe with her family revisit us after a successful reunion with her 4 other sisters earlier in the year.

The Skirrid hosted a family originally from Bulgaria but now living in Kent. We had a great walk together through Chepstow Park Woods and now that the forestry has been cleared on the western slopes the view over the Severn Estuary is awesome.

Thanks to all our guests who stayed over Christmas and the New Year. We feel very fortunate that in 2019, our first year, we have had such interesting, friendly and respectful guests, often with their dogs. It has been a pleasure and we hope to see you all again soon.

Skirrid holiday cottage under construction

A torch light procession to Tintern Abbey – magical

Skirrid holiday cottage under construction

Carols by Candlelight

Skirrid holiday cottage under construction

Birthday walk with my two sons. A muddy Lower Wye Valley walk on the Welsh side

Skirrid holiday cottage under construction

Our Bru Dog at Kingstone Brewery with son Tom