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Monthly Review: October 2020

Submitted by Bethany on Sat, 10/31/2020 - 10:00

Author’s Note: I stopped blogging regularly in 2020, but now in 2023, I am using Google Photos and Google Maps timeline to recreate a post about what we were up to each month! 


October started with the delivery of our stuff from the USA, right on the 1st! These items were packed up and left my parent's house sometime in August…so it was quite the journey for it all to get to us. We didn’t send too much over - only 2 big items of furniture - our game table and a china hutch that once belonged to Joel’s grandmother. Other than it was all art, books, clothes, kitchen items, and small things like that. We are so grateful that everything made it safely - not a single item was damaged! 


The next few days were a blur of unpacking, but then it was time for my first Harvest Festival! This was at one of my smaller chapels, Gwehelog. The ladies here always go all out in their decor for every holiday, which you know I love. This year they even used corn stalks, which reminded me of home - my mom used to always use corn stalks to decorate our front porch every fall. 

At some point in here, I also picked up a new treasure from the car boot sale - a popcorn maker! I almost didn’t get this little guy but Joel talked me into him and I’m so glad he did. I think it cost us £2 and I use it all the time. Movie theater popcorn here is usually sweet instead of salty, and even if you ask for it salty, there is no butter! So, needless to say, I never get popcorn at the theater anymore. Thanks to this adorable little duck, I can make my own at home and add the perfect amount of butter. 

Tuesday the 6th of October was apparently a big day as I have lots of photos! It started off with a staff meeting at Caldicot Methodist Church. At the time this was about a 45-minute drive from our house and Joel went with me as I wasn’t confident driving on my own yet. I remember he made me drive to this meeting and kept scolding me for being too far to the left! While I sat in a meeting Joel explored the town and discovered that Caldicot Castle was just down the road, so we went there after my meeting. (Little did we know that just over 2 years later we’d be living only a 5-minute walk from this castle!)

Then in the afternoon, I visited a Monmouth church member who lives just outside of town. Nearby is Gwern-y-Saint Methodist Chapel which has closed for worship but the circuit still owns the building. They had plans for it that got disrupted by Covid. Alan took me on a visit to the chapel. The building has no running water or toilet facilities, but it does have electricity! Alan and his son were in the midst of restoring it a bit. 

Then in the evening, I had a Zoom meeting with my Covenant group. I love that we still manage to meet monthly (mostly) even though we now live in different states and different countries! At this point, Heather had a brand-new baby and I have no idea what Sarah was talking about. I love this little snapshot of our time together. 

As I unpacked I had a lot of fun discovering clothes I hadn’t worn in a long time. I was especially delighted by this fall shirt that my friend Danielle gave me. Look how cute!

For years, basically since I saw this idea shortly after leaving the US, I had been wanting to hang my stoles up on the wall using a curtain rod. I was excited to make this dream become a reality in my new study! I’ve added a few to my collection since then, and in my current study they hang on a ladder, but here’s what they looked like in October 2020!

Then it was time for Harvest at Monmouth! The usually do a Harvest dinner the night before, but we didn’t do one this year because of Covid. The display on the altar was lovely, and that banner was handmade by a church member. 

I was also delighted to find my name was put on the sign outside! Things were starting to feel very official! 

On the 12th we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Due to Covid we still weren’t comfortable going out to a restaurant, so I made us a steak dinner to eat at home. The pumpkin candle holder on the table is one of four that we used as decor at our wedding. The champagne glasses are ones my mom bought on a trip to Italy when I was in junior high, then had engraved with our wedding date. We use them every year on our anniversary!


My mom sent me a few care packages this month, filled with gifts and goodies like some Halloween leggings. She also sent a whole lot of Slim Jims! Steve had been missing them from the US so she used them as packing filler for other stuff. We gave a lot to Steve and I still have a few lying around the house as emergency snacks. Unfortunately, she doesn’t send these anymore as we learned the hard way that not only was shipping expensive, but I had to pay anywhere from £30-£50 on import fees! 


Throughout the month the house continued in various states of disarray as we slowly worked on unpacking. Not only were we unpacking stuff that arrived from the US, but we were in the midst of ordering things that we needed. I think this mess came when we ordered a new bed and had just put it all together. We splurged on a “Super King” which is really just a US-sized King bed. 

On a Friday night mid-month our friends Tom and Rachel had us over for dinner. The food was great and the company even better, though the only pictures I took were of their dog, Demi. Look how cute she is! And check out that tail wagging so fast it’s just a blur!


We continued to take long walks to explore our surroundings. One thing I love about the UK is there are always multiple walking paths to get somewhere - sometimes it takes a while to find all the nooks and crannys you can go do! I captured this view of Monmouth as we went into town over the bridge from the Vauxhall Fields. 


Monmouth has also been the site of filming many BBC TV shows and films. They have even filmed an episode of Doctor Who in town! This fake advertisement on the side of a wall in town is left over from that episode. 

The autumn colours began to show off around this time of year. This photo was taken in St. Mary’s church yard in the middle of town. 

This one was taken on a sunnier day down by the River Wye at the bottom of town. 

It took us a long time to get all of our art on the walls. Here we are trying to figure out how to hang our “love” gallery wall. Due to the chaos of unpacking, I didn’t really decorate much for Halloween this year, but you can see the spider table cloth I picked up! 

On Saturday the 24th, I attended my friend Kendy’s wedding on Zoom! She got married in her backyard back in Iowa, but thanks to the magic of technology I attended from Wales. I even wore a fascinator just to be in the proper spirit. 

On the following Monday, we decided to drive up to Trellech to do some exploring. I serve a little Methodist Chapel in this village so we walked all around the area. First, we walked to Harold’s Stones. Here is what the sign near them says: “These stones, from which Trellech takes its name, date back 3,500 years to the Bronze Age. The conglomerate rock called Pudding Stone, was dragged on logs from nearby and levered into the ground. Possibly they were put there as marker stones or to give seasonal information, or for use at religious ceremonies.”

Then we found the Virtuous Well. Here is what the sign near it says: “Once known as St. Ann’s well and famous for its cures, it was visited by many pilgrims as late as the 17th century. It is said to be four separate springs, three containing iron and each curing a different illness. Its niches held offerings and cups. Stones seats gave rest to the weary traveller. 

There are also actual Roman ruins in Trellech that are still being excavated and studied today! 

We also climbed a small man-made hill called “the tump” to get a good view (and some mobile phone service.) On the way back down I ended up sliding down the muddy side of the hill! 

The next day for our walk we went up to the Kymin, which is on a big hill overlooking Monmouth. Look at this incredible view of the town below! We ended up getting rained out that day, you can see the storm coming in this photo. 

So we went back the next day and also explored the wooded area nearby. It was a beautiful place to walk, especially at this time of year. 

And then, without much fuss, it was Halloween! We weren’t back on strict lockdown yet, but Steve’s area had been put into lockdown so he wasn’t able to visit. I didn’t decorate much because we were unpacking so I think we mostly just watched some scary movies and called it good. On Halloween day we did explore an old church down by the river and met an older gentleman who ended up giving us a personalized tour and history lesson. That was pretty cool! Here is a picture of our tour guide (I wanted photo proof in case he turned out to be a ghost, haha.) 

The first mention of a church in this area dates back to 735AD. That’s 1500 years of worship in this place! The history in the UK continues to boggle my mind. The church that is here now, St. Peter’s, unfortunately suffers from fairly frequent flooding when the River Wye spills its banks. On this day they had just recently reopened after repairs from flooding that happened the previous February. 

One thing I love about these old churches is that they often have a sign that lists their vicars (ministers) going back as far as possible. Here, the first listing is for 1257!! Can you imagine?!? I wish the Methodists did this so someday, centuries from now, my name would still be a wall somewhere!

I’ll close with this picture of sheep. The public path along the river literally goes through the sheep field, and they are just chill with it! They just kind of amble out of your way as you get closer. This blows my mind as an American because in the US you would never be allowed to walk through an animal field - that would be major trespassing! But here it happens all the time. 

October 2020 was filled with tons of exploring in our new area - we are blessed that there is so much to explore here! 

XOXO, Bethany