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Pontypool Weekend - December 2021

3 members of Footprints, Debbie, Hamida and myself, travelled down to Pontypool in South Wales in early December 2021 to meet up with fellow Footprints members Paul, Ian and Richard to do a couple of day walks in the area and also to view Paul’s Christmas lights display at his house in Pontypool. I travelled down to South Wales early on the Saturday morning and met up with Paul and Ian Saturday lunchtime to do a short walk around Llandegfedd reservoir. Later, Debbie and Hamida arrived and we all met up for tea and coffee in the bar at their accommodation.

We then travelled to see Paul’s Christmas lights display and Christmas decorations at his house – and what a sight! The whole living room was dedicated to all things Christmassy – every single space of the living room was crammed with all sorts of Christmas paraphernalia - there were 1,000 lights on the Christmas tree alone, and Paul tells me that there were 11,000 lights in total in the living room and porch, powered by 8 adaptors with 6 plugs All in all, very impressive and we appreciated all the hard work that Paul had done to prepare the display.

Having admired Paul’s Christmas display, we then travelled on to a pub in Usk for an evening meal, where Martin joined us. It was good to catch up with Footprints friends old and new.

Sunday morning saw Paul arrive in style, his car was decorated with Christmas flags on the outside with Christmas music played on the CD inside. Paul gave some of us a lift to the start of the walk with the South Gwent Ramblers group. We walked along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, before walking along a footpath above Talybont reservoir, and then gaining some height along the tops – a bit blowy here! – before descending to the valley again and walking back along the canal to the start - where there was a charity outdoor disco happening at the local village hall – with some Christmas songs being sung!

We then joined members of the South Gwent Ramblers for an evening meal at a pub in Pandy on the Hereford to Abergavenny Road. Afterwards we said our goodbyes to Ian and travelled back to Pontypool. However, Mr Christmas himself still had one more trick up his sleeve for the weekend. Still brimming with enthusiasm, after dropping Debbie off at her accommodation he took me, Hamida and Richard to view the Christmas decorations on display in houses and gardens in a local housing development near Pontypool. Again, the commentary on the lights and decorations delivered in his own enthusiastic style for all things Christmassy!

Writing about this event now, Christmas 2021 seems a long time ago. However, belated thanks must go to Ian for organising the walks and for helping with transport/lifts for the weekend. To the South Gwent Ramblers for allowing us to join one of their walks. And last but not least to Mr Christmas himself. For his kindness, enthusiasm and hospitality, he had certainly gone to a lot of trouble to look after us! The weekend away, the first Footprints pre-Christmas weekend for a while, gave us hope that we would host more Footprint events in 2022 and catch up with Footprint friends old and new.

Jonathan (with contributions from Debbie)