Abergavenny is a Monmouthshire market town nestling in the Welsh countryside which borders Powys. I grew up 14 miles away at the top of the South Wales Valleys yet ventured into Abergavenny very little. After all how much difference can 14 miles make culturally? One would imagine there would be almost no difference.
Well one would be very wrong in that assumption.
The South Wales Valleys has its own culture (not to say one culture is better than another, just different) which stems from it's industrial past yet when you travel just a few miles away north you find a culture based around farming which in itself lends a different dynamic to the overall experience of life within that area.
Rural market towns tend to have a more relaxed atmosphere which caters for those who appreciate the aesthetic way of life rather than the hustle and bustle of towns that unfortunately have lost their prime industry only to be replaced by high unemployment and the social implications that go along with it.
This is of course a very sad ending to these great towns when you realise it was the blood, sweat and tears of these people of these industrial towns who built the western world as we know it today as they led the way in the industrial revolution.
So what of this specific market town (Abergavenny) and it's inhabitants?
Abergavenny was the place I went for a change of scenery or to the superb classical music shop there called Abergavenny Music (which deserves an article in its own right) but I hardly gave a moments thought to actually investigating what the rest of the town had to offer because it offered me enough as a passing visitor which was a castle and an Aladdin's cave for the music lover.
The change in my perspective came about because of a change in my circumstances.
I have found myself renting a very nice house in the area for the next couple of months and this has led to me changing my social habits.
In my previous dwelling I was a reclusive hermit in a very remote location who would leave his cave when the cupboards were beginning to look a little bare or to go to the local pub to let everyone know how fantastic a human being I am then belittling the locals by pointing out how their fruitless and pointless existences were far inferior to my own ventures.
I enjoy winding people up but no wonder I was rather unpopular there but this did not bother me in the slightest.
IfÂ you're going to be an egocentric self centred geniusÂ then it's always good to remember that people will hate you en-mass so when armed with that knowledge you are immediately desensitized and impervious to the criticism of others who are obviously less in every sense of the word 'less' than you are.
Anyway back to the plot.
I decided that upon arriving in Abergavenny I should have a Sunday afternoon drink to find out if the town had anything out of the ordinary to offer a stranger in a strange town.
I decided that walking was the preferred mode of transport and walked through well kept terraced streets and charming alleywaysÂ till I found the centre of the town.
I decided that a pub called Hen and Chickens should be the first port of call.
Upon arriving I found myself presented with a good selection of real ales and when in doubt go for what you already know so it was a pint of The Reverend James that I wet my whistle with and jolly good it was as well. However this was not all this pub had going for it.
The inn indeed had many features of charm with much of the original character still well intact but the real surprise was the quality of live music.
There was a three piece jazz ensemble which consisted of piano, double bass and drums all of whom were accomplished musicians and virtuosos.
This alone would give me good reason to return.
But it just kept getting better, I sat outside and enjoyed a rolled up cigarette with my pint and listened to the music coming from within the pub whilst striking up conversations with the very pleasant locals who I have yet to annoy with heroic tales of the great and wonderful me.
The locals were down to earth and from a good cross section of society and the snobbery I was told I would encounter was nowhere to be seen.
Then just like a dream the town clock chimed as the sun broke through the clouds and this set the atmosphere and ambiance for the day.
I found myself falling in love with my temporary life in Abergavenny and wondered if there was more that this lovely town had to offer.
So off I trundled (quite reluctantly I might add) to the next watering hole because this was a fact finding mission to establish what is what in my new town of residence.
Within a short walk I found another great pub called The Market Tavern with live music of a different kind, this time it was heavy rock and very loud (Which is the only way to play heavy rock).
And yet again this was different, the band were having a rehearsal and inviting members of the audience to get up and have a go at any instrument they wanted which was a nice touch so the beer got the better of me and I played bass on Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the wall part 2' and Steppenwolf's 'Born to be wild' which went down rather well and was most enjoyable to play with these excellent and most generous of musicians.
It became quite apparent through dialogue with the musicians that Abergavenny and the surrounding areas attracts musicians and hence the vibrant music scene in the town.
At the end of all these shenanigans I was rather hungry and found an excellent Indian restaurant which did a takeaway called The Sundarbon so my wife picked myself and the piping hot take away up.
The food was lovely.
So ends my first Sunday afternoon in Abergavenny and my goodness was it a good one.
All in all discovering what it is like to live/spend timeÂ in Abergavenny turned into a delightfully pleasant surprise and not one I was expecting so I highly recommend a Sunday drink here if you like good beer, quality live music, nice bite to eat and friendly locals and all set in a the beautiful backdrop of Sugar Loaf mountain.
Yes there are not so good areas here and like all towns Friday and Saturday nights can be a bit bracing but that goes for all towns so is not all that unexpected in the scheme of things.