Waitrose Abergavenny

Heading towards Hereford on a cloud-shrouded Heads of the Valleys road, we pondered breakfast options ahead. As we dived down the spectacular Clydach Gorge, we marvelled at the goings-on. It’s currently in the midst of a behemoth of a civil engineering project to dual another stretch before EU funding runs out. As we gingerly avoided earth movers, adverse cambers, and the like, we joined an already-completed section near Govilon. It was the very stretch in fact, where the roadside monkey banana sellers had been located.

When driving along this section of road with our small children in the back, I used to make up stories about monkeys selling bananas. These plucky primates, had set up a monkey cooperative business back in the early 2000s, selling Fairtrade bananas from the several laybys between Abergavenny and Govilon. Initially it had gone well, but participants were paid peanuts, and then some of the monkeys started eating the bananas, and profits started to slip. Eventually it ended in tears, and some of the monkeys ate each other, which was all very Lord Of The Flies. The rest are now in an ape and monkey  sanctuary near Ystradgynlais in the upper Swansea Valley.

It’s a bleak journey, breakfast-wise. There are miles of moorlands, then rolling fields after Abergavenny, but luckily we remembered there was a Waitrose on the final approach to the Hardwick Roundabout, and deftly slid off the A465 via a short slip-road.

Waitrose is everything one might expect, and gently lived up to any preconceptions we had on entering. Older couples predominated, he in blue or check shirt, and slacks, she in Breton top and linen trousers. They were probably reading the Daily Mail and Telegraph, and sat somewhere to the right of David Davies, the local MP. One of the regional AMs from this corner of Wales is Mark Reckless of UKIP. Say no more.

Abergavenny, the Gateway To Wales, is quite posh. I think most of the clientele were from the right side of the tracks, although as the station is on the edge of town, that applies to almost everyone.

The staff were very polite, and cheerfully efficient, dealing with a considerable queue while we were there. The food took a little while, but our server was responsive and  helpful. The bacon and egg on brown was as it should be, with crispy bacon and runny fried egg, and the coffee was very good. The room itself is large, light and airy, with a relaxing feel, even though the cafe was busy. It was after all, a Thursday, and market day.

Our window seat offered great views of the mountains beyond, as the town is almost surrounded by two peaks; the squat Blorenge and the distinctive Sugar Loaf. There are also five lesser hills: The Skirrid, Skirrid Fach, Deri, Rholben and Mynydd Llanwenarth.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Abergavenny, as the home of Abergavenny Thursdays FC, formed in 1927, but sadly wound up in 2013. I was lucky enough to see them play a number of years ago, but the occasion was a disappointment. The newly set up Abergavenny Town (formerly called Govilon FC) may have replaced the Thursdays as the town’s team, but something unique and wonderful has been lost here.

As Elvis Costello said in a song called Clubland, on his great LP Trust:

Thursday to Saturday

Money’s gone already

Some things come in common these days

Your hands and work aren’t steady

Have you ever been had

In clubland

So there you have it. Waitrose is one of the better supermarket cafes, as you might expect. Food and service are both good, and in the case of the Abergavenny store, so too the view. Certain items on the menu are a bit pricy, and there was too much smoked bacon for my liking. But, everyone does deserve good food, and we got that here. Next time, Sainsbury’s.

3 thoughts on “Waitrose Abergavenny

  1. A bit too posh for me Waitrose & Sainsbury’s! You’ve got a winning children’s book there – Monkeys of Abergavenny/ Mwnciod Y Fenni.


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