Since Tintern Abbey is not in the care of the National Trust or English Heritage, there are some drawbacks - an entry fee, gift shops selling the most unbelievable old toot and the most disgusting public toilets I have seen in a long time. Plus, this rather odd extension to the Anchor pub. The original building has all the charm you might expect - a plethora of dark wood, uneven floors and real ales. The Garden Room is a (very) modern addition and has all the charm you might expect - a plethora of blond wood, hard tiles and stainless steel.
Still, the place probably has to cater for coachloads of the very young and the very elderly and had the merit of being affordable. I had an egg and cress sandwich, a reasonable pass at one at least, served in the packet with no accompanying crisps or salad. Though, in fairness, where salad is concerned, who cares? And there was no coy attempt to pad out the actual sandwich with bundles of damp cress in an effort to hike the 'green' credentials of the place.
Drew's quiche salad was a better offering, adorned with a bright green salad, luminous yellow sweetcorn and shiny pink and red-hued beetroot. A little psychedelic, in fact; but, then, the Abbey itself is not without its hypnotic, psychoactive qualities. The great merit of this place is the view it provides of those astounding ruins that no photo*, no painting can do true justice. Sit on the farthest bench, watch a flock of birds swooping over those Gothic arches 'neath a lowering, late summer sky and ponder the fleeting nature of existence, the winking out of small lights in a great darkness.
*Not even those on the websites which, inexplicably, no one has thought to call the Tinternet.