Fit for a Queen

Published May 11, 2013

It’s been Mr C’s turn to come up with something for us to do on a day out for a while now. With a sunny bank holiday approaching, he said he finally had something in mind, so we hopped in the car. I’m not good with surprises, but he wouldn’t tell me where we were going. After navigating us this way and that, he admitted that I shouldn’t really get my hopes up as we were going to a field in the middle of the countryside. Having grown up in the countryside, I’ve seen my fair share of nature so this didn’t exactly thrill me. I assumed there would be a bit more to it.

We continued onwards until, get this, we really did end up parked in a layby opposite a field in the middle of nowhere.

This wasn’t just any old nowhere though, this was the site of Rockfield Studios. Incongruously situated amongst the sheep and rolling hills of the Welsh countryside, this nestling former family home has been converted into residential music studios, steeped with rock & roll history.

Rockfield is reportedly the second-longest-running recording studios after Abbey Road - they’ve had Oasis, Queen, Coldplay and so many more. There’s a stretch of wall that is reportedly the inspiration for Wonderwall, and this is where Bohemian Rhapsody began to take shape.

We didn’t get close to the studios themselves, but ogled them from a distance. Like true tourists, we took a picture next to the sign.

Rockfield studios

The inspiration for Mr C to visit this heralded place came from a recent issue of Sound on Sound magazine, which explains:

Of the many famous tracks recorded at Rockfield, perhaps the most iconic is Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’; Rockfield was also the primary studio for much of the band’s albums A Night at the Opera and Sheer Heart Attack. The current studio manager, Lisa Ward, daughter of founder Kingsley Ward, even remembers Freddie Mercury writing parts of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ sitting in the room where the feed and the horse tack for the horses was being kept in those days.

I’m not smart about music, and I wasn’t anticipating a “trip to a field in the middle of nowhere” to be any good. But actually, there was something a bit special about being where Freddie Mercury has been. Where the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody were born. I wonder if there were thunderbolts and lightning one evening, very, very frightening? Marvellous.

We moved on to nearby Monmouth, who claim to be the World’s First Wikipedia Town. Naturally, this caught our interest, and we had to investigate further. They’ve named it MonmouthpediA, and it turns out that key buildings around Monmouth have had little plaques installed on them with QR codes on. If you have a QR reading app, you scan the code and hey presto, it takes you to the relevant Wikipedia entry so you can learn more about the building you are standing outside. I can’t see it catching on, particularly, but it was quite fun when we saw our first one!

(As an aside, if you want to read more about it, there’s an entry on Wikipedia about MonmouthpediA. Confusing and meta, but still!)

After an ice-cool drink by the river and a stroll about town, it was time to go home. It may not have been the kind of bank holiday trip I expected or could ever have predicted, but it was a great day out.

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