After months of reporting on the traffic woes of Monmouth I got to experience them for myself last Friday.

After a day at our new office in the town I headed for the car only to find the town completely gridlocked on the hottest day of the year so far. 

With a new health kick preventing me from settling into the car with a large Mr Whippy from the inviting looking ice-cream van in the car park I decided to brave the traffic and after 20 minutes finally made it  out on to the main road.

When another 20 minutes had seen me no closer to reaching the end of the town bridge I settled on implementing my plan B and turned my car in the opposite direction to head towards Abergavenny on the ‘old road’.

It was as I left behind the traffic chaos of a sweltering Monmouth that I realised how much  we - or at least I - take for granted. With the sun blazing down the countryside came to life and the views almost literally took my breath away.

After a long day at my desk it was wonderful to pull the car off the road, drink in the views and ‘stretch my eyes’ as my late great aunt used to say.

It’s sad that we do this so rarely and as I watched cars hurtling past me I could only rue what they were missing.

Sitting there - albeit regretting the lack of a large 99 - I thought back to the days when I was a child when we used to go out for a weekend drive and be thrilled to find a lay-by with a view where my parents would park up and break out the Thermos flask.

Looking back even further The Mother often speaks of the Sundays when after chapel she and the family would leave the  safety of Nantyglo and venture ‘down the country’ to enjoy the self same views I was now relishing.

Yet now we seem to have lost that ability to ‘stand and stare’ at the place where we live as Welsh poet W H Davies urged us to do.

We’re all rushing around so much finding things to criticise and change that we rarely stop and appreciate how lucky we are to live in such as stunning part of the world.

I’m heading off in a little while for a (possibly) well-earned break to France and I know that as we drive around the Dordogne, between the wine tastings and baguette devouring, the anticipation of which have prompted my recent health drive, we will spend many moments waxing lyrical about the beauty of the countryside and yet there is probably nothing to be seen there which as incredible as the vistas to be caught on the back road from Abergavenny to Monmouth with its secluded cottages and mountain views

They say that every cloud has a silver lining and mine without a doubt appeared at the end of a Monmouth traffic jam