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When we left home it was a beautiful sunny day, just right for the expedition. We caught the 9:15 from Paddington and during the journey the sky became covered with ominous clouds. Beyond Newport, however, the weather settled for clouds and intermittent outbreaks of sunshine.
We reached Cardiff at 11:26 and walked through the by now familiar station to the taxi rank. The cab journey was not long as the client’s address was well within the town.
We had to buzz for admittance and then buzz a second time because the door failed to open. We ascended to the third floor in what appeared to be a modern lift but of an old-fashioned design, nicer than the usual characterless tin boxes that count as lifts these days.
Having completed our business we could spend the day as we pleased. We started taking photographs because Cardiff has a lot of magnificent old buildings. Some of these are in good repair and still being used even if not always for their original purposes.
Other beautiful old buildings are, alas, in a very poor condition and their fate seems to be sealed. I assume this is because no one can afford the huge costs of repair and maintenance, making the building too expensive to buy or rent. I understand this perfectly well but nonetheless feel sad that these admirable structures cannot be saved for us and for future generations.
We progressed to what was once called Tiger Bay but is these days called Cardiff Bay. This is where the Wales Millennium Centre is, along with other buildings of a cultural and recreational nature.
On the way we stopped for lunch in the Kemis cafe bar.
The old docks have been transformed and many activities take place here making for a lively atmosphere.
We now went on a long walk which took us around the east side of the water with very fine views across the bay and also out to sea.
The Bay is closed off from the sea by the Barrage which acts both as a bridge for pedestrians and vehicles and as a system of locks to allow ships to pass between the Bay and the sea.
The Barrage is quite low and must lift to allow even small boats to pass.
We crossed the The Customs House, a rather handsome building which has been transformed into a hotel. We hoped to have a cup of tea but as it was lunch time the restaurant was busy.
Instead we went to the water bus landing stage. We had to wait a while but the trip across the water back to the starting point of our walk was very pleasant and it was amusing to see in reverse order from the boat the places we had visited on our walk.
By now we were looking forward to a rest and a drink. We found Cafe Rouge offering a drink and a slice of the cake of the day for an inclusive price. Done deal!
After another walk we decided to take the bus to the station as we had reserved seats on the 18:25 Paddington train.
We had to wait a while for a bus. The first one, due in 10 minutes, failed to appear. The next bus was diverted leaving us (and other passengers) uncertain about where the bus was going and whether we should stay on or get off. I asked the driver if he was still going to the station but didn’t receive a useful answer: he kept repeating “St Mary’s Road, St Mary’s Road…” which is no help at all to someone from out of town.
After a long journey through slow moving traffic, we were finally allowed off the bus, presumably in the famous St Mary’s Road, and spied the station in the distance. We were able to walk to it with half an hour to spare before our train departed.
We have been to Cardiff several times before and always enjoyed our visits but this trip was especially good because of the walk and the trip on the water bus. A lot of good work has been done refurbishing the old docks area making it a place worth visiting and providing activities of various kinds in which to participate.
When we left the train at Paddington and walked to the station concourse, we found that a special entertainment was taking place.
The Great Western Railway Paddington Band was playing. They performed a number of lively band pieces to the pleasure of an appreciative audience. I thought how charming—the more so for being unexpected—this was. I hope the band continues to play for passengers and public for many years to come.
For the finale of our day, we betook ourselves to Chapel Market and to the friendly Spices restaurant where we enjoyed a good curry.