My day started in fraught fashion. I had an appointment at 9:30 to see to a blocked ear. When we got home last night after buying the train tickets, I realized I had made a mistake. I thought I had asked the clerk for a ticket valid after 10:00 but in fact had been sold one for the 10:15 train, not valid on any other. I didn’t see how I could get from the Angel to Paddington after my appointment in time for my train.
After my appointment, I hurried up the hill to the main road, watching out for taxis. The first one ignored me but the second stopped for me. The traffic wasn’t as bad as I had feared and we reached Paddington with time to spare. The taxi fare was much less than the cost of a new train ticket.
Sitting in my slightly cramped reserved seat, I can now relax and enjoy the ride. It is another warm and sunny day, just what you want for visiting interesting places like Cardiff.
In the meantime, Tigger is already in Wales and taking photos of Newport from the train.
As we leave Reading, Tigger lets me know that the job is done. The rest of the day is ours.
After the joyous reunion at Cardiff Central station, we set out to look for lunch and found it in the Brewery Quarter in the form of a small Pancake House. They had more varieties than you could shake a stick at, a satisfactory number of which were vegetarian.
After lunch, we went for a little walk around the town. Cardiff has several Victorian and Edwardian arcades and we visited the one above, Morgan Arcade.
There is also a covered market, dating from late Victorian times, though we didn’t go in this time. That will be for another visit.
If you know anything about Cardiff, the above photo will tell you where we went next. Cardiff’s dock area was called Tiger Bay and was famous or, perhaps “legendary” would be a better word. These days it rejoices in the lack-lustre name of Cardiff Bay. It’s such a shame when historically resonant names are erased because of some twee notion of improvement.
I am also going to be rude about the Millennium Centre. I think it is an ugly lump. Furthermore, this modern habit of putting lines of poetry (or in this case, the opening words of a work for chorus and orchestra by Karl Jenkins et al, played at the Centre’s opening ceremony) on buildings and public art works is a very bad idea. Very few such phrases can bear the weight of attention thus thrust upon them and with time they become even more banal, not less. This one seems particularly infelicitous. (Do horizons sing? No, not even euphemistically.)
Nearby, is the Pierhead Building, dating from 1897, part of the then docks and today a Visitor and Education Centre for the National Assembly of Wales. This beautiful building thrusts the Lump firmly into the shade.
Cardiff Bay is now completely enclosed and ships enter and leave through a system of locks. Nonetheless, the Bay is quite large and there is a lot to see. You can walk all the way round it but that takes some time. On a previous visit we walked but this time fancied a boat trip.
The trip wasn’t as enjoyable as we had hoped. We were crammed into a corner and taking photos was difficult as I had to take them through the window glass, struggling to avoid reflections. I will therefore limit myself to two, the one above showing the harbour area (spot the Lump) and the one below showing the sea locks.
When we came back ashore, we walked up this big open space, which was once the Oval Basin, one of the docks, but has been filled in and can be used for fairs, carnivals and other events.
It is dedicated to the writer Roald Dahl, who was born in Llandaff, Cardiff, and baptised at the Norwegian Church, here in the docks. Most references name it Roald Dahl Plass, but the dedicatory plaque, in English and Welsh, calls it Roald Dahls Plass, which is presumably Norwegian for “Roald Dahl’s Square”. In Welsh, it would be Plas Roald Dahl, but that’s another story.
Walking to the street at the top, we caught a bus to the station. Our reserved seats were at opposite ends off coach D, but as the train started from Cardiff and was therefore empty, we were able to get seats together.
It was a pleasant day out for Cardiff is a lively and interesting city (despite my critical remarks) and we enjoy going to Wales. How wonderful it is that with modern trains we can travel to such places, spend the day there and return home in the evening.