We’ve really missed Mam since she passed away, and our regular trips to Wales. Over the recent Easter weekend we booked a few nights in Cardiff, and met up with some of Martin’s cousins, not seen for many years, for tea and cake, a catch-up chinwag and a trawl through family photos. We also enjoyed a tramp around different parts of the city.
Cardiff is uncommonly friendly! Almost everyone we came across was kind and courteous, generally giving an impression they’d been pleased to help.
Like every city, there’s a lot to explore, whether you’re interested in history, art, music, dancing, sport, or shopping. The parking’s awfully expensive in the centre, but the public transport is brilliant – buses galore and regular, at £3.40 for a Day-to-Go ticket which you can use all day on as many buses as you like. You can of course get to a lot of places under your own steam, if, like us, you’re fond of using Shank’s pony. We had a little wander round Llandaff; red-robed choristers singing beautifully at the Good Friday service in the Cathedral, whose doors had been left wide open for all-comers; a plaque outside a Chinese takeaway, once the sweetshop where Roald Dahl bought his boyhood treats; a stroll through Pontcanna Fields (full of ball-games, picnics, dog-walkers, paperback-readers); then popped over to Canton for a cup of coffee at the Chapter Arts Centre.
We had breakfast the next day at Crumbs, a great little vegetarian café in the Morgan Arcade, from where we could see a genial crowd of youngsters (and not-so-youngsters, no ageism on this blog!) queuing outside Spillers Records, which claims to be the oldest record shop in the world, for new music releases. I love life’s enthusiasts! We caught a bus to Roath Park – which to me looked reminiscent of New York’s Central Park – another Park constructed in the 19th century for the proletariat to take the fresh air and to recreate. It has within its boundaries a botanical gardens, a stupendous playground which was full of jubilant children, a boating lake and a café where friendly girls served a boisterous queue. The houses fringing the park, built around 1910 I believe, were obviously made of the best quality materials: 100 years on, the decorative arts and crafts tiles in their porches are in astonishingly good condition.
Of course there are inevitable casualties of neglect and the march of time, of things going out of fashion, of recession etc. On the City Road is the old Gaiety cinema, opened in 1912 and latterly the home of bingo, and ‘Bar, Bowling, Food, Music’, now for sale. But some places, like the Central Market, are still going strong. Cardiff has changed a lot since Martin worked for the Welsh Drama Company in the late 70s – it’s jumping, mun! If you’ve never visited the Welsh capital, I recommend it for a weekend away and an opportunity to exercise your joie-de-vivre!