Monday, 3 November 2014

Weekend in Wales

I’ve just had a great 24 hours in the Cardiff area. The weekend  was booked months ago. It was one of those annual outings to meet old friends that George usually declined to attend. But he always provided a chauffeur service either to the area we chose, or to and from a convenient railway station. I hadn’t thought that I’d have to make my own arrangements this time, and it took some thought and organisation.

Cardiff is north-west from here. Going from my nearest railway station, though, would involve travelling directly east to Southampton before going north to Salisbury and changing to the line that heads westwards. It would be very expensive and take so long I wouldn’t have the time I wanted at my destination unless I went the day before.  Driving all the way would wear me out and I’d be so nervous about finding the hotel and parking etc. it would spoil my enjoyment of the reunion.

In the end I decided to drive to Salisbury – a bit under an hour away by road - and paid for a private parking space with, thinking it would be safer than leaving the car overnight in the station car park. That should have been a perfect solution if I hadn’t found someone else parked in the space allocated to me. And if the owner of it had not been working all night in a hotel and had to be woken by my urgent phone calls so he could get up to sort it out. I had to double park behind his car and leave him my key. But he would be at work when I returned for the car the next evening, so we also had to agree a hiding place where I could find it.

That sorted, the rest of the journey was a straightforward train journey.  Coming back was another story that involved a bus journey between two stations because of work being done on the railway line. I determined to avoid thinking about that while I was with my friends - and abut whether I’d be able to get my car and drive home through the Dorset countryside in the dark.

Isn’t it great when you can get together with people you only see about once a year and find you are just picking up where you left off? We met in a pub at noon and spent some time there, then went off by bus to Cardiff Bay to see how it has been developed.  

We were quite impressed. It was heaving with people who were not all from the UK. We took a look at the Norwegian Church where Roald Dahl was baptised. That was a little disappointing since, although it has a perfect black and white exterior and some stained glass windows, the inside has been turned into a café. (The pristine toilets were appreciated though.)

photo by Pauline Eccles 

Months ago I had booked us all into the Mount Sorrel Hotel in Barry, a few miles from Cardiff. Hotels in Cardiff were either far too expensive or full up, probably because Cardiff were playing Leeds (at football/soccer) in the city that afternoon. We timed our travels to avoid meeting up with fans and were in Barry for the evening. The hotel was a gem, inexpensive so we weren’t expecting any frills, and didn’t need them. Full English breakfast was included and the rooms were comfortable. £30 is very reasonable for all that.

The next morning we took the 10 am train back to Cardiff to visit the castle. 

photo by Wolfgang Sauber

When I’d been in Cardiff before, it had been for work and I’d never had time for sightseeing. I had walked past the castle many times with no time to visit, so I had looked forward to that. And I wasn’t disappointed. I think a description of it will need to be covered in another post as I’m now running out of time.

I was on the 2.40 train for the first leg of my journey home, which all went to plan despite my anxieties. At about 6.50 I was welcomed back by Jade who had been collected by my son from the dog minder. He had also undertaken to cook a roast dinner for us before going back to the flat he shares with his girlfriend, so they could get ready for work on Monday morning. They said they thought it was better for me than coming back to an empty house. 

I must count my blessings.


Sharkbytes said...

Sounds like a really interesting weekend. My only knowledge of the word "Cardiff" is the association with the hoax in New York known as the Cardiff Giant.

Jean Knill said...

Hi Joan. Thanks for introducing me to the Cardiff Giant. In the UK, Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and has been known as such since the 1950s when the new Queen Elizabeth came to the throne and wanted to visit all her capitals. Cardiff's castle was first built in the late 11th century on the site of an ancient Roman fort. There are still echoes of the Roman site to be found, and of the earlier castle buildings, but of course it has been remodelled and changed a lot over the years.

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