Sunday, 27 September 2015

And back to Cardiff I went....

And back to Cardiff I went....

I have come to a rather serious conclusion, Wales could quite easily become my new home. 

Although I live in South Africa Scotland will ALWAYS be my ancestral home, but now I have discovered Wales....... This SHOULD be home.
Having traveled for work to Cardiff a couple times, I have always loved the freedom and safety of walking around a city, that I would never do in Johannesburg.

This time my friends and colleagues Anthony Lloyd and Eleri Hallett took me out to experience more of the country, and what an epic experience that was.

But before that was work and a bit of walking around town in the off times.

Street scene near my office

The RWC 2015 Rugby Ball at Cardiff castle

Shopping Arcade in Cardiff

Fish Dinner at the Corner House Pub

Corner House Pub
Corner House pub

Queen's Street

Queen's Street

Queen's Street

Firstly I was treated to a lifetime experience - this being the Wales - Fiji Rugby World Cup game in the Millennium Stadium Cardiff 

Me being Welsh for a day
Rugby ball "bursting" through the walls of Cardiff Castle

The crowds were massive on the way to the stadium, so we had to make a couple of stops at a couple of pubs on the way, to re-hydrate..... actually just to have a couple of beers was a long walk to the stadium after all.

And So let the Game Begin.......

 After the match it was time for a celebratory drink before heading onto the Chapel Restaurant for Dinner

My Colleagues - Eleri, Ryan and Anthony

Chapel Restaurant

SeaBass on Risotto

During the week Anthony took me out to an awesome little town called Cowbridge for Spanish Tapas dinner.

However as it would happen, while we were driving along I noticed quite a bit of what looked suspiciously like some sort of farm type "detritus" on the road that went on for a fair distance. So I mentioned to Anthony that it looked very much like a huge herd of cows had wandered down the road crapping pooping defecating merrily as they went.... as cows do - his answer was - yes they moved the cows from one field to another....... well that was like a herd of cows being moved through one of our suburbs ....... I want to move there !!!

Comes Friday afternoon it was off for the weekend in the country, firstly we drove out of Cardiff to Raglan Castle, I have a total weakness for all things archaeological, and castles in particular (especially if there is a tower to ascend)

Amazing Stonework window frames

View of the countryside

Can you imagine having to traverse these stairs every day

Then a stop at a town called Abergavenny

Where we stayed over night at an incredible little hotel, the Angel Hotel, I took a small walk around the town before dinner.

Street outside the Angel Hotel

Angel Hotel

How to get thoroughly lost in a small town:

Step 1: start out on a small walk
Step 2: wind up and down some side streets exploring
Step 3: find oneself out of town
Step 4: Realize you are being picked up in half an hour for dinner
Step 5: Panic and start running back into town
Step 6: Run past hotel at least three times before realizing what you have done
Step 7: Enter hotel nonchalantly as if nothing has happened
Step 8: Frantic shower
Step 9: leave for Dinner

Dinner at the Hardwick - every trip I have ever done has involved the consumption of excellent food, and the meal at the Hardwick prepared by Chef Stephen Terry was by no means the exception.

Then for a bit of superb relaxing bit of boating on the canals with Beacon Park Day Boats with Eleri our intrepid Skipper in control of the boat

Eleri at the helm

A cruiser traversing the lock

The boating experience was followed by a stunning drive in the Brecon Beacons National Park with the most amazing vista's

Pit-stop for pulled pork rolls and hamburgers

Then on to another castle - Caerphilly Castle, this is the second biggest castle in the United Kingdom after Windsor Castle, with a number of great towers to ascend. This visiting of castles can be a rather vigorous pastime, as it doesn't just involve a quiet stroll, although for the more energetically challenged that is a great activity, for me as I have previously said involved a lot and I mean a LOT  of climbing up and down towers.

The shear scale of these edifices is incredible, especially taking into account that the stone was quarried by hand, then hauled to the site and then the castle was built by hand, no nice little bulldozers, TLB's and no Liebherr cranes  , just plain simple hard labour.

Caerphilly Castle

Castle Swans & Ducks

The heating bill must have been enormous

Aaahh Yes - all the best castles of the day had "facilities"

The Great hall

Health and Safety comment: 
Never climb around on old castles where there is no access allowed, you will come to a sticky end, the stonework if not adequately restored could crumble.

Fortunately at Caerphilly Castle there is a brave statue holding up a very precariously leaning tower


We then sadly returned to Cardiff as I had to leave the next day.

Caught the Train back to London on Sunday, the train system in the UK is fantastic, you get to relax, watch the scenery whiz past, I had access to free WiFi for the entire journey so I could surf, do a bit of email and gather vast amounts of what I like to call "useless" information on the towns I was skimming past.

Cardiff Station

My Train to London

Back to London for the day - a bad day in London is way better than a good day in Johannesburg.
Took the tube down to Westminster and then walked to my hearts content down the Thames to St. Paul's and back, stopping off to gather some atmosphere* from the beach on the Thames along the way.

* Atmosphere - I like to collect bits of stuff when I travel, this does NOT include touristy gifts, but rather some object I find on the ground ( a found object), a stone, a bit of metal, a bit of broken tile, basically anything that "speaks" to me to remind me of the trip.

A London Tube

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

Thames with the Shard in the background

On the Beach

One person too many at Westminster

The rest of the people who weren't at Westminster now at the National Gallery

From London it was onto a veritable Flight into Hell back to South Africa........

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