I decided for my post this week to document a weekend in Cardiff, so here’s what happened in a truly Cardiff weekend.
Friday 6PM: Walk from office to friends where my partner and I are invited for dinner. Look from their Adventurer’s Wharf apartment across the water of the Roath Basin to where the new BBC Wales Drama Village is rapidly taking shape. One development no one seems to object to.
Friday 10PM. We all watch the news coverage from Japan, horrifying pictures of the Tsunami and the growing nuclear worry. We are grateful that Wales does not face such extreme climate events, but we are aware that Barry and Cardiff are less than 20 miles from Hinckley Point’s nuclear power stations.
Saturday 11AM: St David’s Hall to hear Prof. Noam Chomsky speak on the Middle East, thanks to a ticket I won in a raffle. There is tremendous excitement and animated discussion outside and inside the hall before a late start. Amazing to think that almost 2,000 people in Cardiff want to hear an aging American academic talk on such a subject. Unfortunately, I am sitting in one of the Hall’s infamous sound black spots and can only understand intermittent sentences from the soft spoken professor.
Saturday 2PM: The Gatekeeper pub, Westgate Street, to watch the Italy v France match.with partner. The most exciting match of the weekend. When the final whistle blew, the packed pub erupted – except for the six young Frenchmen. I doubt the cheer could have been louder if Wales had just taken the Grand Slam.
Saturday 4:55PM. We find a tout prepared to sell tickets for two adjacent seats at a reasonable £40 each so we enter the Millennium Stadium just after kick-off.
Saturday 18:50. It’s been mostly a scrappy match, but the finish is exciting and our ‘bargain’ seats overlook the final minutes’ play. We hold our breath as Ireland repeatedly try to break through the Welsh defences for a possible winning try. Another loud cheer when the final whistle blows and Wales have won.
Sunday 10AM. It seems the single Welsh try was more than questionable – we were totally unaware of that in the Stadium. Still, the referee missed several high tackles and in the complicated game that is Rugby Union, these things happen. Playing the ref is a major part of the modern game.
Sunday 11AM. The National Museum, where we have a great time in the old Glanely Gallery, transformed into the Clore Discovery Centre. We handle fossils, guess which animal left the scats (droppings) and footprints and enjoy lots of hands-on learning before too many families arrive. To show we are really adults, we go upstairs to see the exhibition of Ancient Chinese Rock Carvings. It isn’t as much fun.
Sunday 12:30. A very pleasant pint and sandwich at the nearby Pen and Wig pub, before returning to the Museum to see a display of bird migration and to view the temporary art exhibitions, including one of LGBT Welsh portraits.
Sunday 14:00. Feeling thoroughly cultured, return to the Gatekeeper to watch the Calcutta Cup match. Very average, and England’s win makes a Welsh championship win almost impossible. Still, Wales have had a much better season than I expected.
Sunday 17:00. Check in to the Holiday Inn. I last stayed here in 1974 when it was the Forte Post House. It’s still over-heated, but now we can turn off the central heating and open the windows, neither of which was possible 37 years ago. The room has lovely views of Cardiff Castle and Bute Park. And we aren’t paying.
Sunday 20:00. There’s not much live entertainment on in town, except for a band known as 10cc at St David’s Hall and I avoid the Hall’s main auditorium after having far too many performance spoiled by poor sound (now including Noam Chomsky’s talk). So we head for Albany Road to see another band with a core of ex-members of a well-known group, the Kast Off Kinks at the Globe.
Sunday 23:00. The band ends a 2-hour enjoyable rehash of Kinks sing-along classics. We get a chicken shish from one of the many takeaway establishments nearby and head back to the hotel for a midnight feast.
Sunday midnight. Our Cardiff weekend is almost over and it will be back to the daily grind in 8 hours. We’ve had a great time. Never mind yourcardiff, it’s ourcardiff and, despite its imperfections, we love it!
What’s your favourite Cardiff weekend? If you’d like to write a guest post about your weekend in Cardiff email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.