Another enjoyable Cardiff weekend

August 23, 2011 No Comments »


MV Balmoral at Lundy (C) Paul Seligman

MV Balmoral at Lundy (C) Paul Seligman


When I recently went to the shops to replace my faded jeans, worn out at the knees, and found that the ones on sale looked much the same, I did feel that I belonged to an older generation.

On the same shopping trip, I thought I’d explore my Eastern European culinary heritage at a certain supermarket at Culverhouse Cross, only to change my mind when I found that the Polish foods included jars of food such as “the Golden Grease with the Spring Onions”. So a trip to the reliable Wally’s delicatessen is called for and it’s my first stop on Saturday.

Another reason for my trip to town is that it’s time to collect the infamous bus pass. I thought of posting my application, but I refuse to send it to ‘Elderly Persons Pass’ as Cardiff Council’s form demands. I can accept being ‘senior’, it has a ring of, well, seniority, but ‘elderly’?

On Saturday the Council’s help centre at the central library is efficient and friendly and I am soon the proud possessor of a pass entitling me to free travel on any local bus service in Wales. I have no idea why it’s considered a good use of taxpayer’s money to give this to someone who is still in useful employment, but I am happy to accept it. The main reason is that I can now use any of the services that pass my street in Fairwater, rather than being told that my Cardiff Bus day ticket does not allow me to get on a service back from town because it’s operated by another company and I must wait up to an hour or pay again.

I go from the current library to the Old Library to see the Photomarathon entries. It’s an hour or more of excellent entertainment with plenty of smiles to be had. I disagree with many of the judges’ selections which seem to reward technical quality over “improvisation, fun and creativity”, which are the stated criteria, but I’m very impressed with the entries. It’s an amazing challenge to shoot just one image, in the right order, on each of 12 subjects which are only given to you four at a time as 12 hours progress. If you didn’t go to the exhibition, you’ve missed it for 2011, but do try and go, or even take part, next year.

Home to watch Wales beat Argentina at the Millennium Stadium, which was a relief and even entertaining for perhaps a third of the match. It’s hard to take too much from these warm-up matches where both sides experiment with the players, but I am encouraged for the Six Nations, although not for the World Cup. Still, the results are going in the right direction for now.

On Sunday, we drive to Penarth to catch the pleasure steamer ‘Balmoral’ for a trip to Ilfracombe and Lundy Island, where we enjoy two hours. After a number of problems with Groupon (like this experience), this was one of their better offers as we paid less than half the usual fare.

The ‘Balmoral’ and its sister ship, the paddle steamer ‘Waverley’, are operated by a charity. Three poor summers and the huge rise in fuel costs now threaten their continued operation and if they fail to raise the funds needed for this winter’s maintenance, it could be the last year of pleasure cruises from South Wales. What a shame that would be! The Balmoral is sailing well into September, so there’s plenty of time left to take a trip from Penarth.

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