Saturday 28 November 2009

My trip to Cardiff

Had a brilliant time in Cardiff. Despite what I had seen on the interwebs, it is a very civilized place. P did point out we were hanging around in the equivalent of the Deansgate area, posh shops and hotels, but still I stick to my opinion that it is a nice city. Saw more homeless people than I’d have expected to, so it’s not like it’s perfect. But I also notice lots of recycling stuff, including a poster for a kitchen waste scheme, and a graffiti sticker saying Love Celtic Hate Racists, which I approved of. Plus, the local brewery is called Brains (I kid you not) and seeing that on so many pub signs gives the place an imminent zombie invasion vibe.

The castles (Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch) were amazing, for thosewith an appreciation of neo-gothic interior design and for those who just like to laugh at those crazy Victorians. I hadn’t realized that William Burgess had been so involved in the redecoration the 3rd Bute dude did at Cardiff Castle, so that was a nice surprise for me (having been really temped down to Cardiff when I found out about the Burgess redevelopment of Castell Coch). They were both characters, oddidealistic Victorians with loads of money. I find it very interesting that the richest man in the Victorian era spent a good deal of money on stately pleasure domes, which in a few generations were handed over to the public for economic reasons. So now we all get to enjoy them. The guides at Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch both had the genuine enthusiasm of people who love their work.

The bus ride out to Castell Coch was straightforward, and the driver gave me instructions for walking up to the castle (as well as telling me the correct way to say it- bit like coke and loch, not like a rooster). The tourist information leaflet did say it was an uphill walk, which seemed an odd thing to say, but when you head up the last part of the hill, it is a steep climb. The castle sort of sneaks up on you, and it is really like going into a fairy tale. Fitting, as the decoration features Aesop’s fables and crystal balls.

The weather featured rain showers and howling wind, making it even more romantic, especially enjoyable if you were in the nicely heated rooms. Unlike the days of rain here, the Cardiff area seems to get short, sharp showers followed by clear spells, not long enough to dry off, but long enough to feel foolish if you keep your hood up.

The tea room at Castell Coch is also perfectly charming. Though I onlyhad a cup of tea, the homemade cakes looked scrumptious. Very cosy. Bit disappointed that the Welsh recipes tea towel they had was for using, not for sale at the gift shop. I got one with animals from the fable’s instead.

Another pleasant thing about Cardiff is the thriving haberdasheries on City Road. I especially liked Butterfly Fabrics, where they didn’t mind me ogling the Liberty prints before buying a much cheaper fabric on special offer. I also got some sweet butterfly trim. Hopefully, both will inspire me to do some sewing. After reading the Art of fabric collage by Rosemary Eichorn, I’m hoping to try something like that in December, lots of layers, lots of patterns. But not with Burgess style patterns. I just don’t have that completely over the top attitude.

The novel writing took a bit of a hit while I was away. I was too worn out by sightseeing to write much (I strained my neck gawking at everything), though I did get a bit done. I’m now about 5 days behind where I should be. In a way, I’m looking forward to the end of the month, just so I can stop writing all the time, or rather, in all my free time. But until then, I still have the motivation to continue.

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